How are protein blends better than straight whey? Whey protein is high in branched chained amino acids (BCAAs) and is absorbed a very fast rate, meaning it will stimulate muscle protein synthesis quickly after a workout.
When taking in 20g+ of whey alone, you are spiking your blood amino acid levels to the point where your body cannot adequately utilize all of the amino acids for anabolic(muscle building) purposes. The extra amino acids are oxidized and used by the body as a source of energy. A blended protein(whey+casein), on the other hand, still gives you the benefits of fast absorption because it has whey in it, but in a lesser quantity. The addition of casein to the mix allows your muscle to feed on amino acids for a longer duration. This allows less of the protein to be oxidized as energy; therefore, the overall nitrogen retention is greater. Blended protein sources will have BCAA ratios and amounts very similar to that of whey as well.
Are you telling me that whey protein is a waste of money and has not been helping me all these years?
No, there is not an extreme difference between these two options; however, research does show blended proteins outperform whey alone. With price and taste being similar, the blended protein product is the way to go. There are always exceptions, but for most customers, the blended protein product will be the best option.
Why would casein be that beneficial if the spike in amino acids is not high enough to stimulate significant protein synthesis?
Protein synthesis is not the only physiological marker important for muscle anabolism. Casein’s primary role in a blend will be to inhibit protein breakdown.
My goal is to lose weight, why would I want the more anabolic protein?
When weight loss is the goal, the more anabolic protein source will help you maintain a greater percentage of lean body mass. The primary goal of losing weight should be to lose fat, not muscle. Because the amino acids will not be absorbed as rapidly, you may also feel a greater sense of satiety in comparison to straight whey as well.
Is there anything else that people should look for when choosing a blended protein?
1) To begin with make sure the product has casein. There are proteins on the market that are advertised as blends, but may only contain a few kinds of whey, egg, or soy in them.
2) Look for products that do not have separate amino acid blends. You will notice quite a few companies using glycine/taurine blends in their formulas. These amino acids are not worthless, but many times are put in the bottle in superfluous amounts to increase the profit margin.
3) Look for a complete amino acid profile on the label, especially if you see amino acid blends and creatine on the label. Creatine and free form amino acids are deceptive because they can be listed as protein on the label. If you see both of these in your product, there’s a good chance you are getting significantly less protein than what is listed on the label.
What are my favorite blends?
Pro7ein by Vitasport ranks as my current favorite. This product has 34 grams of protein coming from 7 different sources. It has only 1g of fat and 2g of carbohydrates in each serving with great taste and mixability in water.