What is a protein blend
A protein blend is simply any product or supplement that contains multiple protein sources. Common protein sources found in supplements are
- Whey protein (concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate)
- Casein protein
- Egg protein
- Beef protein
- Rice protein
- Pea protein
- Soy protein
- Hemp Protein
A common protein blend found in a lot of supplements is a combination of whey protein and whey protein isolate. Another fairly common protein blend is whey protein and casein protein.
Whey protein vs blend protein
When looking at whey protein vs blend protein, we will look at it from a post-workout point of view as this is when most people will be consuming their protein.
Whey protein pros
Gram for gram whey protein has more branched chain amino acids (especially leucine) than other proteins. It’s also digested much quicker than other proteins meaning you are going to get the vital muscle repairing nutrients you need the fastest possible way. These qualities result in a rapid and pronounced increased in muscle protein synthesis.
Whey protein cons
Whey protein will only increase protein synthesis in muscle tissue for around 2 hours post-exercise. Whey protein releases and acts very quickly in the body, which means you’ll need to take it often throughout the day if you are particularly active.
Also, if you have a sensitive stomach or lactose intolerant, you may find it difficult to digest. Many whey protein producers claim that their products are safe for those who are lactose intolerant because there is little to no lactose found in it (especially if it’s an isolate).
The problem with this is that even a small amount of lactose (milk-sugar) can be enough to set off a chain reaction of health problems. For those who are lactose intolerant just that small amount of lactose found in whey will go undigested in your digestive tract and trigger excessive activity with bacteria in your gut.
Protein blend pros
When comparing a protein blend vs whey alone, consider the fact that the vast majority of blends contain at least 30% whey protein, which may consist of whey isolate, whey concentrate, or both.
Protein blend cons
As mentioned before most protein blends will contain whey protein, which means it has the same potential digestion problems listed above. Furthermore, it is likely to contain casein which is the other predominant form of protein found in milk and makes up roughly 80% of the protein found in cow’s milk.
So, which protein is better?
If you are considering a protein blend vs whey, the best protein blends will provide you with a well-rounded and balanced protein profile. Conversely, while whey protein alone is incredibly fast-acting and gives your body immediate fuel for strength, energy, and significant muscle growth, you’ll need to take if often if you want to keep the protein in your body balanced throughout the day.
Blends that contain casein or other longer-acting proteins are dosed two or three times per day and keep a steady stream of proteins in your blood around the clock, which aids in recovery and facilitates muscle growth even as you sleep.
Think about your goals, listen to your body and make sure you buy a high-quality protein.
Science-backed studies on protein blends
Lots and lots of studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of protein blends but one study stands out. Presented at Experimental Biology 2012 seminar in San Diego a study found that a blend of 25% soy isolate protein, 25% of whey isolate protein and 50% casein is taken post workout was better for increasing muscle mass than whey protein isolate alone.
What was interesting about this study and what got it a lot of attention was that it went against the common theory of taking a single sourced, fast-acting protein such as whey protein was best for taking post workout.
Whilst scientists don’t specifically know why the blend increased protein synthesis and therefore helped improve muscle mass, they believe it could be to do with the blends unique amino acid profile or the different absorption rates of the protein.
Either way what this study highlighted was that protein blends can benefit you just as much if not more than whey.
When is the best time to consume protein blends
One of the best things about protein blends is that the varied protein sources mean that they will get absorbed at different rates in your body. What this means is that you can consume it at any point and know you will have a protein in your system for many hours to come.