I’m a huge advocate of whey protein, whether in shakes or added to smoothies, however a huge amount of people simply can’t take them. The reasons could be due to IBS issues, lactose intolerance or you might be on a vegan diet. Both whey and casein are forms of protein from milk (whey is fast acting and is great to consume first thing in the morning or after a workout, whereas casein is slow acting and is optimal just before bed). Also, take note,
I haven’t mentioned Soy anywhere, there is good reason for this, but that’s a story for another day.
Below are my top suggestions if you are looking for an alternative to whey.
The most well known product I often think of with pea protein is one produced by Reflex, however the taste isn’t great. You can also pick up pea protein powders in an increasing number of stores, such as Infinity Foods (for our UK audience). The amount of protein per scoop is around the same as whey protein (20-25 grams), while it is also said to have some other fat management benefits. My key argument always falls down to what the amino acid breakdown is and apparently pea protein has a decent level of BCAA’s, so it gets a big tick from me…if you can handle the taste.
Honestly, I couldn’t taste the difference between my egg protein powder and the whey protein I also have, however the powder I bought was a premium brand, which might make a difference. Being just the whites used in the powder, it is completely free from fat and cholesterol, destroying the unfair negative image eggs have. Eggs are perceived to have the second greatest biological value (BV) you will find (second only to whey), which basically means how much of the contained nutrients can your body utilise.
This one has been floating through the vegan festivals, slowly building its fanbase. The standout benefit compared to most of the others is the increased level of omega 3 fatty acids, which we largely lack in our Western diets. It also contains a greater amount of fibre, as well as offering all of the essential amino acids. The taste could be improved still, but mixed into a smoothie you won’t notice.
This is definitely not a winner if milk is your enemy, but cottage cheese breaks the general rule about cheese – you don’t have to feel guilty eating it. You should normally opt for a low fat option, however I don’t always take this course as they sometimes pack it with sugar to replace the fats, so be careful and check the labels to compare sugar levels. So the reason why cottage cheese is so great is because it is packed with casein protein, which helps enhance muscle synthesis. A great late night snack, casein allows your body to slowly release protein to the muscles over a six hour period, helping to prevent your body entering a catabolic state (which it enters while you are sleeping due to you remaining in a fasted state).
Pumpkin Seed Protein Isolate
Still an odd one to see in stores, pumpkin seed protein isolate benefits from the fact that pumpkin seeds are a super food. Why are they considered a superfood? They are rammed full of micronutrients such as copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium and zinc. The health benefits seem endless, therefore making a protein powder out of these in an isolated form is a genius idea. One thing I find kind of sad personally is by reducing it to a powder form, the fibre is virtually wiped out from this product, while the healthy fats are also removed in the process.
Beef Protein Isolate
I know what you’re thinking, the idea of beef ground down to a powder and kept on your shelves for six months’ sounds revolting, even worse when you consider beef being used in a drink form. However, I bought the chocolate flavour and it really didn’t taste any different to a normal whey chocolate shake. As it is still quite a new concept, you are relatively limited in flavours and brands, as well as stores selling these shakes, but it is worth considering, or at least if you haven’t been swayed by any of the previous options.