Even if you are not an athlete building muscle, you still may need a protein supplement. Vegetarians are always looking for a non-animal protein and some supplements have emerged to fit in that criteria.
Hemp protein is loaded with omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids which for the aging population is necessary to guard against cardiovascular problems. 65% of hemp’s protein comes from globular protein edestin which is easily digested and absorbed. And it is not a controversial form of marijuana! Peas are not normally considered a source of protein but sourced from yellow peas, pea protein is a great alternative to animal based protein. It has a mild taste and is gaining popularity among vegetarians. Soy protein is a great source but beware. If the soy is not fermented you may be unable to digest it and thereby release some toxins. This is the reason doctors warn against consuming soy if you are prone to cancer. On the other hand, fermented soy actually protects against cancer because the fermentation changes the digestibility and absorption thereby releasing the good cancer fighting components. Spirulina is a great veggie source of protein. As a super food it is approximately 65-71% complete protein and 85-95% digestible. Its amino acids are almost instantaneously absorbed by the body.
For those who can tolerate animal protein Whey is definitely the leader. It contains high biological value and is high in branch chain amino acids while being quickly absorbed. It comes in a whey concentrate or a whey isolate (which is slightly more potent). Eggs have been known for their high protein content but many can’t tolerate eggs and many times doctors recommend against eggs for cardiovascular reasons. Milk proteins contain casein and whey and are loaded with amino acids. This type of protein is usually found in protein blend formulas. If you find one that is strictly casein, don’t expect instant absorption. It takes the body 5-7 hours to break down and utilize casein, but is valuable if you take it in the evening and let your body get proteinized while you sleep.
Protein powders are good supplements, especially if you like me, don’t eat red meat or drink milk. If you are interested in a good fermented soy powder that also has medicinal mushrooms and curcumin in it click here
*excerpted in part from “The Wonderful World of Protein” by Mark Becker. Vitamin Retailer magazine June 2018.