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Whey vs. Plant Based Protein: Which is superior?

Updated: Aug 23, 2023

Protein is an indispensable part of our daily nutritional needs. But not all proteins are created equal.. The source of our protein, when we look at it from a supplementing perspective, can have a pretty important impact in its efficiency and benefits.

Today, we will look at the differences between plant-based proteins and whey proteins, also spotlighting the unique micro fractions present in whey protein that can contribute to a healthier digestive system and a robust immune response. I've had to really experiment with all types to see how each type effects my psoriasis. That's the 1st thing they say with auto immune disorders is to cut out is milk, gluten, sugar. Back to protein...

Understanding Protein Sources: Plant-Based and Whey Protein

Firstly, let's take a look at the difference between the two. Plant-based proteins usually include soy, pea, hemp and rice proteins, or a blend of all. A great option for vegans and those with sensitivities to dairy, (like myself) these proteins do still pack quite a punch. However, they often require careful combination to provide you with a complete amino acid profile, and some people may have sensitivities to peas or soy. 

On the other hand, whey protein, a derivative of dairy, shines as a superior supplemental protein. It's superiority can be attributed to its bioavailability, absorption rates, and a unique set of micro fractions. Now, let's dive a bit deeper into these.

The Uniqueness of Whey Protein:

The supremacy of whey protein primarily lies in its unique micro fractions. These include lactoferrin, glycomacropeptide, beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, and immunoglobulins. I know that these sound like a mouthful, but each plays a crucial role in building your overall health.

For instance, lactoferrin possesses potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, thereby supporting immune health. Alpha-lactalbumin aids in the synthesis of serotonin, fostering improved mood and sleep. Beta-lactoglobulin, the major micro fraction in whey protein, is an excellent source of essential and branched-chain amino acids, facilitating muscle growth and repair.

Of course, some people have sensitivities or straight allergens to dairy. Its important to remember that this sensitivity is often to casein, the other dairy based protein source, not whey. That's the case with myself. But, some people find they are even sensitive to whey, even though it contains no casein. In this case, the cause is most likely lactose in the whey protein. I recommend a food allergy test. I used Everlywell. I'll attach the link at the end of email. Its $149.99 and its a easy finger prick you can do from the house and have results in a few weeks after it arrives.

Contrary to popular belief, whey protein isolate is not off-limits for lactose-intolerant individuals. As long as you opt for a high-quality whey protein isolate, which undergoes extra processing to remove lactose, you can enjoy the unique benefits whey protein offers without upsetting your digestive system.


The Bottom Line is this

While plant-based proteins have their merits, particularly for those of us with milk allergy's or my vegan friends, their protein profile doesn’t match up to whey protein. Whey Isolate has fast absorption, high bioavailability, and an exclusive blend of gut and immune-boosting micro fractions, so whey protein proves to be the superior supplemental protein.

That said, you use plant based protein, and as long as you hit your daily total protein requirements, you will have accomplished the most important aspect to keep in mind regarding protein consumption in your eating plan as it relates to building and maintaining muscle mass.

But, if you aren't a vegan, a high-quality, lactose-free whey protein isolate provides optimal benefits, especially when we factor in the unique digestive, muscle building and immune boosting features of whey isolate.

Thanks for reading, as always


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