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What Protein is Best to Build Muscle?

Updated on June 2, 2011

Before we even begin to compare how different types of protein affect your body’s development let’s see how protein contributes to your body’s muscular development. Popular belief has it that more protein equals more muscle, but research has proven that the only way to build muscle is through exercise. That is not to say that protein is useless, on the contrary protein is muscle fuel.

The human body uses protein not only to develop muscle, but also to repair muscle tissue, to grow hair and fingernails among other bodily functions, but do not rush to eat all that protein yet. Excess protein is not stored, it must be burnt or it will turn to fat.

Experts suggest consuming about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight for those wishing to increase their muscular mass. Please note that you will only see an increase in muscular mass when protein is part of an adequate weightlifting or other exercise plan.

So what are the different types of protein, and how do they work?

Whey Protein

Whey protein is a fast absorbing type of protein. Ideally it is consumed immediately before and after a workout. Whey protein is extracted from milk, just like another type of protein that we will soon see. It is possible to find whey in three different types, Hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein concentrate. These three types of protein belong to the same family; they vary mainly on absorption, taste, and price.

Whey Protein Concentrate is the most affordable of all three, but it may cause bloating. Whey Protein Isolate has a better flavor and should not cause bloating. Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate is the most effective of all three; it is quickly absorbed into the body and causes no bloating, but (yes, there is a but), this type of protein is hard to find because of its bitter taste.

Casein Protein

Casein Protein, as opposed to whey, is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream. While it may not be the best protein to consume immediately before or after a workout Casein is recommended whenever you expect to go through long periods of time without protein consumption. By long periods of time I intend to say a few hours, like while you sleep. Casein protein can prevent or diminish the breakdown of muscle fibers. Just like whey, Casein protein is obtained from milk.

Photo by CelebMuscle. CC license.
Photo by CelebMuscle. CC license.

Buckwheat Protein

Buckwheat protein is another type of protein which is slowly absorbed into the body. Recent studies suggest that buckwheat protein can lower cholesterol levels but further research is required.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is another quick absorbing protein extracted from the soybean. A diet rich in soy protein is associated with lower risk of cancer and heart disease. Soy protein is usually recommended for women.

Egg Protein

Egg protein is extracted from egg whites. This type of protein is low in calories, fat and carbohydrate free. The human body absorbs egg protein at a moderate rate, somewhat slower than whey protein but faster than casein protein.

Now that you know the differences among whey, casein, buckwheat, soy, and egg protein you may find that one is not better than the other. All can greatly benefit someone trying to build muscle. If you are serious about building muscle your diet will definitely include more than one type of protein, but please do not forget that protein is naturally found in many foods like, beef, chicken, tuna, and eggs among others!

Casein and Whey Protein


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      Sumerian123 5 years ago

      I believe Hemp is the best type of protein out there. After being on whey for 2 years, it gave me results but also gave me an upset stomach and bloating. Then i tried soy but that just isnt recommended since it creates hormonal imbalances in both men and women (contains estrogen). Hemp is neutral, unprocessed (cold milled), has lots of benefits, fibre, and it makes my muscle mass last a lot longer. Check out: I usually get their organic stuff.

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      GPrince 8 years ago

      Thank you, Donna, for soy observation! I have MS and stay away from all soy. (it effects my legs) My friend had breast cancer & her Dr. told her to avoid it completely! It's sad that it's in so many packaged foods. Hemp protein makes me feel best in smoothies. Don't know why, but it works.

    • JoChris26 profile image

      JoChris26 8 years ago

      Very informative. Thanks for the information.

    • G.Uriarte profile image

      G.Uriarte 8 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for your comment Donna! Very interesting information about protein effects on children. That is really not the scope of this article.

    • profile image

      Donna Cooley 8 years ago

      Your info about soy protein is wrong. Do some research.

      Trypsin inhibitors in soy inhibit protein digestion. Vitamin B12 analogs in soy are not absorbed and actually increase the body's requirement for B12. Soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D.

      Soy phytoestrogens are antithyroid agents that may cause hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer. In infants, consumption of soy formula has been linked to autoimmune thyroid disease.