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How do I Choose the Best Anabolic Protein Supplement?

By H. Terry
Updated May 17, 2024
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Advertisers often claim otherwise, but there is no anabolic protein supplement that is the best one for every person. Three of the most popular types of anabolic protein are whey, casein and soy. To determine the best anabolic protein supplement for you, you'll need to consider your specific bodybuilding goals, dietary restrictions, preferences and budget.

Whey protein powders are the most common on the market. They are great for rapid post-workout absorption, giving muscles the quick fix they need to build mass. Of these, whey protein isolate — as opposed to concentrate — generally is held to be of superior quality because it is easier for the body to metabolize. Along with its reputation for being of a higher grade, whey protein isolate also usually comes at a higher price. Several products, however, mix whey concentrate and isolate to provide an economic compromise.

Casein is a slower-absorbing protein and is rich in the amino acid glutamine, which aids in the maintenance of muscle mass and strengthens the immune system. Casein protein takes its time through the digestive track, arguably enabling the body to use it more efficiently and to build more durable muscles. There are staunch proponents of both whey and casein, but most experts agree that casein is the best for maintenance and whey the best for new growth. As such, you might want to consume whey immediately after a workout and casein at other times in the day.

Whey and casein are both milk-derived products, but soy protein is a strictly vegetarian source and is believed to be less taxing on your system than the other two. The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved product claims that soy protein, when combined with a diet that is low in cholesterol and saturated fat, might help to reduce the risk of heart-related illness. In bodybuilding, however, soy protein remains controversial in terms of its ability to match the other supplements’ muscle-building efficacy. There also are products that blend these three protein types in an attempt to offer the benefits of each. These formulas might not be the best option if your purposes are specific.

The word "anabolic" simply refers to constructing new material in an organism. As proteins are the building blocks of muscle, any protein that your body can digest might be described as an anabolic protein, including those found naturally in whole food. It is for convenience that people use supplements. To get the same amount of protein on a grocery list that one can find in supplements could come with a high financial cost — and an amount of food that is difficult to swallow.

Not everyone needs this additional protein, though. If your goal is simply to be fit, a balanced diet provides more than enough to keep muscles healthy. If you are keen to put on new muscle weight, are a competitive athlete or a vegetarian concerned about protein intake, then an anabolic protein supplement might indeed be advantageous. Try to prioritize your dietary objectives — for example, getting protein to your muscles quickly after a workout versus avoiding dairy — in order to determine which supplement type is best for you.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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