A Simple Guide to Protein Powders

Whey Protein is a derivative of the cheese making process.  The curd, or protein known as casein, is separated out and used for cheese while the remaining portion of the milk – the whey – is filtered and dried to form a powder. Whey protein is mild to slightly milky in taste.

Concentrates: Typically have a low (but still significant) level of fat and cholesterol but, in general, have higher levels of bioactive compounds, and carbohydrates in the form of lactose. They are 29%-89% protein by weight.

Isolates: Processed further than concentrates to remove the fat and lactose but are usually lower in bioactivated compounds. They are 90% + protein by weight.

Soy Protein is a protein that is isolated from soybeans. It is made from dehulled, defatted soybean meal.

Concentrate: Soy protein concentrate generally contains around 65% protein. To produce soy protein concentrate, the majority of fat is first removed from the soybeans to create a de-fatted soy meal.  Then the majority of the non-protein, water-soluble compounds are removed as well.  The end result is a powder that contains protein, as well as some of the original carbohydrate content, from the soybeans. Because soy protein concentrate contains a fair amount of the original carbohydrate content of the soybeans, it retains the soybean flavour to some extent.

Isolate: Soy protein isolate contains at least 90% protein.  Soy protein isolate is refined further than the concentrate to remove the carbohydrate content and is almost entirely pure soy protein.  Soy protein isolate has a more neutral flavour than the concentrate.

Pea Protein is a relatively new form of protein powder which is valued for its high digestibility (90-95%) and low potential for allergic responses.  Pea protein is an animal-free supplement made from extracting the soluble pea protein from yellow split peas and contains around 80-90% protein.  Pea protein is often combined with rice protein because pea protein is low in the amino acids cysteine and methionine but high in lysine while rice protein is low in lysine but high in cysteine and methionine.  When combined, these two proteins offer superior amino acid profile that is comparable to dairy or egg proteins.  Pea protein has a light, flurry texture and slightly sweet taste which mixes well in solution.  Pea protein powder, unlike other protein powders, can be mixed with a small amount of water and formed into a semi-solid mixture which can be used as a jam or spread.

Rice Protein is a vegetarian protein that, for some, is more easily digestible than whey protein.  It contains around 80% protein.  Rice protein has a more distinct taste than more other forms of protein powder.  It is commonly mixed with pea protein powder because while it is high in the sulphur-containing amino acids, cysteine and methionine, it is low in lysine while pea protein is low in cysteine and methionine but high in lysine.  The combination of rice and pea protein offer a superior amino acid profile that is comparable to dairy or egg proteins, but without the potential for allergies or intestinal issues that some users experience.

Carob Protein is a raw food protein derived from carob seed and has a similar amino acid profile to soy protein with 54% protein.  It is rich in soluble and insoluble fibre and has a nutty flavour.

Egg White Protein contains 80% protein.  Its neutral flavour lends itself to be used in a variety of ways, either as a substitute of liquid eggs, blended in a smoothie, or whenever egg whites are required in a recipe.