As many of you know, protein powder is a great way to get that extra bit of protein if your regular diet is lacking. While eating a well-balanced diet, most people consume the protein they need to keep their bodies healthy and organs functioning properly. But those such as athletes, vegans, vegetarians, those on a weight loss plan or anyone who exercises regularly may need an extra boost. The amount of protein your body needs depends on various factors, including gender, age, activity level, and health.

Protein powder provides the body with nine essential amino acids that the body doesn’t produce on its own. Did you know that before a workout, protein gives your body amino acids, which it uses to fuel your workout instead of using the protein in your muscles? How about that when taken after a workout, these amino acids repair any damage done to your muscles, preventing injury, and enhancing them? There are a variety of different types of protein powder, but here are some of the most popular:

Whey: Whey is the liquid part of milk that separates during cheese production, so whey protein is primarily found in dairy. Whey protein is one of two protein types found in whey and contains all nine essential amino acids. This protein is absorbed quickly and usually does not keep you full for very long.

Casein: Casein protein is the other protein in whey, but the most significant difference is the breakdown rate. Casein protein is absorbed much slower than whey as a gel is formed around the protein when it interacts with stomach acid. This means amino acid levels coming from casein protein stay elevated in your body for up to five hours and keeps you fuller longer.

Egg White: For dairy-sensitive people, egg white protein powder may be a better option. Like whey and casein protein, egg white protein powders also contain all nine essential amino acids. Egg white protein powder is broken down slower than whey but faster than casein. This helps decrease your appetite for longer than whey protein.

Soy Protein: Made from defatted soybean flakes washed to remove sugar and dietary fiber, soy protein powder is popular among vegans and vegetarians. This protein powder contains very little fat and no cholesterol, which can help reduce high cholesterol and build up bone mass. While it is a complete protein with all nine amino acids, it may benefit you best when combined with other proteins.

Pea: Pea protein is another popular choice among vegetarians, vegans, and those with dairy sensitivity. It is also hypoallergenic. Like egg white protein, it is absorbed slower than whey but faster than casein. The most significant difference between pea and the other four protein powders above is that it is not a complete protein and contains all but one amino acid. In addition to being high-quality protein, pea protein is an excellent source of iron. It can help build muscle mass and lower risk factors for heart disease.

As you age, you lose muscle mass, which means it is vital to monitor your protein intake. Also, boosting your protein consumption helps you increase your strength and lean body mass. It may take some time and experimentation to find which protein powder is best for you and your weight loss journey. Talk to your provider to find a starting point and assess as needed!