Healthy proteins are comprised of essential amino acids like Isoleucine, Leucine, Phenylalanine, & Valine and non essential amino acids which includes Arginine, Alanine, and Glutamine. These amino acids are exist in our body with the purpose of producing building blocks of muscle-building. As such, there is a lot of debate in bodybuilding forums about nutrition particularly whey protein vs whole foods. While there are some who vouch by whey protein supplements, there are others who think that whole foods are still the best. In my opinion, none is best. Each one has its own role to play when it comes to muscle-building. Let’s compare:
Milk consists of 80% casein and 20% whey. Whey is generally accumulated and collected while cheese making is in process. You can get two predominant types of whey protein: whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate. The latter is usually the best one to use as it’s lower in fat, cholesterol, sugar and lactose whereas the former usually has more of these ingredients. For the biologicla value(BV), whey protein isolate is having the highest BV which is 154. As compare to eggs which is having the second highest BV of 100. Proteins with higher BV indicates the protein can be absorbed and being used by our body in more efficient way. For whey protein isolate, it not only has Glutamine but also branched chain amino acids(BCAAs) that happen to be necessary proteins to enhance our muscle. With the use of muscle measurement, 1 scoop of whey protein isolate will be able to yield about 22-26 grams of high quality protein. Your best buy will be a pure whey protein isolate devoid of artificial sweeteners.
Ideally, whey protein is perfect for post-workout when the tissues of our muscle are depleted and we have to have a fast-acting protein to repair and rebuild the depleted muscle tissues. A liquid meal is preferred at this time and a whey protein shake does this job pretty well. Weightlifters, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts usually consume whey protein post-workout with some fast-digesting carbs like dextrose(glucose), maltodextrin, waxy maize or Gatorade whose goal is to replenish lost glycogen stores(energy storage cells) quickly and shuttle the amino acids faster to your muscle cells thanks to the insulin spike. These will have a positive effect in recharging your energy levels and enhance protein synthesis. Thereafter, your body will stay anabolic that is building muscles. Some people call the post-workout nutrition the “window of opportunity” meaning within 15-30 minutes after training, you should consume a whey protein shake because not being able to achieve this can lead to muscle catabolism which will cause losing muscles. The negative effects of skipping a post-workout shake is almost all of your workout at the gym will be a waste.
Whey protein can also be used for breakfast in your cereals and as meal replacements too when you don’t have time to cook your meals, so it’s convenient, handy and fast to prepare. You just need a blender and mix everything. Whey protein is highly versatile as you can use so many ingredients to make a whey protein shake like peanut butter, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, flaxseed oil, milk, ice cubes, honey, oats. You can even make your own homemade weight gainers which will come you cheaper. If you think about it, a whey protein shake is a complete meal because it has protein, carbs, fiber, vitamins and healthy fats. Having said that, a whey protein shake should only form part of your overall nutrition and not replace it as they are just supplements. You still need protein from whole foods for a balanced diet. You can’t rely on liquid protein meals alone.
There is really not much to say about whole foods. We eat whole foods everyday and supplements should not replace them. They are simply the building blocks of your nutrition most of the time. If you eat 4-6 meals per day, more than half of your meals should come from whole foods. Foods like eggs, milk, beef, chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, white fish, beans, nuts, flax seeds, olive oil, fish oil, whole grain oats, sweet potatoes, yams, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, vegetables etc… should always be your staple foods. After your post-workout shake, you can have a solid meal from whole foods 1 hour after, for example, a chicken/turkey breast or lean steak with some broccoli florets, green beans or asparagus are popular.
Whole foods have more diverse and vital nutrients which your body needs to prevent nutritional deficiencies. So if you use to eat boiled eggs and oatmeal for breakfast, continue what you’re doing and don’t simply replace them with a whey protein shake. Of course at times, you can have a shake but just don’t make it become a habit.