How to Choose the Right Protein for Weight Loss or Muscle Growth?

How to Choose the Right Protein for Weight Loss or Muscle Growth?

It may come as no surprise to you to learn that protein is no steroid for dopers and doesn’t only have to be used by a 130 kg bodybuilder. On the contrary, it is a practical dietary supplement. It is therefore an essential part of the diet of people who want to lose weight, gain muscle or simply stay in shape. In fact, a sufficient protein intake can greatly help to achieve a set lifestyle goal, whatever it may be.

If you decided to make your protein intake easier by using some protein powder, you may be confused when choosing one. It may not be easy to navigate what the abbreviations such as WPC, WPI or DH32 mean. In today’s article, we will explain more about what lies behind these mysterious letters, and we will also discuss how to choose the right protein relative to your goals.

What are the benefits of using protein powder?

Protein is a dietary supplement that is rightly a concentrated source of protein. Its recommended intake ranges between 0.8 – 2 g of protein per kilogram of BW (body weight), depending on age, health status and volume of physical activity. For a 70 kg person, it is therefore 56 – 140g.

Due to increased protein intake requirements, athletes are advised to stick to a range of 1.4 – 2g per kilogram of BW. For a 70 kg sportsman, it is somewhere between 98 – 140g. Protein powder, however, is designed not just for the growth of athletes’ muscles. It can also help people who are trying to lose weight and want to protect their hard-earned muscle mass from burning to energy or reduce constant hunger and sweet cravings. If you are unable to get enough protein from a normal diet in a day, protein powder can become a great partner for you. Let’s see what an adequate protein intake has an impact on. [1-2]

1. Acceleration of metabolism

The acceleration of metabolism may to some extent be related to the thermal effect, which proteins have the highest of all foods. What does this mean? For proteins, depending on their type, the thermal effect varies between 20 – 30%. Its known that 20 – 30% of their energy value is used by the body for metallization. In comparison, carbohydrates have a thermal effect of only 5 – 10% and fats of only 0 – 3%. Protein thus enables the body, of all the macronutrients, to burn the most energy practically without making any additional effort. If you consume 150g of protein per day, you can also burn up to 180 kcal. [3–⁠5]

2. Losing and maintaining weight

Easier weight loss due to adequate protein intake is also linked to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass, which consumes more energy than fat. If you have more muscle, your expenditure is naturally higher. If you have already reached your goal weight, optimum protein intake can also help you not to start gaining weight again. This is due to the thermal effect and the satiety of protein. [6-8]

If you want more tips on how to lose weight, you shouldn’t miss our article 15 Tips On How To Lose Weight, Start Exercising and Eating Healthily.

3. Growth and maintenance of muscles

Protein and their amino acids are an essential building block of muscle. This allows muscle mass to grow and gain strength, which is appreciated by all those who regularly work out at the gym. Likewise, protein can help with muscle maintenance, which is most important, especially during dieting. In fact, during a calorie deficit, high protein intake can reduce and prevent the loss of muscle mass. What’s more, if certain conditions are met, it can help with muscle gain. That’s why it’s better to stick to a higher protein intake. You can definitely approach the limit of 2g of protein per kg of body weight without fear. [9-10]

Find more tips on how to increase muscle mass in our article What To Eat and How To Exercise So You Will Finally Increase Muscle Mass?

4. Increased regeneration

Protein also plays an irreplaceable role in repairing damaged muscles after exercise. That, too, is why, in the gym, you can see athletes mixing protein drink in a shaker immediately after their last series. Sure, that’s a little over the top, but they’re basically making no error. They’re just trying to give the body what it needs right away. In addition to the ability to repair muscles after training, protein can also help repair damaged tissues due to injury. Nor should its intake be underestimated by people who have suffered an injury and want to get back into shape as soon as possible. [11-12]

More tips on how to support regeneration can be found in our article How To Promote Regeneration With the Help Of A Massage Gun and Other Aids.

Protein to promote bone health

5. Supports immunity

You may have heard that protein is an essential building block of muscle. But it is also indispensable for the production of immune system cells and antibodies. If you want to maximise your health and defences, you should take care of your protein intake.

A high-quality whey protein containing bioactive protein fractions can help you directly with immune support. For example, we can name immunoglobulins, alpha and beta-lactoglubulin, or lactoferin, which are beneficial for our intestinal immunity. Equally, you can boost your immunity with cold water therapy and biohacking. [13] [44]

6. Decrease in appetite and cravings

Protein has the greatest satiating effect of all the macronutrients. If you ensure your protein intake is sufficient in each meal, you have a better chance of getting more satiated and not needing to finish up with some snacks. Optimal protein intake may also help to reduce ghrelin levels, which is also known as the hunger hormone. Again, this may have to do with a lower need to satisfy cravings after food.

Appetite Control and other tips from our article How To Get Rid Of Constant Hunger and Cravings will help keep constant hunger and cravings under control. [14–⁠17]

7. Supports bone health

Protein not only affects muscle growth, but also contributes to maintaining healthy bones. The results of studies suggest that to some extent it may help prevent fractures or the development of osteoporosis. Protein is as important for the health of the musculoskeletal system as is an active lifestyle with plenty of exercise and especially strength training on its own. [18-21]

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How do we classify protein powders and which one to choose?

Before choosing a protein powder, you need to ask what it’s actually made from. It’s probably no surprise that it’s made from protein-rich foods. Based on the raw ingredients, we can divide proteins into animal and plant-based. This gives you a wide array of options from which to choose protein powder, exactly according to your needs and goals. There are also special protein powders, suitable for vegans or people with dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance.

Animal based protein

Protein powder that is made from milk can generally be identified as the most popular. It contains a combination of whey protein and casein in a ratio of 1:4. Whey protein is a mixture of proteins isolated from whey. Specifically, you can find whey concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. If you see “100% Whey” on the label, you can be sure that whey proteins are the only protein source used. A great preference for such a protein is rapid digestibility. However, casein proteins are also produced from milk, such as today’s most widely used micellar casein. It provides steady stream of muscle-building amino acids as it digests much more slowly. This makes it perfect for reducing appetite and increasing feelings of fullness.

However, in addition to milk, animal protein powders are also made from beef protein or eggs (egg albumin). Very rarely, you may also run into chicken or salmon protein. However, their price is quite high. That’s why this kind of protein sources may be part of some multicomponent protein powders, meal replacements or protein bars. Below, we’ll talk about how to recognize each type of protein and choose the best one.

1. Whey protein

Whey protein belongs to the category of animal products produced from milk. More than 100 litres of milk is needed per kilogram of the resulting protein. The resulting price varies depending on the type of protein, the method of processing, digestibility, digestion time, protein, fat, carbohydrate content. This way, each of the protein powders may be suitable for an individual relative to their goal.

To produce whey protein, quality cow’s milk must first be sourced. It undergoes pasteurisation (short-term heating) which prevents bacteria from multiplying in the milk. After this process, the milk contains approximately 20% whey and 80% casein protein. The addition of the enzyme chymosin clots the milk, thus separating the whey from the casein. This yields a liquid part called milk serum (whey) which contains whey proteins, fats and carbohydrates. It is then further processed through filtration and other processes to create the final product – whey protein. [22-23]

Whey concentrate

Whey concentrate can also be found under the acronym WPC (Whey Protein Concentrate). Due to its properties, it belongs to the most favoured and popular type of protein worldwide. It usually contains a fair amount protein up to 70 – 80%. For example, the ion exchange method was previously used in manufacturing. This was an inexpensive way in which the original protein fractions were degraded. Therefore, it has now been replaced by refined filtration methods such as nanofiltration, microfiltration and ultrafiltration. This produces a high-quality and relatively rapidly absorbable protein (10 g/h), which is also affordable. [24]

Whey concentrate is suitable for:

  • Strength-training athletes after exercise to promote regeneration. 
  • Strength-training athletes at any time of the day to meet optimal protein intake.
  • Endurance and other athletes after exercise to promote regeneration. 
  • Endurance athletes at any time of the day to meet optimal protein intake. 
  • People who are trying to lose weight and need to increase their protein intake. 
  • Chefs and cooks who want to increase the protein content of their dishes. 
  • Persons in convalescence post an injury.
  • Anyone who wants to consume quality and affordable protein.
Who is whey concentrate beneficial for?

Whey isolate

Whey isolate is also referred to as WPI (Whey Protein Isolate). It is extracted from whey concentrate by filtration. The isolate takes longer to filter than the concentrate. This produces a product that is even ‘purer’ than whey concentrate. In comparison, it also has a greater proportion of protein, 80% or more. It also contains less fat and sugar, which perfect for demanding athletes who need the highest quality and rapidly absorbed protein (10 g/h). During production, the protein is also stripped of almost all milk sugar. Its content in whey isolates is about 2g per 100g of mixture, which allows people with lactose intolerance to use it without worry. [25–⁠26]

Whey isolate is suitable for:

  • Demanding athletes who strive for maximum regeneration. 
  • Fitness and bodybuilding athletes who keep an eye on every gram of fat and sugar in their diet.
  • People on cutting diet.
  • People who want the best protein for weight loss.
  • Individuals who cannot digest lactose. 
  • People seeking the purest concentrated source of protein.

Whey hydrolase

Whey hydrolysate also known as WPH (Whey Protein Hydrolysate) typically contains 70 – 85% protein. It is specific in that it is produced from whey concentrate or isolate by a hydrolysis process. During this process, ingredients are added to the mixture which break down the protein chains enzymatically into shorter peptides. These are more quickly absorbed by the body. This produces a protein that is well digested and used faster by the body. Thanks to the absorption rate (more than 10 g/h), the hydrolysate can outperform other whey proteins. [27–⁠28]

You may have already noticed the DH (Degree of Hydrolysis) mark when selecting a hydrolysed protein and wondered what it meant. It’s simple, the higher the number behind the letters DH, the longer the hydrolysis process took, and more bonds were split. It also means that the protein contains shorter peptides and free amino acids. Simply put, the higher the degree of hydrolysis the protein has, the more it is split and more quickly digestible. For example, this type of protein powder is suitable for people with an allergy to cow’s milk protein. The allergy causing parts are split during hydrolysis, and so the protein should not cause digestive problems. [29]

The highest possible degree of hydrolysis shall have the designation DH32. However, you may also encounter DH5 designation, where the degree of hydrolysis is lower. Also keep in mind during selection that hydrolysed proteins typically have a slightly bitter taste that may not suit everyone. Before you buy a 5 kg pack, get a sample to see if it really suits your taste. [29]

Whey hydrolysate is suitable for:

  • Demanding athletes who strive for maximum regeneration. 
  • Demanding athletes who want even faster absorption.
  • People with lactose intolerance (suitable if the protein powder is made from whey isolate).
  • For those who have an allergy to cow’s milk protein.

2. Micellar casein

Micellar casein is obtained from fresh and skimmed cow’s milk. It is the most popular and high-quality form of casein produced by the microfiltration process from milk. Thus, micellar casein typically contains 70 – 80% protein, which is absorbed gradually at a rate of approximately 6 g/h. This is due to the fact that it has specific spherical structures called micelles, which results in a longer absorption period. That is why casein has also rightly earned the nickname “night protein”. This type is not suitable for people who expect rapid absorption from the protein powder. Conversely, it is popular with anyone who is trying to maximize muscle growth and wants to maintain increased muscle protein production overnight, as this type of protein powder is slowly digested. [45] 

Micellar casein is suitable:

  • Combined with a quickly digestible protein (whey concentrate or isolate) for athletes who don’t eat a solid meal for two hours or more after exercise. 
  • For athletes and all others who want to provide the body with enough protein at night.
  • For those who want to provide the body with enough protein during prolonged fasting. 
For whom is micellar casein suitable?

3. Beef protein

Beef protein is another favourite in people who are lactose intolerant. However, it contains mainly connective tissue protein, or collagen, which has a specific amino acid spectrum. This makes it less suitable for stimulating muscle growth compared to the whey alternative. Strength-training athletes should therefore reach for another type of protein. But if you want to promote joint, hair, nail and skin health, collagen supplements are also helpful. Collagen can to some extent slow the ageing of the skin, improve its elasticity and reduce wrinkles. In addition, it promotes joint and cartilage function. [30] 

Beef protein is suitable for: 

  • Women and men who desire a youthful skin appearance and want to reduce wrinkles.
  • People who have a problem with their joints or the musculoskeletal system in general. 

4. Egg protein

Eggs are one of the most popular sources of protein amongst strength-training athletes. The raw protein powder (egg albumin) is produced by drying pasteurised (short-term heating) whites from chicken eggs. As a rule, it contains 60 – 80% high-quality protein. The advantage of egg protein is that it has good amino acid spectrum. That makes it one of the most valuable protein sources ever. Like beef protein, it is useful for people who are lactose intolerant. In comparison, however, egg protein is better as it has a much more favourable amino acid spectrum. For some people, a slight disadvantage may be its longer absorption (3 g/h). In certain cases, however, this may be perceived as an advantage. [45] 

What’s more, you can also get more protein in your diet by using classic liquid whites. Their advantage is that you don’t have to throw away the yolks, in case you only need to enriched your meal with protein, but not fat.

Egg protein is suitable for:

  • People who want to enrich their dishes with quality protein. 
  • People on a diet who appreciate slower protein absorption. 
  • Individuals who want to provide the body with enough protein at night or during prolonged fasting. 
  • For people with lactose intolerance.

5. Multicomponent protein

As its name suggests, multicomponent protein is composed of multiple protein sources. Animal multicomponent proteins are often a combination of whey concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate or micellar casein. Such a combination can create better properties of the resulting protein.

If you get your hands on, for example, whey concentrate and casein, you get a protein powder that can be absorbed rapidly and slowly. This is ideal in a situation where you need to start regeneration processes as quickly as possible after a workout and you know you won’t get to a solid meal for several hours.

In fact, whey concentrates and hydrolysates are absorbed at approximately 10 g/h, micellar casein at 6 g/h and egg albumin at 3 g/h. Combining these ensures a rapid and gradual supply of high-quality protein to the muscles. [31-32]

The protein content of multicomponent proteins varies according to the raw materials used. In particular, from animal sources, prefer proteins made from milk or egg whites. If you are concerned about muscle growth, try to avoid collagen. It is more suitable for people who want to promote skin appearance or joint health.

Multicomponent protein is suitable for:

  • People on a diet whose priority is satiation for longer period of time.
  • For those who want to replenish with quality protein at any time of the day. 
  • Strength athletes who will not eat solid food for approximately 1.5 hours or more after an exercise. 

Animal proteins and their use


Types of Protein

Weight lossWhey isolate, whey concentrate, whey hydrolysate, multiprotein
Muscle growthWhey isolate, whey concentrate, whey hydrolysate, multiprotein
After exercise (general)Whey concentrate
After exercise (fastest regeneration)Whey hydrolysate
After exercise (first solid meal more than two hours post-workout)Micellar casein, egg protein, multiprotein
Enriching meals, cooking and baking with proteinWhey concentrate, micellar casein, egg protein
Lactose intoleranceWhey isolate, egg protein
Quick snackWhey isolate, whey concentrate, egg protein, multiprotein
Supporting skin appearance and musculoskeletal systemBeef collagen

Recommended use of animal based protein

For animal protein, a recommended serving is 0.25 – 0.3g per kg of body weight. But if you don’t want to worry about calculating the dose, you won’t make a mistake by taking 20 – 40g of the protein powder. This is more or less equivalent to a full 30g measuring cup. The upper limit of 40g of protein is particularly recommended for athletes after full-body strength training, when the body’s demand for protein is even higher. [2]

Plant-based proteins

Plant-based protein powders are made from various plant sources. Most often it is soya, peas, rice or hemp. Their great advantage is that they are well tolerated by people who have lactose intolerance. Such protein powders are particularly popular with vegans. However, people who normally eat animal products and want to try something new, prefer plant-based proteins to reduce carbon dioxide emissions or to spice up their eating plan. The downside, however, is that plant protein powders are often less digestible than animal protein powders, and also contain a less favourable spectrum of essential amino acids. This makes them a lower quality protein source compared to animal protein. But, thankfully, it is not a big deal. Just have a ⅓ larger serving of plant protein and ideally combine the sources it’s made from. The combination of cereals and legumes, for example, works well. This way, you will get a more favourable amino acid spectrum. [33–⁠34]

According to Rubner’s rule, the content of the least represented essential amino acid affects the protein usability, leading to proteosynthesis. It is important to combine suitable plant-based protein sources. What’s more, to increase the absorption of the amino acids contained in plant protein powders, add some probiotics. Before using a plant protein, be mindful that it has quite different taste than whey protein, which may not suit everyone. So get a sample to try it and then decide if it suits your taste. [33–⁠34]  

1. Soy Protein

Soy protein is one of the most popular alternatives for vegetarians and vegans. Its great advantage is that it is most similar to whey protein in its EAA proportion. It in turn comes closest to high-quality whey protein. This is also why it is quite popular among vegans, and especially among athletes who prefer purely a plant-based foods. For some, however, the disadvantage may be that soy protein powders often contain more sugar than whey proteins.

Soy protein is made from soy white flakes. These are obtained by peeling and removing the fat from soya beans. The flakes are then ground into flour or meal, which has approximately 50 – 54% protein. The next procedures remove the flavouring substances and sugars, resulting in a concentrate containing approximately 65 – 70% protein. However, the mixture may still be processed. Other processes, such as fibre removal and further centrifugation or desiccation, creates a soya isolate. It could have even more than 90% protein, but typically, it contains about 85%.  [35-36]

Soy protein is suitable for:

  • Strength-training athletes who strive for muscle growth.
  • Vegans, vegetarians and people with lactose intolerance.
  • People who want to enhance their diet with plant protein.
  • Chefs and cooks who want to enrich their dishes with plant protein. 
  • People who need to increase the protein content in their diet. 
For whom is soy protein suitable?

2. Rice Protein

Rice protein is made from rice grains. They are ground, and the enzymes are then used to separate the proteins from the natural starch. Compared to whey protein, rice protein contains less protein, and it can take longer to digest. The limiting amino acid, which is represented in insufficient quantities, in rice protein is mainly lysine. To compensate for this deficiency, it is advisable to supplement it with another source of protein, ideally protein from legumes. Rice protein and pea protein can thus be a great combination due to their amino acid content. The protein content differs for specific products. However, it is usually between 50 – 78%. You may also encounter different carbohydrate and fat proportions for these proteins. [37–⁠40] 

Rice protein is suitable for:

  • Vegans, vegetarians and people with lactose intolerance.
  • People who want to enhance their diet with plant protein.
  • Chefs and cooks who want to enrich their dishes with plant protein. 
  • People who need to increase the protein content in their diet. 

3. Hemp protein

Hemp protein is made from hemp seeds, which are pressed and ground to get a fine powder. Hemp protein powder often contains about 50% protein, which is considerably lower than in whey proteins. Nor is the amino acid profile at its best. Although hemp protein is relatively high in tyrosine and arginine, it contains low amounts of lysine or leucine compared to whey protein. It is therefore appropriate to supplement these amino acids from other sources, such as pea protein. [41–⁠43] 

Hemp protein is suitable for:

  • Vegans, vegetarians and people with lactose intolerance.
  • People who want to enhance their diet with plant protein.
  • Chefs and cooks who want to enrich their dishes with plant protein. 
  • People who need to increase the protein content in their diet. 

4. Pea protein

Pea protein is a relatively good alternative to whey protein, as it contains higher amounts of leucine. This amino acid is considered to be one of the most important essential amino acids for muscle growth. On the other hand, however, pea protein contains smaller amounts of methionine. You can reliably solve this by combining it with rice protein. What’s more, high fibre content of pea protein, slows its absorption. Therefore, this type of protein powder may not be suitable if you want to start regeneration of damaged muscle fibres as quickly as possible after exercise.

Pea protein powder is suitable for:

  • Vegans, vegetarians and people with lactose intolerance.
  • People who want to enhance their diet with plant protein.
  • Chefs and cooks who want to enrich their dishes with plant protein. 
  • People who need to increase the protein content in their diet. 
How to combine plant proteins

5. Multicomponent protein

Multicomponent plant-based protein powder is also a great choice. In fact, different plant sources they contain can compensate for limited content of amino acids, thereby creating a protein with a more favourable amino acid spectrum. The basis is therefore a combination of protein from cereals and legumes. For plant multicomponent proteins, you may often encounter a combination of pea and rice, for example. Cereal proteins have an unfavourable lysine content, while leguminous proteins are poor in methionine and cysteine. By combining pea protein with rice protein, you get a high-quality plant protein with a favourable amino acid spectrum.

Multicomponent protein is suitable for:

  • Athletes who strive for muscle growth. 
  • People who want to lose weight and need to increase their protein intake. 
  • Vegans, vegetarians and people with lactose intolerance.
  • People who want to enhance their diet with plant protein.
  • Chefs and cooks who want to enrich their food with plant proteins. 
  • People who need to increase the amount of protein in their diet.

Plant protein powders and their use

Plant-based protein powder are perfect for all athletes who want to gain and maintain muscle mass, or promote regeneration after training. They are also ideal for those who want to lose weight or are trying to enrich their diet with high-quality protein. In case you also want to try plant-based protein, reach for soy, multicomponent or a combination of different plant proteins. A great choice, for example, is the combination of rice and pea protein. You will often find this combination in multicomponent proteins, which will make it easier for you to receive plant proteins from multiple sources.

To get the most out of plant proteins, you can increase the dose of the mixture, or supplement it with probiotics, to increase its usability.

Recommended intake of plant-based protein powder

A higher intake is usually recommended for plant proteins compared to animal proteins. Feel free to pour in a heaping measuring cup containing up to 40g of protein.

What should you remember?

For recreational athletes without specific needs, who eat animal protein and are looking for the ideal protein powder for fair price and functionality, whey protein is a great choice. Reach for whey isolate or egg protein if you have problems with lactose intolerance. And if you want to promote skin beauty, try beef collagen.

Even lovers of pure plant foods will not be deprived of this great food supplement. Soy or multi-component protein will be the best option. In the same way, you can combine pea protein with rice protein. And to make plant-protein powder even more effective, reach for probiotics.

Whichever protein you choose, think of it as no miracle powder to guarantee a lean or muscular body. However, if you use it cleverly to meet your daily protein intake and rapidly regenerate your muscles after a workout, then combined with a balanced diet and a well-adjusted training schedule it can help you achieve your goal.

Do you have anyone among your acquaintances who hasn’t tried protein? Share this article and introduce them to its benefits. 


[1] Bernaciková, M., Masarykova univerzita, & Fakulta sportovních studií. – Regenerace a výživa ve sportu

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[13] Whey Protein –

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[19] Marian T. Hannan et al. – Effect of Dietary Protein on Bone Loss in Elderly Men and Women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study –

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[21] Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health –

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[23] Phil Kelly Manufacture of Whey Protein Products –


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[30] Beef protein: anabolic underdog? –

[31] Fast vs. Slow Proteins –

[32] How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution –


[34] Ralf Jäger – Probiotic Administration Increases Amino Acid Absorption from Plant Protein: a Placebo-Controlled, Randomized, Double-Blind, Multicenter, Crossover Study –

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[37] What are the benefits of brown rice protein powder? –

[38] Martin Purpura et al. – Ingestion of Rice and Whey Protein Isolate: A Double-Blind Crossover Study –

[39] Limiting amino acids –

[40] LucaAmagliani et al. – Composition and protein profile analysis of rice protein ingredients –


[42] Stefan H. M. Gorissen et al. – Protein content and amino acid composition of commercially available plant-based protein isolates –

[43] Hemp Protein –

[44] Beaulieu, J. et al. – Whey proteins and peptides: Beneficial effects on immune health –

[45] Shane Bilsborough et al. – A review of issues of dietary protein intake in humans –

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