It’s no surprise, then, in the effort to pack on serious size, the question always arises, what allows you to build muscle faster, whey protein supplements or protein from natural food sources?
Here’s a quick explanation stating the difference between the two
Whey Protein vs Natural Protein: Protein Quality
To decide which works best, whey or natural protein, there are several factors to consider. One determining factor would be protein quality. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say the higher the biological value, the higher the quality.
Biological value works well as a barometer of quality, since it corresponds to the “percentage used by the body of either the total protein consumed or the digestible protein available.”
Whey Protein vs. Natural Protein: Biological Value of natural sources
Let’s compare whey’s biological value along with some popular natural protein sources:
- Whey- BV 105-160
- Eggs- BV 88-100
- Milk- BV 84
- Beef- BV 80
-Chicken/ Turkey BV 79
- Fish- BV 76
To put this in context, you get more protein from 20g whey protein than 20g chicken breast. Does this mean whey is the best protein source? Of course, not. It just means you absorb more protein from whey.
Whey Protein vs. Natural Protein: Metabolism
Biological Value aside, satiety is an important factor to consider. If you’re trying to build muscle and have a fast metabolism, it might be difficult to consume adequate protein for building muscle from only natural protein sources. This issue is further compounded if you have a small appetite.
On the other hand, relying on natural protein sources instead of whey protein keeps you full, curbs cravings and prevents snacking while dieting.
Whey Protein vs. Natural Protein: Whey Protein Response
Gastrointestinal issues are another concern. Whey is derived from milk, which means stomach crampsand bloating for anyone sensitive to lactose. One alternative to this would be whey protein isolate, which undergoes further processing to remove lactose and sugar.
Barring an allergy, you’re not going to have these concerns with natural protein such as chicken, fish, or steak.
Whey Protein vs. Natural Protein: Convenience
With regards to the convenience factor, whey protein wins hands down. Whey protein doesn’t require as much digestion and provides immediate amino acid delivery. Taking whey protein post-workout is also a convenient way to kick-start protein synthesis and speed the recovery process.
In regards to time, it takes much longer to sit down and eat natural protein sources. Whey protein takes just a few seconds to drink.
Whey Protein vs. Natural Protein: So which is better?
Ultimately, whey protein and natural protein should complement each other, as each has distinct advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it’s impossible to say one is better than the other for building muscle. Both sources provide amino acids, which are used to build muscle.
Let’s put it this way:
“If you are eating six times per day, use a protein powder as a supplement for two, or maybe even three, of those meals. Powders are more readily absorbed than foods such as chicken and beef, ultimately influencing the amount of intact amino acids available for muscles. Easy access to protein without the fuss and fight of extra digestion improves your chance of growth.”
By adding in a couple whey protein shakes along with natural protein sources, you can get the calories you need without force-feeding yourself. This also maximizes convenience, allowing you to use whey protein in place of eating.