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Protein Blends: 4 great starters & functional insight

Protein blends - 4 great starters and functional insight

HW Insights from our internal ISSN Nutritionist Aaron Martin

At this point there is no misconception, incorporating protein into a dietary regimen provides great nutritional and lifestyle benefits.  However, as we’ve discussed before, not all protein sources are created equal. What we aim to do in this article is identify the primary benefits of some prominent protein sources and show you how they can be successfully combined to create value-added blends to consider for your brand.

Products in today’s market will generally use one source of protein such as whey protein concentrate or isolate, milk protein isolate, egg albumen, micellar casein, pea protein or soy protein. Less prevalent on the shelves are blends in specific ratios which are usually identified on labels by ‘Protein Blend’ (Whey protein concentrate, Soy protein isolate, Whey protein Isolate, Whey protein hydrolysates…etc). It is well established whey protein is king for ease of digestion and high biological utilization in the body…but is this the final story?

Research has proven blends to be superior to any one source of protein in a product.1,2  Proteins have different rates of digestion and amino acid values which contribute to the overall unique function the individual protein has on the body.  Combining a faster protein such as whey protein with a slower release protein such as casein provides a sustained anabolic effect, in which amino acids are not only spiked rapidly in the blood stream (whey), but are sustained (casein)! This means more amino acids are taken up by the muscle, leading to greater protein synthesis for longer periods (thanks to casein). This can result in greater strength and muscle gains- a clear choice!

When choosing blends, it is important to know the relative ratios of each protein.  A trickling of any one source of protein will not do much good- whenever possible, it’s important to know the relative ratios and composition of the protein.

4 high quality protein blends worth exploring:

1. Dynamic Duo

Whey protein Concentrates and isolates, Milk Protein isolate (or Micellar casein)

An excellent choice for round the clock optimal protein utilization.  This blend combines some of the most bioavailable protein sources known to man in one.  Whey protein isolates and concentrates provide fast release of “spiking” of amino acids and Milk protein isolate (or the near identical source, Micellar casein) provides a steady supply of amino acids to keep anabolism and amino acid utilization at full power hours after whey has done its job.  Milk protein is already at a favorable ratio of 80% casein and 20% whey, however an ideal ratio of 50% Milk protein isolate and 50% whey protein concentrate or isolate is best.

2.  The Ultimate Trio

Whey protein Concentrates and isolates, Milk protein isolate (or Micellar casein), Egg albumen

In this blend we have fast, medium and slow release proteins in one blend.  With the addition of Egg albumen, a more complete response can be achieved. Similar to whey, egg is well utilized by the body; it digests slower than whey but faster than casein. This medium digesting protein can provide a key distinction in protein blends.  Look for a ratio of 50% MPI, 40% Whey protein and 10% Egg protein.  This would be the ideal choice in covering all the protein digestibility rates and is supported by research.

3. Plant Protein Powerhouse

Pea protein Isolate, Rice Protein isolate, Quinoa, Buckwheat (and other plants and grains)

When choosing non-dairy proteins, there are some excellent choices to consider. Although plant proteins don’t offer the same anabolic punch as animal proteins (specifically dairy), new 2015 research is pointing to some exciting research in plant proteins when compared to whey. 3

Combining high quality, nutrient-rich sources as a blend, will help sustain amino acid and provide an ideal environment for those looking to avoid dairy proteins. Examples of alternative proteins with impact are pea, rice, quinoa, buckwheat—along with other plants and grain options. There is a place for alternative proteins in the food industry. As with all health-minded products, the goal should always be to provide the highest level of quality possible and, at the same time, fit within whatever the demographics’ existing boundaries may be.

4. Where’s the Beef?

Whey protein Concentrate, Beef protein isolate, Milk protein isolate-

This trio takes a well-known duo—whey protein and milk protein isolate—and bridges it with newcomer, beef protein isolate. Lean beef has always been regarded as a premier source of protein. It is now readily available in powder form for beverage use.  Beef protein is a good idea to mix in blends as it is regarded as a medium rate digesting protein, similar to egg albumen. As research has pointed, the greater variety of amino acids and digestion rates, the better the results.  Beef provides some unique characteristics: hypoallergenic, easy to digest, extremely high essential amino acid content and a good source of bio-active forms of b-vitamins not found in other types of proteins. Ideal ratio approx. 50% MPI, 30% WPC, 20% BPI


1. Soop, M., et al. Coingestion of whey protein and casein in a mixed meal: demonstration of a more sustained anabolic effect of casein. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 303(1):E152-62, 2012.

2.  Reidy, P. T., et al. Protein Blend Ingestion Following Resistance Exercise Promotes Human Muscle Protein Synthesis. Journal of Nutrition 143(4):410-416, 2013.

3. Babault, N., et al. Pea proteins oral supplementation promotes muscle thickness gains during resistance training: a double-blind, randomized, Placebo-controlled clinical trial vs. Whey protein. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2015, 12:3

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