Cow’s milk protein has by far been the most predominant supplemental protein for the last…..well, since forever really. Separated into the two protein fractions, casein and whey, they are by far the most studied, well known and most widely used protein supplements on the market today.With a favourable amino acid profile, high bioavailability (high absorption), plenty of healthy subfractions including glycomacropeptides, beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin to name a few and plenty of years of research on extraction processes, cow's milk proteins are a fantastic addition to anyone's supplement regime.
There are also plenty of other proteins including soy protein, hemp protein, rice protein, pea protein, amaranth protein and even artichoke protein, however nothing comes close to the popularity of cow’s milk protein. In general, vegetable proteins are also usually less bioavailable and not complete; that is they don’t contain all the essential amino acids. There are some vegetable sources, which are considered complete, such as soy, but there have been studies which have examined soy protein versus whey protein and found in favour of whey1. Which is not to say that one cannot obtain similar benefits from vegetable sources of protein. However, there is a lack of research on different vegetable proteins and their effectiveness to promote muscle size, muscle strength and performance gains.
Recently, there’s been a new player in town and it’s fish protein. A Peruvian company known as Blue Wave Marine Ingredients last year built a plant to convert sardines into protein for use in both feeds, food and pharmaceutical applications. According to the company, the end results of the manufacturing process will produce both a fish protein isolate (FPI) and a fish protein concentrate (FPC). Both are considered highly digestible with the FPI including a high proportion of low molecular weight peptides which can be absorbed faster and the FPC containing high amounts of beneficial omega 3 fats.
Touted as being cheaper than cow's milk proteins and therefore possibly easier on your wallet. perhaps in the near future, you’d be seeing some fish protein at a shop near you. In the meantime, consuming plenty of fish, both tinned and fresh is a great way to increase the level of protein in your diet, whilst also providing you with plenty of beneficial fatty acids and even calcium.
1. Tang JE et al. ‘Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men.’ Journal of Applied Physiology September 2009: 107(3): 987-992.