Most individuals know that protein is important for our muscles, but the role of protein stretches so much further than just that, protein is such an important part of our diet. Then, there comes all the questions around protein; how much should we be having, should we be having plant or animal proteins, what is the difference between whey and casein? Hopefully this article will shed some light on all your protein questions.
We find proteins throughout our entire bodies – in our bones, muscles, skin, hair and nearly every other tissue or body part. Protein is made up of long chains of amino acids that join together. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins which help form the thousands of proteins in ours bodies1,2. We get 20 different amino acids and of these, 9 amino acids are essential - meaning our bodies cannot produce these, therefore we need to obtain these from our diet1. 2. THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF PROTEIN As a nutrient, protein performs various roles and functions in our body. We need to obtain an adequate amount of protein in our diet to help build, maintain and repair body tissues1,3,4. Many of the body’s structural components are made up of protein. Proteins make up many enzymes and hormones which help to regulate body processes and chemical reactions. Proteins play an important role in our immune systems and help fight off infections1. 3. ANIMAL VS. PLANT PROTEINS We can obtain protein from two different sources, namely animal proteins and plant proteins. Animal proteins usually contain all the essential amino acids and are therefore referred to as being a complete protein1,5. So,they make great protein sources but can often be high in fat. Therefore, we want to try choosing more of the lean options such as poultry (chicken, turkey, duck), and a diversity of seafood (fish, shellfish, mollusks) are your best bet. Eggs can be a great choice too. When it comes to dairy foods, choose low-fat or fat-free options and aim for 2 servings per day1. Red meat and processed meat can be enjoyed in moderation and swop out unhealthy cooking methods for healthier ones5. Plant proteins are also an excellent way to obtain protein as they are lower in fat. They also contain healthy fats, fibre and are a lot lighter on the wallet. Plant proteins are therefore a win for your health. Think of options like beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, whole-grains, nuts and seeds. Plant proteins usually do not contain all amino acids and are therefore called an incomplete protein, if most of your protein comes from plant sources, make sure that you mix and match your sources to ensure none of the “essential” components are missing1,5. 4. DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHEY, CASEIN AND SOY The predominant forms of protein found in sports nutrition are:
  • Casein
Casein is a complete protein source that is derived from dairy(±80% of the protein). It’s known as a slower-digesting protein, which is why you’ll see it suggested before bed, or as part of a meal replacement shake. It plays a major role during growth and development1,6.
  • Whey
Whey protein is a high-quality protein made from milk (±20% of the protein) and has a high concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs),particularly leucine. It is well-known for its quick absorption rate and easy digestion6. It is often recommended immediately after exercise as part of a post-workout regimen and is commonly used in many protein supplements.
  • Soy
Soy protein is a protein that is isolated from the soybean. Soy offers multiple health benefits such as decreasing cancer risk, cardiovascular disease risk as well as obesity prevention and control. Soy is higher in the amino acids glutamine and arginine compared to whey and casein1.
  • Protein blends
Some products contain protein blends where they incorporate whey, casein and soy into one blend. Blending these proteins together can help maintain a positive protein balance over a course of time1,6. Studies have shown it extends muscle protein synthesis longer compared to having the proteins in isolation due to:
  • Different digestion rates
  • Prolonged delivery of amino acids
  • Repairs muscle consistently over a longer period
  • Balanced amino acid profile: Glutamine & arginine (soy) and BCAAs (whey)
  • Ideal protein combination for muscle protein synthesis and recovery
FUTURELIFE® HIGH PROTEIN Smartfood™is high in protein whichassists in the increase andmaintenance of muscle mass. It has been formulated withSmartProtein3D which is ascientific blend of 3 proteinsources (Whey, Casein, Soy) thus offering the numerous benefits mentioned above. CONCLUSION Now that we know more about protein, it makes choices around healthier eating that much easier. With the countless benefits and relatively easy way to reach our protein needs daily, we can rest assured knowing we are on the right track. Enjoy a variety of protein from different sources, make every day healthy decisions, drink enough water, ensure you get a good night’s rest, exercise frequently and enjoy time with your family. Thisisnot only great for your health, but your soultoo. REFERENCES
  1. Mahan, L., Escott-Stump, S., & Raymond, J. (2012). Krause's Food & the Nutrition Care Process 13th Edition. Elsivier
  2. van der Walle, G. (2018, June 20). 9 Important Functions of Protein in Your Body. Retrieved from Healthline:
  3. Lawler, M. (n.d.). Everyday Health. Retrieved from What Is Protein? How Much You Need, Benefits, Sources, More:
  4. (n.d.). Retrieved from The Power of Protein:
  5. Brown, M.-J. (2017, June 17). Retrieved from Healthline:
  6. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sports and Performance:
  7. Senekal, P. (2018, June 21). International Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR). Retrieved from