Are multiple proteins better than one? Depending on your fitness goals (and your daily schedule), you might want to swap the single protein in your shaker bottle for a protein blend. Here, we break down what makes protein blends different from your usual whey, when to use them, and which tubs to try.
What Are Protein Blends, Exactly?
While many protein powders contain just one particular type of protein—like whey isolate, for example—protein blends incorporate more than one type of protein. For example, in addition to whey isolate, a protein blend might also contain whey concentrate and casein.
The types of protein used in protein blend supplements vary from product to product, but typically they contain a few of the following:
- whey protein isolate
- whey protein concentrate
- hydrolyzed whey protein
- casein protein
- milk protein
- egg protein
Why Blend Proteins Together?
“The purpose of combining different types of protein is to help your body stay in an anabolic state (in which it continues to ‘build’ up) for a longer period of time, since the different types of protein have different rates of absorption,” explains Rebekah Blakely, R.D.N., dietitian for The Vitamin Shoppe and Only Me.
Hydrolyzed whey and whey isolate proteins absorb quickly, hence why they’re typically used post-workout to support quick muscle recovery. Egg protein and whey concentrate, meanwhile, absorb at a more moderate pace, and can be helpful at or between meals. Casein, finally, digests slowly, and is often taken at night or before long periods without eating to ward off muscle breakdown.
“Combine these proteins together, and you’ve got a supplement that supports quick muscle recovery, as well as muscle maintenance and satiety over a longer period of time,” Blakely says.
When To Opt For A Protein Blend
According to Blakely, protein blend supplements are especially helpful for people looking to make performance and muscle gains—and come in handy in three situations, in particular.
The first: after workouts, when you won’t be eating again for a while. “This way, you’ll get the fast-digesting proteins you need for quick recovery and slower-digesting proteins to keep you satiated,” she says.
The second: in between meals—or as a meal replacement. This way, you have a balanced flow of protein for the next few hours.
The third: before bed, to help you maintain protein balance (and minimize potential of protein—and muscle—breakdown) throughout the night.
Shopping For A Quality Protein Blend Supplement
When searching for a good protein blend supplement, Blakely recommends taking a close look at the ingredient label. “Look for minimal extra ingredients like additives, sweeteners, and colorings,” she says.
5 Protein Blends To Try
1. Ascent Protein Native Fuel Whey Protein Blend
Available in Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, and Lemon Sorbet, Ascent Protein’s Native Fuel Whey Protein Blend boasts a squeaky-clean ingredient list. It’s made with a combination of whey isolate and whey concentrate, making it a good option for between a workout and your next meal.
2. PEScience Select Protein Blend
This fan-favorite protein blend from PEScience comes in seven rich flavors—including Peanut Butter Cookie and Chocolate Frosted Cupcake—and is made with whey protein and casein for hours of satiety. PEScience believes the whey-casein combo best reflects the natural protein ratio found in actual milk, which better supports muscle-building.
3. BodyTech Elite Hexatein-SR Staged Release Protein Blend
Formulated with six different proteins (including whey isolate, egg white protein, and micellar casein), BodyTech Elite’s Hexatein-SR supports both quick recovery and longer-term muscle-building. Plus, it also packs some fiber, MCTs, and CLA for added satiety and nutrition. Try it in Rich Chocolate, French Vanilla, and Cookies and Cream.
4. Dymatize Elite XT Multi-Source Protein Blend
The Elite XT Protein Blend from Dymatize contains a blend of four proteins—whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, milk protein isolate, and casein—for both quick and sustained absorption. This popular pick is available is Rich Chocolate, Vanilla, Banana Nut, and Fudge Brownie.
5. BSN Syntha-6 Protein
Another popular pick, BSN’s Syntha-6 is available in a whopping 11 flavors, including Strawberry Milkshake and Chocolate Peanut Butter. (Some flavors contain actual cookie crumbles!) This one is made with whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, casein, milk protein isolate, and egg protein.