Rice Protein vs Whey Protein

When picking a protein supplement, you have plenty on the market to choose from. Rice protein and whey protein are both popular options right now so we decided to compare to see how they add up.

What is protein?

Protein is an essential nutrient that forms a key component of our diet. It is scientifically proven to increase muscle mass, maintain current muscle tissue size and help strengthen bones. As a major component of all of our major body tissues, protein deficiency has been shown to seriously affect the body’s organs and systems including the brain, gut, kidneys and immune system.

Protein is composed of smaller building blocks known as amino acids. After a hard workout these amino acids work to recover and rebuild our muscles. Muscle recovery and growth after exercise has two major requirements: good quality rest and high quality protein intake.

Over the last few years, the market for protein supplements has grown to aid athletes in recovery. Whey has been been a popular choice of protein supplement, providing extra dietary protein, but the popularity of plant-sourced proteins is catching up. Let’s take a look at whey protein compared with a plant-source protein: brown rice protein.

Rice vs. Whey

Where They Come From

Whey protein is derived from dairy and is therefore animal protein. It is a mixture of proteins isolated from whey: the liquid waste product of cheese production, formed once milk has been separated into curds (solid) and whey (liquid). The whey is then dehydrated to form whey protein powder and mixed into whey protein supplements. Most whey proteins provides a complete amino acid profile meaning that it includes all of the essential amino acids, in adequate amounts, needed in the body.

Brown rice protein is sourced from whole, sprouted rice grains, with the process of sprouting eliminating anti-nutrients commonly associated with grains, such as phytic acid. Once sprouted, protein is gently extracted from the whole grain. It serves as a whole protein source, containing a very similar amino acid composition to that of breast milk. It is also particularly high in leucine, an amino acid crucial for muscle recovery. When buying a protein supplement, look out for at least 1.5g of leucine per serving to ensure maximum recovery.

Whey protein is a derivative of milk and certain individuals (specifically those lacking lactase production, an enzyme which is responsible for digesting milk sugar) are left with undigested lactose, which moves through the stomach and into the intestines where it ferments. Gas may be formed, causing stomach cramps, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. This affects a huge proportion of the population. It is believed that as much as 65 percent of the human population has an impaired ability to digest lactose after infancy (1).

Many believe that vegetarian proteins cannot be have a complete amino acid profile, but our PR3 contains all of the same essential building blocks to fuel muscle recovery that whey protein does. Rice protein has the added benefit of being a hypoallergenic, dairy and lactose free.

Additional benefits of Rice Protein

Rice protein contains some benefits over whey protein. The bran layer of the rice grain is the outer skin, which contains important antioxidants, B vitamins and fiber, which add to the great benefits of the protein source. Fiber is important for healthy digestion and often is not present at all in whey protein.
Antioxidants prevent oxidative stress, which causes damage to cells and can result in diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. B Vitamins provide essential vitamins for energy metabolism. 

What The Research Says

Research published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that rice protein isolate consumption after resistance training decreases relative fat mass and increases lean body mass, skeletal muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth), power and strength (i.e. it improves exercise performance), in a comparable way to whey protein isolate over an eight week period (2).

There are benefits to both whey and rice protein.The supplement you pick depends on your goals, budget, food allergies and intolerances, as well as your dietary preferences. You can learn more about our rice protein, PR3 here.

1. http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/lactose-intolerance
2. Joy, Jordan M., et al. "The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance." Nutr J 12 (2013): 86.

This blog was originally published on www.purepharma.com by Ryan Carey.