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:: FoodSmarts And the Best Protein Is...? Here are 7 things you need to consider when choosing the protein powder that’s right for you. BY JACQUES CORDRAY hopping for protein powder offers endless choices—and endless confusion. Should you go with the popular option of whey? What about other dairy proteins, like casein and milk blends? Then there are the vegetarian options, with soy protein isolate leading the pack. The types of protein you take can be a major factor in the development of your phy- sique and athletic goals. Lucky for you, innovations in protein products have reached another level, and now include chicken protein isolate and sophisticated egg white proteins. So before you slap down your hard-earned cash for that jug of protein, be sure you’re buying the stuff that will get the job done. Here are 7 things to keep in mind about today’s protein options. S 1 Whey Continues to Lead the Pack Unless you’ve been living in Siberia, you’ve probably tried some form of whey. 12 IHRSA | www.healthclub s .com It’s been the gold standard of protein powders for the last 15 years. What’s so special about whey? Its main claim to fame is its high content of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs.) These specific aminos are highly valued for stimulating muscle growth. Another important property of whey is the fact that it’s a fast-digesting protein. Whey pro- vides amino acids to muscle cells in less than two hours. These two properties make whey proteins the ideal protein to take immediately before and after your workouts. Research has discovered that whey protein also contains protein fractions that are important for overall health, such as helping to lower blood pressure and body weight. Photo: Thinkstock Powder Power: Protein supplements fill in the gaps of whole-food diets.