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Whey Protein or Meat–Which Better Suits Your Active Lifestyle?

Both protein powder and meats help you meet your dietary protein requirements. But which is better for you?

If you lead an active lifestyle, you’re probably well-aware of the need to consume sufficient protein for the repairing and rebuilding of your muscle tissues. While many of us turn to common protein sources such as chicken, pork, beef, and fish, there is an alternative source of protein worth looking into–protein powder. You may be asking yourself, does it really matter where you get your protein from? To help answer that question and determine which protein source is best for you, we've analysed and compared the pros and cons associated both whey protein powder and meats.

Impact of Protein Type On Health & Nutrition

When you eat meat, you're consuming all the nutrients that come alongside it, for better or for worse. On one hand, meat contains healthy elements such as vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated (healthy) fats that are unavailable in whey protein powder. On the other hand, however, meat also contains saturated fats which can adversely effect your health. For example, a 2012 study found that regular consumption of even small amounts of red meat is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, precisely because of the high levels of saturated fat. Another study found that people who eat diets high in red meat are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes than those who rarely eat red or processed meat. Since whey protein is typically free of saturated fat, you don’t have to worry as much when it comes to its health effects.

Chart showing Biological Value of whey protein compared to other common protein sources

Another factor to consider is "biological value" (BV). BV is arguably the best measure of a protein’s quality as it indicates how much of the protein consumed is eventually absorbed and utilised in the body. With a BV score of 96, whey protein tops the list for common protein sources, outperforming beef, fish, and even cheese. Nonetheless, it's crucial to note that if you're already consuming enough protein, a product's BV is less important. It's only when your protein intake is suboptimal that whey protein can help boost utilisation of the smaller amount of protein you're ingesting.

Chart showing Biological Value of whey protein compared to other common protein sources

Protein Powders Are Generally More Expensive Than Meats

Due to its budget-friendly prices and availability at just about any grocery store, chicken is often the preferred choice of meat for Singaporeans. It also doesn’t hurt that it has the highest amount of protein per gram of meat in comparison to beef, fish, and pork. While the average cost per gram of protein for chicken comes in at $0.02, the average price of per gram of protein for competitive whey protein brands measures in double that–$0.04. When compared side-by-side, it may seem that opting for whey protein, instead of meats like chicken, is not necessarily cost-effective.

Whey Protein Powders Are Hassle-Free

One of the biggest advantages of whey protein is its convenience. While you'd need to prepare and cook meat before consumption, a whey protein powder shake only takes a few seconds to make. Protein powder is portable and lightweight, so you can take it with you on the go with no actual cooking required. Whey protein shakes are also an excellent option for those who have difficulty hitting their daily protein requirements as it's much easier–and quicker–to consume protein in liquid-form than to chew meat.

Saving Money While Still Getting Your Protein In

Meat is undeniably the most commonly consumed form of protein. While it isn't necessarily the healthiest protein source (nor the most convenient) it's relatively cheap and easy to buy just about anywhere. Whey protein, on the other hand, is more convenient and often has better overall nutritional value. Nonetheless, due to protein powder's higher price-point, it may not be an option for people on a budget. Consumers can save money by using a cashback credit card to offset costs. While such rebates may not fully cover the difference, it can still narrow the cost gap.

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