Understanding Protein Supplement Labels


Well-known member

Reading the label-

  • Before we choose a protein supplement we first need to understand that protein is not just protein and not all proteins are the same. Seconding, once we understand the different types of proteins we need to choose the correct one to serve any special purpose we might have like bedtime supplementation, first am supplementation or post workout supplementation. No matter what type of protein supplement we choose nothing that is processed can compete with the unprocessed whole food complete protein. 

Before we decipher the supplement label it would be good for us to know how protein becomes muscle. Here is a overly simplified description on how protein becomes muscle.

  • Digestion - Acids and enzymes break down the protein into smaller proteins (peptides).

  • Manufacturing Building Blocks- Enzymes break down the peptides into amino acids. Our body can produce 11 amino acids but it relies on the food we eat for 9 more.

  • Satiety Secretion - Amino acids enter the GI tract and stimulates the secretion of satiety hormones.

  • Amino's Circulate - Amino's enter the liver and are converted into blood proteins. This circulation can last up to five hours waiting for a signal that a body part is in stress.

  • Repair is signaled - The stress from training or activity produces a signal. The blood proteins respond to this signal and enter the muscle and begin repairing the damaged muscle fiber.

So what are the different types of proteins used by sports nutrition companies in their protein supplements? Different proteins have different digestive speeds and come from different sources. Depending what you need to use the protein supplement for will partially depend on which protein you should use. Here is a list of the most popular and most used by sports nutrition companies.

1. Concentrate (whey) or Casein - 80% protein. It has more fat and carbs. These are medium and slow digestive proteins.

2. Isolate - 90-95% protein. Relatively fast digestion.

3. Hydrolyzed - Protein that has been broken down into smaller particles that become more easily absorbed. Very fast digestion. Both whey and casein can be hydrolyzed. If casein is hydrolyzed it negates the benefits of this slower digesting protein.

4. Milk - Has the same composition as natural milk. 80% casein and 20% whey.

5. Egg White - This is a high quality source of protein. Many labels will list it as 'instantized egg albumin'.

6. Proprietary blend - Should be avoided because we are unsure of the quantity of each protein that is listed in the blend.

7. Plant proteins - way to many to list but are a very good source for protein based on their special makeup. The major ones are hemp, soy, brown rice, and pea.

A complete protein contains all 20 amino acids. Some are more important than others for protein synthesis, muscle growth, recovery, and performance. That is why sports nutrition manufactures will add branched chain amino acids (BCAA's). 

I did not include the other less popular proteins like beef peptides because you need to get off your ass and do your own research instead of relying on me to do it for you. ;)

I hope you have a better understanding of protein the next time you read a protein supplement label. This by no means 100% inclusive or complete but it is a place to start in understanding protein supplements.





Big Nasty

New member

Good read. What are your thoughts on simple skim or 2% milk. 80 % casein and 20% whey seams to be the perfect combo make up for a great slow digesting protein source as an addition to the last meal of the day or maybe even with every protein shake we drink being that it exists as a whole food source protein. I know old schoolers in the Arnold days used to drink the shit out of it. Now with the lactose free versions it appears to be a viable choice without all the gastro problems but today it seems to be the least promoted protein source.  




+3 SF

Many companies were busted amino spiking their protein which is basically replacing protein with cheap amino's. 1 major brand that was busted was Muscle Pharm's Arnold Series. When tested the 40g of protein actually tested at 19g. Pretty sad, but shows us the best way to guarantee accurate protein consumption is through whole foods.




This is a great thread for those of us with questions concerning the vast number of protein supplements on the market. In addition, i think that for the novice, encouragement to receive protein via whole foods if and when at possible should be stressed. Often, i see many drink their meals in lieu of eating a balanced diet geared towards the goal they havevin mind. These supplements are just that--supplements. Thanks again SF, for providing such a timely read!



New member

Companies will often use aminos such as taurine, creatine, and glycine to amino spike. They can however get away with it by listing them on the label.. if you see any of these on the label you know your protein is being spiked and you aren't getting a complete protein



Well-known member
Most shakes give me the shits💩I have even tried the red meat isolate shakes & they tore me up too💩💩! My best results have been on Palumbo's isolate if I only do one shake a day. I still get a little gut bloat, but it comes out to 55 grams of Protien in two scoops & has digestive enymes! Soo... No shit fits👍Tastes good too while being high quality. See what works for you & stick with it.