By now, you should be pretty clear on the basic protein-consumption drill — you need at least a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight from a variety of sources each day to maximize muscle building. But that’s just the basic guideline. Then you have to consider timing and the type of protein you’re getting.
For example, whole-food meals should include a bunch of different protein sources so that you’re consuming as broad a range of amino acids as possible. And it makes sense that the same is true when choosing a protein supplement. Whereas we once thought individual proteins taken separately were better for the body, research is now showing that a blend of proteins could be the best option.
An April 2014 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology concluded that consuming a soy-and-dairy blend prolonged amino-acid transport into muscle tissue. The researchers compared the slower-digesting soy/dairy combo to whey, a much faster-digesting protein. While both test groups showed a similar degree of amino-acid elevation in muscle tissue, the subjects taking the blend maintained this elevation for longer, making the protein blend better at spurring maximal muscle growth.
To reap the greatest rewards from your workouts, then, combine your protein powders or look for a blend. Make sure to include whey (for fast delivery of amino acids to muscles), casein (for slower, longer-term amino-acid delivery) and even milk protein (which just provides more whey and casein), soy (which has the added benefit of increasing nitric-oxide levels) or egg (the rate of digestion of which is somewhere between whey and casein, allowing you to cover all the protein-delivery bases).