Proper protein intake is one of the keys to a healthy diet; protein affects your ability to gain
muscle and lose weight.
But it’s hard to get the recommended amount of protein if you have a busy lifestyle.
Luckily, there are many excellent protein powders on the market.
What to Look for in a Protein Powder
While healthy food-based sources of protein are important, protein shakes provide
many benefits, because they are:
*Easier for your body to absorb and digest
*Able to provide you with a consistent flow of amino acids
A trip to the store or an internet search will reveal a completely daunting array of choices.
There are many ranking lists online for protein powders.
This is a good one we found of the best protein powders in different categories.
Make sure to check it out along with other supplement information websites.
There’s a bunch of them, you can just do a quick google search and they’ll come up.
You might be wondering, “What should I look for in a protein powder?”
Well, that all depends…
Mass Gainers vs. Protein Powders
The first thing to understand is that, despite the countless brands and flavors, there are
essentially two kinds of protein powder: regular protein powders and mass gainers.
Mass gainers contain plenty of protein, but they also have added carbs and fat.
While fat and carbs are both necessary for a healthy diet, you should stay away from mass
gainers if you’re trying to lose weight.
These powders are designed for “hard gainers,” such as people with an “ectomorph” body
type (tall and skinny), or weightlifters who have a hard time putting on more muscle.
If you’re simply looking for a protein powder, go for one that is:
*Low Carb (between 1-5 grams per serving)
*Low Fat (again, between 1-5 grams)
*High Protein (30 grams per serving is ideal)
“When choosing a protein powder,
quality is more important than quantity.
Look for protein powders with mostly
Be sure to check out the label.”
When choosing a protein powder, quality is more important than quantity.
Be sure to check out the label–it’s a good idea to avoid powders that contain more than
Protein powders with mostly natural ingredients will ensure that you’re not getting more than
you bargained for.
Despite promises of bigger gains, brands that contain extra ingredients like creatine or branch
chain amino acids very rarely live up to the hype.
While those supplements can increase muscle growth, most protein powders only contain a
negligible amount of them; essentially, it’s an excuse to charge more money for the same product.
The most common protein sources are:
Whey is the reigning king of proteins, and the best for daily use.
It’s easy to digest, and it contains every essential amino acid to promote muscle growth.
It also replenishes your energy and can prevent post-workout burnout.
The most common forms are concentrates, which contain slightly less protein and usually some
carbs, and whey isolates which contain a higher protein content.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that isolates are better for you than concentrates.
For more information on the difference, check out what the experts at Livestrong have to say.
Soy is the most popular alternative protein source.
It has a lower cholesterol content, and can help you build strong bones as well as muscles.
However, in large doses, soy can affect hormone levels so it’s not the best choice for everyone.
Whey and soy aren’t the only options.
A few popular alternatives recommended by the Cleveland Clinic on their Health Essentials site
*Egg – Nutrients are released slower than whey, so its effects last longer
*Rice – 100% plant-based, one of the best vegetarian/vegan options
*Pea – The easiest to digest, and inexpensive, to boot
*Hemp – Another plant-based protein source, with the added bonus of providing plenty of
A Word about Brands
Lots of new protein powder brands show up on the shelves every year.
We’re sure that many of them are as good as they claim to be, but we prefer to stick
with brands that have been around for a while.
Remember: do your research, and buyer beware.
It’s a Matter of Taste
Finally, a protein powder is only useful if you’re willing to drink it.
Chances are that if you hate the taste of the powder, it’s going to sit in your cabinets
until it expires.
Although everybody has different tastes, it’s a good idea to read some online reviews to
see if you’re investing in a palatable powder.
Even the best-tasting protein powders can be a bit of an acquired taste–many people choose
to “doctor it up” one way or another.
Some prefer to mix the powder with milk instead of water, mix in a scoop of peanut butter,
or, follow Prevention magazine’s sage advice and use it as an addition to a smoothie.
If you’re using the powder to lose weight, keep in mind that all of these alternatives add
calories, carbs, and fat.
How do you choose the best protein powder for your needs?
What are your favorite protein powders?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.