With no shortage of protein powders available, it can be confusing to know which one, if any, you should select. Go back to last week’s newsletter to learn if you should be consuming a protein powder by clicking here. All protein powders are not created equally, and some are definitely better than other. Read on to determine how to select the best protein powder.
The first thing to look at is the amount of protein per serving. As mentioned last week, aim to have 15-30 grams of protein per meal or snack. Consider if you will also be getting protein from food sources along with the protein powder. Remember, more protein isn’t always better. Read my past blogs on the protein full effect by clicking here.
The second thing to consider is the type of protein in the protein powder. Whey protein is usually the best bet for athletes since it has a high biological value and is rapidly digested. Athletes benefit from selecting high biological value protein since they contain a good amount of amino acids to help with muscle recovery and growth. Whey protein is also high in an amino acid called leucine, which plays a key role in turning on muscle growth. Read my past blog on leucine here. If selecting a whey protein powder, look for a whey protein isolate over a whey concentrate. This means it is more pure and has negligible carbohydrates and fats.
Another popular protein used in protein powders is casein. Unlike, whey protein powder, casein powders are slowly digested. As a result, they are not as good an option for athletes looking for muscle recovery post workout. However, there has been research showing that eating casein pre-bed can be beneficial. Read my past blog on that here.
For vegetarians or those with lactose intolerance, soy protein is the best alternative to whey protein powder. It also has a high biological value and is more rapidly digested. However, unlike whey protein, it does not contain as much of the amino acid leucine. Another popular option for vegetarians is pea protein powder. However, it’s not my top choice for athletes since it’s an incomplete protein, does not have a high biological value or a good amount of leucine.
Outside of the protein amount and the type of protein used, also look at additives in the protein powder. Most will have some sort of flavouring agent such as sugar or a sweetener present. This is one of the reasons why I’m a fan of selecting real food over a protein powder. There are some flavour free ones available such as Klean Isolate. It is also NSF certified.
As always, don’t fall for the clever marketing traps by food manufacturers. Take a good look at your current intake and how they compare to what is required. If you would like to receive nutrition newsletters straight to your mailbox, sign up here.