How To Choose Protein Powder

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If you’re trying to get more protein into your diet, then protein powders can be an easy and convenient choice. I’m gonna go through how to pick a quality protein powder. And I’m also going to cover considerations for people with digestive issues and for vegetarians and vegans as well.

At the end, I’m also in going to include an important warning about making sure that your protein powder is safe and actually contains what the label says. I’m also gonna tell you what type of protein I use and why.

Ideal Serving Size For Protein

The serving size to optimize muscle protein synthesis is between 20 and 40 grams of protein.

Whatever form of protein powder that you’re using, make sure that you check the label to find out what the amount of protein is. You’re getting per serving size.

Different Types Of Dairy Protein Powders

First we’re gonna look at dairy protein powders because they tend to be the most common. And as you’re gonna see, they’re also the most beneficial. In many cases, whey protein is sold in three forms, whey isolate, whey concentrate, and whey hydrolylate is faster, absorbed and utilized.

Whey Isolate

Whey Isolate tends to be easier on the digestion and it’s pretty much pure protein. In fact, it has to be at least 90% protein.

It’s also lactose free and it’s higher in losing than the other forms of whey, which is one of the key amino acids.

Whey Concentrate

Now whey concentrate is slightly cheaper, so that’s a benefit, but it does tend to contain more fat and less protein weigh concentrate has to contain between 35 and 80% protein by weight. And if you’re trying to add protein more is better.

Whey Hydrolysate

Whey hydrolysate is the most expensive of the three. And there’s no evidence that it’s any better than way isolate. So you can pretty much eliminate that from your picks.

Casein Protein

The other form of dairy protein is casein, and this is a slower release protein. And we used to say that because it is slower release that it’s best to take it before bed. That that would be the ideal one to have prior to bed.

And then your muscles would be repairing during sleep. It doesn’t actually seem to be any more effective than whey isolate. So using whey isolate at night is just as effective.

Egg & Beef Protein

A couple other forms of protein that are less widely available, egg and beef.

So egg can be fine if that’s something that agrees with you.

Beef protein is a lot more expensive and it also tastes a little bit strange. I’ve used it in the past. It can be a good option. If for some reason you can’t have dairy or plant sources of protein.

Plant Sources Of Protein

Now I’m gonna cover some of the plant sources of protein that you can use. If dairy doesn’t work for you and you don’t wanna use beef or egg.

Complete Vs Incomplete Proteins

A complete protein consists of nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make itself. And 11 non-essential amino acids that your body can produce on its own.

Most plant sources of protein tend to be incomplete and that they don’t have all the essential amino acids, legumes and veggies tend to be low in methionine and cystine. While grains, nuts, and seeds tend to be low in lysine.

As long as you’re having those two different plant protein types over the course of your day, then you’re fine. So combining pea and rice proteins allows you to have a complete protein.

Pea protein has lysine, whereas brown rice protein has methionine. Iff you take them both together, you have a complete protein.

Brown rice protein appears to be as effective as supporting muscle growth as whey protein.

Hemp Protein

Another plant protein option is hemp. Although I have to say that I’ve used hemp and it just tastes awful. It’s really difficult to cover up that bad taste. So it’s only if you absolutely need to use it, that I would use hemp.

It is a complete protein, so you don’t need to combine it with anything.

Soy Protein

Another option is soy protein. Soy protein is a complete protein.

There has been some controversy over soy, but for the most part, it looks like that it is safe. And it has been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms in women who are going through menopause.

Keep in mind that soy is a legume like peanuts and kidney beans and chickpeas. So that means that it can cause digestive discomfort. If you’re prone to that or more sensitive, like I am Pay attention to that if you do have a sensitive digestion.

What Makes A Good Protein?

So what makes a good protein part of it is what I just talked about, which is whether it’s complete.

Animal sources of protein are complete and you don’t have to worry about that. You have to be a bit more careful with plant-based sources to make sure that you’re getting both groups of amino acids, reading the label on your protein powder is really important.

The ingredients are listed in descending order by weight so that, you know, what’s actually mainly in that product.

Some manufacturers are a bit dodgy and they do something called protein spiking, which means that they’re adding non-protein sources just to spike the nitrogen levels. Things like glutamine and creatine, instead of actual protein.

Avoid Protein Blends

A lot of manufacturers will use protein blends. So on the label, you might see that there’s whey isolate and whey concentrate or some sort of proprietary blend of protein. That means that it’s not clear how much of the package is whey isolate and how much is whey concentrate.

And as we’ve talked about whey isolate does seem to be the superior choice. In most cases, the main message there is to avoid protein blends, where it’s not clear how much there is of each product, and you’re not getting as much protein for your money.

Natural & Artificial Sweeteners

Another thing to look out for is sweeteners. Most manufacturers will add in a sweetener of some type. These can be things like sucralose or acesulfame potassium. There are other sources like stevia and recently I’ve seen more monk fruit, which I guess is a naturally sourced sweetener. Whether it’s natural or not, doesn’t make much difference. Even these artificial sweeteners have been considered safe.

However, if you do have a sensitive digestion, you may notice that they can cause loose bowels, especially if you’re taking a protein powder several times a day. And for some people, they just don’t agree with their digestion at all. So they need to avoid them together. I have IBS and urge, so that means that I have lower digestive issues. And I also get acid reflex. I’m gonna talk about some considerations for acid reflex in a second.

I don’t seem to have any issues with Stevia or monk fruit, but if you have a sensitive digestion, definitely pay attention to how you feel after having these protein powders and whether it’s agrees with you or not.

Watch Out For Additives

There are other additives that you might wanna be aware of. So as you’re reading the label, look for things like Guar gum or different kinds of gums.

Those can also affect people whose digestion is sensitive.

In a good quality protein powder, the manufacturer will usually include the specific amino acid profile for the protein.

So whether it’s a whey based protein or it’s a plant based protein, they’ll include exactly how much is in there of lysine or glutamine or other amino acids.

The Taste

Another thing to consider is the taste. I tend to find the whey proteins, the most tolerable in terms of taste, but if you’re having a smoothie and you’re blending it in with fruit and milk and perhaps yogurt, then it might not be such an issue.

Protein Mixability

If you’re just putting your protein in a shaker and having it after your workout, then mixability is really important.

Sometimes proteins can have a chalky taste and in the case of plant based proteins, I find some of them are quite gritty. So there’s little pieces in there. So it’s not often pleasant to take it down that way. And it is important that this is something that taste wise is tolerable for you because otherwise it’s gonna be a real struggle to get that protein in. If you have any food allergies, it’s important that you read the label carefully. Most of them will let you know if there’s milk or soy in there. It may be very small amounts.

Considerations For Acid Reflux

I’ve already talked a bit about digestive issues, but in particular, if you suffer from acid reflux. You probably want to avoid chocolate flavouring or anything that’s citrus based, like a pineapple flavour.

I mean, that’s not that common, but I have seen it. And I used to like it. Those can be common reflex triggers. So you probably wanna go for either a plain or a vanilla flavoring.

Watch Out For Contaminants

Some protein powders do contain contaminants like cadmium and lead and BPA that you don’t wanna get too high amounts of in your systems. Particularly if you’re taking protein several times a day.

Manufacturers are not required to test for these things. However, some good manufacturers choose to do that testing, and then they have certifications. So there’s the GMP good manufacturing practices and also NF. So look for those symbols on the protein package, and you can also investigate the company a little bit, what they say in terms of their particular testing processes and at least the basic claims that they make in terms of their product purity and whether you’re actually getting what they say they’re giving you.

The Protein Powder I Use

So now I’m gonna tell you about the protein powder that I use, because I have such a sensitive digestion. This is the whey isolate. You’ll see it’s got 130 calories. One scoop is providing 31 grams of protein. So that’s really good. That’s where we’re looking for.

And if you look closer at the label, this is really important to me, it’s just whey isolate. And then just an enzyme blend protase, lactase, and amylase. So the important thing is that there’s just whey isolate in here.

This is also available in vanilla. So that’s what we’ve got here at the moment. This has just got vanilla bean extract and monk fruit. It may or may not cause issues for people who have sensitive digestions. This is not a sponsored video. That’s just happens to be the protein we’re using right now.

A Plant Protein That Isn’t As Ideal

We do have one other protein that’s been hanging around here for a while.

It’s my husband got desperate one day. He didn’t have an order of the regular stuff. So he stopped by the grocery store and got pea protein and hemp protein. Also satchi Inchi and maca. So there’s a lot of things mixed into this one. This is a plant based protein per scoop. So this is a 40 gram scoop. It provides 20 grams of protein. That’s not bad. It could be a little bit higher for sure. And as I recall, this one is not particularly tasty, either.

An Easy Way To Add Protein

The one that I use for one scoop, it’s 31 grams of protein. But when I add that with a high protein milk or some yogurt, then that’s quite a lot that I can get. Sometimes I can have 50 grams of protein in a shake, and that’s really easy for me to add to my diet.

Hopefully I’ve given you enough info to decide which protein is right for you.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 8-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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