Our bodies need protein. Most of us don’t get enough to fuel our busy lifestyles, while those wanting to gain more muscle need more than average. In recent years, protein powders have become a quick and easy way to up our intake, but not all are created equal. First, you should know that there isn’t just one kind of protein powder. There are at least seven:
This is the most common type of protein powder you’ll find. It promotes lean muscle growth, fat loss, and a healthy metabolism. The body absorbs it quickly, so it’s good for after an intense workout. Some people are sensitive to it because it contains lactose.
Another milk-based protein, casein is similar to whey, but takes longer to digest, so it isn’t best for post-workout recovery.
A protein with all of the essential amino acids, soy can improve your immune system and bone health. There’s some controversy about its effects on hormone levels and soy is often genetically-modified.
A complete protein, egg protein powder has other essential vitamins and minerals. It’s one of the most expensive type of protein, however, and can trigger allergies.
Vegan-friendly and hypoallergenic, hemp protein has a great mix of essential fatty acids, but it’s as expensive or pricier than egg protein.
Vegetarian protein powders are usually made from brown rice, which is a good source of complex carbs, fiber, and vitamin B. It digests very easily and generates very little waste. It lacks some of the amino acids that other protein powders have.
One of the newer protein powders out there, pea protein is hypoallergenic and has all of the essential amino acids, though experts recommend that you don’t use it as your primary protein source.
What are the best protein powders available?
There are lots of high-quality protein powders out there, but it isn’t always easy to know what to look for. To start, be on the lookout for artificial sweeteners and additives. You want to avoid long ingredient lists. The best way to do this is to get unflavored protein powder. Odds are this kind will have less sugar and flavorings. Lastly, organic protein powders will always be better than something that’s highly-processed. Here are some examples of quality powders:
Raw Green Organics
Vegan-based, this company’s Organic Vegan Protein Powder is a blend of ingredients like pea protein, hemp protein, and organic flaxseed. Two tablespoons equals 15 grams of protein.
For those who aren’t vegan, grass-fed whey protein is the way to go. It has a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid, which helps burn fat and build lean muscle. One serving gives you 25 grams of protein.
Paleo Protein Pure Egg
With 25.2 grams of protein per serving, this egg protein doesn’t skimp. It also has all the essential amino acids and just two ingredients: egg white powder and sunflower lecithin. The eggs came from non-GMO chickens free from antibiotics and hormones.
What are the worst protein powders?
A lot of protein powders are essentially garbage. Anything that’s highly-processed, too cheap, or full of artificial ingredients is going to do more harm than good. Keep up to date on research to learn which powders test positive for contaminants like heavy metals and always do a quick google search before choosing a powder. Here are some to avoid:
Muscle Milk – too many additives and sweeteners
Body Fortress Whey Protein – too cheap and made with inferior ingredients
BSN Syntha-6 Protein – too many artificial sweeteners
GNC Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60 Ripped – inferior ingredients/misleading advertising
Additives in food are becoming a big deal and for good reason. Read this article to learn which ones to watch out for.