First of all, what IS protein powder?
They are powdered forms of protein that come from eggs, milk, or plants like hemp, soy, rice, peas, and a long list of other alternatives.
And depending on the brand, they also contain other ingredients from vitamins & minerals, flavorings, sugar or artificial sweeteners, thickeners, and more.
The amount of protein they contain also can vary, from 10 to 30 grams a scoop. You can stir the powder into a glass of water or your favorite milk, use them in smoothies, recipes, or stir them into other foods like oatmeal.
This means they can be really helpful to someone who wants to boost the amount of protein they eat but doesn’t want to eat a lot of protein-rich foods. They’re also great if you’re busy and need a quick meal.
They also can be an option for an easy post-workout snack.
But … Do you NEED protein powder?
Controversial answer alert! Technically, you don’t! Yes, it can be helpful but protein powder is a SUPPLEMENT to your diet, not a key player.
PLUS … it’s a PROCESSED FOOD, and because of that, they might be missing some of the benefits of WHOLE FOODS – like micronutrients, which your body needs to operate at an optimal level.
So they aren’t designed to be a major part of your everyday nutrition, but more of an add-on to help you function optimally.
How do you choose the right protein powder for you?
There are a lot of different protein powders out there, that’s for sure. It’s a big industry!
And if we explored the benefits of each and every kind of protein I’d easily be talking for hours.
One thing you should know is that proteins are made of amino acids. Some protein powders, especially plant-based ones, don’t contain all the essential amino acids to make a complete protein, or they might be low in certain amino acids.
But if you eat a well-rounded diet, chances are you are getting those amino acids from other sources.
Let me help you break it down - and let’s talk about the specific kinds of protein used in protein powders.
Milk-based protein powders like whey and casein are the most popular and have been for years. They are the most easily used by your body, which makes them the go-to choice for many people!
But if you are among the many people who have issues digesting dairy, these can upset your system afterward.
There are also egg and meat-based powders on the market that you can investigate but oddly enough, these aren’t always complete proteins.
The same goes for “collagen protein” – it’s not a complete protein but it does have other possible benefits you might want for your skin or your joints and bones, depending on what kind of collagen it is.
That’s it for the animal-based proteins. Now to talk about plant-based sources!
There are more options than ever before, from pea protein to rice and even pumpkin seed.
Here are the basics of some of the top plant choices.
Pea protein is a relative newcomer to the protein market. It has a bonus benefit of being a great source of iron – even better than whey protein.
Hemp protein is easy for your body to digest and use – and it also contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.
And brown rice protein is also a popular choice – it’s also a good source of fiber and other micronutrients!
The very BEST thing you can do is read the label of your protein powders. Look at the sugar content, the list of ingredients, the calorie load, and whether there are any added benefits you are looking for, like fiber or probiotics.
And then give it a try! If you’re a picky eater, you can ask the store clerk what happens if you hate the taste of the product. Some of the bigger chains have a great return policy.
Also, many times, you can buy up samples of the protein before buying a whole bottle of it.
I hope this rundown has helped give you more info about choosing the right protein powder for your needs!