It seems there are a million different protein powders out there, so how do you know which one is the best for you?
It all comes down to the type of protein used, how it’s made and the other ingredients in the protein powder. Many poor-quality protein powders have a lot of fillers and other cheap ingredients that affect the overall quality and bioavailability of the protein. It is important that the protein is bioavailable and easily digested because that means you get more bang for your buck, and you’ll get the most amount of protein to your muscles, which is what you want!
The building blocks of muscles are protein and amino acids, so it’s important to have enough protein during the day for optimal muscle-building. A general recommendation for daily intake is to consume one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
However, keep in mind, when looking at your overall daily protein intake, a lot of protein also comes from food.
Here is a breakdown of the different kinds of whey protein powders and how they compare to each other.
Whey Protein Concentrate:
• Is the cheapest whey protein
• Is denatured – the beneficial protein structures are destroyed
• Contains higher amounts of cholesterol and is oxidized to a large degree
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein:
• Has hypoallergenic properties
• Is partially predigested – the degrees of pre-digestion vary
• The amino acids are more readily available, and one of them is known to have excitotoxic properties (glutamate).
• May play a role in excitotoxin-induced brain damage
Ion-Exchange Whey Protein Isolate:
• Has low amounts of lactose, fats and cholesterol
• Many of the native whey protein structures are destroyed
• It is denatured to a large degree
• Beta-lactoglobulin globulin is present in higher quantities, which may lead to allergies
Micro-Filtered Whey Protein Isolate (the best protein source):
• Has low, if any amount of lactose, fat or cholesterol
• Retains its native proteins intact
• Is twice as expensive as WPC and ion-exchange proteins
• Promotes muscle repair and growth
• Strengthens the immune function
• Has detoxifying and antioxidant properties
There are also newer protein powders on the market now such as rice protein, pea protein, hemp protein, egg white protein…. In general, many plant-based proteins do not have a complete amino acid profile, so when buying them, check the label and look at the amino acids. Whey protein tends to be the most bioavailable and absorbable for the body.
Another tip when reading the labels of a protein powder is to look at the number of ingredients. Are there just a few? Or about 100 listed? Are there artificial sweeteners like sucralose or aspartame in it? Is there sugar? If so, how many grams? Also, how many calories are there per serving?
Now that you know the in’s and out’s of what to look out for in whey protein powders, which would you choose? My favorite brand is Muscle Food Labs (MFL) because it has no lactose, no sugar, no gluten, it’s low in calories (124 per scoop) and it’s very high in protein (30 grams per scoop). It is also sweetened with stevia and has very few ingredients. Plus, it is a micro-filtered whey protein isolate, which means it is the best of the whey protein choices and very easily digestible.
You should consume protein within 30 minutes after a workout for optimal muscle building and recovery. So, put a scoop of protein powder in a shaker bottle, add water, drink and enjoy!