Three best protein powders

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BestReviews

To recover after you exercise, mix up a shake with your protein powder and drink within 60 minutes of your workout.

Protein plays a huge role in any well-balanced diet. It's an especially important nutrient if you want to build or maintain muscle. But eating meat that's packed with protein isn't always the best option for your health. Introducing a high-quality protein powder to your diet is an easy way to boost your protein intake without adding unnecessary fat or cholesterol.

With so many options on the market, that's not always easy. If you've ever scanned the protein powder shelf at your local health food store, you know how confusing shopping for the right formula can be. Our shopping guide is full of helpful tips to help you identify the best protein powder for your diet.

Considerations when choosing protein powders

Types of protein

While all protein powders obviously contain protein, there are several different protein types to choose from. Some types may produce better results for you than others, so it's important to understand the differences.

Whey protein is derived from milk, which means it contains lactose, a sugar that can be difficult to digest for some people. However, whey protein is effective in building muscle mass and strength, encouraging fat loss, and reducing appetite.

Casein protein is another protein derived from milk, though it takes longer to be digested and absorbed into the body than whey protein. It's an effective option if you're interested in reducing muscle protein breakdown and encouraging muscle mass and fat loss.

Egg protein is usually derived from egg whites and is a very high-quality protein. It's a good option for anyone with milk allergies and can help with weight loss, appetite reduction, and increasing muscle mass.

Soy protein is derived from soybeans and can be a good alternative for anyone looking to replace animal-based protein. It is carb- and fat-heavy, though, so it isn't the best option for weight or fat loss. There's also some concern about the effect of soy on hormonal balance, which may not make it the best protein option for your diet.

Pea protein is a vegan protein option derived from yellow split peas. It works well to reduce appetite and can help promote muscle growth.

Hemp protein is another plant-based protein option that's high in omega-3 fatty acids. It is easily digested, but there haven't been many studies on its effects on the body.

Brown rice protein is derived from brown rice. It isn't a complete protein, though, so it doesn't offer the same results as other types of protein.

Protein concentration

Pay attention to the protein concentration of any formula you're considering. Higher-quality powders typically have a higher protein concentration, which means that their carb and fat content is lower.

Carb content

There are some cases in which a protein powder with a high carbohydrate content may actually be beneficial. If you're looking for a powder to use before or during a workout to help boost muscle efficiency, you'll want a formula with more carbs.

However, for a post-workout protein powder, you'll want a formula with a lower carb content because you'll want more protein to restore and rebuild your muscles.

Fat content

For a protein powder to be as healthy as possible, it should have a lower fat content. Opt for a formula with five grams of fat or less per serving.

Flavor

Protein powders are available in a wide range of flavors, so you don't have to worry about a poor taste. There are unflavored powders that can be mixed into nearly anything, but you can also find flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and coffee. There are even more unique flavors like birthday cake, cookies and cream, chocolate mint, peanut butter, and banana.

FAQ

Q. How much protein do I need daily?

A. It's generally recommended that you consume 0.36 grams of protein per pound of your body weight a day. However, your activity level, fitness goals, muscle mass, and other factors can affect how much protein you should have daily. If you want to increase or maintain muscle, aim to consume 0.7 to 1 gram of protein per pound.

Q. What liquids can I mix with protein powder?

A. You can mix protein powder with nearly any liquid you like. Water, milk, and juice are common options. You can incorporate protein powder into your favorite smoothie recipe or mix it into a cup of yogurt, as well. You can also cook with protein powder or sprinkle it over foods to increase protein count.

Protein powders we recommend

Best of the best: NAKED nutrition Undenatured 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder 

Our take: It's impossible to top the purity of this healthy, high-quality protein powder.

What we like: Contains whey protein that comes from grass-fed cows. Blends easily with a wide range of beverages and foods. Boasts plenty of fresh flavor and one of the healthiest formulas on the market.

What we dislike: Carries a hefty price tag, but you're paying for quality.

Best bang for your buck: Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard Protein Powder 

Our take: Price is a little high per serving, but you get a stellar protein powder at a fairly affordable price.

What we like: Features an all-whey formula and outstanding flavors.

What we dislike: A poor choice for users who don't want an all-whey formula.

Choice 3: Nature's Best Isopure Perfect Zero Carb 

Our take: An effective protein powder, though the flavor may take some getting used to.

What we like: A whey protein formula that doesn't contain any carbs. Extremely effective in building, maintaining, and repairing muscle.

What we dislike: Flavor isn't as good as those of other protein powders.

Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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