Fork It Friday: How to Choose a Protein Powder
There are SO many protein powders and marketing gimmicks out there, it can be challenging to know which one to get. I’m going to try to shed some light on this topic, and hopefully help y’all decode what’s in these protein powders.
First thing’s first, though - The best way to know if something is a good fit for you is simply to try it for a few weeks and see how you respond to it, physically and mentally.
Common sources of protein include: Whey, Casein, Soy, Beef Isolate, Eggs & Egg Whites, Pea, Hemp, Brown Rice, and mixed plants. For more information about each protein, check out this link:
Here’s a helpful article I found from the Cleveland Clinic:
Matching a Powder to Your Needs
With so many choices, how do you decide which protein powder is best for you? Here are some general guidelines, based on the outcomes you’re looking for:
Build muscles — For muscle growth, choose a protein powder with a high biological value (a value that measures how well the body can absorb and utilize a protein). Whey protein and whey isolates are your best options.
Lose weight — To lose weight, choose shakes with no added sugars or dextrins/maltodextrins (sweeteners made from starch). Don’t choose those with added branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), as they help promote muscle growth and weight gain.
Stay vegetarian or vegan — If you are vegetarian or vegan, don’t choose milk-based protein shakes (e.g., whey, milk proteins); instead use 100 percent plant proteins.
Go low-sugar with diabetes — Patients who have diabetes should choose protein shakes without added sugar (don’t choose protein powders with sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients). It’s also best to look for a shake that’s low in carbohydrates (less than 5 grams per serving).
Limit protein for kidney disease — People with kidney disease can’t tolerate a lot of protein at one time. Stick with powders that have a lower-range protein content (10-15 grams per serving).
Avoid gastrointestinal problems — Patients with irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance should choose powders that don’t contain lactose sugars, artificial sweeteners or dextrins/maltodextrins. If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, don’t choose powders that contain gluten.
Stick to your budget — To save money, buy tubs of protein powder instead of ready-to-drink protein shakes which are more expensive because they’re convenient.
Get the most from your protein powder
Here are a few things to consider:
To recover after exercise, an athlete or avid exerciser should consume protein within 60 minutes of a workout. That’s when your muscles are most responsive to the use of protein for the repair and growth process.
To control your weight, it’s best to consume a steady supply of protein at each meal and snack to help keep you full.
Although there’s no magic number for how much protein to consume at one time, it’s best to aim for at least 3 ounces of protein per meal.
Boost the Taste of Your Shakes
Each protein powder has a unique taste, depending on the ingredients and protein source. A lot of companies use fillers or flavor enhancers designed by food scientists to create flavors beyond the standard vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
To improve the taste of the protein shakes you make, mix your protein powders with milk or a milk alternative (as opposed to water) to produce a creamier milkshake-like texture.
Create your own flavor enhancers by mixing in one serving of fruit or even a tablespoon of peanut butter.