Choosing the right protein powder may get confusing... There are tons of ingredients that many individuals cannot define, and may have not even heard of.
Protein is most used supplement by individuals alike. However, with countless brands and proteins being thrown your way, how do you choose the right one for you?
If you are a highly active individual, regardless of age, you more than likely need more protein than the daily recommended allowance. So, it would be smart to turn to protein powder to help you get the right amount for you. Protein will not only aid in recovery, but will help with muscle gain, strength, and performance.
To begin, what is Whey protein? Well. Whey is basically a waste product. It is the liquid left over when milk is processed into cheese. It is, on the other hand, packed with essential amino acids. Three amino acids, leucine, valine, and isoleucine work together to repair damaged muscle tissue to help it grow and rebuild. This is what makes whey protein essential after a workout.
The reason are so popular are because they are quick and easy. There are tons of recipes you can make with them such as pancakes, mug cakes, protein fro-yo, cookies, and more! Protein powders are great in assisting with , muscle gain, detox, immune system health, pregnancy, and to curb your sweet tooth. So, let’s get down to it.
There are three different types of protein in the way they are classified. There is whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and hydrolyzed whey protein. Whey concentrate is micro-filtered and is not heat treated to produce ultra-pure protein. This basically means that the protein stays as pure as it can be, which gives it a rather smooth texture. It contains Glutamine and BCAA’s which is highly important for recovery. Whey protein isolate “undergoes a process called Cross-Flow Micro-filtration. This separates the protein from fat, cholesterol and lactose meaning a purer protein as the end product” says scientists. This type of protein is lower in lactose, which may be great for those who are lactose intolerant. This is also lower in carbs and fat, but is more expensive for the buyer. Last but not lease, Hydrolyzed whey protein is broken down into smaller protein fragments through a process called “enzymatic hydrolysis.” This enables a more rapid digestion, accelerating its amino’s to your muscles, which will aid in growth. Many bodybuilders swear by this protein due to its crazy fast digestion. However, it does have a higher price tag. At the end of the day, choosing between these proteins is personal preference. The difference each one makes in body composition is very minimal. Many individuals will mostly pay attention to ingredient list and the nutrition label.
This brings us to our next point, ingredients. Some protein powders contain a list long enough to write the first page of a book with, and this is one thing that should be avoided.
Here are some ingredients that you may want to avoid and why:
1. Gluten, This is known to cause inflammation among a variety of side effects such as bloating, headaches, and fatigue
2. Casein, this is a whey protein concentrate as we discussed above, and is very high in lactose which can also cause bloating, like gluten, skin conditions, and more
3. Dextrin and Glucose, which can be linked to fat storage. This can also cause gas in most individuals.
4. Artificial sweeteners, although many of these do not have calories in them, they are linked to migraines, weight gain, and depression.
5. Milk Solids are used in many protein powders since they are a cheap additive which can cause bloating and constipation. It is also harder to absorb in the body so the benefits will be lesser than an easily digested protein source.
6. Soy protein, this can be known to cause hormonal disturbances and also a suppressed thyroid, but this is not the case for everyone, it is simply a side effect of ingesting this.
7. Vegetable oils & vegetable fats, these come from hydrogenated sources and are worse to ingest than saturated fats.
8. Thickeners and gums, Xanthan Gum is in most foods in order to thicken it such as ice cream, whipped cream, some gums, and most protein powders, it is one ingredient that is a gas culprit and can cause disruption in the tract.
When choosing the right protein based off of ingredients, find a protein with the least amount of ingredients as possible. If there is an ingredient that you have never heard of, chances are that protein is not the most natural one.
One problem with whey protein is that it comes from animal sources, and contains dairy which is explained above. Not only is this sad for animals but can also cause digestive issues and skin issues, especially those who have food intolerance's to . Whey protein may also be linked to which is not what we want following or prior to a workout, which is when the majority of individuals use protein powders. Whey proteins tend to have several additives although whey protein may be quicker to digest, it might not be optimal for many people. Therefore, going for a option has become quite the rage lately.
Many individuals believe that vegan protein is not as good as whey for muscle gain is because some vegan proteins do not contain the essential amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. But, studies have shown that body composition did not change when athletes used Vegan Protein vs. Whey protein if the vegan protein contained essential amino acids.
Last but not least, taste. Taste is one of the most important parts of a great protein powder. There are multiple flavors to choose from and finding one that suits your taste buds is key. Especially when dieting, having a protein powder that is smooth and flavorsome is crucial. It is important to enjoy the foods you are eating. Think of how you will use your protein powder, whether in a smoothie, a pancake, with milk, in coffee, etc. Focus on a protein that will mix well and tastes delicious with what you are making. Flavors like vanilla and salted caramel go great in both pancakes and coffee. While flavors like strawberry or banana might be great in a smoothie. Vegan proteins, sometimes, are thick and have a chalky texture, so it is suggested that you ask to try a sample of the protein before buying. Most companies will allow you to exchange the protein if the taste is not what you wish for.
All in all, choosing a protein powder comes down to a couple of things, minimal ingredients, easy to digest, high protein and low carb/fat content, and a great taste!