Whether you want to lose weight, maintain your weight, or just want to make sure you get enough protein in your diet, it is difficult to figure out which protein powder to purchase…and which one is right for you.
Since one of my health goals is increase muscle mass and gain some extra weight, I’ve been researching protein powders. While it is recommended that we receive our protein from whole foods, sometimes it is a good idea to supplement your diet with a protein powder. And as we age, the easier it is for use to lose muscle mass.
With the various types of protein powders on the market, how do you know which one is right for you? It depends on the type of diet you eat i.e. vegan, vegetarian, carnivore…and whether you’re looking to supplement your meals, whether for body building, or whether it is for weight loss.
Protein powders offer several health benefits besides building muscle mass. Protein powders repair and build muscle, aid in burning fat, boost post workout muscle repair, improve general health, and is provides a protein option for Vegetarian and Vegans.
Types of Protein Powders
Whey is a milk protein which repairs muscles right away and is instantly absorbed. When it comes to building lean muscle, research shows that whey protein is the way to go. Being the most popular protein powder on the market, whey provides an ideal array and proportion of amino acids to assist with muscle recovery and growth, as well as enhancing fat loss. Derived from milk, whey is considered the fastest-digesting “complete” protein, meaning that it contains all the essential building blocks of muscle (amino acids), including high amounts of the all-important group of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). BCAAs become depleted after exercise and are needed for the maintenance of muscle tissue. It is recommended to consume whey immediately after working out to repair muscle damage. This is critical because the muscles feel like a sponge. Note, whey protein shakes are often used at the end of workouts by many bodybuilders and weight lifters because they are easily digested and absorbed in the body. This leads to faster recoveries and more muscle mass..
Soy is a popular vegetarian protein source, soy protein is something to consider for boosting overall health. Sports research shows that soy results in inferior strength gains when compared to whey, the differences are minimal for a healthy woman. At the end of the day, an elite athlete may need the slight edge of whey due to heavy training, but for the average active gal, soy protein powder provide the biggest bang for your “health” buck. Note: research and check that soy is not genetically modified.
Brown Rice/Pea Protein
While much of rice seed is carbohydrate, it does contain some protein, which is extracted without the use of chemicals during processing to make brown rice protein powder. As with all plant proteins, quinoa is an exception, rice protein is incomplete. It lacks one of the essential amino acids, lysine, which helps manage triglycerides, a form of body fat and is necessary for hormone production and bone growth.
Hemp is perfect for vegans or those who want to avoid foods of an animal origin. Hemp protein offers inflammation-fighting power of essential fatty acids. The omega-3s in hemp aid in muscle recovery after workouts or training. Whole hemp seeds contain a small percentage of a highly digestible protein, however, the amino acid profile is not complete, but eating a variety of plant proteins throughout the day which include a mix of beans, legumes and grains may provide your body with all the essential amino acids you need.
Be careful not to overdo it on the protein. Look at your weight then look at the amount of protein that should be in your diet. There are several websites that provide protein calculators. Be sure to drink lots of water. If you are in the minority and need to gain weight, I suggest eating frequent meals throughout the day to increase calories and supplement with smoothies or shakes and add whey or plant-based protein for a quality source of protein.
I recommend checking labels to verify whether the protein powder and ingredients contain GMOs. Check sugar content and type of sugar. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Check with your physician if you are taking any type of medication.
Protein Shake Comparison
I’ve researched several protein powders on the market from protein powders available at GNC and gyms to network marketing companies (Arbonne, doTERRA, Beachbody Shakeology, Isagenix, Juice Plus, Herbalife, Melaleuca, Modere, USANA, and VEMMA,) to the Vitamin Shoppe (Sunwarrior, Vega, and Garden of Life).
These are some of my favorite protein powders. My conclusions are based on the amount of iron content and ingredients, and grainy taste. And they are non-GMO.
I believe lasting weight loss and finding your ideal weight is a part of being healthy. I also don’t believe that meal replacement shakes should be used as a way to restrict calories. They should be used to give you quality, convenient calories that promote health. Remember: Eating healthy is not about dieting, it’s a lifestyle.
Important factors to consider when looking for the best protein powder
Where is the protein sourced
How is it processed
Protein option: soy free, gluten free, plant-based, low glycemic
Types of Protein Powders
Plant-based/Vegan protein powders: Sunwarrior, Vega, Isagenix, Beachbody, and Arbonne.
Whey Protein Powder: Isagenix’ IsaLean Shakes, Beachbody, and USANA.
Soy Protein Powder: Juice Plus and USANA
In conclusion, there are so many protein powders so do your research and see which one works for you and your health goals.
Side Note: I’ve been a customer of all the above brands and/or companies.