Choosing the best protein powder can feel overwhelming when there’s a thousand different brands, types of proteins, and pros and cons. Then you add TikTok or Instagram into the mix and then you reallyyy don’t know which one to pick. Protein powder often gets miscocieved as somethign that will make you “bulky,” when in reality if you’re not getting enough, it should be used as a supplement… doesn’t that sound familiar? If you don’t get enough of a vitamin wiht food intake you… take a supplement 😉
Protein powder is needed for many reasons, especially if you’re not getting enough daily. But it can also be used for reasons such as: building muscle mass/muscle toning, weight loss and weight gain, improving athletic performance, improving hormone balance, overall wellness etc. However, not all protein powers are made the same, and it’s essential to know how to choose them based on your health goals. First, we’ll dive into the different protein powders available, and then as a Registered Dietitian and personal trainer, I’ll dive into my top picks.
Common Types of Protein Powder:
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein is the liquid remaining from the milk after the cheesemaking process. That liquid is then pasteurized, and the protein is isolated to make whey protein powder. This should be avoided if you have a dairy allergy/intolerance, and I strongly recommend to avoid whey protein if you struggle with GI diseases, inflammation, or bloating.
Casein Protein Powder
Casein protein is also found in milk and is the solid that results after cheesemaking. These solids are skimmed and dehydrated; the product is used to make casein protein. This should be avoided if you have a dairy allergy/intolerance, and I strongly recommend to avoid casein protein if you struggle with GI diseases, inflammation, or bloating.
Egg White Protein Powder
This is an excellent source of protein; most of the protein comes from the white. The egg whites are dried and turned into powder to make egg whites protein powder.
Brown Rice Protein Powder
To make this type of protein powder, an enzyme is added to cause the protein and carbohydrates in brown rice to separate. The protein from the rice is then turned into powder.
Soy Protein Powder
This protein powder is made from soybeans, which are washed to remove the sugar and fiber. The remaining is dehydrated and powdered. Something to note is that we aren’t in the 2000’s decade anymore; current research suggests soy is a positive food source and a complete plant protein. You should embrace soy, not avoid it.
Pea Protein Powder
This is a popular vegetarian protein powder that comes from yellow peas. The powder comes from dry milling and removing the hull of the peas.
Mixed Plant Protein Powder
This protein powder comes from a mix of two or more plant protein sources. This can be nuts, seeds, beans, or lentils. Mixing those plants results in a more complete source of protein.
How do you choose the best protein powder bases for your needs?
Choose a Source of Protein You Digest Best
As I mentioned above, the biggest concern I have is related to casein and whey protein due to their link to milk proteins. If you tolerate dairy well, this shouldn’t be a concern, but something to keep an eye on if you notice bloating or changes in bowel movements. You may also choose some protein powders based on any allergies or diet preferences you may have, like avoiding egg white protein powder if you have an egg allergy, or choosing a plant-based protein powder if you’re following a vegan diet.
Make Sure it Doesn’t Have “A Lot” of Ingredients
Nowadays, many additives are added to protein powders to make them seem like “super foods” or superior to other protein powders. Learning how to read a food label (something we do in 1-on-1 coaching) and opting for one that is tasty yet effective is key. I would personally be keeping an eye on: ingredient list, amount of protein, amount of sugar, and amount of fat.
Choose a Protein Powder with a Complete Amino Acid Profile
Most plant-based proteins do not have all 20 amino acids (aka the puzzle pieces of protein our body needs, so you might be missing a piece or two). Reading the label on the back should give you this information, or if you’re doing the lazy girl version: pick an animal or mixed-plant protein powder.
Check if it’s Enough Protein
To be “high protein” I typically like to see 25 grams or above. But to be fair, I am also happy with anything above 20 grams per serving. Do yourself a favor and don’t select anything lower than 20 grams.
My Suggestions on Choosing the Best Protein Powder:
I know you’ve been waiting for my choices of protein powders, but I hope you learned something or another as you were scrolling to this point.
Serving: 1 scoop = 100 calories, 20 g protein, 0 g fat
Serving: 1 scoop = 120 calories, 24 g protein, 1 g fat
Serving: 1 scoop = 150 calories, 25 g protein, 2 g fat
Serving: 1 scoop = 190 calories, 30 g protein, 3 g fat
Serving: 1 scoop = 120 calories, 27 g protein, 0.5 g fat