Protein Powder 101

I used to think that protein powders were meant for body builders or those trying to bulk. I didn’t think I really needed one since my goal is to gain lean muscle and improve my cardiovascular fitness. However, when I started to track my protein intake per day, I realized that I was not getting enough protein. How much protein is enough? Well that can probably be its own separate post, but I like to go by 1 gram of protein per lb of lean body mass as a daily guide.

The first time I walked into the nutrition shop, I felt completely overwhelmed! The stacks of massive cases of powders, supplements, bars and products was a lot to take in. I had no idea where to begin. There are a lot of different powders out there, so I decided to go back home and do some research first. Here is a quick explanation of the different types of protein powders:

  1. Whey Protein
    • Most common protein powder
    • A milk protein that has all 9 essential amino acids (which makes it a complete protein)
    • digested quickly by the body
  2. Casein Protein
    • complete milk protein
    • absorbed much slower by the body.
    • Best protein powder for meal replacement shakes.
  3. Soy Protein
    • Vegan friendly
    • Complete source of protein
    • Controversial because it is highly processed and may cause hormonal fluctuations.
  4. Pea Protein
    • High in glutamic acid, which helps convert carbohydrates to ATP, rather than getting stored as fat
    • Not a complete source of protein
  5. Brown Rice Protein
    • easily digestible
    • great for those with sensitive stomaches of anyone with a dairy or soy allergy
    • Incomplete protein
  6. Hemp Protein
    • High in fiber, which promotes weight loss
    • Has inflammation fighting power, since it contains omega 6 fatty acids.
    • Incomplete protein

Hemp, Pea and Brown rice proteins are not complete proteins. Meaning they do not contain all 9 essential amino acids. They must be paired with other foods in order to obtain the complete amino acid profile.

So not onto the million dollar question…which protein powder is the best?

The answer is not black and white. Everyone has different goals, dietary restrictions and taste preferences. Now when it comes to choosing the best powder for muscle development, you definitely want a complete protein source.

The American College of Sports Medicine did a study comparing whey protein to a protein blend to see which yielded more gains in lean muscle mass. The protein blend contained whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate and casein protein. Results showed that the protein blend group had the greatest gain in lean muscle mass. Here are a few figures from the study:

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Properties of each protein powder

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Lean mass gains in all 3 groups. Protein Blend, Whey Protein and the control group.

After participating in this webinar, I entered the nutrition shop with my head held high. I wanted to find a protein blend similar to the one used in this study. I talked to the sales associate and told him I was looking for a blend of whey, soy and casein protein. He suggested Nu-tek Pro5 Hers, which is a unique blend of whey, soy, casein and egg albumin. Each scoop has 28 grams of protein and only 1 gram of sugar! Score!

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I have been using this protein powder for about 3 months now and I absolutely love it. I have tried both the vanilla and chocolate flavors. It’s tasty and mixes easily into my shake. I typically mix a scoop of the powder with 1 cup of almond milk and then add water. I also make no-bake protein energy balls with it. I add it into smoothies, oatmeal and yogurt as well.

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No-Bake Energy Balls: 1 cup oats, 3 scoops protein powder, 4 0z cashew butter, 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, handful sunflower seeds, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 cup almond milk.

I feel really good about using this protein powder. Just because I am not trying to bulk does not mean that I should feel intimidated to try certain products. Do some research and figure out what is best for you. Then go after it!

 

What type of protein powder do you use and what made you choose it?

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