Complete Guide to Protein Powders

nutrition protein Jun 15, 2022

Whey protein, hemp protein, pea protein, casein, vegan....  Trying to figure out which protein is best for you can be confusing and overwhelming.  So let's break it all down!  

First, why should you supplement with protein powder?  Protein is an essential macronutrient that your body can't survive without.  Many people are under eating protein and lacking in this essential macronutrient.  When you're goal is to build muscle and lose fat, protein can be beneficial in that it's the building block to muscle.  When looking to add protein into you diet, it's best to aim to get in more complete proteins.  

A complete protein contains all nine essential amino acids, whereas incomplete proteins are missing one or more.  Essential amino acids can't be made by our bodies so we must get them from food.  

The 9 essential amino acids are, 
Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine. 

Now let's dive into the different protein powders!

Whey Protein:  

  • Comes from milk
  • Isolate form contains little lactose
  • Digests quickly 
  • Rich in amino acids (crucial for muscle building)

Casein Protein:

  • The main protein in milk
  • Is released more slowly than whey protein
  • Helps you feel full, which makes it beneficial for weight loss

Egg White Protein:

  • A great protein if you have a dairy allergy or on a paleo diet
  • The absorption rate is medium, somewhere between Whey and Casein
  • High in quality and easy to digest
  • Not as well absorbed as the milk-derived protein, but still a good option for a post-workout shake or a morning smoothie.

Soy Protein:

  • Plant-based protein
  • Complete protein unlike other plant based protein powders
  • Soy helps lower cholesterol and provides bone health benefits

Brown Rice Protein:

  • Not considered a complete protein because it's low in lysine
  • Inferior to whey or egg white protein

Pea Protein:

  • Comes from yellow split peas
  • Good for people with allergies, easy to digest
  • Not a complete protein which is why it is often paired with rice protein powders, to help ensure you get all of the essential amino acids

Hemp Protein:

  • Not a complete protein
  • You get the added benefits of omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation
  • Lower in protein than the rest, therefore, it is good to combine with pea protein to make a complete protein.

So which protein powder is best for you?  That depends on your goal.  

For muscle building: Whey isolate!  Easier to digest than whey and by far the superior complete protein for muscle growth.  Aim to purchase grass-fed whey if possible and limit the amount of ingredients, fillers, chemicals and sweeteners.  The following are ones that I recommend, 

Jay Robb Grass-fed whey 

Orgain Clean Whey 

Legion whey 

For weight loss:  Whey, Casein or a plant based mixture.  Whey will promote muscle growth which can in turn promote fat loss.  Casein will do the same as well as keep you fuller longer.  A mixed plant based protein will have more fiber which can satiate you and keep you full.  Adding to the list above, 

Legion Casein

Organifi complete protein 

For vegans or vegetarians: You want to aim to find protien powders that have all 9 essintial amino acids.   A few I recommend are, 

Organifi complete protein

1st Phorm 

Of course, the best source of complete proteins is whole foods like meat, eggs and poultry.  BUT when you're lacking in whole foods, supplementing with a good protein powder can be very beneficial.  



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