Protein powder is hands down one of the best inventions for those of us interested in living a healthy lifestyle. Getting the proper amount of protein into your body each day as well as at the right time for optimum muscle growth and recovery can be a bit of a challenge. Protein powder is a great tool to make that job easier.
But with so many different options on the market, how do you know which is the best protein powder? Let’s analyze what you should be looking for in a powder and then compare that with other factors each person should consider so that they make the best choice for themselves.
Protein Powder Basics
The highest quality proteins you can use are either whey or casein. Both products are the primary proteins you find in milk. From a comparative standpoint milk is an 80/20 mix of casein and whey in that order. The difference between the two is that whey breaks down quickly while casein is digested slowly. So in this case choosing between the two should depend on what you are using it for.
Whey would be the superior product after an intense muscle workout because you want to absorb the protein into your system quickly. Casein is great at night before you sleep for a long, slow release and also works well between meals.
Soy used to be an extremely popular choice for protein but more recently it has been discovered that the presence of isoflavones in soy might increase the levels of estrogen in men and cause an adverse effect to the thyroid. But this has only been shown to be an issue in soy supplements and not raw soybeans. Milk protein is an 80/20 mix of casein and whey protein. Egg protein is based on eggs, obviously, and sometimes is called ‘egg albumin’. Moth milk and egg options are good quality options.
The other thing to look for in the best protein powder is the purity. If the label is ‘concentrate’ then you are getting the cheapest version. That means it mixes less easily and can have more fat and carbohydrates. Isolate is more pure and a much better choice.
Sometimes proteins can be labeled as either hydrosylate or hydrolyzed. These terms mean that it has been broken down to smaller components which make them easier to digest. This is a positive attribute in all types of protein except casein; one of the primary benefits of casein is the slow absorption.
The Bottom Line
It doesn’t matter who endorses the product. What matters is whether it is the best mix for what you need. The best protein powder will be a high quality whey or casein in isolate form. Having one of each allows you to alternate using them based on need such as before you sleep versus post-workout. A secondary factor should be the brand. You should be looking for a company that has been on the market for a couple of years because that means it has a level of quality that keeps customers coming back.
An additional aspect to consider is things added into the powder. Try and focus on a basic powder with only ten or less ingredients. Even if a protein powder mentions ‘added ingredients’ typically they only include trace amounts and shouldn’t factor into your decision.
When looking for the best protein powder, make sure to stick to these basics. Outrageous claims are usually just that. A high quality protein source for a reliable company doesn’t need the extra flash because it sells based on the results you get from it.