Find Your Perfect Protein Partner
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With all the talk about protein powders, you may be wondering which kind is the best for you. The options online and in stores can be overwhelming. Here are five things to keep in mind when you’re on the hunt for a protein powder.
- Know why you want a protein powder
Most people don’t necessarily need to incorporate a protein powder into their diet. However, there are plenty of reasons you might choose to take this supplement. Protein powder has proven to:
- Serve as a portable source of protein
- Promote muscle recovery and growth after workouts
- Provide a low-calorie way to reach weight loss goals and for vegans to meet their protein needs
- Determine how much protein you need
There are many factors when it comes to protein needs, but let’s keep it simple. The minimum daily recommendation is approximately 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For example, an individual who weighs 150 pounds would need about 60 grams of protein per day.
Remember, more isn’t always better. Your body can only use a certain amount of protein at once. Spreading your protein intake throughout your day is more effective than consuming it all in one big meal. Most adults should aim to consume 20-35 grams of protein per meal and 5-15 grams per snack to meet the recommended daily requirement.
Keep in mind that one scoop of protein powder can provide approximately 20 grams of protein. If you consume enough protein from diet alone, a protein powder may not be necessary for you.
- Choose a protein source
Each type of protein powder is intended for different uses and produces different benefits based on the protein source it is made from. Always read the label for food allergies and intolerances.
- Whey protein powder is the most readily available in stores and often the most cost efficient. It contains more of the key amino acid leucine, which is beneficial for muscle building, than other protein products.
- Soy is a complete vegan protein source.
- Egg protein powder is one of the highest quality proteins available. It has a mild flavor and smoother consistency, so it mixes well with other foods.
- Hemp has the added benefit of containing fiber and omega-3 fats. However, it tends to be higher in calories. Be aware that hemp has an earthy flavor and a more gritty texture than other protein powders.
- Pea protein powder is an ideal vegan and lactose-free choice that fits into a low FODMAP diet. Pro tip—pea protein is great for adding to savory foods!
- Plant blends create a complete vegan protein source.
Note: Collagen is a very popular supplement right now, but since it is not easily absorbed and used by the body, it is not recommend to be used as a protein supplement.
- Consider flavorings and additives
Vanilla is a popular and widely available flavored protein powder option. With a more neutral flavor, vanilla is easily added to foods without overwhelming other flavors. Chocolate is another delicious option and is perfect for masking the flavor of greens in your smoothies. Some manufacturers make “unflavored” varieties, which are ideal for adding to your favorite foods and beverages.
Also important, you should consider how your protein powder is sweetened. Many protein powders rely on sugar substitutes in order to keep calories and carbohydrates at bay, which can have a negative effect on the taste.
- Go beyond the blender
Protein powder can be used in several ways beyond shakes and smoothies. Give your meals and snacks a boost by adding protein powder to:
- Pancake mix
- Overnight oats and oatmeal
- Homemade baked goods and energy balls
- Hummus and dips
- Mashed potatoes
- Pasta sauce
Whatever flavor or form of protein powder you prefer, remember it is intended to be a supplement to other protein-containing foods, not a replacement for them.
To schedule a one-on-one consultation or learn more about Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services, visit cooperclinicnutrition.com or call 972.560.2655.
Article provided by Katie Goldberg, MCN, RDN, LD, and Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services.