When working on improving fitness, there are a lot of good reasons to add protein powders to your diet. But it’s important to choose the right type of protein in order to match your specific goals!
Are you wanting to build muscle, gain weight, lose weight, stick to a vegan diet, or do you have specific health concerns? One type of protein powder won’t meet all needs. You need to find the best one—or the right combination of a few—that works for you. It’s a little complicated with all the choices, but we’re here to help.
So, how do you know which protein powders are the best for you? It depends on your specific goals.
To build muscle
Studies show that whey protein and whey isolates do the best job at promoting muscle growth and recovery after working out.
Whey isolates undergo more processing than regular whey. This processing results in a higher protein content with less carbs, lactose, and fat. Whey isolate is typically more expensive than basic whey protein, but both are good for building muscles.
To gain weight
Adding protein shakes to your regular diet of healthy and balanced meals can help you gain weight. If weight gain is your goal, mix protein powder with whole milk rather than water or other low-fat options. Any protein powder can contribute to weight gain if used this way.
To lose weight
Casein, whey protein, brown rice proteins, or a combination of these three, are the best protein supplements for losing weight. These keep you feeling full and prevent giving into hunger pangs with the wrong foods.
If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure to consume a steady supply of protein throughout the day instead of a large amount at once.
And of course, you’ll also need to choose protein powders without added sugars or artificial sweeteners made from starch (listed as dextrins or maltodextrins).
To supplement a vegetarian or vegan diet
A struggle for vegetarians and vegans is getting enough protein in their diet, but protein powders can fill these nutritional holes. There are many protein powders that contain 100% vegan plant proteins. These powders may have a single plant protein or be a combination of any of the following: pea protein, flax seeds, hemp, brown rice, alfalfa, chia seeds, artichoke, or quinoa.
To retain strength while aging
This is another instance where whey proteins are the best choice. According to a recent study, regularly drinking whey-based protein shakes boosted the physical strength of a group of men over the age of 70. Research suggests that seniors should consider making whey protein shakes a regular part of their diets to maintain muscle mass.
To reduce appetite
All protein powders fill you up and reduce hunger, but research shows that whey protein powder leads to the largest decrease in appetite and the greatest reduction of calorie intake at the next meal.
To stay within your budget
Save money by purchasing tubs of protein powder rather than ready-to-drink protein shakes.
To cope with food sensitivities
Brown rice and pea protein powders are two of the best options for those with food sensitivities. Some people find it helpful to alternate these protein powders with whey protein to get the benefits of building muscle and preventing food sensitivities at the same time.
Hemp protein is another good choice for those with food sensitivities and is usually the safest plant source of protein. Its cultivation rarely requires additives, pesticides, herbicides or petrochemical fertilizers, making hemp a very safe plant source of protein. Hemp is also easily digestible, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
To manage diabetes
It’s obvious—if you’re managing diabetes, you need to avoid protein powders with added sugar. Definitely don’t choose one with sugar (or a form of sugar) listed as one of the first three ingredients. Also look for a protein supplement that has less than 5 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
To manage kidney disease
People with kidney disease can’t tolerate a lot of protein at one time. If you have this health concern and still need a protein supplement, make sure to find one with a lower-range protein content (10 to 15 grams per serving).
Are Protein Powder Needs Different for Women than Men?
Generally speaking, protein powder needs are no different for women than men. We all basically need the same vitamins and minerals.
The only differences are that women need fewer calories per pound of weight, and sometimes women can have gender-specific health concerns to work with. So, watch the calories in protein powders.
One Final Note on All Protein Powders
One thing to remember with any type of protein supplement: your body adjusts and assimilates to what it’s used to. You also have to take into consideration the different kinds of proteins as well as different kinds of body types. For instance if a body of a woman 5 foot 5 is used to digesting 100g of protein after six months it would be easier for that woman to transition into digesting 125g of protein per day. However, if that same 5 foot 5 woman started off at 125g of protein after averaging only 70g of protein a day for years she would likely have trouble digesting the larger amounts of protein.
Multiple factors influence how much and how fast protein is absorbed in the body. It could be more for one person and less for another, depending on the person’s body size, digestive system, also the type of protein will influence absorption rate. Some proteins absorb faster than others this is why it is important to find the right protein powder for you.
Choose the Right Protein Powder for Your Specific Goals
With the right information, you can choose a protein powder that best fits your fitness goals, health needs, dietary preferences, and food tolerances.
If you’re working out and better fitness is a goal, protein supplements can help you get there—just make sure you’re using the right one!
Need help knowing which is best for you? Contact Us today and we can develop the right plan for your body & fitness goals.