Do you get confused by all of the different types of protein powders, shakes, and bars we have to choose from? And do you wonder if they are worth it? There is a lot of hype around getting enough protein and do these products make a difference?
This week let’s dive deep into protein supplements, specifically protein powders. How important they are for you on a cellular level, particularly as you age, complete vs. incomplete proteins, and does whey protein make the cut?
As we all know, protein is one of the (3) macronutrients we need; including carbs and fats, and it is the building block of our tissues and muscles. Protein is also important to maintaining cellular integrity, balancing ph and creating hormones and enzymes.
You can see why getting enough protein is important, especially as we get older, to ward off or reduce the progression of sarcopenia (muscle loss). When you lose muscle mass, it impacts your strength, agility, and posture.
Most Americans do not get enough protein, especially older folks, and this is often why we look to supplement our protein with a shake, powder or power bar. It's convenient when we are on the go, and easier to put together than a meal for some of us.
The recommended RDA is 25-30 grams of protein per meal, with the best time to get the protein being breakfast. Unfortunately, breakfast habits are usually carb and sugar laden, instead of savory and protein-laden, which often means we start off in deficit.
However, people are starting to recognize they need to get more protein in their diets and are looking to packaged protein products to shore up this lack. A convenient option for breakfast is a protein shake.
How many of you have seen large tubs of protein powder on sale at your supermarket? Once something you had to go to a GNC store or health store to get now gets prime real estate at your local grocer. You can get your protein from animals or plants; whey, casein, egg, pea, hemp and brown rice for example.
The forms these proteins come in are:
Protein concentrates – 60-80% protein, the rest being fat and carb
Protein isolates - contains 90-95% protein
Protein hydrolysates – are absorbed more quickly in the body by the muscles, and are used to enhance muscle growth, which is good for body builders
Whey is the bodybuilder’s choice as it is quickly absorbed and ups insulin levels, which is good after a rigorous workout and enhances muscle mass. Not so good for menopausal women who are trying to regulate glucose.
A cautionary note here to be careful in choosing your protein supplement as they are not regulated the same way as food, and some manufacturers have been cited for having too much sugar, or even toxins in their supplements. Make sure you are using a credible brand and look at the label for ingredients.
Healthline has a list of reviewed protein powders that is very comprehensive.
Best whey: Naked Whey Protein Powder
Best casein: Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein
Best egg white: NOW Sports Egg White Protein
Best collagen: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Best vegan: Garden of Life Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
Best pea protein: Ritual Essential Protein
Best rice protein: BulkSupplements Rice Protein Powder
Best hemp protein: Navitas Organics Hemp Powder
Best organic: Ora Organic Vegan Protein Powder
Best whey protein powder for athletes: Ladder Whey Protein Powder
Best vegan protein powder for athletes: Momentous Essential Plant-Based Protein
Best personalized: Gainful Protein Powder
Best for weight gain: Transparent Labs Mass Gainer
I have tried some of these brands, such as NOW and Vital Proteins, as well as Bulk Supplements and Navitas. Right now I am satisfied with the protein powder I get from JJ Virgin, which as derived from beef peptides and does not contain whey. I like the taste, find it doesn’t make me feel bloated, and it keeps me full from breakfast until lunch. I am not making a case for this particular brand, it is just after much trial and error I have found it works for me.
Look for my video this week that shares my morning protein shake and all the ingredients I put in it and why.
I encourage you to test a few products and see how you respond. We are all different in our specific needs based on muscle mass, the amount of whole foods we eat and our levels of activity.