Globally, the protein supplement industry is worth $17.5 billion. The benefits of protein powder are known to Olympic athletes and workout fanatics alike. If you're exercising in any capacity, you likely need more protein in your diet to energize muscle growth and hasten recovery.
In such a saturated market, it can be hard to align your health goals with the right powder. Next time you're buying protein powder, you'll want to think about things like ingredients, digestion, and your personal goals.
Which Protein Powder Should I Choose?
With these tips in mind, you'll know what to look for in protein powder. Before checking the shelves, think critically about why you want to use protein powder for your workout routine.
Whey Protein Powder Concentrate
This milk-based supplement is popular in the supplement world because it contains essential amino acids that help build and tone muscle. Whey Concentrate does have higher lactose content, which is something to consider for your digestion.
Whey Protein Isolate Powder
The purest form of protein, Whey Protein Isolate is a straight protein without the fat and carbs from milk. Without the extra calories and sugar, this protein powder is highly bioavailable and easily absorbed into the body. This is a great choice for fitness lovers who are looking to gain muscle.
Vegan Protein Powder
You can still get enough protein as a vegan or vegetarian with plant-based powders. While not as bioavailable as whey proteins, soy, brown rice, hemp, and pea are great alternatives. Soy protein is the only plant-based protein powder with all the essential amino acids but does not perform very well on its own, so look for combination protein powders.
What to Look for in Protein Powder
It may seem obvious, but look for protein powders with protein as the first ingredient and as little fillers as possible. The best tasting supplements have flavors that will keep you excited about your protein powder routine, like cookies and cream or peanut butter cups.
Check the labels and ingredients when you're purchasing. Some powders have added sugar, stevia, or preservatives to keep them shelf-stable. These can irritate people with irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal issues.
If you want to lose weight and use protein powder to supplement, choose a powder with fewer added starches. Always remember that protein powders are meant to supplement a healthy diet and work together with the nutrients you get from food.
How to Use Protein Powder
The easiest way to consume protein powder is by mixing it with water, milk, or dairy-free milk. Protein powder can also be added to smoothies or baked goods like pancakes or muffins. Research has shown that the benefits of protein powder are valuable whether you have it right after a workout or just on the same day.
Buying Protein Powder
You should choose a powder that meets your standards for taste, your health goals, and is easily digestible. It's not unusual to try a few flavors until you find one that fits perfectly into your routine. Buying protein powder is an exciting step in your fitness journey, so get out there and keep moving!