There’s no doubt protein and fitness go hand-in-hand. Research shows diets high in protein can help athletes excel in the gym, improve recovery, add muscle, lose fat, reduce disease risk, and develop strength. The benefits of protein powders are beyond clear to everyone that takes them. But most protein lovers are still trying to understand the many types of formulas out there. Read on to learn about the best protein powders and which one fits your fitness and health needs the best.
#1 – Whey Protein
By far the most popular protein powder. Whey is a type of protein found in milk. More specifically, whey protein comes from the liquid that separates from the curds during the cheese-making process. Ideally, you want to choose whey protein isolate if you have lactose intolerance, as the lactose content is decreased during processing.
Benefits: Whey protein powders are excellent muscle growth supporters. They are often high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are known for promoting muscle recovery. Whey protein also helps curb appetite and improve body composition by decreasing fat mass and waist circumference.
Perfect for: Those looking to increase muscle mass and improve their muscle recovery after intense workouts. Whey protein is the go-to choice for those looking to lose weight since it helps control cravings.
Diet Types: Those following a vegetarian, ketogenic, gluten-free, or weight loss diet will be the ones to benefit the most from using whey protein.
#2 – Hemp Protein
Quickly gaining popularity, hemp is well-known for its association with marijuana. Even though hemp contains little-to-no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the main active ingredient responsible for the psychoactive properties of marijuana, hemp is rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as several essential amino acids. Hemp protein has become the most popular plant-based protein in the market today.
Benefits: Being a plant-based protein, hemp is easily digestible, which means your body metabolizes and uses more protein than with other forms. Hemp seeds are also rich in fiber, known to help lower cholesterol levels, enhance weight loss, and control blood sugar. Not to mention, hemp protein is vegan-friendly and extremely hypoallergenic making it ideal for virtually anyone.
Perfect for: The go-to protein powder for those looking to improve protein intake to gain muscle mass and strength. Hemp protein also helps those looking to benefit from the many nutritional benefits of the hemp seed.
Diet Types: By being plant-based, hemp protein is ideal for those who follow a vegan, vegetarian, low-carbs, ketogenic, paleo, or gluten-free lifestyle, as well as those working on their weight loss goals.
#3 – Pea Protein
Don’t let the tiny peas fool you. Pea protein is packed with essential amino acids, and of course, they’re high in protein. Extremely popular among vegans and vegetarians, pea protein can help promote the same benefits as animal-based proteins. Particularly rich in BCAAs, pea protein is the ultimate wellness supplement for those looking for a dairy-free and vegan protein powder.
Benefits: Pea protein powders are as effective as whey protein at boosting muscle growth when combined with resistance training. Some research also shows pea protein can help you feel full and reduce appetite. In addition to increasing your protein intake, pea protein can also help lower blood pressure, which is a nice added benefit for those looking to stay healthy.
Perfect for: Those looking for an all-in-one protein powder. Pea protein can help curb cravings, increase muscle growth, and assist with heart health, making it ideal for anyone that wants to start living a well-rounded, wholesome, and healthy lifestyle.
Diet Types: Being a plant-based protein powder, pea protein is ideal for those who follow vegan , vegetarian, low-carb, ketogenic, or gluten-free diets.
#4 – Casein Protein
Casein protein is also found in milk. However, unlike whey protein, casein is digested much more slowly, which results in a steadier exposure to amino acids, reducing muscle protein breakdown. Thanks to its long digestive rate, casein makes the best protein choice for bedtime. To some, casein protein powders are too thick, which is why casein is often combined with whey protein powders to offer a creamier protein shake that’s easily digestible.
Benefits: Casein has anti-catabolic properties, which helps slow muscle breakdown during resistance training and instead supplies your muscles with a steady stream of amino acids that help promote muscle growth. There is research that suggests casein protein may be more effective at stimulating strength and muscle growth. Lastly, casein is the leading protein powder for boosting metabolism and helping athletes lose weight.
Perfect for: Everyone with clear fitness goals. Because casein protein is so versatile, it can be used to build muscle and increase fat loss. It can be used to help you burn more calories and lose more weight.
Diet Types: Since casein is a dairy-based protein, it’s only suitable for vegetarians, low-carb, ketogenic, and gluten-free diets. Those who are lactose intolerant are better off taking whey protein isolate to avoid any symptoms.
#5 – Egg Protein
We all know eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein. Of all whole foods out there, eggs have the highest measure of protein quality and digestibility, making it the perfect source for protein powders. Egg proteins are often made from egg whites rather than whole eggs, and like most animal-based proteins they’re considered a complete protein source. That means they provide all essential amino acids, including the ones your body can’t make.
Benefits: Egg protein powders are not just rich in protein, but also in vitamins and minerals we need to have a healthy diet. Eggs have also been shown to promote weight loss as they help you stay full longer and reduce hunger.
Perfect for: Those looking for an alternative to whey protein. Egg protein is perfect for anyone looking to increase muscle protein synthesis, improve healthy cholesterol, reduce the risk of disease, and promote weight loss.
Diet Types: Those who follow vegetarian, ketogenic, gluten-free, and weight loss focused diets.
How to Get the Most from Your Protein Powder
With so many choices, choosing one protein powder that fits your fitness and health needs can be overwhelming. If you’re looking to build muscles stay with whey protein and whey isolates, they will always remain your best option. For those looking to reach their weight loss goals, whey and casein protein powders are your best options.
Protein powders are a fantastic way to provide your body with high-quality protein in a concentrated and convenient form. The best way to leverage the benefits of protein to help assist with strength training or meeting recommended protein intake. Each type of protein fits different needs, so use one tailored to your specific diet and goals.
To get the most from your protein powder make sure to have it as a post-workout recovery drink. Consuming protein shakes within 60-minutes of a workout can help speed the repair and growth process. In addition, use protein powders to control your weight. Adding protein powder to each meal or as a snack option can help you stay full longer.
There is no magic number for how much protein to consume at one time. After all, we all have different goals to hit. The universal recommended amount is at least 3 ounces of protein per meal.
Finally, always remember to buy from a reputable retailer. Protein powders can have unnecessary fillers that can be harmful. Choose one with no fillers so you can be sure you’re getting the best protein powder possible.