Part of a smart nutrition plan is always making sure that you are consuming adequate amounts of protein in your diet each and every day. This critical nutrient is responsible for providing the building blocks that muscle is made up of, so for someone who is actively taking part in vigorous workout sessions, you can clearly see why it would be of concern.
If you tire of eating chicken breasts, steak, and eggs all day long however, you likely want a solution. This is where most people start turning to protein powder to fill the void. Not only is protein powder a fast and easy option when you need a protein boost, certain varieties are also formulated to work perfectly right after a workout session, giving your muscles the exact nutrients they need for optimal recovery.
Choosing a protein powder isn’t always easy however. One look at the local supplement store or website will quickly have you seeing hundreds of different tubs of all sizes to choose from.
Which is right for you?
Let’s give you a brief guide on how you can choose the right protein powder to meet your dietary needs.
The Time You Intend To Take It
The very first and most critical thing to think about when selecting a protein powder is when you plan to use that protein throughout the day. Is it going to be a protein powder that you use to replace your normal everyday meals or is it going to be a protein powder that’s used pre or post workout?
If it’s for making shakes to drink throughout the day, a regular whey protein powder will be sufficient. This one digests at a medium speed and is one of the lower cost options, so perfect for those on a budget.
If you plan to use it right before you hit the gym or immediately after, you’ll want to instead look into using a whey isolate protein. This protein is the one that has been specially formulated to ensure rapid digestion. At this time, it’s well worth it to invest in this slightly higher priced product. You’ll simply see better results.
Finally, if you plan to use the protein powder before bed, you might consider instead using a casein protein powder. This protein powder is great because it’s a type of protein that breaks down very slowly in the body, so rather than getting that rapid release like with isolate, you get a steady stream of amino acids moving into the bloodstream.
This makes it ideal for the pre-bed fasting period. While you could always use a regular whey at this time, the casein is slightly better.
Your Nutrition ‘Lifestyle’
Next, also consider your overall nutrition lifestyle. By this, I mean are you vegetarian? Or, do you avoid dairy? Whatever the case may be, if you are following a certain type of plan to do your beliefs or otherwise, don’t think that just because you can’t have whey protein, you’re out of luck.
Fortunately, there are many other options. If you tend to avoid dairy or simply can’t have it due to an issue with lactose intolerance, look into an egg white protein powder or possibly a soy protein powder. Keep in mind however that many whey isolates don’t contain lactose either, so you might even be safe sticking to one of those.
If you are avoiding eggs as well, hemp, rice, or soy will all work as well. These are vegetarian-friendly protein powders that will still provide you with a great dose of nutrition when you need it.
Men should keep in mind however that soy protein powder should only be used on occasion. Consumption of soy in males tends to decrease testosterone levels, which isn’t something you willingly want to be doing. As such, go for hemp or rice protein instead.
One great thing about hemp protein is that it’ll provide a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids as well, which are important for keeping your body healthy and lean.
Your Calorie Intake Goals
Another factor to look at when selecting your protein powder is what your calorie intake goals are when using it. Are you looking for this protein powder to act as a full meal or are you simply looking to have it alongside other foods you are going to eat?
If you do want to use it as a full meal, you might look into one of the meal replacement shake protein powder options available. These will also contain a balanced mix of carbohydrates and fats along with the protein, so helps it become more complete.
Just keep in mind that these can be high in sugar at times, so you’ll want to be sure that you are opting for a lower sugar variety. Read the label and see exactly what you are getting. If it’s mostly sugar, keep looking.
Or, if you are really looking to pack on some lean muscle mass, you might turn to a weight gainer protein powder. Here again though, read the ingredients. Be careful that the product you choose doesn’t come with a load of added sugar.
And, keep the calorie content to a reasonable level. You can find weight gainers that contain anywhere from 300 calories all the way up to a whopping 2000 (which no one should ever use!), so be sure that you are analyzing that nutrition panel.
Your Flavor Preferences
Finally, last but not least, consider flavor preferences. Which flavors do you tend to enjoy the most? While this should never be a determining factor about which protein powder you choose, it should be considered.
With the new enhancements in flavor, gone are the days where you need to feel like you’re choking back a chalky tasting shake. Find one that you look forward to and you’ll be more likely to use it, getting your nutritional needs met.
So keep these ideas in mind as you hunt down your perfect protein powder. Put them to use and you can feel great that you are nourishing your body well.
Let us know in the comments below what your favorite protein powder is!