When it comes to living a healthier lifestyle, protein is a macro-nutrient you may need to improve on if you are cannot get enough through whole foods.
Supplementing with protein has various benefits, but choosing between them all can be confusing and quite time consuming. This article will be listing the top 6 most researched protein powders that are common on the market. But, first, let’s explain what protein powders are & why supplementing with them can be beneficial.
What are protein powders?
Protein powders are dietary supplements that are used to fill a void or increase the amount of protein you consume on a daily basis.
They are made from different types of food sources with the most common ones being rice, peas, dairy, eggs, soy, and hemp.
Majority of people will supplement with protein powders when they want to:
- Build lean muscle mass
- To aid in muscle recovery and maintain lean muscle mass
- When transitioning to a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based diet to help reach their daily recommended protein ratios.
- Maximize muscle gain
- Increase fat loss
- Improve overall body composition
Different Sources of Protein Powders
Derived from milk, whey protein is a common supplement choice that contains all required amino acids to be a complete protein. It is easily digested to help aid in muscle protein synthesis, lean muscle mass, strength, and recovery after extensive exercise. Whey protein is highly studied and is known as one of the best choices for a protein powder. However, those that are sensitive to dairy products should be careful as although the amounts are low, it may cause an upset stomach.
Casein is another protein that is derived from milk. Just like whey, it is a complete protein that contains all 9 of the essential amino acids. Casein is a slow digesting protein that is suitable for supplementing throughout the day and especially before bed, but not pre and post workout. Casein is a well-known protein that is highly researched for its benefits in muscle retention, muscle growth, colon health. and increased rates of protein synthesis. However, those that are sensitive to dairy products should be careful as although the amounts are low, it may cause an upset stomach.
Brown Rice Protein
Brown rice protein is a perfect alternative for those that are sensitive or want to avoid dairy. It is a medium digesting protein. Over the past several years, it has been studied to be almost as effective as supplementing with whey in its support for lean muscle mass, fat loss, and muscle retention. Brown rice protein is packed with antioxidants and nutrients. However, it doesn’t contain all 9 essential amino acids to be a complete protein. To make up for this, purchase a powder that contains a mix of other food sources like chia seed and pea powders. It has a neutral taste with a smooth texture.
Egg White Protein
Egg white protein powders are a great alternative for those that are sensitive or want to avoid dairy. This is a medium digesting protein that has all 9 of the essential amino acids to make a complete protein as well. It provides similar benefits to whey for muscle retention, recovery, and improved performance. The solubility of this protein is good and texture with a smooth texture.
Soy protein powders are derived naturally from soybeans, a great alternative when avoiding dairy. It is a medium digesting protein loaded with vitamins and minerals, as well as added benefits to aid in overall muscle growth and recovery. The only downfall with the consistent use of a soy-based protein powder, as research shows, is its potential effect of increasing estrogen levels and decreasing testosterone levels. Along with this, it has a higher risk of GMO’s. However, this is a great protein powder that can help you reach your protein goals when needed. It has a neutral taste with a smooth texture.
Hemp protein powder is a great plant-based protein powder. It has the 9 essential amino acids to make it a complete protein. It is naturally derived from the hemp seed. Although it is a higher fiber protein supplement compared to the rest, this slow digesting protein has many benefits. Research has shown its potential anti-fatigue and immune boosting properties with omega 3, 6 & 9, antioxidants, and easy digestion. It has an earthy taste and can be grainy.
What is the best protein powder source?
When it comes down to choosing the best protein powder source, there is no one answer for everyone. It all depends on your preference, any dietary restrictions, and goals. Either way, you cannot go wrong with any of these to supplement your diet when your protein needs are low.