However, not all protein powder are created equal and it's important to note that not all protein powders are as healthy as they claim to be. Unfortunately, most protein powders are loaded with problematic ingredients such as artificial colours, fructose, saccharin and aspartame.
Look for a protein powder with natural ingredients rather than products that are sweetened with chemicals and made with ingredients that are certainly not going to create an environment for muscle growth and fat burning.
You are compromising your healthy once you introduce low quality refined and processed carbs that could include brown rice syrup, sucrose or fructose into your shakes. Do your due diligence and ensure the nutrition company is truly committed to optimal health. Unfortunately supplement manufacturers will continue to meet the demands of bodybuilding consumers with unknown crappy products because we buy it and it is cheaper for them to create.
Do your homework by seeking out unbiased reviews, investigating the companies history, and reputation. And then make a decision and take responsibility!
In the past one of my criteria for a healthy protein product was that it was great tasting and that it should mix easily. Most protein powders mix quite easily, even with a spoon, however I was disappointed to discover that taste will inevitably be sacrificed for a safe and healthy product. I can live with this.
How Much Protein Powder Do I Need?
A better question would be, "How much pure protein do I need to achieve my goals?"
Protein is an extremely important macro nutrient and should be eaten frequently throughout the day. I recommend at least 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. This means that if you are 150 pounds and 10% body fat (150 x 0.10 = 15 lbs of fat leaving 135 lbs of lean mass), you will require at least 135 to approximately 205 grams of protein per day.
I recommend that protein powder be used primarily for your pre-workout, workout and post-workout shake. This is when liquid food is more advantageous over whole food since it has a faster absorption rate.
I do not recommend protein powder be used for meal replacements for more than two meals. Here is what a typical day might look like:
- Meal 1 (breakfast) - whole food
- Meal 2 (mid morning) - liquid protein meal
- Meal 3 (lunch) - whole food
- Meal 4 (mid afternoon) - whole food
- Meal 5 (pre and post workout) - liquid protein meal
- Meal 6 (dinner) - whole food
- Meal 7 (before bed) - whole food
What Kind Of Protein Powder Should I Use?
Before deciding which protein powder is necessary, here is a short protein primer to help you make sense of the thousands of different protein powders from which to choose:
Whey Protein makes up 20% of total milk protein. Whey is acknowledged for its superior amino acid profile, high cysteine content, fast digestion, and mixture of peptides.
Since it is very quickly digested the best time to consume it is before your workout, during your workout or immediately after your workout. These would be considered the phase-in the day where you need energy the most and when your body is in anabolic state.
Casein Protein makes up 80% of total milk protein. Casein is acknowledged for its superior amino acid profile, slow digestion and mixture of peptides. Since casein is slowly digested into your bloodstream, don't use it during workouts or after workouts - you need a fast absorbing protein at these times. Instead, use a casein protein for all other times outside the pre and post workout window.
"I suggest avoiding soy protein altogether and sticking to the other types listed here."
Soy Protein is the most controversial of all protein types. While the soy groupies have gone to great lengths to label soy as a super food with magical effects, there is also a good amount of research that suggests soy protein may be contraindicated in many situations. Because of all the confusion, in my personal opinion, I suggest avoiding soy protein altogether and sticking to the other types listed here.
Protein Blends are generally a combination of several types of protein blends such as whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, egg protein, casein protein, and soy protein.
Why would you want a blend anyway? You will receive the full spectrum of proteins and you will receive varying rates of absorption from the different types of protein. Using a blend will create an anabolic environment from the whey and an anti-catabolic environment from the casein - use this kind at any time of the day but NOT before a workout or after a workout.