Protein Powder: The Expose Part 2

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How to select the right powder?

Which protein powder is right for me? There are many many choices out there some vegetarian, and some animal derived. Does it really matter?

The answer is yes!

Courtesy of Wiki here is a breakdown of the types of protein powders:

  • Whey protein contains high levels of all the essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acids. It also has the highest content of the amino acid cysteine, which aids in the biosynthesis of glutathione. For bodybuilders whey protein provides amino acids used to aid in muscle recovery. Whey protein is derived from the process of making cheese from milk. There are three types of whey protein: whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate. Whey concentrate is 29%–89% protein by weight whereas whey isolate is 90%+ protein by weight. Whey hydrolysate is enzymatically predigested and therefore has the shortest rate of digestion of all protein types.
  • Casein protein (or milk protein) has glutamine, and casomorphin.
  • Soy protein from soybeans contain isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen.
  • Egg-white protein is a lactose- and dairy-free protein.
  • Hemp seed contains complete and highly-digestible protein and hemp oil is high in essential fatty acids.
  • Rice protein, when made from the whole grain, is a complete protein source that is highly digestible and allergen free. Since rice protein is low in the amino acid lysine, it is often combined with pea protein powder to achieve a superior amino acid profile.
  • Pea protein is a hypoallergenic protein with a lighter texture than most other protein powders. Pea protein has an amino acid profile similar to that of soy, but pea protein does not elicit concerns about unknown effects of phytoestrogens. Pea protein is also less allergenic than soy.

So many choices! Choosing the one to fit your needs depends on what your needs are. Across the board many of my patients blindly pick a powder depending what's on sale. But this decision should be based upon your goals- are you choosing the powder for taste, function, or as a meal replacement?

Taste:

Looking for powders that are tasty can be tricky. With so many brands out there it's hard to choose what will taste the best and serve your purpose. In part 3, I will help you navigate this with a couple of tricks to help improve taste, but in the meantime, 
you have to start with good ingredients.  In my opinion, the best tasting powders tend to be those with less grit. Egg, Whey, Pea, and Soy tend to blend the best and mix well with just water. 

Grain based powders need a bit more help. Typically they're more heavier and may take some finagling to get them to dissolve in just plain water. The manufacturers may add some emulsifiers like guar gum or lecithin to improve texture.

Watch out for additives like "Natural flavors and Dioxides". Generally these have gluten or other excipients that cause can cause irritation in the body.

Function:

I could go on for pages on selecting the right powder for function. There are many reasons to choose different powders:  your body type, sex, medical condition, time of the month, workload, time spent exercising and age are just a few reasons.

Here's a general rule:

  •  If you are engaged in performance activities, stick with proteins that have a complete amino acid profile. You are burning many calories so you need adequate coverage to replace what has been lost and to restore the body's storage of glutamine- a precusor needed for production of a powerful antioxidant glutathione.
  • If you have inflammation (pain, swelling, joint pain, cramping, spasming) grab non-animal based powders first. They are more alkaline in nature, have a natural array of minerals and can buffer against inflammatory upregulation. 
  • If you are short on time and are using protein powders as meal substitutions (breakfast), select a powder that will give you a density of proteins and taste good. You should be mixing other macronutrients (carbs/fats) to aid in satisfying your hunger.

Meal Replacement

Depending on the brand chosen, powders can come complete with multivitamins, energy enhancement, probiotics, greens, fruit blends etc. My best advice is to find the right type for you is to K.I.S.S.

  • Use it to fill your need- necessary protein intake is based on body size. Average adult females need around 55 grams/day and males need 65 grams/day
  • Unless indicated- you don't need a multivitamin in your protein powder
  • Read labels- look for additives (dioxides, creamers, sugar solids, diglycerides, artificial flavors) if it's in there- don't buy it
  • Look for gluten, soy, egg, casein, dairy, wheat, excess added sugars, and artificial sweeteners
  • You control what is added. Start with a simple clean powder and add greens, fruit, dairy, egg, a multi or probiotic.

Next week in Part 3- via video blog  I'll expose what's on the labels on the most popular protein powders on the market and give my recommendations for the best choice for you! 

Stay tuned!