By: Matt Weik
Protein powder is one of the most consumed and purchased supplements on the market today. People are buying them as a 2lb tub all the way up to a 10lb bag and everything in between. The question becomes, “What protein powder is actually right for you?”
In order to answer that question, you need to first ask yourself seven questions that will lead you to the protein powder you need. This is very individualized and your answers will probably be different than your friend or family members. It’s for that reason that when people recommend supplements to you, they may not get you the results you desire since they aren’t aligned with your wants and needs.
With all that being said, let’s dive into the seven questions surrounding protein powder that you need to answer so you can make the best buying decision for your particular circumstance.
Protein is extremely important when it comes to not only building lean muscle mass but also maintaining it as well. When you are bulking, you’re going to need adequate protein in order to properly repair and build broken down muscle fibers. Then when dieting, to prevent yourself from going into a catabolic state, you want to take in enough protein to prevent your body from breaking down muscle to be used as energy since you’ll be in a caloric deficit.
A good number to shoot for is anywhere between 0.8g and 1.0g of protein per pound of bodyweight. For example, if you weight 180 pounds, that means you should be taking in anywhere from 144-180g of protein per day. Not sure if you’re taking in enough? Track it with a pen and paper or logging it in software such as the free MyFitnessPal app on your smartphone.
Some good whole food sources of protein would be chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef, eggs, fish, and pork to name a few. If you find you aren’t hitting your recommended daily intake, it would be a good idea to supplement with a protein powder.
What are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to put on size? Are you trying to lose weight and body fat? Or are you simply trying to maintain your current state? All of these questions come into play when deciding on a protein powder.
Generally speaking, if you’re trying to put on size, most aren’t overly concerned about how many carbohydrates or fats are in the protein powder. However, if you’re trying to maintain your current weight and size or even trying to lose weight, you may want to find a protein powder that is lower in carbs and fat.
A protein powder that is lower in overall calories would be a great option for those looking to lose weight or maintain while someone trying to bulk may do best with a protein powder that is higher in calories to help put them into a caloric surplus without needing to eat junk in their diet to do so.
When you consume a protein shake, when will it be and for what purpose? It is recommended to consume a protein shake following a workout to help with the recovery process but is that the only time you will need to drink a shake?
If you aren’t getting in enough calories throughout the day, tossing in a protein shake in addition to your post-workout shake would be ideal – assuming you aren’t able to take in more whole food meals or snacks to help get your calories up.
Are you looking for a protein powder to use at night to stay anabolic while you sleep? That alone walks us right into our next question.
There are many types of protein powder you can purchase that serve different purposes. Below are the most commonly found sources.
Whey Protein Concentrate – While not the highest-quality protein source available, it’s fairly inexpensive and is fast-digesting making it an ideal source for most consumers without breaking the bank. Whey protein concentrate can be found as a standalone protein powder or as part of a protein blend.
Whey Protein Isolate – One of the highest-quality protein sources available, whey protein isolate is the fastest-digesting of this group but it also comes with a higher price tag. Whey protein isolates are generally found in protein powders that are low in carbohydrates as well as calories. Additionally, if you find you have any stomach issues with the whey protein concentrate (such as lactose sensitivities), whey protein isolate would be a much better option.
Casein Protein – If you are looking for a protein powder that you can use between meals or at night, casein protein is your go-to choice. Casein protein is slow-digesting and will gradually break down over the course of several hours. Due to this, casein is the perfect at-night protein powder to help you stay anabolic and provide your muscles with the amino acids needed – even while you sleep. Casein is also filling and can help you stay satiated throughout the day which can curb your appetite and prevent you from overeating or snacking on junk.
It seems pretty obvious, yet not many people think about their allergies or sensitivities when buying protein powder. For instance, those with a lactose sensitivity may want to skip a whey protein concentrate as that may give them some side effects such as bloating, gastric discomfort, diarrhea, etc. Depending on if they have an allergy to something in one of the powders, the side effects could be even worse.
Always check the labels of the protein powders you are considering to make sure you won’t have any issues. If you’re unsure, check with your doctor before making a purchase.
Now for the fun part! Who doesn’t love delicious treats that are healthy? What foods and flavors do you like? With supplement companies collaborating with different brands, there are a ton of unique and delicious protein powder flavors available. Brands are coming out with ice cream flavored powders, candy-flavored powders – just about anything you can imagine.
Decide the direction you want to go with flavors and even step outside of your comfort zone to try something new. However, if you want to play it safe, good old vanilla and chocolate protein powder are always solid choices as you can drink them as is or even toss them in a blender to change the macros by adding fruit, vegetables, and even natural nut butters. Creativity with your protein powder is part of the fun!
Everything has its price! That’s the unfortunate truth. However, as they say… “You get what you pay for.” If you want a high-quality protein powder, you’re going to pay top dollar for it. I’m not here to tell you what to purchase with your hard-earned money. What I can say is, look at your answers from the questions above and figure out where your wants and needs are and from there start comparing prices and brands.
There are so many great brands out there today that you’re bound to find something you like at a price-point you’re comfortable with to help you get the results you desire.
If you’re looking for a high-quality whey isolate, MPA has you covered with the delicious Graham Cracker Pie Crust flavored IsoSolve. Use it in a shake post-workout or when baking to increase your daily protein intake. Made with 100% cold-filtered whey isolate, this protein powder contains zero lactose, zero gluten, zero sugar, is low in fat and carbohydrate, and is slammed with 25g of protein per serving. Try some for yourself and you may quickly find consuming IsoSolve is the highlight of your day.