Protein Powders: Which One is for You?

Are you confused about what protein powder is the right one for you? Ever wonder what makes one protein powder different from the next? You are not alone. Let’s start from the beginning: the ingredients. The different types of protein powders out there are based on the ingredients they are made of. The most common ones are whey, casein protein, and soy.

Whey protein is a dairy protein that is the most soluble in water. It is a complete protein which means it contains all nine of the amino acids necessary for our dietary needs. It also has the highest concentration of these amino acids out of all the types of protein powder. This makes Whey the most powerful stimulator of protein synthesis. There are two different kinds of whey protein: concentrates and isolates. Whey Isolate is a pure protein containing approximately 90% protein per scoop. Whey isolate is digested rapidly, making it a more popular choice for someone that needs an immediate source of protein post-workout. Concentrate is considered less pure and contains less protein per scoop. Concentrate also contains higher amounts of carbohydrates and fats as well compared to isolate. For those of you that are lactose intolerant, there are lactose-free whey protein powders. When you are buying your powder if it does not say “lactose-free” you need to assume that it contains lactose.

Casein is the other dairy protein. It is digested very slowly, which helps to prevent protein breakdown. This makes Casein a good choice for hunger management or pre-bedtime options. Casein powders contain an ingredient called micellar, which cause the mixtures to be clumpy so it is best they are mixed with a blender and not by hand. A good option is to consume a mixture of Whey and Casein.  Also, it is important to note that several people do have allergies to casein.

Another category of protein powders is vegetable proteins. One major concern of vegetable proteins is that not all of them are complete proteins. However, soy protein is one of the vegetable proteins that is a complete protein. Studies show that is not recommended to ingest large amount of soy products however this is still a very controversial issue. A good rule of thumb would be to only ingest one soy product a day. Soy protein is a great option for those of you with dairy allergies, or the vegetarians/vegans.

Protein powders should only be used if you have no real food available. If you are leaving the gym and have no chance of getting a real meal a protein shake is a good meal replacement. Real food is always going to be superior to supplements. Supplements are not the ticket to being an elite competitor, your overall diet is what is most important. A healthy protein shake can be made up of protein powders mixed with fruit and milk or soy milk. Sometimes I like to mix yogurt in mine in replace of milk. Protein powders can also be used if you need to add more substance to your meals. If you are having trouble getting in the right amount of nutrients, you can add a protein powder to your meals to help boost your caloric intake.

There are a vast amount of protein powders on the market today. Each of them have their own caloric content and it is important to look at these details before making your purchase. Whole Foods is a great place to stock up on all your supplements needs however when standing in that aisle it can sometimes be very overwhelming. Check out our supplement guide in the ENP Store that contains a good many of the supplements available at Whole Foods. Each powder’s strengths and weaknesses are listed along with who the powder would best benefit. You can find this chart online at All protein powders have their pros and cons. The key is to find one that fits with your dietary needs best.


Micah Owen


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