I was in the gym earlier and talking to my buddies it turns out that we’ve all used a heap of different protein powders over the years. Why did we pick the ones we went for? Who knows, but it was probably whatever was on offer at Costco at the time, rather than anything more scientific.
When I got back, I decided to do some research into protein powders to see what they were all about and which were the good guys and the bad guys. I’ve got a recommendation below for one of the best brands on the market today (and also some recommendations of brands to steer clear of). I’ve also got some solid info on what protein powder is all about and tips on choosing the right brand for you.
Brand to choose: OPTIMUM NUTRITION GOLD STANDARD 100% Whey Protein Powder
Optimum Nutrition are one of the top brands in the world of protein powder and the Gold Standard is one of their flagship products. Made from whey protein, each scoop has only 1g of fat, 1g of sugar, and a massive 24g of protein. The Vanilla Ice Cream is my favorite flavor, but it also comes in three other very tasty flavors. I tend to use a shaker and the powder mixes up well with cold water in that. Great product Read more+
Brands to avoid: Julian Bakery KetoThin, Gatorade Whey Protein Powder, Vega Protein & Energy, Bodylogix Vegan Protein Powder, Pure Protein
What is protein powder?
Protein powder is one of the most basic and commonly used of all diet supplements for bodybuilding and fitness. You can find it available in many different forms, including whey or milk proteins soy protein, and even plant protein. It is great for helping to build muscle and it’s convenient to use and easily portable.
The most popular and best type of protein powder is whey. In its untreated form whey protein is an easy-to-digest protein source and comes from cow’s milk containing minimal carbs and saturated fats. After it’s been filtered, purified, and had the water removed, it turns into a high-quality, fat-free and lactose-free powder. Whey protein powder makes for one of the best types of protein for many people. It can be used throughout the day, pre- and post-training, and just before bed. It’s also good for mixing up into smoothies – I’ve always been a fan of blending it up with half a cup of oats and a banana.
Who uses protein powder? What for?
Lots of different people use protein powders. College students, stay-at-home dads, middle-aged women, the list goes on. They might be using it to help them build up muscles, or cut back on body fat (many slimming diets recommend a high daily amount of protein). Lots of different people, a lot of different reasons, and, lots of different types of protein powder to choose from!
Which protein powder is best for me quiz
Here are a few quick quiz questions that you can consider to help you decide which brand is right for you:
Whey Concentrate or Isolate?
There are a couple of main types of whey proteins, mainly concentrates and isolates. So what’s the difference? Well, it gets a bit technical, but on average, whey isolates contain 90-94% protein, but whey concentrates have a maximum of only 85% protein. Also, if you’re lactose-intolerant, you may have trouble consuming large amounts of whey concentrates. Whey isolates, on the other hand, are suitable for people with lactose intolerance because they are purified by ion exchange technology or cross-flow microfiltration (whatever that is!) Moreover, whey isolates have very low levels of carbs and fat.
Note the BCAAs profile
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the muscle-building components of whey protein powder. Studies on BCAAs show that they help accelerate muscle regeneration by helping to build and repair muscles far more effectively. Getting enough amino acids is important because, during exercise, the body burns amino acids quickly, and the inability to replace the loss of amino acids can lead to very little if any progress. Make sure you choose products with a high content of BCAAs.
Check the functioning of the product
When choosing the best whey protein powder, pay attention not so much to the amount of glucose or blood sugar as to the efficiency of fat burning in the product. With their high fat-burning capabilities, this can help you lose weight easier and even get a cleaner definition of your muscles. Also, remember to compare the amount of calories per serving of protein. For example, if one brand has 23g of protein and 100g calories, but another only contains 15g protein / 100g calories, then choose the one that more protein per serving, but with fewer calories ie. the first brand.
What taste do you prefer?
Choosing the right flavor for your protein powder will be very important. Don’t buy too much protein at once, because you may not like its taste. There are many to choose from – the two most common flavors are vanilla and chocolate, and you usually can’t go wrong with either.
Do I need protein powder to lose weight?
The short answer is No. You just need to burn more calories than you consume, over the long term.
The longer answer? Well, that would be, that protein powder can be a massive help in losing weight.
Getting enough protein can actually boost your body’s metabolism, cut back your appetite, and enable you to decrease body fat without getting rid of muscle. You can obviously get protein from a wide variety of sources, however, protein powders are an easy and convenient way to increase your daily intake.
I first found out about using protein powder to lose weight via the Slow Carb diet developed by Tim Ferriss and detailed in his book, The 4-Hour Body. It’s a really simple eating plan that involves a mandatory all-you-can-eat cheat day once a week. What’s not to like about that?!
Do I need supplements to get ripped?
Just like losing weight, the short answer is No, you don’t need supplements to get ripped. But the longer answer is that protein powder can help you build more muscle, build it faster, and cut more fat.
If you can take in sufficient protein every day through whole foods, then that’s the perfect situation. For many people though (like me!) this is just not a practical option. There are only so many boiled chicken breasts that I can stomach in one day before I literally feel like throwing them all up. If I swap out some of those solid food meals with a protein shake, I can still get my required amounts of protein, but without feeling like I’m just gnawing on chunks of meat all day. I find that first thing in the morning and last thing before I go to bed are the perfect times for me to drink a protein shake. When I wake up I can’t quite face a full meal, so it’s perfect then. Similarly, last thing at night, I don’t want to have to start cooking up a chicken dinner and then lie in bed awake with it sitting like a bowling ball in my stomach.
Can you microwave protein powder?
Yes! There’s no problem with microwaving or cooking protein powder in any other kind of way. It’s still protein and you’ll still get the benefit of it.
How to mix protein powder without lumps
I’ve always found that the best way to mix protein shake is by using a dedicated shaker cup with a mixer ball inside and a screw-on lid. Put the powder in, along with water/milk, screw on the lid firmly. Then shake it vigorously and let the mixer ball do its thing inside to blend all the powder/liquid into a smooth shake.
You can also use a handheld stick blender, but just be careful to make sure that you don’t cover the kitchen in protein shake…
Adding protein powder to cake mix: yes or no?
This is a huge YES! from me. I love protein shakes, but sometimes I’d rather have my protein powder in another form, especially a cake 😉
Protein powder goes great in baked products and actually some commercial bakers add whey protein to their cakes to improve the browning and give a fine, even crumb texture. Bear in mind that you’ll need to make a couple of adjustments to the recipe when you’re using protein powder. First, you’ll need to lower the oven temperature and/or cooking time a little to stop the crust browning too fast. You also can’t swap protein powder for all the flour required for a recipe – a good rule of thumb is to substitute 2%-3% maximum. The liquid used in the recipe may also need to be increased slightly or you can add a little extra oil to keep the cake moist.
One of my favorite protein powder recipes is for Egg white and protein powder pancakes. Try them once and you’ll be hooked!
Protein powder brands to avoid
Like I said earlier, there are some great protein powder brands available. And then there are some to get more than their fair share of bad (or really bad) reviews. Like these:
Keto Thin: this protein powder from Julian Bakery is gluten-free, GMO-free, and whey-free and is made from organic egg yolks, sourced from cage-free hens. That’s all awesome. What’s less awesome is the horrible taste that many of the reviewers describe.
Taste is a very personal thing and many protein powders have flavors that people either love, love, love or HATE WITH AN ABSOLUTE PASSION. In this case, the reviewers talk about the “rancid taste”, “disgusting”, “could not tolerate the taste”. Probably best to leave this one at the farm. Read more+
Gatorade: this is a brand that everyone knows for their high-quality ubiquitous products. So this chocolate-flavor Whey Protein Powder should be great as well, yeah? Sadly, it appears not to be the case. Reviews talk about the “overwhelming sweetness” (not great if you’re trying to banish those sugar cravings). Now I know you can always ‘water’ protein powders down with fruits, milk, etc and turn them into more of a smoothie. But I think it’s important that the base product tastes good by itself, because it’s not all the time that you have half a bag of cranberries in the freezer left over from Thanksgiving. Read more+
Again though, the taste is a huge negative issue – one reviewer says that it made her “sick to my stomach”. That’s not the only problem with this shake though as a number of reviewers mention the chalky texture. Read more+
Unfortunately, the smell is off-putting (“Just the smell alone was enough to make me want to puke”) and the taste apparently doesn’t get much better (the words “sawdust” and “horse stable”) tend to jump out from the reviews… Read more+
Pure Protein: So, I’d really like to end on a high. But with a ‘Brands To Avoid’ list that was unlikely to ever happen, was it? This whey protein from Pure Protein comes in handy serving-sized sachets, which is very useful, although wasteful in packaging. What seems to really let it down though is that the powder doesn’t seem to mix properly and ends up as a lumpy ‘wallpaper paste’ kind of consistency. Read more+
If you’re anything like me then you tend to go for a fairly non-scientific method of picking your protein powders i.e. whatever is on offer at the store when you’re in there. Hopefully, my research has helped you determine which are the brands to avoid and answered a few of your questions about protein powders?
Optimum Nutrition are one of the top brands in the world of protein powder and the Gold Standard is one of their flagship products. Made from whey protein, each scoop has only 1g of fat, 1g of sugar, and a massive 24g of protein. The Vanilla Ice Cream is my favorite flavor, but it also comes in three other very tasty flavors. I tend to use a shaker and the powder mixes up well with cold water in that. Great product.
Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard whey protein is my top pick for its high-quality protein, ease of mixing, and three great flavors. Buy some today and prepare to build some muscle!
**Please note that our reviews are based on customer reviews, star ratings, and online complaints. Therefore ThisButNotThat are in no way liable**