There are hundreds if not thousands of types of protein powder out there. It can be daunting to walk into a supplement or health food store and know what to look for.
Protein powder is a quick and easy way to replace calories and supply your body with the proteins it needs to repair your muscles after a workout. Depending on your fitness goals there are some things to consider when choosing your protein powder.
Protein powder is a supplement and should be used as such. Protein shakes should not regularly replace actual meals unless there are special circumstances.
What to look for in a protein powder
Protein is an essential macronutrient that repairs and protects muscle, builds strong bones, satiates you and keeps you fuller longer, and boosts your immune system. When looking for a protein powder look for powders that have at least 20g of protein per serving to get the most out of your shake.
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Animal protein powders come in the forms of whey, collagen, egg, and casein while vegetarian and vegan protein powders come in pea, rice, and hemp. Animal protein powders contain complete proteins while plant-based protein powders may not. If you're opting for a plant-based protein you may need to have it with other sources of protein (whole foods) to get your complete protein. Quinoa is a complete protein and is a great plant-based protein shake option.
If your goal is:
Building muscle - You want to choose a powder that is most easily absorbed by your body. Whey protein powder and animal protein powders are best for this. Have your protein powder within 2 hours of a workout.
Losing weight - Choose a powder that doesn't have any added sugars or sweeteners made from starches (like dextrin).
Faster exercise recovery - Look for a powder that also has BCAA's to help with faster muscle recovery.
Fulfilling your daily protein needs - Any protein powder will do as long as it has the amount of protein you're looking for.
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Other things to consider
Taste and dietary restrictions are other things you may have to consider.
Taste is important because you want to drink a protein shake you actually enjoy. If you're not vegetarian or vegan, whey proteins mix best with liquid and are a lot smoother than plant-based protein powders.
Depending on your dietary restrictions you can find a protein powder that can fulfill your needs. Whether you're vegan or have an allergy to a certain ingredient, check your ingredient labels to make sure what you're buying works for you.
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