How To Pick The Proper Protein Powder

Did you know we as Americans spent over $18 billion on protein products last year?

It makes me wonder how many people actually saw physical results from that $18 billion spent. 

This got me thinking…the supplement shelves are certainly confusing, and protein powder is no exception. 

While we’d like to think our morning protein shake is the perfect start to a day, many of the popular protein powders are loaded with other not-so-hot ingredients that can actually promote inflammation that leads to excess weight gain and other health issues.  

If you’ve been caught confused in the supplement aisle lately, I’m here to help. 

Today, we’re going to clear a path through all the protein powders. Let me tell you about the basic benefits of protein and help you find a protein powder that is healthy and will leave you feeling happy after every shake. 

What is Protein and Why Does it Matter?

Every cell in our body contains protein. They are large, complex molecules and macronutrients that play a critical role in our bodies and are essential to building muscle mass. Their basic structure is a chain of amino acids, and they help our bodies repair cells and make new ones. 

Protein is critical for growth and development—hence why we tell kids, especially those teens, to get their protein in!

That said, those of us who don’t fall into that category still need that daily protein to build and repair muscle and tissue in our bodies—plus, it helps you age better and build lasting physical strength. 

Here’s the thing, inadequate amounts of protein can lead to a weakened immune system, greater risk of bone fracture, swelling, hair loss, brittle nails, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, and irregular menstrual cycles—no fun, right?

On the other hand, too much protein isn’t necessarily ideal for our bodies either. Overall, there is no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects on healthy people, but ideally, we need to be consuming a balanced diet that provides our bodies with the right amount of all of our macronutrients. 

How Much Daily Protein Do You Need?

Your daily required amount of protein varies depending on factors like your weight, muscle mass, physical activity, age, and physical goals. In general, to prevent deficiency, you need around 0.36 grams of protein per pound (or 0.8 grams per kg) of body weight.

In general, most people should aim for a minimum of half their body weight in protein grams each day. 

People who are pregnant, physically active, middle-aged and older, and recovering from injuries have much higher protein requirements. 

What Kinds of Protein Supplements and Powders Are Out There? 

Not all protein supplements are created equal—some forms are better for us than others. 

Here’s a walkthrough of the two most popular proteins and their potential benefits:

Whey Protein

Milk is made of two proteins, casein and whey. In cheesemaking, whey is the watery, protein-rich liquid left behind after the milk fats are removed. 

Whey can then be processed into whey protein—a powdered protein supplement. Whey protein contains a large range of essential amino acids that our bodies can absorb quickly.

Dairy can cause inflammation in the body, thus consuming too much whey protein can cause digestive issues, bloating, and other symptoms. This is something to consider when looking for a protein supplement. If choosing a whey-based product look for one like the certified grass-fed clean whey protein powder

Plant-Based Protein

Packing more plants into your daily diet is never a bad idea. Plant-based protein powders make it easy to meet your protein nutrient needs through produce, and they often come from legumes, seeds, and some grain products. 

Plant-based protein has been gaining heavy traction across the industry since it tends to be high in fiber and other essential nutrients than animal-based protein products. Protein powders, like Arbonne (my personal favorite), are packed with essential vitamins and minerals that benefit the body greatly.

It is a solid option for those who prefer to stay away from dairy and gluten, but still reap all the banging benefits of a protein powder. 

Note: When shopping for supplements, you may also come across “casein protein” (which, like whey, is a milk-derived protein) or “soy protein” (which is another plant-based protein), but whey and plant-based proteins are the two types you’ll typically see in most stores.

How to Pick the Proper Protein for You

Picking your protein type and serving size is a little more involved than grabbing a tub of powder off the shelf. 

Protein is popular, but you shouldn’t start taking it just because everyone else at the gym is. 

Make sure you understand why and how much you should be consuming in the powdered form before you start adding this supplement to your morning smoothies. 

Here’s how:

  1. Measure your current protein intake.
    To find out how much protein supplement you need, start by measuring your current protein intake and find out how much protein you’re already consuming. Then, subtract your current average protein intake from your required protein intake based on your weight. 
  2. Use that number in your search.
    Different protein powders have different amounts of protein in a serving. Use this number as a reference while you search for the right protein powder. As a guideline, most of us can do well with a protein supplement that has at least 20 grams of protein per serving.
  3. Keep the ingredient list clean.
    Look for a protein powder with a simple ingredient list of items—this ingredient list should not be as long as your grocery-list! Like all other healthy shopping, the simpler the ingredients list, the better. If you’re like me and many others, your body will perform better when avoiding dairy and gluten. While you may feel energized and healthy consuming dairy and gluten, many people experience improved mood, reduced mental health issues, and a boost in energy when they avoid these two ingredients. 
  4. Beware of posers.
    Plain protein powder doesn’t taste very good on its own, which is why it’s usually flavored. But, it’s important to read the ingredients list, as many products have unhealthy additives like refined sugar and fillers. If a brand boasts 30g of protein per scoop, but each scoop is 45g, check to see what’s making up the 15 remaining grams in each serving. 

My Personal Favorite Protein Powder

Paying attention to protein can be a game-changer in your health and fitness journey. If you want to get fit inside and out, make sure any powders you’re adding to your morning blend don’t come carrying secret loads of sugar, artificial flavors, gluten, dairy, and processed ingredients.

Don’t know where to start? Check out my favorite protein powder from Arbonne. This delicious mix is non-GMO and made with less sugar. It’s vegan, packed with 24 vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids, and won’t spike your blood sugar—plus, the smooth vanilla flavor is to die for!

Not sure how to best incorporate your new protein powder into your daily life? I’ve got you covered, with my Protein Shake Recipe E-Book containing 42 of my tastiest protein shake recipes. 

If talking protein gets you pumped up for health and fitness, hop on our free weekly LEAN newsletter, or join the 7-week LEAN program today.

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