Protein Powder: What To Look For & How To Choose It
Whether it's fat loss, toning or sports performance - there aren't many fitness goals where you won't feel the benefits of less fat and more muscle. Protein powder plays a vital role in supporting those goals, but what should you look for and how should you choose it?
Do I Need Protein Powder?
In theory, no. In practice, almost definitely.
Research indicates that you should consume 1.5 - 2X your bodyweight (kg) in grams of protein daily. So, if you weighed 60kg, you'd need at least 90g of protein daily to support your weight loss and toning goals.
Doesn't sound too bad, right? It’s easy to consider the protein quota filled by throwing some smoked salmon into a sandwich, but that's far from the truth. A whole chicken breast contains just 30g of protein, so quite significant changes have to be made.
Additional muscle supports both weight loss and (obviously) muscle-building goals. We need protein to support muscles rebuilding after teardown, and the vast majority of clients I meet don't have enough in their current diet.
Protein powders present a low-effort, low-calorie option to significantly supplement your protein intake without a major lifestyle change.
What To Look For In Protein Powder
Proteins in the human body are comprised of just 20 amino acids.
9 of these are ‘essential’, meaning they cannot be made by the body. The rest can be made, providing you have the 9 essentials.
Three of these essential acids are particularly associated with muscle growth, and these are known as Branch Chain Amino Acids (or BCAAs). However, they cannot be maximally effective without the other 6 essential amino acids.
Brands don't matter. You should look for a protein powder that provides 'complete' protein containing all the essential amino acids necessary for protein synthesis. Steering clear of artificial flavours, sweeteners and additives is a good idea.
Vegan Or Whey Protein?
What sets whey apart is its dairy origin, which provides ‘complete’ protein containing all the essential amino acids. In particular, whey protein is rich in leucine, an amino acid that plays a significant role in activating muscle protein synthesis.
But Whey isn't the direction I steer most of my clients towards.
Plant-based protein options have soared in popularity - the most popular being pea protein.
The benefits of pea protein are very similar to traditional whey, as it is also a ‘complete’ protein containing the nine essential amino acids.
From personal experience, the taste of pea protein is actually an improvement over whey.
This isn’t all that surprising when you think about it; whey is a waste product of the dairy process! I’ve also had no issues cooking or incorporating pea protein powder into recipes that call for generic powders.
The taste and texture may vary, but It's important to keep in mind that some plant-based protein sources may not have the same proportion of essential amino acids as whey protein.
If you’re considering pea protein as an animal-free alternative, remember that it’s a legume and therefore could trigger people with an allergy to this food group.
Which Protein Powder Do I Recommend?
Personally, I use Form Performance Protein (Chocolate Peanut), due to its high protein content (30g), and lack of GMO or artificial ingredients. It's a fantastic choice that's served me well, just do yourself a favour and avoid Vanilla. I'm not associated with Form!
When Should You Seek Help From A Pro?
If you're struggling to figure out your protein intake or nutrition in general, it might be time to get some additional help. Personal trainers or qualified performance coaches can create a nutrition plan to optimise your results and leave you feeling much better off. You can get in touch with me for a free consultation, and I'll do my best to help!