So you’ve made the decision that you need some protein in your life. Excellent. You are making the right call. Using a high quality protein powder as part of your diet plan will not only help ensure you get sound nutrition, but will also help to make your life a lot easier from here on out.
After all, who has time to cook multiple servings of chicken breasts, steak, or fish each day in order to meet their nutritional needs? Most people simply don’t, so shake-and-go is far easier.
Now that you’ve made the decision to use protein powder, it comes time to pick one that’s right for your goals and your body.
Not an easy feat by any means! Walk into any supplement store or search online and you will be met with literally thousands of different choices. How are you to decide?
With the following seven steps, you can definitely narrow down the playing field and find the protein powder that will serve you well.
Step 1: Look At The Nutritional Profile
First things first, the nutritional profile will be the most important factor that you look at. Check out how many calories are in the protein you’re looking at as well as how many grams of fats and carbs there are.
Ideally you want a protein powder that is almost 100% pure protein. This way, you aren’t getting any additional calories you don’t need from carbs and fats. Especially if your goal is to get or stay lean, you just don’t need excess calories coming from those in your powder.
This way you can put those extra calories towards actual food. You’ll appreciate this when dieting.
Step 2: Check The Ingredient Label
After you’ve looked at the nutritional label, your next mission will be to check out the ingredient label for the protein powder you’re looking at. This will help you learn just how many added ingredients are in the powder.
What you’re looking for here is a protein powder that’s as pure as possible. The last thing you want is a bunch of filler, added to simply help bulk up the protein, but not give you any real value.
The more ingredients in your protein powder, the less optimal it’ll be.
Many companies add extra ingredients such as dextrose or very low quality whey protein just to meet the weight requirements for the supplement. This is particularly the case in protein blends. For instance, if a protein powder states that it contains whey isolate, whey concentrate, and casein protein powder, you can rest assured that you are likely getting a very small amount of actual whey isolate. This is the most expensive and highest quality type of protein, so many companies add just a very small amount of it so they can then state that their product contains it – and charge a higher price for it.
If you get 100% pure whey isolate however, you know that you’re not getting anything but the best of the best. That is the route to go.
Another sign that the whey you’re looking at isn’t ideal is if it contains ingredients you can’t pronounce. That’s a good sign there are a number of preservatives in the product that you simply just don’t want to be putting into your body.
Step 3: Choose Your Variety
The third step is to look at the variety of protein powder you’re going to be consuming. There are three main types of protein powders: whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and casein protein powder.
Of course you can get into others like soy protein, hemp protein, egg white protein, and so on but for the purpose of this discussion, we’re referring to milk based proteins.
The thing to always remember here is that if maximizing the results you see with your program is your goal, whey isolate should be your chosen type of protein. Period. No questions asked.
Do not sacrifice results choosing a whey blend or whey concentrate. Sure, whey concentrate may appear cheaper, but remember, your body won’t absorb the concentrate like it will the isolate, so you’ll actually end up needing more of the protein overall to reap the same effects. Why not just get the most absorbable variety from the start?
That is what you should focus on. While there can be a time and place for casein protein as it’s very slow digesting and nice to have before bed, for the vast majority of the time, whey isolate is simply superior.
At breakfast? It’s excellent. Pre workout? It should be your go-to? Post-workout? Don’t have anything else.
If you are looking for maximum versatility, whey protein isolate will offer that.
Step 4: Look At The Quality Factor
Now we come to the quality factor. While whey protein isolate is going to give you excellent quality, you need to go one step further and look at where this whey protein isolate is coming from.
Ideally to achieve maximum quality, look for whey protein isolate coming from grass fed cows. These cows will be producing higher quality amino acids and in addition to that, you’ll also get more total CLA fatty acids from this whey, which is a particular type of fatty acid that helps the body burn off fat as a fuel source.
Obviously being a whey isolate you aren’t getting much fat here, but you will still get some fats and the ones you do get will be the healthiest source.
New Zealand grass fed whey is essentially the best money can buy, so if you have the opportunity to get that, that’s the one to go for. When it comes to whey protein powder, very often, you do pay for quality so know that you will get your money’s worth whatever end of the spectrum you choose to buy.
Step 5: Cost Per Serving?
Which brings us to the next step in selecting the right whey: cost per serving. Don’t just look at how much you’re paying for a tub of protein. Keep in mind that the total servings per pound may vary from one protein to the next. Work it out on a cost per serving basis. This way, you know what you’re paying for each scoop of protein you use.
On top of that, don’t forget the quality factor here. That must go into the decision. A high quality whey isolate is going to give you more absorbable protein per scoop compared to a lower calorie whey concentrate. You might need two scoops of a lower quality whey concentrate to equal the amount of absorbable protein you’d get from one scoop of high quality whey isolate. If you work out a cost per serving in this manner, the whey isolate may actually work out to be the cheaper of the two.
Step 6: Taste
Of course one must not forget about taste. While taste should never be the deciding factor – at least if optimizing your health and body composition is your top goal as taste doesn’t really factor into those, one cannot neglect taste entirely. It only makes sense that you don’t want to choke back your protein shake, so do think about this too.
Read other reviews on the taste of the protein powders you’re considering. If the unanimous vote is that it tastes chalky and lacks flavor, chances are, you won’t be using that protein powder all that often.
Protein powder is only good if you use it. Keep that in mind.
You may also want to consider how well the protein powder mixes in water as well. This is another place where whey isolate shines. Most whey isolates mix very well with water, while whey concentrates often need a blender (or very vigorous shaking). There’s no hope of mixing casein with just a shaker cup so for that type of protein variety a blender is a necessity.
Step 7: Added Benefits
Finally, also consider any added benefits that the protein powder has. For instance, does it have probiotics added or perhaps digestive enzymes thrown into the mix.
It’s great when you can find a protein powder that works overtime to not only provide you with a great source of protein, but also enhance other areas of your health as well.
This essentially allows you to ‘kill two birds with one stone’, so to speak, reaping two times the benefits from one product.
Often, if probiotics have been added, this will also enhance the body’s ability to make use of the protein that you are consuming, so that’s another factor that will boost the overall quality.
So there you have my seven steps to selecting the perfect whey. While it takes time to go through each of these steps, it is worth it as it’ll help ensure that you are spending your money wisely and getting a product that you can use well into the future.
Want to know which product I recommend? LeanPro30 Protein Powder (linked here).