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Beginners Guide to Protein Powder

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Everywhere we go we are hearing about protein this or that. It is the new hot trend. A Protein House even opened up next to us! They offer protein pancakes, shakes, even cookies! Even if you’re not lucky enough to have one of these nearby, the internet is flooded with guilt-free recipes using protein powder, oftentimes in place of flour.

Protein is an essential macro nutrient and is so important for our bodies to function properly. If you are looking to build and maintain muscle, most experts recommend about .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. When we started tracking macros we realized that this is actually a whole lot harder than it sounds. There’s really only so much meat and eggs I can handle, ergo protein powder is a must have!

But what kind should you buy? Everyone has their favorites. If you were to take a survey at the gym, I bet there would over 20 different kinds of protein powder people use; heck, even Scott and I use different protein! This makes it soo hard to sort through and decide which is best for you and your body.

best tips for choosing the right kind of protein powder supplement

Here are some things to look for:

High Protein.

Ideally, we like a protein powder that has at least 20 grams of protein. Honestly, if it has below that it may not be worth it since the whole point of the supplement is to get that protein in.

Low Carbs.

Like I said, the point is the protein. While carbs are a necessary macro nutrient too, I’d rather get them from another source. I’ve seen some protein powders that actually have more carbs than protein! This is especially common in protein bars. They should probably change the name to carb powder and carb bars because that’s what you’re getting.

Few Ingredients.

Aim for powders with less than 10 ingredients. Your protein source should hopefully be the first ingredient on the list (i.e. whey protein isolate, soy, casein, etc)

Powders with over 10 ingredients tend to have a lot of fillers like synthetic ingredients, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and other unnecessary additives.

Protein Source.

Next and most importantly is to choose a protein source. There are so many to choose from like: whey, soy, casein, pea, hemp, and rice. If you are vegan you want to avoid whey and casein which are both milk based. Choose a protein source based on your dietary needs.

Whey vs Casein.

While they both come from milk, they serve entirely different purposes. Casein is a slow digesting protein and whey is a fast digesting one. For muscle growth you need to increase protein synthesis and decrease muscle break down. Whey protein increases protein synthesis while Casein decreases muscle break down. However, you can also get essentially the same muscle breakdown effect from whole food proteins because they are also digested very slowly. The great thing about whole food sources of protein is that you can take it in combination with Whey protein and get the full benefits, whereas if you were to combine Whey with Casein the Casein would actually slow down the digestion of the Whey protein and you would no longer get that increase in protein synthesis that you need.

In my opinion, Casein is not the most vital protein supplement since you can essentially get the same effect from whole food sources as well. The only benefit I suppose would be convenience and the other nutrients included in the supplement.

In this house, we love our Whey.

Don’t believe the hype.

If someone tells you that one specific brand is better than others it is not necessarily the truth. As long as your protein meets the requirements listed above and you feel great taking it, then keep going. No need to switch to a specific brand just because someone with a six pack recommended it. I can tell you right now, if they used a different brand of protein with similar nutrition facts their six pack would not magically disappear. Protein is protein. End of story. As for the six pack, you get what you put into it. It’s not all protein, you have to do the work in the gym and outside of it by making sure you also have a healthy, well-rounded diet. There is no magic pill or magic protein powder.

Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t have our preferences. But often, a favorite protein powder can easily be replaced by one that’s on sale with similar nutrition facts 😉

Deb Hains

Monday 10th of February 2020

Soy isn’t supposed to be good for women who have had breast cancer ! Is it in every protein powder ?

Lexi @ That Fit Fam

Monday 10th of February 2020

Thankfully it's not =) You shouldn't have to worry with whey protein. With vegan proteins though, just make sure to check the ingredient list. I use Women's Best and it uses pea protein, not soy. This is the same with Tone It Up and Ideal Raw brands as well. Those are my go-to brands and they don't contain any soy =) I am sure you will be able to find one that meets your needs!

Lori Swidler

Sunday 25th of August 2019

Thanks for educating me! Would you be willing to share the brands of your favorite protein powders?

Lexi @ That Fit Fam

Sunday 25th of August 2019

you're welcome! I have an updated post where I review 3 vegan protein powders (https://www.thatfitfam.com/vegan-protein-powder-review/) that I use. We made the switch from whey to vegan protein powder about a year & a half ago. I primarily use Women's Best (for chocolate) or Tone It Up (for vanilla) & I mention that in the review. But, when we were drinking whey we mainly used Cytosport whey protein, which we'd buy at Costco so it was a pretty good price.

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Tuesday 27th of September 2016

[…] chose Beginners Guide to Protein Powder from That Fit Fam. “This is such an informative post about choosing the right protein powder. […]

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Tuesday 27th of September 2016

[…] chose Beginners Guide to Protein Powder from That Fit Fam. “This is such an informative post about choosing the right protein powder. […]

Beverly

Saturday 24th of September 2016

Great post regarding protein powders. I use the whey kind but was not sure about some f the others. I also need to check all of my ingredients to make sure there are not too many. Thanks for sharing at Turn It Up Tuesday, Bev