Protein supplements are the most purchased products for health and fitness. This type of supplement has many different variations to choose from, such as flavors and the specific kind of protein you desire. You can easily find these products within convenience stores, but the wider range of choices exist online.
However, the downfall to a reliable supplement is that several brands cut corners to make money, which reduces the quality of your supplement and may give you unwanted side effects. Understanding and researching your protein supplements is highly recommended. Use our guide to the best protein supplements and find the one that’s right for you!
What Are Protein Supplements?
A protein supplement is used to consume when you are having difficulty meeting your nutrient needs. For example, after a workout you may need to go straight to work, and the time to eat is very short.
Protein powders come in handy because you can easily have a small meal by drinking this in place of not being able to eat. This type of product is basically the same as eating protein-rich foods like chicken, beef, or even plants.
Essentially, you are using protein supplements to provide the whole food nutrients you are not consuming enough of.
Benefits Of Protein Supplements
Protein supplements bring you those valuable nutrients necessary for muscle repair, development, and recovery. This macronutrient is required for protein synthesis to occur, and without enough protein in your diet, you risk the chance of losing muscle instead of gaining it.
However, these products are not simply going to build muscle for you, and are not as anabolic as the labels like to say. Anabolic is a medical term for anabolism, which is the growth of organs and tissues. Protein, being a nutrient for this type of growth, easily allows companies to promote their products as being anabolic.
Yes, you will develop muscle and strength better with enough protein in your diet, but the biggest benefit of protein is the convenience of being able to eat something quick to prep.
Different Types Of Protein
Protein supplements can derive from several sources such as dairy, animal, or even plants too. The commonly used source is from cow’s milk being processed to strip whey or casein protein from the rest of the nutrients. 80% being whey and 20% being casein.
Protein powder can further be broken down into different categories depending on the type of processing it has gone through. These are:
- Protein Concentrate – This is the basic protein process and costs cheaper than any others. The amount of protein is 80% max, and the rest of the nutrients in the product will be fats and carbohydrates.
- Protein Isolate – Isolate is refined slightly better, allowing it to be priced higher than protein concentrate. Nearly all fats and carbs have been stripped during this process, and the end result is 90% or more protein only.
Whey Protein Supplements
Whey protein is one variation you will often see with the extra title isolate, concentrate, etc. displayed following the name. There are many whey protein powders on the market, such as Spartan Whey and Designer Whey. This type of protein breaks down and absorbs faster during digestion making it good before or after your workout.
Whey is a complete protein, which means it has all the amino acids essential for absorption and converts over during protein synthesis. Consumer use and studies show this has the least irritability on the stomach unless you are lactose.
Casein is the other 20% of protein that comes from milk and is slow digesting. This is also a high-quality protein with all the essential amino acids present for proper digestion.
However, casein is not fast digesting like whey protein is. Instead, your body will digest this protein slowly since a gel forms around casein within the stomach.
Eggs are also a complete protein source with all 9 essential amino acids present. This type of powder has been around for as long as whey, but does not get the same attention.
Egg white protein powder has the highest grade of digestibility and quality. However, egg protein does not seem to have as much research on its benefits.
Meat protein powder may be okay to purchase if you just find the product on sale, but the quality of the protein is unmatched to whey protein. In various studies, they state that beef protein powder contains only half the amount of essential amino acids compared to whey.
The highest amino acids found in beef protein powders are known as fillers, which are the ones that spike protein content, but have no useful value for protein. Only purchase these products if they have been reinforced with essential amino acids for quality.
Plant protein powders can derive from pea, brown rice, hemp, chia seeds, or all these mixed together. This type of protein is normally purchased by those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. However, many do buy this to get their source of vegetables, even if they are not following those diets.
Pea protein powder is the best out of the group since it contains a high amount of BCCAs and the other essential amino acids. Brown rice protein powder, for example, has all the amino acids but very low in lysine. For this reason, many do not see this as a complete protein.
Beware Of False Product Advertising
Protein supplements can be labeled as having a higher protein content per serving than what really exists. This is called protein spiking, which is using aminos to spike the lab testing of protein to sell more products.
Several well-known brands went through a lawsuit for this, but still something to look out for when it comes to smaller brand names.
Any protein with extra creatine and taurine added in needs to show that these counts are separate from the protein amino test.
Also, proteins that come from animal and plant products will already have EAAs and BCAAs naturally within the product. Some brands may add more, but this is only noticed when you check the ingredient amount.
The Best Times To Take Protein Powder
Protein powders are just like consuming a meal that contains a rich protein source. This is not to say replace all your meals with a supplement, but protein powders can replace a meal when necessary to get the nutrients you need.
Muscle building will be beneficial if you consume a whey or pea protein powder within 30-45 minutes following a workout. This time frame has shown to have 10-15% better digestion of proteins for muscle repair, which leads to better growth and prevents muscle from being used in place of nutrients.
Casein protein is the best before sleeping. Being a slow digesting protein supplement, you can slowly give your body protein while asleep instead of being fasted. During rest is the best time for nutrients to be used for recovery and growth. Even dieticians recommend a small snack 1-2 hours before rest.
Best Protein Supplements
The following protein supplements have high consumer ratings, and the ingredient profiles look safe enough to say they have the correct protein content. A protein supplement normally only has 20-25 grams of protein per serving.
One of our highly rated picks for protein supplements is Designer Whey. This protein powder is made from whey, which is also its main ingredient. This protein supplement also contains vitamins and minerals such as calcium, B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
There are multiple flavors of Designer Whey. Vanilla coconut comes with 20g of protein, 2g of sugar, and 110 calories. Other flavors, such as Gourmet Chocolate and French Vanilla, have 20g of protein, no added sugar, and 110 calories.GET THE BEST PRICE ON DESIGNER WHEY
MyProtein is another one of our highly rated protein supplements. MyProtein has a few whey products available, including Impact Whey Protein and Clear Whey Isolate. Impact Whey is the least processed whey form and includes .7-.8 grams of protein per gram. Clear Whey Isolate has a protein concentration of 90% and includes 22 grams of protein per serving.GET THE BEST PRICE ON MYPROTEIN
Bulletproof Collagen Protein
Bulletproof is a well known health and wellness company that makes a variety of products, that also include Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil. Bulletproof Collagen Protein contains both collagen and protein and provides a variety of health benefits, including promoting skin health as well as joint and bone support.
Bulletproof Collagen Protein comes in a variety of flavors and sizes, each containing a solid level of protein and collagen. For example, their unflavored collagen protein provides 24g of collagen and 22g of protein per serving.GET THE BEST PRICE ON BULLETPROOF COLLAGEN PROTEIN
Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey
Optimum is a reliable brand that has been supplying consumers for longer than many other brands. Consumers enjoy the mixing ability of this protein with little to no clumping, and the flavors taste good, making it easy to consume daily.
Each single serving scoop is 24g of protein, with low fat content and only 3g of carbs as well. A great protein supplement to consider if you want quality protein. The protein is a mixture of whey concentrate, isolate, and peptides.
Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed Protein Powder
Dymatize is another well-known brand for the fitness community. Their recent line of protein powders over the past decade has gotten a lot of compliments over the year. On Amazon alone, you can see Dymatize ISO100 has over 7k reviews with a 4.5 star rating.
Each scoop has 25g of protein with 0 fats or carbs found in the product. It is designed for all types of diets, with the exception of the vegan diet. Hydrolyzed whey protein isolate is top grade protein processing. The new Fruity Pebble brand flavor seems to be their newest favorite for flavor.
Genius Vegan Protein Powder
Genius is a newer popular brand available with high consumer reviews for their vegan protein supplement. You get 20g of protein deriving from pea and pumpkin protein isolate.
The amount of fats is only 3g per scoop, and almost 8g of carbs with 2g of those being fiber. This amount of carbs is common for a plant-based protein. However, the only downfall is there are only 20 servings per container.
Legion is a top Amazon supplement brand that has consumer quality rated supplements. Their casein protein is micellar, which basically means it has been through a better process to separate the casein.
You get 26g of casein protein per scoop, with 0 fat and only 2g of carbs not from sugar. A nice protein supplement to have on hand when slower digestion is needed, which makes you feel full longer.
These protein supplements are only a few of the products available on the market, but give you a better option to choose from since the consumer ratings have been found to be trustworthy. Always read your product labels prior to purchasing any supplements.