I’m an advocate for consuming protein from food sources as much as possible, but I understand this can be tough! Protein powders (both vegan & non!) are great options for women on-the-go, especially post-workout. If my clients prefer, I teach them how to use protein powder during their fat loss phase, so they’re able to lean out and still feel strong!
How do you find the right one?
Of course, you must like the way it tastes! But before you can scoop it into a smoothie, you need to select a brand based on the information found on-pack. This post will guide you towards making a wise choice.
RULE No. 1:
Don’t fall for marketing gimmicks! Manufacturers can write whatever they want on the label, so it’s more important that you pay attention to the quality of ingredients and the amino acid breakdown.
The good news is, there are many high-quality protein powders on the market, so you have lots to choose from!
In general, high-quality protein powders depend on:
#1: Amino acid makeup
#2: Protein digestibility
#3: Amount of protein per serving
What is the difference between whey, casein, and plant proteins?
They are all protein, but not all the same. Here’s why…
Amino acids: There are 20 total amino acids; 9 of which we cannot produce and need to consume from food, hence “essential”. Whey and casein protein come from dairy and are complete protein sources. This means they contain all 9 essential amino acids.
Contrastingly, very few plant sources (except for soy and hemp) are complete proteins. Plant protein powders can be made from one or more foods such as peas, soy, hemp, lentils, pumpkin, chickpeas and brown rice. Each of these plant-based ingredients has some of the essential amino acids. When combined, for example, rice + pea protein, you can get all 9 essential amino acids from these protein powders.
Digestibility: Whey and casein have a higher digestibility than plant-based proteins, because your body takes extra time to metabolize the complementary amino acids in plant-based proteins (rice + pea protein, for example).
Lifestyle choices: Plant-based protein powders seem most suitable for those who have dairy allergies/intolerances, or follow a plant-based, vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Vitamins: Plant-based protein powders offer more naturally occurring vitamins & minerals when compared to casein & whey.
What’s the difference between whey and casein?
Both whey and casein are dairy-based proteins, but they are not the exact same! Whey is preferred because it’s higher in the important amino acid leucine.
Leucine is a “limiting” amino acid, which means that your body may only utilize as much protein as there is leucine available. Casein has a lower leucine content when compared to whey, which is why whey has been proven to stimulate muscle protein synthesis faster and at a greater rate. It is a better option to consume immediately post-workout, as that is when your muscles are most ready to utilize protein. Casein is a better option to have when protein needs to be digested over time; before bed, for example.
Buying whey protein - two tips:
QUALITY: Choose a whey protein isolate for the best protein quality. Whey protein isolates tend to contain higher percentages of pure protein, whereas whey protein concentrates are anywhere from 30-80% pure protein.
TESTING: Make sure you purchase a brand that has been tested by a third party. The most common testing companies are NSF and Informed Choice. This will ensure you’re getting what you pay for!
Which plant-based powders are best?
In my opinion, these brands are the top!
#1 Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Powder: I love that this plant-based powder made from peas, grains and beans. Plus it contains gut-healthy prebiotic fiber! It’s available on Amazon in chocolate, vanilla, vanilla chai, and unflavored.
#2 Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Organic Max Fiber Protein Powder: Made solely of organic hemp protein.
#3 Sunwarrior Organic Vegan Protein Powder with BCAAs and Pea Protein: Available on Amazon in chocolate, mocha, vanilla, berry, and natural flavors!