How to choose Protein Powder

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Lately I have been trying to decide whether to take protein powder along with my workouts.  My schedule is going to the gym 5 days a week.  On the weekends I either go hiking or biking with my kids.  My goal is to tone up my body and to see the muscle definition in arms and legs.

By adding protein to my diet will it give me the tone look I so desire.

I found this great information on a Fitness RX for Women to help us all decide if it’s the right choice.

 I probably will go with whey version since I need to build muscles and I don’t really have any allergies.

Your guide to picking your best training supplement.

While food sources of protein are plentiful, there will come a time in your busy day when eating a baked chicken breast or a hard-boiled egg just isn’t an option. Your easiest solution? Protein powders. Not only are they convenient (there’s nothing faster than adding a scoop of protein powder to your oatmeal, shake or yogurt) but also of the many types available, each one provides additional health benefits beyond just building muscle. In fact, whether you’re a meat-eating gal looking to reduce belly bloat or a vegan trying to meet your nutritional needs and get buff, there’s a protein powder for everyone. Find yours with this handy guide.

Key:
1. Repairs and builds muscle
2. Aids in fat burning
3. Boosts postworkout immunity
4. Improves general health
5. Vegetarian/vegan option

Whey

Repairs muscles, fast!
25 grams of protein per scoop.*
*Average scoop size is 30 grams.

When it comes to building lean muscle, research proves that whey’s the way. As the most popular protein powder on the market, whey provides an ideal array and proportion of amino acids to assist with muscle recovery and growth, as well as enhancing fat loss. Derived from milk, whey is considered the fastest-digesting “complete” protein, which means that it contains all the essential building blocks of muscle (amino acids), including high amounts of the all-important group of branched chain amino acids (BCAA). BCAAs become depleted after exercise and are needed for the maintenance of muscle tissue. That’s why it is so often recommended to consume whey within minutes after your sweat session to quickly repair muscle damage.

Health Benefit: May help fight cancer through its antibody content, shows research. Whey can also aid your body’s own production of disease-fighting antioxidants.

Best Buys: Whey concentrates and whey isolates. The concentrated version contains the protein itself, but also some carbohydrate (lactose) and fat from milk. Whey protein isolate is virtually only whey protein, with trace amounts of carbohydrate. Isolates are ideal if you’re lactose intolerant but they are slightly more expensive than concentrates.

Casein

Builds muscle while you sleep!
15 to 20 grams of protein per scoop.*

The other milk protein, casein, is also a complete protein. However, casein has a lower biological value (BV) than whey, meaning that a lower percentage of protein is absorbed out of the total protein consumed. The plus? Casein provides a slower and prolonged release of amino acids over time. This slow release is important for reducing muscle damage, which can occur for up to 48 hours postworkout. (Do you recall ever being sore two to three days after a workout?) For women looking to maintain lean muscle tissue, casein may be more beneficial before bed because the slow absorption will supply the body with protein through the night when the body enters a catabolic state (breakdown of protein tissue for energy). This slow release can also help you to feel fuller longer, thereby supporting weight-loss efforts by helping you take in fewer calories.

Health Benefit:
 Extremely high in glutamine, an amino acid that boosts immune function.
Best Buys: Micellar casein (the natural, unaltered form of casein found in milk) and calcium caseinate, which helps to strengthen bones. Look for casein that has not been hydrolyzed as this actually turns it into a fast-acting protein, similar to whey.

Soy

Ideal for all women!
20 to 25 grams of protein per scoop.*

A popular vegetarian protein source, soy protein is something that meat-loving gals should also consider for boosting overall health. And although sports research shows that soy results in inferior strength gains when compared to whey, the differences are minimal for a healthy woman. At the end of the day, an elite athlete may need the slight edge of whey due to heavy training, but for the average active gal, soy protein powder provide the biggest bang for your “health” buck.

Health Benefit: Research shows that soy can lower cholesterol levels to improve your heart health. Soy isoflavones have been shown to combat menopausal symptoms and reduce breast cancer risk.

Best Buys:
 Soy isolates. They contain very little fat or cholesterol, and provide higher amounts of isoflavones than a soy protein concentrate.

Brown Rice

Easy on the stomach!
15 grams of protein per scoop.*

While much of rice seed is carbohydrate, it does contain some protein, which is extracted without the use of chemicals during processing to make brown rice protein powder. As with all plant proteins (quinoa being the exception), rice protein is incomplete. It lacks one of the essential amino acids, lysine, which helps manage triglycerides (a form of body fat) and is necessary for hormone production and bone growth. You can solve this problem by pairing brown rice protein powder with milk or soy to fill the missing link.

Health Benefit: Some people experience gas and bloating from animal-based powders, like whey and casein, but rice protein is hypoallergenic and easily absorbed, making it very well tolerated if you’re lactose intolerant or have a sensitive stomach.

Best Buys:
 Consider organic brands when purchasing plant protein powders to minimize your exposure to pesticides.

Hemp

Great for vegans!
10 grams of protein per scoop.*

Suitable for active people who avoid all foods of animal origin, hemp protein also offers the inflammation-fighting power of essential fatty acids. For your training, the omega-3s in hemp aid in muscle recovery after your workouts. Whole hempseeds also contains about 25 percent of a highly digestible protein, however, the amino acid profile is not complete, but eating a variety of plant proteins throughout the day (a daily mix of beans, legumes and grains) may provide your body with all the essential aminos you need.

Health Benefit: Helps your heart by lowering cholesterol levels with fiber, and the anti-inflammatory omega-3s boost memory, focus and concentration.

Best Buys:
 Consider organic brands when purchasing plant protein powders to minimize your exposure to pesticides.

Try Them All

Because each form of protein works somewhat differently, choose them with the same care you would when picking out your daytime and nighttime makeup. Here’s a sample starter menu that takes into account the best times you should take each powder, according to research. Try any of these meal ideas as a part of a balanced diet that includes whole food sources of protein. You can reap the health and training benefits of each protein powder plus figure out which one pleases your palate the most.

Breakfast: Mix a scoop of hemp or soy powder into oatmeal.
Preworkout: Stir some whey protein into coffee to perk up for a morning workout.
Postworkout: Unless you are vegan, always choose whey for quick delivery to repair damaged muscles. Try a scoop in your favorite fruit juice. 
Bedtime or as a meal replacement:
 Add casein protein to a cup of non-fat milk.

Fast Facts:

  • Skim milk powder delivers both whey and casein. Bonus: It’s inexpensive.
  • 30 Grams of protein per meal your body can metabolize at one time. Contrary to popular belief, taking any more than that won’t boost muscle gains.
  • Brown rice protein is gluten free and a source of energy-boosting B vitamins.
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