Scoops of Protein Powder

Choosing The Right Protein Powder

The first thing to know about protein powders are animal byproduct protein products (whey, casein, and egg, collagen) are superior to plant-based protein powders for several reasons. First, an animal byproduct powder is a complete protein meaning all essential proteins are present. Secondly, your body is able to more quickly and easily digest it. Lastly, most powder protein users find the taste of animal byproduct protein more appealing. The only reason to choose a plant-based product is if a dietary restriction needs to be considered. 

Having talked about the most important choice when purchasing a protein powder, the remaining choices boil down to a matter of preference, goals, and budget. 

Animal byproduct protein powders:

  • Whey protein: Fast-digesting protein best used immediately after a workout to promote muscle growth and recovery. Whey protein contains the best amino acid profile for muscle growth.
  • Casein protein: Slower-digesting protein best used before bed, as a meal replacement, or during periods of fasting when staying satiated longer if preferred.
  • Collagen protein: Best used to promote better skin, joint, bone, and connective tissue health and supports muscle growth to some degree, but less so than other animal byproduct protein powders.
  • Egg protein powder: Slower-digesting protein best used immediately after a workout to promote muscle growth and recovery. The egg protein powder amino acid profile is   good, but falls short of whey protein as it relates to muscle growth and recovery but is generally lower in fat and carbs.
    Plant-based protein powders:
    • Soy protein: Protein best used immediately after a workout to promote muscle growth and recovery. Soy protein contains all amino acids like animal byproduct protein, so it is the best option for anyone uses plant-based powders from that aspect. However, we will caution you that most soy beans are genetically modified at this point and so for that reason GBF never recommends a soy product. 
    • Pea protein: Protein best used immediately after a workout to promote muscle growth and recovery but does is not a complete protein. While it can be your protein powder, we would not recommend it unless it is your only option due to dietary restrictions.
      Understanding whey protein options:
      There are 3 types of whey protein - concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate. While they all are derived from dairy and have the same amino acid profile, there are some differences between the products that are worth knowing. 
      • Production: All whey powders go through the same production process until the concentrate is produced. After concentrate is produced, isolate and hydrolysate powders undergo additional filtration process to extract additional fats and lactose (sugar). Then hydrolysate goes through one additional step (usually heating) breaking the protein chains into peptides to ease digestion and speed up absorption. 
      • Protein Concentration: Whey powder concentrate ranges between 30%-80% protein, isolate and hyrdolysate reach a minimum of 90% protein concentration. 
      • Digestion: The generally accepted opinion is that hydrolysate powders are more easily digested in the system due to its protein concentration and extra processing. Isolate powders fall next in digestibility followed by concentrate. 
      • Cost: Hydrolysate is the most expensive protein powder followed by isolate then concentrate which is the least expensive protein powder.
      • Recommendation/Uses: More most people, concentrate will suit their needs assuming they buy from a quality protein powder maker that uses minimal fillers. Isolate works for people with specific training regimes and muscle building goals. Hydrolysate is typically used by people looking to bulk up. 
        Protein powder manufacturing:
        Next is the manufacturing process itself. There are a few ways that protein powder is manufactured but the biggest difference you need to know is whether the powder was produced via cold processing. Using low temperatures and minimal processing, cold processing ensures the proteins themselves are preserved in the natural state and nutrients stay enacted. This is why cold processing is the best method of manufacturing. Our Guardian Whey Protein is cold processed for that reason. Other manufacturing methods involve using heat, enzymes, or acids  to process the protein which alters it and reducing its quality and impact on muscle growth and recovery.
        Protein powder fillers:
        Lastly, the issue of protein powder ingredients is worth discussing. As a general rule, we adhere to two rules knowing that most people are simply looking to increase their protein intake without becoming a protein powder scientist. 
        • Ensure the number of ingredients are limited. Anything ingredient list that includes more than 5 or 6 ingredients should be avoided. 
        • Find protein powder you like and doesn’t cause energy crashes or digestive issues. 
          Having said that, if you are looking for a cleaner protein powder, there are a few fillers we recommend avoiding. They have been known to cause bloating, gas, and other digestive issues on top of not being good for you in general. The biggest fillers are to avoid are Maltodextrin, Inulin, and Soy Lecithin. 
          • Maltodextrin: Added to powders to increase their bulk and texture, maltodextrin spikes blood sugar levels causing a sugar crash and increasing hunger.
          • Inulin:  Bloating, gas, and diarrhea are the main drawbacks of this filler due to its fiber content. 
          • Soy lecithin: A soy based product (read: GMO) for that reason it should be avoided in addition to its allergic and digestibility concerns. 
            Final thoughts:

            As much as protein powder is about finding quality product, you need to find a product that works for you. Feel free to experiment with a few different products until you find the right one. While we would love for you to use our products, ultimately we want to help become stronger in body and mind.

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