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Criteria For Selecting The Best Protein Powder
I eat about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 175 grams per day. So, to ingest this quantity every day, protein powder has also become an important addition to my diet and food.
I use protein powder in a variety of ways to cook, including making desserts, puddings and smoothies – and all of these are made with enough nutrient density that they are healthy as food.
Given the importance of protein to me, my criteria for choosing the best protein powder is just as important, especially considering how many protein powders are available. And of course when you read the information about them, each one seems like it is the best.
This also gets more confusing based on your needs. If you are only looking for a supplement to use before or after lifting weights, then you can choose a different protein powder if you are also very concerned about its nutritional properties.
As a weightlifting supplement, you can choose only whey, because it is absorbed and used by the body the fastest. Additionally, you may want to include other ingredients that can further enhance your workout, such as additional branched chain amino acids and creatine.
And you may be overlooking some things that could be considered nutritional issues. For example, you might not care if it has artificial flavors and sweeteners, higher amounts of cholesterol and sugars like maltodextrin or dextrose — not if it also has the highest grams of protein per serving, along with the additives you’re looking for.
Choosing My Protein Powder
For starters, there’s certainly no reason to think that choosing a protein powder based on nutritional criteria will make it any less effective at helping build muscle than lifting weights.
And if I want branched chain amino acids or creatine, I prefer to take them as a separate supplement. That way, I can choose the exact supplement and quantity I want to take, instead of getting it as a supplement.
I have chosen a slow digesting protein mix that includes whey, rather than 100% whey. This has been done for 4 main reasons:
- Studies have shown that you have about 1.5 hours to absorb whey protein, and the amount in that time is about 15 grams of protein. With a serving size of 24 grams, there is a chance that a large percentage of this will not be used by your muscles.
- Along with being slower to digest, protein powder blends are released over time and can support the building of lean muscle mass more effectively.
- A mixed nutrient profile can improve overall quality and effectiveness. For example, the included micellar casein is something I’ve heard referred to as the Rolls Royce of all proteins.
- Whey protein has a big effect on your insulin and blood sugar, and remember that insulin is a hormone that can increase fat storage. Now, a greater release of insulin may be good after exercise, as it will work to replenish your muscle glycogen. But it can be a big deal at other times of the day – whey protein has been shown to release more insulin than white bread.
In addition to choosing a time-release protein blend, I have several other selection criteria that are very important nutritionally, but will not diminish its anabolic and muscle-building benefits.
And just like comparing protein absorption rates between whey alone and a slow-digesting blend, the benefits actually add up – here are some additional key criteria you’ll want to use when choosing your protein powder:
- 100% natural, without artificial flavors or sweeteners that are often used
- Derived from cows that are not given hormones like rBGH or rBST – check the label, this is important enough that it will specifically state if it is free of these hormones
- Relatively low carb – like maybe 4g of net carbs, after subtracting fiber, to 24g of protein
- Digestive enzymes are one supplement I want to include. Whey protein is difficult to digest, and this enzyme will help with this so that it can be better used by the body. The protein powder I use has a special blend of digestive enzymes that new research has shown to be 40 times more effective than the enzymes in other powders.
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