There are so many different types of protein supplements on the market these days it can be hard to decide which one to take. "What kind of protein powder should I take?" is probably one of the most common questions I get.
Some people hear protein shakes and immediately think of body builders chugging shakes after their workouts. Supplementing with protein can depend on the person and their health goals and what their current diet looks like. Someone who is active like an athlete or body builder could benefit from adding protein into their supplement regimen. I also sometimes recommend it to my vegan or vegetarian clients who have trouble getting protein from their diet. Ideally you should be able to get enough protein from your diet without having to take a supplement. Whole foods are always the first option.
Here are some different types of protein and their benefits:
Whey Protein:Progressive Harmonized WheySimply Tera's Whey protein is derived from milk and contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is the most easily absorbed in the body and can aid in muscle gain and weight loss, hence why it became so popular in the body building industry. Some people have trouble digesting whey, especially if you are allergic to dairy. Whey does have minimal amounts of lactose but it can still disrupt digestion, especially when combined with sugar alcohols and thickening gums. Look for a clean whey from grass fed cows and one that is sweetened with stevia. My favourite brands are Harmonized Whey or Simply Tera's.
Casein: Same as whey, casein is derived from milk but is digested and absorbed more slowly. I remember researching diets for body building competitions and they would typically recommend casein to be taken at night to help preserve muscle. It helps with muscle mass and fat reduction during caloric deficits.
Brown Rice Protein: One of the best plant based proteins to help with building muscle and weight loss. Brown rice protein has a low glycemic index and can aid in blood sugar regulation. It is a better choice for those that have digestive issues and cannot tolerate dairy. Brown rice does not have all essential amino acids and is often combined with other plant based proteins. Many brown rice protein powders are either sprouted or fermented also which makes it easier for your body to digest. My favourite brands are IronVegan and Sunwarrior Protein. I also find brown rice protein the best to bake with. I love making pancakes with it!
Pea Protein: Probably the most common among the plant based protein powders. It is made from yellow split peas . It can help regulate blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss. Pea protein is also a good source of vitamin D and contains all nine essential amino acids, so it is a good alternative to whey. When I was living in Los Angeles I really like using Nuzest.
Hemp Protein: Not only is hemp rich in protein but it is also rich in omega fatty acids and fibre as well. It contains twenty amino acids, nine of them being essential, so it is considered a complete protein. A scoop of hemp protein is typically around 11-14 grams , so a little lower than brown rice (usually 20g per serving). I find hemp protein one of the easiest to digest. It does have a more earthy flavour than other products. My go to brand for hemp protein is Manitoba Harvest.
Soy Protein: Soy typically gets a bad rep because of it's phytoestrogens. It is also a highly GMO crop. I don't recommend taking a soy protein supplement.
Plant Based Blend: Most vegan protein powders are typically a mix of different plant based protein such as brown rice, hemp, pea or quinoa. It has a high fibre content so will help to keep you feeling full. My favourite brands are Genuine Health Fermented Protein, Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein or their Raw Fit. I also like Vega Sport Performance Protein as well with added turmeric for anti inflammatory properties and muscle recovery.
Collagen Protein: Check out my post here all about the benefits of collagen and some of my favourite brands!
I personally have a protein shake everyday. I train quite often and I find it keeps me full and satisfied. I usually opt for a blend of vegan proteins. I find it tastes the best, makes nice and thick shakes and you can bake with it nicely as well!
Thoughts on Protein Bars:
A couple of years ago I used to live off of protein bars. Quest bars were my favourite. I mean why wouldn't you like them? It's kind of like dessert in a bar. Most commercial brands are loaded with preservatives, artificial sweeteners and low quality ingredients. Typically I try to make my own protein bars or balls (like my chocolate chip cookie dough or salted caramel balls) for a quick snack or breakfast on the go. A few of my go to bars in a pinch are Genuine Health Fermented Vegan bars, Vega Sport bars or GoMacro bars. I am also really digging Hornby Organic energy bars right now. They taste like an Eat-more and are a local company from the Island!
As always I am here for questions! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org :)