How to Choose a Quality Protein Powder

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If you know that you need to get more protein in your diet but you don’t know why or how, this article will shed some light on the topic! 

The plain and simple reality is that protein is essential. Protein gives our cells and tissues structure, and is required for cellular and tissue repair. It keeps blood sugar stable, it satiates, it aids in detoxification, and it helps maintain muscle AND bone mass as we age. These are just a few of the many reasons protein is important. The bottom line is we need it to achieve and maintain optimal health. 

When you find that sweet spot of the best amount and source of protein for you personally, you’ll find yourself feeling better and your body will be functioning at a more optimal level. 

Protein powders are an excellent and convenient addition to your daily food intake if you’re looking to boost your protein intake. In this article I’m going to share a few tips to help you choose a high quality protein powder, as well as a few of my go-to favorite products. 

How much protein is enough?

When a person doesn’t get enough protein, it can cause a laundry list of symptoms and issues, including muscle wasting, fatigue, hormone imbalances, blood sugar instability, hair loss, headaches, nausea, and hunger. 

The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, of protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. For a 150 pound person, that’s 54 grams of protein per day. To calculate your RDA for protein, take your weight in pounds and multiply it by 0.36.

The RDA, however, is the minimum amount a person needs to avoid illness. The minimum is not the amount a person would need if they were striving for optimal health. Be an overachiever 🙂 

If you’re aiming for optimal health, you’ll want to get much more protein in your diet! Functional medicine physician and author of the book Forever Strong, Dr. Gabrielle Lyon is an expert in this area, and she suggests aiming for 0.7 up to 1 gram of protein per pound of ideal body weight. For someone weighing 150 pounds, that would mean aiming for between 105 and 150 grams of protein per day. 

How can I get more protein in my diet?

First order of business is to focus on the foods that are high in protein: animal meat and poultry (organic, grass-fed, or wild whenever possible), eggs (cage-free and organic when possible), fish (wild caught), nuts and seeds (raw, soaked, or sprouted when possible), legumes, and some veggies. In addition to these whole food sources, protein powders are an excellent and convenient way to boost your protein intake.

whole food protein

How to choose a quality protein powder

When I evaluate a protein powder, there are several questions I seek to answer: 1) What is the protein source? 2) How many grams of protein per serving? 3) Is there refined sugars in it? 4) Does it contain artificial sweeteners or food dyes?

What is the protein source?

Animal Based Protein Powders

I tend to seek protein powders that are non-dairy and animal based because I personally feel better with these types of proteins. My two favorites are collagen peptides and bone broth based protein powders. 

Whey protein powders might not be an ideal choice for everyone for two reasons: 1) Many people are sensitive to dairy, and they experience symptoms when they consume it. 2) Whey protein raises insulin. People that might benefit from a short term increase in insulin would be athletes or active individuals that are consuming a whey protein shake right after a workout. In that case whey protein would be a good choice for those that are looking to build muscle, and can tolerate a dairy based protein powder.

The Best Protein Powders

NOTE: Click on the protein powders below for more information and to purchase. You’ll be directed to our secure online supplement store where you will create a login for your secure account.

Plant Based Protein Powders

For those that are looking for a plant based protein powder, a few good plant based sources to consider are pumpkin seed, hemp, chia seed, or pea protein. Pea protein is the lowest on my list of plant protein sources simply because it can cause bloating for those that are sensitive to it. Soy protein is a common source in many products, but soy tends to be genetically modified (unless it’s organic), is mucogenic (causes an increase in mucus production), and there are questions about its impact on thyroid health. These are factors to consider when choosing what’s right for you.

Plant Based Protein Powders

How many grams of protein per serving?

A good rule of thumb is to aim for protein powders with around 20 grams of protein per serving. If it has less than that, it’s just something to weigh as a factor when deciding whether to purchase because the canister won’t last as long. 

Are there refined sugars in the protein powder?

Refined carbohydrates and sugars pose a problem for optimal health. With this said, things to look out for and avoid on the ingredient list and nutrition label include: high fructose corn syrup, fructose, glucose, and sugar. Ideally, I prefer a protein powder that has less than 15 grams of total carbohydrates per serving, with a portion of those carbohydrates coming from fiber. A quick look at the nutrition label will give you this info – look at how many grams of total carbohydrates and how many grams of fiber are present. 

Does it contain artificial sweeteners or food dyes?

When looking at the ingredients list, avoid products with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium, as well as artificial food dyes (FD&C Red 40, Yellow 5, etc.). Opt for products that are sweetened with plant-based sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit extract. These are zero-glycemic impacting sweeteners, which means they won’t spike your blood sugar. Other good options include honey, fruit, and erythritol.

When is the best time of day to eat protein?

Ultimately, any time of day is a good time to eat protein as it keeps your blood sugar and energy stable throughout the day. That said, it’s extremely important (especially for people with blood sugar regulation issues) to kick the day off right with a high protein breakfast. This supports better blood sugar stability throughout the rest of the day!

When it comes to exercise, it’s best to consume protein within 30 minutes of your workout to maximize the effects of your sweat sesh.

Ways to enjoy protein powder

  • Protein smoothies
  • Protein/energy balls
  • Chia seed pudding
  • Protein shake with almond or coconut milk
  • Collagen powder can be added to any beverage (cold or hot), soups, applesauce, yogurt, etc.
  • In baked items (ex: muffins or bread)
  • Get creative and enjoy!
No-bake chocolate protein balls

Check out our Easy No-Bake Chocolate Protein Balls for a delicious way to enjoy your protein! We hope you found this information helpful in choosing the best protein powder! This is a hot (and sometimes confusing) topic, let us know if you have any questions! #innerglow

Note: If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission, at no cost to you. We only recommend products we genuinely like. Thank you for your support!

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