Choosing between the numerous protein shakes on the market can be a dizzying experience as many of the products can appear quite similar. However, not all protein powders are made equally. Here are a few things to look for when selecting the best protein powder.
Protein per Serving
A recent study into protein absorption after exercise suggests that 20g of protein is considered the optimal amount to consume in one sitting. Most whey protein shakes will offer a serving size of around 20-30g.
Some brands will offer high doses of protein, often up to 40g per serving. In reality the benefits of consuming such a large amount in one go are limited, as the body can’t absorb that much protein.
Rich in Amino Acids
Any protein powder worth its salt will contain plenty of amino acids essential to building and maintaining muscle mass. Most high quality protein powders can contain around 26g of BCAAs per 100g of protein.
Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
Many of the higher end products will also include L-Glutamine, an amino acid associated with aiding muscle recovery.
Beside the nutritional value, many people look at things like texture and how easily it mixes into liquid, such as milk or water for example.
There is nothing more frustrating than lumps of unmixed protein powder floating around at the top of your shaker or chuck to the bottom. Some products will dissolve into liquid easily, others may leave big powdery clumps.
Look for a supplement that does not require an arm like the superhero Thor to mix properly.
Most protein powders will contain a proportion of filler. For some products this can mean less than 1%, for others it could be 90%. Filler can include things like flavourings, some carbohydrates, and a small water percentage.
Blended protein powders that contain carbohydrates and other supplements such as creatine, will contain some filler. But when shopping for a pure whey protein powder, choose a brand who offer just that, ‘pure’ whey protein isolate.
Price vs Number of Servings
A typical tub of whey protein (2.27kg or 5lbs) will contain around 90 servings. Divide the cost of the product by the number of servings and compare similar products to establish the value of a true protein powder.
It is worth noting that whilst cost per serving provides a snapshot of ‘value’ which doesn’t take into account the quality and amount of protein or additional supplementation. A decision to buy a protein powder should not be based on price per serving alone.
Regardless of how good a protein powder is, most decisions when purchasing a product will come down to taste. There are some nasty tasting protein powders on the market, but also some that taste delicious. (Though be mindful of the sugar content for some of the better tasting products). We will therefore, have to leave the taste judging to you.
Terry Arena is a monster of a man. Some say he was born with a beard. When he’s not benchpressing twice his own bodyweight, Terry can be found consuming 4 litre containers of full fat milk whilst comparing the best whey protein supplements on the market.