Cut through the clutter of protein supplements, and discover how to choose the best protein powder for weight loss and muscle build.
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When was the last time you Googled “best protein powder to” . . . fill in the blank? Maybe it is the best protein powder to lose weight. Or perhaps you are searching for a protein powder to help you GAIN weight by building muscle. (These two are not mutually exclusive by the way.)
If you missed my first two posts on protein in this mini-series, then give them a read. In The Truth About Protein And Weight Loss, I broke down exactly how much protein your body really needs in a day and the key to protein bioavailability in muscle synthesis.
In The Best Protein Sources For Weight Loss, we talked about the foods with the best protein bioavailability for animal and plant-based diets alike.
In keeping with the understanding that in order to truly benefit from the food that we are eating, in this case, the protein, we need to pursue complete proteins; the proteins that contain all 9 amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own and must be consumed through our diets.
A stroll down the protein powder aisle is overwhelming, and you will see a lot of colorful stickers making flashy promises (one scoop of this a day and the fat will melt away), but in reality, simply consuming more protein is not enough.
Consuming more protein without creating demand with muscle-building exercise effectively adds 4 calories per gram of protein consumed to your overall intake. Replacing empty carbs and excess fat with lean protein will result in some body composition change, but ultimately, if you want to whittle your waist and create that lean muscle definition, then it is essential to understand that a protein powder alone is not the answer, regardless of what the sticker says.
Do I Need To Take A Protein Supplement Like Protein Powder?
This is a great question to answer from the beginning. Again, consuming more protein, even bioavailable protein, will only result in fat loss as long as you are replacing excess empty carbs or excess fat intake, but it will not necessarily result in muscle build which is essential to creating a sustained loss of inches.
For many of my FASTer Way clients, the added protein powder is essential because it is really difficult to consume enough protein in the course of a day, especially for those of us on the go. A protein shake is a great way to consume a mid-day meal of protein. In general, I try to consume approximately 100 grams of protein a day. If I am really trying to cut (create hyper muscle definition), then I am shooting for 1g of protein per pound of body weight which for me is typically 130 grams of protein. This is a LOT of protein. I am combining this extra protein with heavier weights.
This is why a concentrated shot of protein can be helpful in between meals, but I am not using this as a meal replacement.
Again, if you want to figure out how much protein you should be eating a day, then read The Truth About Protein And Weight Loss.
Which Type Of Protein Powder Is The Best?
To start, there are 3 primary types of protein powders that come from animal or plant-based protein sources (dairy, rice, peas, and eggs being the most common).
In order of the least concentrated to the highest concentration of protein they are protein concentrates, protein isolates, and protein hydrolysates.
Protein concentrates retain approximately 60-80% of the original whole food protein leaving 40-20% of the fat and carbs.
Protein isolates are filtered down farther than concentrates and retain approximately 90% of their original protein content.
Protein hydrolysates are the highest concentration of protein as the amino acid chains are broken apart allowing for quick absorption.
Let’s break down 3 of the most common forms of animal-based protein powder and 3 plant-based protein powders from the whole foods that we eat.
Animal Based Protein Powders
Whey protein is a by-product of dairy. It is the liquid that separates during the cheesemaking process. For example, the liquid that settles on the top of a yogurt container is whey. The concentrate form of whey still contains a fair bit of lactose – the sugar in dairy that some have significant intolerance to, however, because the carbs are almost entirely filtered out of the isolate and hydrolysate form there is very little lactose and those who are lactose intolerant may be able to handle these powders. Whey protein has been widely studied over the years and has effectively proven to increase muscle mass, aid in fat loss, and decrease appetite. It is very quickly digested by the body and has been shown to improve muscle mass especially when consumed after a strength training workout.
Casein is also a by-product of dairy, but a primary difference to casein is that it is absorbed much more slowly in the body. It is generally agreed upon that although casein has also demonstrated effectiveness in building muscle it is less effective than whey.
Egg White Protein
Eggs are a fabulous source of complete protein with high bioavailability. Not only are they a source of complete protein, but eggs have also demonstrated a significant ability to reduce appetite and improve satiety.
Plant-Based Protein Powders
Pea protein is one of the most common protein powders for vegans and vegetarians or those who have a sensitivity to dairy and eggs due to its almost complete protein status and its comparative bioavailability to that of animal-based proteins.
It is not nearly as well studied as whey although some research suggests that it is as effective in building muscle.
Brown Rice Protein & Hemp Protein
Brown Rice and Hemp protein powders have very little research but are also more common plant-based protein powders. Hemp protein has the advantage of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but neither of these 2 protein powders is complete and both are low in key BCAAs.
Which Protein Powder Is The Best To Lose Weight
At this time, whey is the most effective protein supplement for losing inches and leaning up. It is also the most studied which could add to these results, but research consistently demonstrates that whey is especially effective if consumed right before, during or after a strength training workout.
As I was mentioning before, whey protein powder can also help you feel fuller, ultimately reducing empty snacking and overall calories. In this case, adding whey protein powder could help you lose inches even without strength training simply because you are reducing your overall calorie intake, especially if those calories are processed, low nutrient density carbs.
From the research that I have done, I cannot find a research study that demonstrates whey isolates or hydrolysates are significantly more effective than whey concentrate. If you are lactose intolerant and want the benefit of whey I would try an isolate or hydrolysate, but otherwise save some money and find a high quality, all natural whey concentrate. Keep reading!
This article by Healthline has dozens of research articles concerning whey for those of you interested in digging deeper.
Choosing A Protein Powder
If you have not yet read this post on why whole food nutrition really matters, then do so or listen to the podcast episode, but the bottom line is that the body was not designed to be fueled with artificial or processed foods. The green and white organic label is an easy button but also an expensive one and not always necessary.
The list below will include all-natural protein powders, animal and plant-based, that have been highly rated by nutritionists and fitness trainers alike. At the very end, I will share my very personal favorite animal and plant-based powder that I can personally vouch for including taste because let’s be honest – all-natural can sometimes mean all-disgusting.
My personal favorite protein powder brand? Orgain. Not only is it an all-natural protein powder, but it also TASTES GOOD Win Win.
Orgain’s Grass Fed Whey is my favorite whey protein powder. It is simple, all-natural, and tastes delicious. My go-to protein drink is one scoop of this chocolate protein powder + 1 scoop of PBFit Powder in 12 oz of 1% milk. Shaken. Not stirred.
I have tried several different all-natural plant-based protein powders, and Orgain’s Simple Chocolate and Vanilla Protein powder was by far the best tasting. I appreciate the nutrient density of plants and greens, but I would rather not taste them.
Save this post for the next time you walk down the protein powder aisle!
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One of the reasons to prioritize way is that it has pretty effectively been proven to increase muscle mass and when paired with the proper strength training exercise that it is a beneficial protein supplement for body composition change. Welcome to the Imperfectly Empowered Podcast with DIY Healthy Lifestyle Blogger on a former empowering you to transform your.
One imperfect day at a time. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Imperfectly Empowered Podcast. I am your host, Anna Fuller. Today we are chatting all about choosing the best protein powder. If you are just listening for the first time, we have been doing an ongoing series. On protein, my very, very favorite macronutrient after protein.
We have fat and carbs. There’s plenty of podcast episodes. Talking more about macronutrients, just search macronutrients. If you’re interested in learning more about tracking macros as opposed to counting calories. But today we are going to cut through the clutter of protein supplements and discover how to choose the best protein powder for weight loss and muscle build.
I need to ask you a question. When was the last time you Googled or maybe even just thought in your head, what is the best protein powder to fill in the blank? Maybe it is, which is the best protein powder to lose weight? Perhaps you are searching for a protein powder to help you gain weight by building muscle.
These two are not mutually exclusive by the. If you missed my first two posts on protein in this mini series, then be sure to give them a read in the truth about protein and weight loss. I broke down exactly how much protein your body really needs in a day. We also chatted about the key to protein bioavailability in terms of muscle synthesis.
The bottom line is protein is not created equal, and if you are specifically interested in protein to whittle your waist. Stay lean, lose inches by building muscle. Then you need to understand protein bio availability That was talked about in the second part of the series called The Best Protein Sources for Weight Loss, where we broke down dietary sources with the best protein, bio availability for animal and plant-based diets.
A. So again, if this is the first episode in this series so far, this is three episode number three on protein. Then you need to understand this, that in order to truly benefit from the food that we are eating, in this case, the protein we are trying to pursue complete proteins, those are the proteins that contain all nine amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own and must be consumed through our diet.
Now enter protein powder or protein supplements. I don’t know about you, but the last time that I strolled down the proverbial protein powder aisle, it was overwhelming. There’s a lot of colorful stickers, making flashy promises. One scoop of this a day and the fat will melt away. But in reality, simply consuming more protein is not enough.
Simply replacing a meal with a protein shake is not enough. It does not matter if you don’t understand what you are eating and why. Consuming more protein without creating demand, first of all, with muscle building exercise effectively adds four calories, program of protein consumed to your overall daily intake.
Meaning protein supplementation is more effective if you are matching it. With muscle building exercise. That being said, Replacing empty carbs and excess fat in your diet with lean protein, bioavailable protein will result in, still result in some body composition change, meaning there is still benefit to it.
But ultimately, if you want to do that whole whitt your waist and create the lean muscle definition, then you need to understand that protein powder alone, protein supplementation alone is not enough, regardless of what that sticker says. You need to be meeting it with the correct. Let’s start with the question, how do I know then if I should be taking a protein supplement, like protein powder?
And this is a great question to answer from the beginning. Again, like I said, Consuming more protein. Even bioavailable protein will only result in fat loss as long as you’re replacing excess empty carbs or excess fat intake, but will not necessarily result in muscle build, which is essential to actually creating sustained loss of inches.
For many of my faster weight clients, my fitness, nutrition clients, the added protein powder is essential. Because it is really difficult for many of them, myself included, to consume enough protein in the course of a day, especially for those of us busy moms on the go. A protein shake is a great way to consume a midday meal of protein.
In general, I try to consume approximately a hundred, a hundred grams of protein a day if I am really trying to cut. Just to give you a sense of what macro changes might look like. If I am actually trying to really cut. Cut. When I say cut, that just means I’m creating like hyper muscle definition. I’m really trying to lean up.
Then I’m shooting for approximately one gram of protein per pound of body weight, which for me is about 130 grams of protein. You guys, this is a lot of protein. I’m not even hungry enough to eat that much protein, but when I’m doing that, I am usually exercising more and I’m combining that with. Heavier weights.
So this is why a concentrated shot of protein when you have increased your exercise routine, especially if you’ve increased your strength training regimen, a shot of protein can be helpful in between meals, but I’m not necessarily using it as a meal replacement. You actually, I would be willing to bet, need more protein than what you are currently Consum.
So again, if you wanna figure out exactly how much protein you should be eating a day, then read or listen to the episode, the truth about protein and weight loss, to figure out approximately how much you should be consuming a day. And then you can consider what a protein shake, a concentrated boost of bioavailable protein that is easy to consume an on the go.
Would that benefit me? If so, now we need to chat which type of protein powder is the best? So to start, I want to help you understand again, some of those labels that you are reading, that there are three primary types of protein powders that come from animal or plant-based protein sources. Animal-based protein powders would include, for example, dairy.
Eggs are probably the more common animal based protein powders, plant based, for example. Peas being common ones that protein powders are made from. And then these three types I’m going to share with you are broken down from the least concentrated to the highest concentration of protein. These are protein concentrates, protein isolates, and protein.
Hy Hydrolysates, I’ve heard it said both way. Both ways. Tomato. Tomato. So protein concentrates, retain approximately. 60 to 80% of the original whole food protein, leaving 40 to 20% of the fat and carbs. So to help you even process what I just said, let’s take dairy for example. A dairy protein concentrate is basically filtered down to retain approximately 60 to 80% of the original protein from the dairy or from the milk.
Leaving 40 to 20% of the fatten carbs, protein isolates then are filtered down even further than concentrates and retain approximately 90% of their original protein content. These also happen to be more expensive because of course you now have a higher concentration of protein. Protein, Hydrolysates or hys are the highest concentration of protein as the amino acid chains are actually broken apart, allowing for very quick absorption.
Uh, the most common ones that I see just floating around on the shelves are protein concentrates and protein isolates. So let’s break down three of the most common forms of animal based protein powder, and then we’re gonna break down three of the most common plant based protein powders from the whole foods that we eat.
So we’re gonna chat three animal based and three plant-based, First, animal based. Number one, WHE protein. Whe protein is a very severely researched supplement. It is highly, highly research. It is a byproduct of dairy. So to help you understand exactly what it is, it’s the liquid that separates during the cheese making process actually.
So for example, we love Chobani yogurt over here, the Chobani Greek yogurt. When you peel back the lid from the little yogurt container, you know how there’s often liquid that sort of settles on the top of that yogurt? That is actually way. So when we break it down, this weight protein, the concentrate form of weigh still contains a fair bit of lactose because lactose is the sugar or the carb in dairy that some people have a significant intolerance to.
But because the carbs are almost entirely filtered out of protein isolates, From what I understand, there tends to be less lactose intolerance, and if you do have an issue with theory, it is possible that you would be able to tolerate a way isolate. Again, probably you wanna stay away from the way concentrates if you have a lactose intolerance because of the dairy.
But isolates and hydrolysate or hydraulic sets are pretty well filtered out, like those carbs that lactose is filtered. So there’s that. Just to consider, one of the reasons to prioritize way is that not only has it been widely studied, but it has pretty effectively been proven to increase muscle mass aid in fat loss and decrease appetite.
It is very quickly digested by the body. And when paired with the proper strength training exercise, there has been significant research to show that it is a beneficial protein supplement for body composition change. Number two of the animal based proteins, there’s casing. Casing is also a byproduct of dairy.
But a primary difference to casing is that it is absorbed much more slowly in the body, which means if you consume it, it is going to be digested, metabolized, and absorbed much more gradually over the course of the day. It is effective in building muscle, but it tends to be overall, per the research, it has been generally less effective than way, although there’s some argument for.
The longevity, meaning it’s kind of working for longer than way. So again, is there a negative to casing? Not necessarily, but I would not say it is preferable to weigh if you’re just trying to choose one egg white protein. Eggs are a fabulous source of complete protein, very high bio availability. It’s a great complete protein, and they’ve also demonstrated a significant ability to reduce appetite.
And help you to feel full. So protein powders from eggs, they are derived from the egg whites. So an interesting side note is if you are trying to figure out how to increase your protein, I would actually suggest it would be preferable to simply eat eggs, then to use egg white protein powder. Does that make sense?
You’re gonna get more benefit by just eating the egg. Not to mention there’s a bunch of healthy fat there. So go for. Eggs, Plant based protein powders, P protein. Now I’ve mentioned this before, I always joke, I am a hashtag vegetarian . I love my meat. I am an animal based diet. I am definitely not a vegetarian or vegan.
I never have been. I’ve done a lot of research because I have a significant number of clients who. But I always like to give the disclaimer, I am generally less familiar with plant, strictly plant-based diets, but P protein that is no secret is one of the most common protein powders for vegans and vegetarians or those who may have a sensitivity specifically to dairy and eggs.
It is almost a complete protein, not quite, almost combine it with a couple other plant-based proteins and you’ll get a complete one, but it has a comparative bioavailability to that of animal-based proteins, which is why it makes it the most common plant-based protein powder. That being said, based on what I have seen, Don’t believe it is nearly as well studied as way.
There is research suggesting that it is as effective in building muscle. Again, we’re limited. I don’t know that at this point it can truly be stated to be as effective for sure as way, but if you are plant based, then P Protein would probably be the most beneficial plant-based protein at this time, especially if you’re eating other bioavailable proteins to get your complete proteins in your.
The second two. Number two and number three are brown rice, protein and hemp protein. Brown rice and hemp protein powders have the least amount of research, but are also common in plant based protein powders. Interestingly, hemp protein has the advantage of the healthy omega-3 fatty acid. That, to my knowledge, none of the other protein powders really boast.
So there’s that advantage to it. But neither of these two protein powders are complete, and both are pretty low in those key branch chain amino acids that I talked about in previous podcast episodes. So among plant based protein powders, I would recommend one that is primarily p. Protein for the best source of bio available protein you have tried it all.
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So we’ve chatted about the types of protein powder. Hopefully you can better understand the labels you’re reading, but. Anna, I want an easy button. Which protein powder is the best? Just give it to me straight. While the bottom line weighs the most effective protein supplement for losing inches and leaning.
It is the most studied, which could also add to these results. But research has consistently demonstrated that way is especially effective. It can make you feel fuller. It can reduce empty snacking and overall calories. And in this case, adding way protein powder could help you lose inches even without strength training, simply cuz you’re reducing your overall calorie intake as research has shown that way.
Has prevented excess eating or overeating, so it will ultimately diminish your overall calorie intake. Also, as a side note from the research that I have done, please shoot me a study if you can prove that this is wrong. I cannot find a research study that is demonstrating with conclusive evidence that way isolates or hydrolysates, isolates or H are significantly more effective than weight concent.
So if you’re a lactose intolerant and want the benefit of way, I would try and isolate. But otherwise save some money and find a high quality, all natural way concentrate. Okay, Keep listening. I do wanna mention in the blog post, on the show notes on hammers and hugs.com. There is an article that I linked that was done by Healthline.
It is excellent. It includes dozens of research articles concerning some of these studies that I, you know, flippantly mentioned. I don’t cite every single one of them. Please visit that article so that you can actually see the sources of these research studies if you’re interested in digging deeper. So choosing a protein powder.
You’ve noticed that I mentioned choosing an all natural protein powder. If you have not listened to the episode or read the blog post on why Whole Food Nutrition really matters, then you need to do so right now. Download the podcast episode for later. But the bottom line is that the body was not designed to be fueled with artificial or processed.
Just like we would fuel the engine of our car with the appropriate gasoline. The same thing is true of our bodies. And the truth is we were not meant to metabolize or function optimally with artificial or processed foods. So the green and white organic label is an easy button to, on natural eating.
However, it can also be an expensive one and it’s not always necessary. So the below list, what is coming includes organic and natural powders alike. These are, some of these are animal based, some are plant based. These have all been highly rated per my research by nutritionist and fitness trainers alike.
And then at the very end, I’m going to share my own personal favorite animal based protein powder and plant-based protein powders from the same company that I can personally vouch for, including taste, because let’s be honest, all natural can sometimes, All disgusting. I have had those protein powders that taste like dirt.
No, thank you. So let’s run through some of these. And like I said, I cannot vouch for the taste of all of these. I can vouch these are high quality and ones I would certainly try. I can vouch for the last one that I’m about to mention that it truly does taste good, does not taste like grass or dirt or other green things that I just frankly don’t want in my protein powder.
So way protein. Garden of Life Sport Way Protein. That one happens to be organic. Actually, I’m looking here. Nope, this one isn’t. The one that I linked is not, but they also have organic. If you’re really passionate about things being organic, this one is all natural. This one is one of the highest rated Garden of Life Sport Way Protein Now Sports Organic.
WHE protein now sports organic way. Protein. Naked Casing. Naked casing. Naked. Naked, By the way, is the name of the brand Naked, So lean and so clean. Vanilla Chi protein powder. This one sounds a little dangerous to me. I’m not gonna lie. , maybe. Unless you really like chai. To me, I’m already tasting way too many weird spice.
Just reading it. But if you love Chi, this one might be delicious. I don’t know. Or you might be like, Well that’s terrible. It doesn’t taste anything like cha, but you never know. I would go and read the reviews, highly rated as a high quality protein, but who knows? Oh, I forgot to mention, I apologize. My notes are flipping all over the place.
Um, for some reason it cut it off, but Naked Way is also highly rated. The company naked. They have a naked way and a naked casing. These are all natural ingredients. No other artificial junk. Naked is a good brand. Okay, back to the plant-based Viga, Sport protein, plant-based protein powder, and then a company called K O s Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein.
This one is a plant based supplement. Let’s chat about my very favorite one, . My very, very favorite brand is Oregon. They are a popular one. They have natural products, they have organic products. I first started consuming there. I was trying to find a really good, all-natural. Or organic plant-based protein powder for my clients because in my fitness nutrition program, we take a hard left and we eliminate dairy and gluten just for six weeks.
And you don’t absolutely have to, but it is recommended if you’ve never done it before and you’ve been having belly issues to try eliminating to see if you could actually have a sensitivity to the two. So I was trying to find a plant-based one that actually tasted good. I mean, you guys, we eat all organically in our home.
I am used to eating natural organic food and there are so many plant-based protein powders that I think taste awful. They taste like dirt, quite literally. They taste like dirt and other really weird flavors that I just, I wanna enjoy my food, including my protein powder or gain. Simple is a plant based concentrate powder.
That I highly recommend they have multiple flavors. Chocolate, peanut butter, chocolate, vanilla. It is the best plant-based protein powder I have ever tasted. The one that we personally consume on a regular basis in our house is ORs, Grass fed way, protein powder. This is a way concentrate. It is all natural.
It tastes delicious. My go to super easy no fuss drink is I have one of those. I actually have an organ protein shake shaker bottle, and I pour in 12 ounces of 1% milk. I put in one scoop of PB Fit powder and one scoop of this chocolate protein powder, and I shake it, shake and not stirred. Super easy now to make it more delicious for my kids.
I also drink it this way. I will put in a cup of ice, a cup of 1% milk, and then one banana with one scoop of PPV fit powder, one scoop of chocolate or vanilla protein. It’s quite delicious. Blended up. Again. I’ve tried a lot of protein powders. This is the one that my husband and I have landed on. It is organic.
The way is is on natural. Again, I appreciate the nutrient density of plants and greens, but I don’t wanna taste them in my powder. I just don’t. So what I was hoping to do was the fourth installment of this series on protein. I was hoping to give you guys a breakdown of some of the most delicious protein shake recipe.
That I could share with you, because this would be a nice wrap up to this series, right? We’ve just talked all about protein, why a protein shake might benefit you. Well, then it would be great to have recipes to enjoy the yummy protein powders. Well, . Okay. My research has effectively demonstrated one of the reasons, especially women are struggling.
To lose weight and lose inches because of poor marketing. But I spent an hour, one entire hour researching protein shake recipes across the internet. Pinterest. What I found was a lot of beautiful fruit drinks that had a dash of protein. They were basically sugary drinks with all natural carbs. Mind you all natural, delicious.
But you guys, these are not protein shakes, . These are more like fruit smoothies with a dash of protein. I was finding protein shakes that were attempting to be FO desserts. This is, again, let me repeat, not a protein shake, let’s call it for what it is. I found one. You guys, I’m a huge fan of key lime pie.
This is no secret. I have a delicious, easy key lime pie recipe on my. There was a protein shake recipe that I found called Key Lime Pie, and it was basically a faux dessert. It looked beautiful. It had little like graham cracker crumbs on the top. There was a homemade whipped coconut cream or something to go on top, You guys.
Do not label this a protein shake. This is basically more like a smoothie. It is primarily sugar. This, most of these recipes had like 400, 300 calories per serving. Most of them had less than 15 grams of protein in Stop trying to make health look pretty. If you want dessert, enjoy a piece of dessert. Stop trying to make health look pretty.
Enjoy it for what it. Have your piece of key lime pie. Don’t try to make a protein shake out of one . Keep it simple. Keep it simple. Keep your protein shake simple. So that being said, I could not find more than three protein shake recipes that I personally would be willing to associate my name with as a beneficial protein shake based on the last three episodes, this one and the last two that I have done.
So I am going to create, A dozen protein shake recipes that still taste delicious because food was meant to be enjoyed. But our actual protein shakes and not faux desserts again, stop trying to make health pretty. Those will be coming on the blog. And make sure that you keep an eye on hammers and hugs.com.
I’ll be rolling these protein shake recipes out and here is my promise they will all be with around 300 calories. Cuz again, we’re going for midday snack, right? We’re getting that protein shot. In between meals cuz we want to improve, you know, your, we wanna decrease appetite so that when you go to eat, you’re not overeating, right?
We want that midday boost of protein, so they’re going to all be approximately around 300 calories and they will not have less than 20 grams of protein because we want to hit that bio availability and be able to benefit from what we are consuming. So that coming, let’s not make health pretty. You want a piece of dessert, like you want dessert, have your dessert, but stop trying to make protein shakes pretty and like a photo dessert.
So I hope the next time that you walk down. The very overwhelming protein powder aisle. You feel a little bit more empowered to read the labels, understand the labels, and know which protein powder is best for you. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Imperfectly Empowered Podcast. I would love to hear your thoughts from today.
Head to your preferred podcasting platform and give the show an honest review and let me know what you think. Remember, you cannot be redefined, only redeveloped one imperfect day at a time. Your story matters and you are loved.