Protein Powder Reference Guide: What To Look For When Buying Protein Powder
Ever since I wrote the article on the different types of protein powder, I’ve had quite a few people ask me what they should look for in a quality protein powder.
- How much protein should it have?
- What ingredients should it include?
- What other nutrients should be in it?
- Which ones taste the best?
So what I’ve decided to do is create a short reference guide for those looking for quick answers to protein powder quality questions.
The next time you need to buy protein powder, refer back to this article first.
You buy protein powder because you need to supplement your diet with more protein. So it’s only natural that you aim to get a product that maximizes your amount of quality protein per serving.
Think about it like this…
Suppose you bought a product that weighs a total of 150 grams, and the protein content of the product is 50 grams total. That’s only 33% total protein and 66% non-protein – not what you want in a protein powder.
Aim for a protein yield that’s a minimum of 70% (105g of protein in 150g product).
Amount of Fillers
Almost all protein powders will have some form of filler ingredients (ingredients that are not protein or amino acids).
But some companies’ products have a much larger percentage of fillers than others. These are the companies you want to avoid. And to do so, you need to know what to look for in a prospective powder.
Luckily, there’s a simple “formula” for determining the number of fillers present in the product: If the protein powder has both a high protein yield and an excellent amino acid profile (more on this in a sec), then the product will naturally have a lower percentage of filler ingredients.
Amino Acid Profile
Protein powders aren’t only protein and fillers. They also consist of amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. And they all serve very specific and unique functions in the protein synthesis process.
There are two types of amino acids – BCAAs and EAAs. BCAAs synthesizes other amino acids, and EAAs are the fundamental building blocks of protein. Both are crucial to muscle growth.
There are a total of 20 amino acids that make up a protein, and all of them will be present in higher concentrations in high-quality protein powder.
A good quality protein should have approximately a 50% concentration of BCAA’s to EAA’s (determined by dividing total BCAA by total EAA).
Taste and Usability
Which protein powders taste the best?
This is arguably the protein-based question I get asked the most often. And it’s also the one whose answer is the most subjective.
Taste is a matter of personal preference.
What tastes good to some will not taste as good to others. But you won’t know the taste profile until you try the powder.
So I’ll say this… be open to trying new powders (even if other people don’t like the taste), and if it tastes like dried dog turds, throw it to the side and move on.
And then there’s usability…
Usability relates to how well the powder mixes with other ingredients (mainly water and milk). I usually break it down like this…
You want to invest in a powder that will easily mix with your beverage of choice inside a shaker bottle. What you don’t want is for it to clump up and stick to the sides of the bottle.
Those two issues usually mean you’re using a lower quality protein powder, and it’s most likely going to cause bloating and promote digestive issues.
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