When looking to purchase protein powder to supplement your workouts, walking into a health or nutrition store can be a bit intimidating. You’re immediately greeted with a wall full of gigantic bottles of bizarre powders that claim to do all sorts of things. However, with a few basic rules you can quickly narrow the field and find the best protein powder for your body.
First Thing’s First: Don’t Make Yourself Sick
The first thing you’ll want to figure out is if you have any dietary restrictions or allergies that could affect your choice of protein powders. Many protein powders, especially those made with casein or whey proteins, contain lactose. Lactose can cause digestive issues for some folks, from excess gas to a severely upset stomach. You may want to go for a soy-based protein powder instead.
For sweetness and flavor, some powders contain the artificial sweetener aspartame, the same chemical that sweetens most diet sodas. Aspartame can cause an allergic reaction in some people. If you’re one of them, you can look for a powder that is sweetened with sucralose or not sweetened at all. You can always add flavor later when you mix up your shake.
You might think that all proteins are the same, but in fact there are several different kinds of protein available. The two most common are likely whey protein and casein.
Both whey and casein come from milk and milk byproducts, so they will usually contain lactose in some amount. However, casein is a bit slower to digest and makes you feel fuller longer. This is great if you’re looking to use a protein shake as a meal replacement to lose weight, but not so good if you’re looking to quickly inject protein into your muscles after a workout. It’s also a bit higher in sodium then some of the alternatives.
Whey, on the other hand, digests much more quickly than casein. This makes whey a better choice if you’re looking to put on muscle mass quickly, as it can be used as a supplement during and immediately after a tough workout. Whey is also a great source of antioxidants.
So which is best? While countless studies have been done comparing the two, there’s plenty of conflicting evidence. Just make things simple on yourself, and choose the style that works best for your lifestyle.
Usually powders will be flavored in some way, often with vanilla or chocolate flavoring. Depending on the ingredients, they may go down just fine mixed with water. However, some powders have a more intense flavor or gritty texture that doesn’t go down as easily.
Our advice is to try other bases to mix the powder with first. Use milk instead of water to mask the flavor more. Milk even adds a bit more protein, but of course increases the calories of your shake.
If all else fails and you just can’t stand the taste of the powder, drink your shake with plenty of ice. We have a harder time tasting food if it’s very cold, so the colder you can make your shake the less you’ll taste it!
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