We've all been there. We're staring at the Bodybuilding.com website, completely confused at the multitude of protein powder options available. So many brands, so many types; if only there was a quick checklist that you could use to help you find that one protein powder that you'll be best mates with for the rest of your life.
Just a quick background
Before I dive into explaining the actual checklist, here's a quick scientific 101 about whey for fitness newbies.
1. Whey is actually the liquid that remains after milk has been curdled and strained.
2. Whey protein is arguably the most common protein powder used, and is usually much cheaper than its casein counterpart.
3. Whey shakes are best taken right after a workout, as the fast digesting nature of whey helps it get to muscles quickly to repair and refuel them.
Now we're talking serious shit
I have 4 main criteria for choosing a good protein powder.
Now this depends on whether you're a newbie or a seasoned athlete, and also whether you have enough dough. There are 3 main types of whey protein available on the market: Whey Concentrate, Whey Isolate and Whey Hydrosylates; as arranged by increasing cost.
Honestly, if you're a beginner; you don't need to splurge on the best whey present in the market, because it's definitely going to burn a hole in your pocket. There are some powders on the market that definitely do not offer good value for money. One example I can think of is that they sell a whey concentrate powder at the price of a whey isolate powder. So make sure you do your homework and compare against other similar typed whey protein to make sure you're getting the right price.
2. Whey type
This is related to the first point. As previously mentioned, there are 3 main types of whey protein. If you're a beginner, I suggest you get a mix of whey concentrate and whey isolate in a single tub.
I personally use Optimum Nutrition's Gold Standard 100% Whey for this very reason. Its primary ingredient is whey isolate, but because pure whey isolate powders are usually much more expensive, ON blends in whey concentrate as well. It helps bring the price down to a much more affordable level, and there is only minimal compromise on quality.
Make it a habit to start reading nutrition labels on your food, and your protein powder should be no exception. Advertising and packaging can really alter your perception, so try your best to ignore exaggerated claims and let the macro facts speak for themselves.
As a rule of thumb, I usually want protein to be at least 23g, less than 3g of fat, less than 5g of carbs and less than 150 calories. This ensures that you're getting a really lean shake and not adding unnecessary elements to your diet.
After a tiring, gruelling workout, no one wants to have to gulp down a disgusting tasting protein shake. As wonderful as some flavours sound (think Cake Batter and White Chocolate), there unfortunately exists powders that taste gross. Some companies don't offer sample packs too, so there's actually no way of telling whether that 5lb tub you just bought is going to taste icky or not.
Read reviews. I use bodybuilding.com to read reviews on potential protein powder flavours I'm interested in getting. Bear in mind that there will always be some people who love the flavour, and others who absolutely hate the taste. Just take into account the opinions of the majority and that should be a pretty safe bet :)
Some other review sites put mixability as one of their criteria as well, but for me, it isn't really that big of a deal. Some powders mix easier than others, yeah that's true, but as long as you stir/shake it for a decent amount of time, the powder should dissolve.
There you have it
So there you have my 4 considerations whenever I want to buy a tub of protein powder! Sometimes, the purchase requires a decent level of financial commitment; so we're here to help you through the process and make the journey less scary and alone.
If you have any further questions or comments, do drop me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll answer them as soon as I can. Peace!
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