The focus for our family has always been to find whole foods that nourish our bodies.
Unfortunately, some days we find we aren’t getting enough protein from these whole food sources and we need to look elsewhere to hit our goals.
This is where protein powders come in.
A supplement for protein that is convenient, portable and won’t spoil.
However, I do want to re-emphasize it is a supplement and not a core food group. We can’t live off of supplements and powders. This would violate our first desire which is to focus first on whole foods.
What are Protein Powders
Essentially protein powders are dietary supplements that contain a high percentage of protein. The protein is derived from a variety of sources like rice, egg, milk, peas, hemp, soy, etc.
In addition to the protein, many companies include other vitamins, greens, minerals, fats, thickeners, etc. within the mix. So there are versions of meal replacement powders which are also high in protein which could essentially fall in this category.
In the end, this is a very processed way to get some additional protein…and that’s why we say use sparingly.
How Protein Powders are Made
The protein powders are made in a few ways.
Some come from concentrates which is a high heat drying process. This is usually a very cost-effective process. Since it’s a heat drying process the fats and other substances within the core protein comes with the powder.
Some are protein isolates. This is where they try to separate out the protein from the core whole food. When the protein is isolated the protein is then converted into powder form. The difference in protein here is a higher concentration of protein per scoop…but is more expensive than a concentrate.
A few other methods are hydrolyzed protein, ion-exchange proteins and microfiltration. These are usually a little more expensive.
So why does this matter?
What to Look for When Choosing a Protein Powder
As we mentioned before, protein can be made from many different sources so choose the type which aligns with your dietary needs.
Check the Ingredients
If you’re lactose intolerant then stay away from certain whey or casein products.
If you get an upset stomach easily then staying away from certain egg protein mixtures may be your best bet.
Hemp protein is usually a popular easily digestible plant protein so if you’re looking for a vegetarian option that could be your go-to.
Some say soy proteins have benefits for cardiovascular disease due to the other nutrients within soy.
And rice protein is maybe the most cost effective so if price is high on your list of priorities then this could be a good option.
Look at Quality
Then there’s the quality.
Protein quality is determined by the following methods. Protein efficiency ratio (PER) ,
Net Protein Utilization (NPU) Biological Value (BV) and Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS)
A lot of scores and numbers… but in the end which is right for you?
Assess Your Priorities
This is where we really have to weigh our priorities. Ask yourself:
Do you value taste or price?
Do you value quality over taste?
Does it mix well with the foods you want to have it with?
Price matters in effectiveness. The cheaper brands won’t be as effective or mix as well with other foods.
Quality matters as well. Look for the sugars or any foods which end with “-ase”. These will load up your system with sugars that may not be within the nutritional strategy.
Since this is a highly processed way to ingest food we will highly encourage you to buy a new brand each time. This may sound annoying to constantly be trying to find a new brand you like but hear us out on this one. Our body gets used to what we feed it. If we keep ingesting the same protein powder over and over again then our body gets used to digesting this type of processed food…which isn’t what we want. We want our body to still treat processed foods as something which is foreign and to favor whole foods. This is why we usually try to switch between three to four brands and cycle through them over the course of a year.
Ask Yourself How Much is too Much
Our rule of thumb is if you’re having more than one to two scoops of protein a day then maybe it would be better if you relooked at your overall nutritional strategy. Instead of another scoop of powder, maybe it’s a few more eggs in the morning or another sliver of chicken at night. The nutrients you’ll get from whole foods will always outweigh the benefits of a powder. So unless you’re training to be a bodybuilder….(if you are, I think you may have stumbled upon the wrong blog)…limiting yourself to about 1-2 scoops per day is all you’ll need.
Our Personal Favorite Brand
We've tried a few brands in the last few years. So many are grainy or have a strong stevia taste. And there's an even bigger handful of brands that are just OK. Thankfully, my wife discovered Truvani and its hands down become both of our favorite brands because it just tastes SO good! And most importantly, it's made with ingredients we trust. Plus they take it one step further and test their products for heavy metals which is greatly appreciated. Check them out here if you want to give them a try. And while we don't recommend consuming only this protein powder as we stated above, it's important to rotate a few brands. Truvani protein powders are always regularly in our rotation.
This has been a lot of information, but I hope it’s been helpful.