The 10 Best Protein Powders
10. EAS Pure
- good source of calcium
- tastes great in oatmeal
- very high in cholesterol
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
9. Cellucor Cor-Performance
- thick consistency curbs hunger
- great for use in baking
- stays clumpy even after mixing
|Rating||3.8 / 5.0|
8. CytoSport Muscle Milk
- 100-percent gluten-free
- contains no trans fats
- doesn't blend well in water
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
7. BSN Syntha-6
- packed with fiber
- good as a meal replacement
- not ideal for cutting
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
6. Beverly International UMP
- pairs well with fruit
- low in carbohydrates
- contains artificial sweeteners
|Rating||4.3 / 5.0|
5. Now Sports Whey Protein Isolate
- doesn't require a blender to mix
- good value for the money
- can get really foamy
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
4. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard
- won't stick to cups or shakers
- more than 25 flavors to choose from
- perfect for mixing with milk
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
3. Sascha Fitness
- uses stevia as a sweetener
- very low in sodium
- doesn't make you feel bloated
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
2. Pure Label Nutrition
- massive 5-lb container
- doesn't have an aftertaste
- good for delicate stomachs
|Brand||Pure Label Nutrition|
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
1. TGS Nutrition
- dissolves quickly and easily
- ziploc-style bag preserves freshness
- helps stabilize blood sugar
|Rating||4.5 / 5.0|
NOT Just For Body Builders
From a first look at a GNC window, you might assume protein powders are only for weight lifters and body builders. But the average Joe and his underweight or ailing cousin can get just as much out of the substance.
Protein powders can be used as meal replacements, especially if they also include vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotics. The more complete, the better.
Folks who want to gain weight have also been known to indulge. This can be a fun process because unless you have restrictions, you can mix high-calorie formulas into higher-calorie juices or full-fat milk. You can even blend the powder into meals and desserts if you so choose.
In case you didn't know, your muscles require good nourishment just after exercise. Working out breaks down muscle and they require fuel and nutrients to add in the rebuilding process. Downing a protein shake directly afterward helps you recover quicker and get the most results from your workout.
Similarly, if you're injured, indulging in this kind of nourishment will be a plus, as it can help reduce soreness. Mixed into coconut milk or a smoothie, the powder also makes for a nifty bedtime snack, to help your whole body recover as you sleep.
Vegans and vegetarians often struggle to take in enough protein to maintain a healthy level of muscle mass. Luckily, there are now many protein powders made from vegetable protein as well.
For certain medical procedures that interfere with digestion -- like gastric bypass -- doctors sometimes prescribe protein powder. Just to be sure patients get enough essential nutrients.
Get The Lowdown On Protein Primers
Proteins are the building blocks of our muscles. Doesn't it then follow that we have to be careful of what kind of protein we put in our bodies? Is it a one-size-fits-all proposition? Or does the source of the stuff matter? Here's the lowdown on proteins and how easy they are for the body to use:
Whey protein is the hands-down fav for protein powder makers, as whey is a complete protein.
If you scan the labels of the most popular powders, you'll see the terms whey concentrate and whey protein isolate. Both are really easy for the body to absorb. Pretty funny for a by-product of the cheese making process. (Little Bo Peep was "eating her curds and whey" probably because her folks were home cheese makers.) Anyway, these days, after the separation, the whey is filtered and reduced to powdered solids. Et voila! A great muscle recovery tool.
Soy used to be all the rage in protein powders. But lots of folks have an allergic reaction to it. It can also be hard on the body in other ways. Still, soy is quality protein and is the major component of both tofu and tempeh.
Brown rice protein is among the easiest to digest. It's processed at low temps to keep enzymes alive. And also contains two key amino acids.
Pea protein is another type that's easy to absorb and digest. If you put it together with rice protein, you get a product with a complete amino acid profile. Which puts it on a level with whey and adds up to powerful nutrition for muscles.
Egg protein (also known as albumin) also offers a complete profile. But some folks are also allergic to eggs.
Hemp protein is growing in reputation and popularity. It's quality stuff. But is better at boosting immunity than building muscle.
Whip It, Blend It, Stir It
One of the best things about protein powder is that it presents so many...well, not exactly culinary possibilities, but...let's just call them chances to be creative! Least among them is the sheer variety of liquids to mix powder into:
Dairy Milk - It's almost like overkill for most of our top 10 choices (since whey is derived from dairy). But milk has an amazing mouthfeel that just can't be beat. Plus, it has its own natural sugars and fat, that might help mask any artificial flavors in our selected powders. If you're not afraid of fat or cholesterol, you could even consider adding heavy or whipped cream to your drink for satiety.
Coconut Milk - A close second in mouthfeel -- yummy-creaminess -- to dairy milk, coconut milk also boasts MCTs, that is, fats that heal at the cellular level. 'Nuff said.
Nut & Seed Milks - are on the spectrum with dairy, but might not be quite as creamy. Still, most contain some form of sugar that should blend well with flavored or unflavored powders. Try almond, hazelnut, cashew, hemp seed or flax seed. You can also find blended milks, of almond, cashew and hazelnut, or coconut and almond, for example.
Grain Milks - Yep, there's rice milk, but there's also oat milk and quinoa milk. These typically offer a somewhat more watery texture, but a decent flavor with or without chocolate or vanilla added.
Soy Milk -- If you're not allergic, it's a way to add even more protein to your drink. Soy milks are typically lower in fat that many nut milks, but have a full-bodied texture just the same.
Most non-dairy milks include added vitamins -- A & D, for example -- and minerals, like calcium and magnesium. Sugar-free and flavored varieties are usually available.
Juices - You can use commonly bottled juices like apple or grape. But why not go all the way live and add protein powder to a fresh-squeezed, refrigerated fruit or veggie juice.
Smoothies - Skip the juices, and just blend together fruits -- berries, peaches, plums, bananas -- with some kind of. milk and some ice. It's chilled, it's refreshing and it will help repair your muscles.