Possibly the most popular workout supplement taken is protein powder. Protein powder is the perfect protein source for immediately before and after a workout since it's rapidly digested by the body so the amino acids can get to the muscle tissues quickly.
Protein powder also makes for a very convenient source of protein in times of need because all the prep work it requires is a bit of water and a shaker cup. Being sure you have a quality source of protein powder on hand at all times is a smart move if you want to begin making positive changes to your body and fitness level.
It's also important to keep in mind however that not all protein sources are created equally. Protein powders will differ in their composition and the primary benefits they have to offer, so becoming aware of these differences will enable you to choose the best one for your situation.
Questions To Ask Yourself
When Is The Primary Time You Are Going To Take The Protein Powder?
First, think about when the primary time is that you are going to use this protein powder. Are you looking for a protein powder for immediately after your workout? Or are you looking for a powder to use halfway through the day when you're pressed for time and don't have a food snack on hand?
Each of these situations will differ dramatically in terms of what you need. If you're looking for a protein powder for immediately after a workout, you want something that is as rapidly digestible as possible.
If you're planning to use the protein powder as a meal throughout the day, then you want to go with a casein protein powder since it will take longer to digest and provide the body with a slow release of amino acids. These proteins will also help to keep hunger levels under control so you'll be less likely to eat between meals.
Do You Plan To Mix The Protein Powder With Anything But Water?
The second question to consider when you're wondering how to choose the best protein powder is what you plan to mix the protein with. Are you going to have it with juice, water, milk, or do you plan to use it in recipes as you prepare your foods?
There are so many different flavors of protein powder around that you want to make sure you're choosing a flavor that will lend well to your primary liquid mixer.
Some protein powders also tend to mix a lot better with water compared with milk, so be sure to read some of the reviews for various protein powders before making your purchase.
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Taste, while not the most important factor from your body's point of view, is something that will influence how regularly you're using the protein powder. If you have to plug your nose and slam it back each day, you may just find yourself opting completely away from it over time.
With so many great tasting protein powders available, there's no reason to ever put yourself through this torture.
What Is Your Budget Range For This Protein Powder?
Third, think about your budget. As much as we'd all love an unlimited supplement budget, for many people in today's economic environment, you just don't have hundreds of dollars to spend.
That's okay though because there are many quality protein powders available at a range of price points. Typically you'll find better deals when you buy in bulk (five or ten pounds versus two), so even though it's a higher cost upfront, you'll end up saving in the long run.
In many cases, a straight whey protein will be slightly cheaper than an isolate or casein variety, so that may be one thing to consider. While it won't be as timing specific, getting protein itself is most important so that has to be a top priority.
Also, in some cases a particular protein powder brand may have additional ingredients added to it (creatine, vitamin complexes, glutamine, and so on) which increases the price. If you're looking to save money, you can go with a protein powder that doesn't have these additions to help save on cost.
Is Your Main Goal Fat Loss Or Muscle Building?
It's also important that you're taking the time to match your protein powder selection to your goal. If you're looking for purely fat loss with your training, then you're going to want to find a protein powder that is low in calories and 100% straight protein.
These varieties will usually contain between 90 and 110 calories and provide somewhere between 22 and 26 grams of protein per scoop. This enables you to get the protein you need for fat loss without adding additional calories from carbs or fat to your daily intake.
When you're really trying to get to your absolute leanest, every calorie counts so it will make a difference.
If, on the other hand, you're gearing your efforts in the gym towards building muscle, you may want to consider a protein powder that has a bit more of a calorie punch to it. There is a wide selection of 'weight gainer' protein powders available for this purpose.
When choosing one of these varieties, the biggest factor to consider is time of day. If you're using it as a during the day shake, selecting one that has some dietary fat to it will be fine - even beneficial.
If you're using it just before or after a workout, then you'll want one that is strictly protein and carbs since fat during this time is something to avoid since it slows down the amino acid and glucose release in the body.
Sometimes during the day weight gainer shakes are referred to as meal replacement shakes, so if you're searching for this variety, be aware it can be called this as well.
Do You Have Any Special Nutrient Needs?
Finally, you're also going to want to consider whether you have any special needs with your diet. For example, if you're a vegetarian, a whey protein powder may not be an option since it is a form of dairy.
Likewise, if you're someone who deals with lactose problems, you may not be able to handle whey protein either, so egg protein will be the best bet for you.
Males may also choose to avoid a soy-based protein powder on a regular basis as there is still much controversy about the impacts of soy on the male system. One scoop every now and then should be fine, but if you're taking it twice a day or more, you could see some negative implications.
* Ratings as of article's date of publication
So keep these points in mind on how to choose the best protein powder. Each person will have their own individual preferences, so shop around a bit. If you try one protein powder and don't like it, you don't have to keep using it, as there are so many varieties out there that there's sure to be one you'll love using.