TOPIC: What Should You Look For In A Protein Powder?
The Question: You know you need to be taking a protein supplement, but there are SO many out there. How do you choose which one is best for you? What are the best protein powders for fat loss, for muscle maintenance, for sports performance, and for muscle building? Does price matter or should you look for the cheapest one? Should you stick to one type of protein year round or change things up from time to time? Why are your recommendations the best?
List your recommendations for each goal!
Bonus Question: What is the best tasting protein powder that you have ever had? What is the worst?
- The best response will get $50 in credit to use in our online store!
1st Place - Audioslave
Since protein builds muscle, every athlete has been trying to consume a minimum of at least 1 gram of protein per pound. Since this task can be difficult protein powders have become an essential to many athletes. There are many factors to consider before buying a protein powder. Here are some:
You're probably not looking to drop your whole wallet on a bottle of protein powder. The price should be reasonable and in your price range. The price should also be compared to the quality of the protein. Expect a higher quality protein to cost more money than one of lower quality.
Whey protein concentrate can be a good source of whey protein, but often contains more fat and lactose than whey protein isolate. Ion exchange isolate starts out as concentrate, but then ends up as an isolate after a machine process. This process will help you get more protein per serving, but through this process some of the important peptides in whey are taking away.
These little pieces can be used for a healthly immune system. So ion exchange whey protein will deliver more protein, but does have less of some of the important components of the whey protein.
Because of this, I prefer regular whey isolate over ion exchange, but the difference between the two is very minimal. Hydrolyzed protein is in my opinion the best. It is already broken down which means it will be digested very fast. This would make it a favorite for post workout.
You must find out what the purpose of the protein powder is. A meal replacement will replace a meal. A weight gainer will help add weight. Whey protein is best used for post workout and in the morning. Micellar casein digests the slowest, therefore makes it a good choice before bed. You must choose what fits your needs the best.
No one wants a protein powder that tastes horrible. I feel as time goes on, the taste has been getting much better. It's always good to talk with someone who has had the protein powder before or read reviews on it so you have an idea of the taste. Some ways to help the taste is to add a banana, peanut butter, dextrose etc.
This can be important for people who take their protein powder with them to the gym or to work and cannot mix it with a blender. You don't want a protein powder that clumps up or sinks to the bottom. If this is an issue than I would look for a protein powder that is instantized. That would make it easy to mix with a spoon.
Throughout my time lifting I've tried many different protein powders to see which ones worked the best, tasted the best, had best price, best quality etc. Here are some different protein powders I've tried that I would like to share my thoughts and opinions on.
HDT Instant Whey Protein Shake
|This was a decent protein powder. The taste was half descent and it did a fair job. I only tried the vanilla flavor and it was fair. I took 2 scoops (42 grams of protein) twice per day. It mixes well in a shaker, but gets too lumpy when mixed with a spoon. The best part of this product was the price. It is a cheaper protein powder with a good amino acid profile.
What I don't like is it is all whey protein concentrate, which makes the quality not as good as some others. I would give this product a 6/10 because it is a good price, but there are better tasting whey protein and better quality for not much more money.
|Well, it doesn't taste as good as their meal replacement, but if you're looking to cut out the carbs it is a great protein powder. The Zero Carb's creamy vanilla and dutch chocolate just aren't as good tasting as the meal replacement's, but still good. The alpine punch flavor was another one that was a worse tasting flavor. I recently bought the apple melon, and when I first opened it, it smelt like apple flavor jolly ranchers.
The taste wasn't as good as the smell, but it was definitely better than any other. I took 2 servings per day, and each serving contained 50 grams of protein. This protein powder was the one of the best low carb powder I have ever had. Nature's Best makes great protein supplements. A 7.5 lb jug sells on bodybuilding.com for about $75, which is well worth it considering you are getting 55 servings with 50 grams of protein per serving and not a gram of carbs. This shake mixes well with a spoon and glass.
I would have to rate this product a 9.5/10 because it tastes good and the price seems right for the product, but once again, there is slightly better quality.
|I had this protein powder in the french vanilla flavor, and I will never have it again. I was able to get this down, but it was one of the worst tasting protein powders of all. It has 17.5 grams of protein per serving (scoop). The price isn't that bad. You can get a 5 pound jug of this stuff for about $29 on bodybuilding.com which is pretty cheap if you like it.
I would rate this product a 4/10 because the taste was appalling. The only plus is that it is cheap. There are still better tasting and better quality protein powders for a cheap price.
PrimaForce Substance WPI
|This is possibly the best protein powder you can get. Both watermelon and grape are outstanding flavors. No fat, no sugar, no aspartame, just high quality whey protein isolate. You can also ge this product for a pretty good price considering the quality.
I have to give this a 10/10. It's high quality, good price, and unbelievable taste.
|I listed these products under the same topic because they are pretty much the same except that the natural has no artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavors. Both products are a good bang for the buck. A 5 pound jug of either protein goes for about $29 on bodybuilding.com. Many people will agree that the price is well worth it for the quality.
Although I do think there are higher quality proteins, but none of them are this cheap. I had vanilla of the natural shake and I was able to get it down, but it wasn't that good. The vanilla of the regular whey wasn't that good either, but the chocolate was really good. The chocolate tasted much better. The powder also mixes very easily. Very good combination of whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate.
I would rate this product an 8.5/10. It is a good price, descent quality, and a good product. But I do feel that there is better quality such as Isopure and Pro Complex. Still a very good and popular choice.
|This is definitely one of the best weight gainers out there. The chocolate flavor tastes good, but the vanilla flavor isn't too good. It's a good choice for trying to add weight. I recommend that you split up the serving size otherwise you will just waste the calories if you take it in one serving. Each serving has 52 grams of protein, 86 grams of carbohydrates, and 600 calories.
You can purchase a 10 pound bottle, which is 30 servings, for about $38 at bodybuilding.com. That's a pretty good deal considering you should break up the servings throughout the day.
I would rate this product an 8/10 because it is a good product, but I feel if you have a good diet then weight gainers are not necessary.
|This is a very good product in my opinion. This is probably Natures Best's, best product. This is a great meal replacement that goes on bodybuilding.com for about $37 for 20 servings. Each serving contains an even 300 calories, 50 grams of protein, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of sugar, could it get any better? Well, it does!
Each serving also contains a great supply of amino acids and branched chain amino acids. Each serving has 4.6g of l-glutamine, 5450mg of lysine, 6750mg of leucine, and 2700mg of isoleucine. All flavors of this protein taste great. Their flavors are chocolate/ peanut butter swirl, chocolate, orange cream-sickle, strawberries/ cream, and vanilla.
This is one of the best meal replacement and best all around protein powders that I've ever had. When they say "The Purest Of All Meal Replacements," they aren't kidding. The only slight problem with this is that it conatins 100% Pure Ion Exchange Whey Protein Isolate, which is good, but not as effective as hydrolyzed isolated whey.
I would give this product a 8.5/10 because it is great tasting and higher quality, but a little on the pricey side, and there is slightly better quality. It also does deliver all of the nutrients some meal replacements have.
|This shake is absolutely delicious. All flavors taste great. Chocolate cream, strawberry cream, and vanilla cream all taste awesome. You're going to want to blend this shake with about 2 ice cubs per serving so you can enjoy it cold and thick. You can get 42 servings for $60 on bodybuilding.com, which is really cheap.
I would rate this product an 8/10 because it's cheap, tastes good, but is not the best in the meal replacement class. There is still higher quality.
Prolab Lean Mass Matrix
|This may be as high as high quality gets. Great product. It has 390 calories, EFA's, dietary fiber, the whole deal. It tastes great, and is a great choice to supplement a meal. It has all the vitamins and minerals you need from a meal.
I would rate this product a 10/10 because it tastes great, and is great quality. It is perfect to supplement any meal of the day.
These are my opinions of varies protein powders, meal replacements, and weight gainers. I have tried many others, but none worth mentioning. You have to find out what protein supplement works best for you and fits into your needs.
What is the best tasting protein powder that you have ever had? What is the worst?
I have had many different great tasting protein powders. One that I've recently had which I was pleasantly surprised with was PrimaForce Substance WPI. The watermelon tasted great. The grape also tasted very good. It tasted similar to Phosphagen HP by EAS, but without the 40 grams of sugar. As a matter of fact, Substance WPI has no sugar, fat, or aspartame. It has an awesome taste.
I have also had many horrible tasting protein powders. I remember when I first started lifting I tried a protein powder that tasted horrible, but I don't recall the name or brand. It was not a very popular brand though. It was not from a very popular brand in sports nutrition. In fact, the taste was so bad I gave it away. I just couldn't take it. Another horrible tasting protein powder was the french vanilla flavor of Next Designer Protein. I was just a horrific taste and had a terrible aftertaste. Everytime I burped I was reminded of the disgusting taste.
2nd Place - hepennypacker52
Protein Powder Perfection
Protein powder has become a huge supplement, and can be extremely beneficial for any bodybuilder, no matter what the goal is. Protein powder provides an easier way for bodybuilders and athletes to get the protein they need to build and maintain muscle.
What protein is the right choice for you? Does price matter? What about taste? HELP, what should I look for?
This article should help you answer all of these questions.
The Many Faces Of Protein
Let's take a look at the different types of protein powders out there before we get into specifics.
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein is a protein derived from casein, the protein found in cows milk. This is probably the most popular form of protein powder used throughout the bodybuilding world. Whey protein has the highest biological value of all proteins (see chart below).
|Source||Protein (g)||Biological Value (BV)|
|Chicken breast 2.8 oz (79 g)||26||79|
|Tuna 3.0 oz (85 g)||24||83|
|Egg (1 whole)||6||100|
|Milk (1%, 1 cup)||8||91|
|Lean beef 2.5 oz (72 g)||22||80|
|Lentils (1 cup)||16||50|
|Red Kidney Beans (1 cup)||15||50|
|Bread (1 slice) 25 g||2||54|
|Rice (1 cup)||4||59|
|Pasta (1 cup)||4||54|
|Oatmeal (1 cup)||13||55|
What does this mean? This means that whey is the highest quality protein. They boast a large BCAA (branched chain amino acid) profile, and will highly elevate amino acid levels when taken.
Some wheys include little to no lactose, and can be taken by anyone. They truly are a revolutional supplement, and should be a staple in your supplement plan.
There Are Two Kinds Of Protein - whey concentrates and isolates
- - are about 80% pure protein. They are cheaper, and may not have as smooth a taste as isolates. People that are lactose-intolerant may have a problem with concentrates, and people may have problems with gas. If you have no problems, whey concentrate is still good to take, and in fact contains fragments that are beneficial that are removed from isolates.
Isolates - Isolates are at least about 90% pure protein. They are more expensive, and may have a better taste. WPIs (whey protein isolates) can be made different ways.
- - this is the standard WPI. Impurities are removed, but so are benificial peptides that are included in WPCs.
Micro-filtered - this is kicked up a notch. The whey is filtered to an isolate, but the peptides that are in concentrates remain in tact.
Hydrolyzed - this is micro-filtered whey kicked up a notch. It goes through another filtration process that breaks it down more and makes it quicker digesting.
Whey protein can be beneficial for any use. Most commonly used times are upon waking, pre-workout, and post-workout.
Casein is the protein found in milk, and is part whey. Casein is a slower digested protein, and although it won't rise amino acid levels as high as whey, it will keep the levels elevated much longer than whey. Whey usually keeps levels up for 3-4 hours, while casein does for 7 hours.
The protein forms a type of gel in your stomach, and this allows the slow release over hours. This is what makes casein a great pre-bed protein, it will keep your body anabolic throughout the night.
Milk also has a high biological value. Some people may not be able to consume casein protein powder because of their tolerance to lactose.
Also, don't underestimate mixing your protein shakes with milk pre and post-workout. You may be thinking "but won't milk slow down digestion?". Yes, it will a little, but milk can go where whey can't. Milk has great insulin creating capacities, as well as for other growth factors. Milk also creates benefits for IGF-1 that whey does not. So a tip (follow if you wish), mix your protein shakes with milk!
Soy Protein Powder
Soy is a protein that comes from soy beans. Although soy protein does not rank up at the top for biological value, it has become a good substitute for vegetarians. It also helps lower cholesterol and prevent heart related diseases. This is also a great replacement protein for people who are lactose-intolerant.
Soy protein is a choice of protein that can be taken by anybody who wants to reap the health benefits of it, and especially for vegetarians to help increase their protein intake.
Egg Protein Powder
Egg protein is the protein from, well eggs! It provides a way for bodybuilders to get the benefits of high quality egg protein while avoiding the cholesterol and fat found in egg yolks. The biological value of egg protein ranks up close to whey, coming in 2nd.
This makes a great protien for all bodybuilders to use any time of the day.
Meal Replacement Powders
These powders are a combination of protein and carbohydrates, meant to replace a meal. Most MRPs also have a good amount of vitamins and minerals. MRPs are usually a combination of casein, whey, and egg protein, although they come in all forms : from 100% whey to just casein and egg.
MRPs are great replacements for meals on the run, or just as a smaller calorie meal.
Weight gainers are shakes that contain a high amount of calories, in order to help customers gain weight. They usually come in a 2:1 (carb-protein) ratio. Something to look out for with weight gainers is a high sugar content. You don't want to be getting that much sugar throughout the day, although it may be ok post-workout. Some companies may try to slide extra fat and bad carbs in to increase the calories, watch out for that.
I personally love my own weight gainer, it tastes great and is a healthy source of calories.
- 2 cups milk
- 2 scoops whey protein
- 0.5 cups oats
- 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
- 1 large banana
Nutritional facts (estimated, may vary with products)
- Calories : 970
- Protein : 70g
- Carbs : 100g
- Fat : 34g (using 2% milk)
These are protein powders that are made from a various assortment of proteins, usually whey, milk, and egg. They are a great whey to get the benefits out of all of the types of protein out there. The only drawback to these is that they are usually pretty expensive.
What To Look For In A Protein Powder...
Ok, now you know what proteins are out there, but what things should I look for when searching for the right powder?
Price is probably the biggest thing that is looked at when in search of a good protein. You want to look for something cheap, but you still want a high quality protein. So you probably want to stay away from something that's $15 for 5lbs, the quality most likely isn't that high.
What you want to do is check out the other things to look for (below), and find the cheapest match that fits the critera of a good protein powder. But remember, in a lot of cases price does reflect quality. If you want a really high quality powder, you are going to have to pay more money.
You want to look at how much actual protein is in the mix. For whey concentrates, ~80% and above is good, and for isolates ~90% and above is good. You're looking for a protein that is pure, and has minimal added ingredients.
Here's What You Do
- Multiply the grams of protein by 4 to find the total calories coming from protein.
- Divide the number you got in part 1 by the total number of calories.
Example - The amount of protein is 23g in 1 serving, and each serving has 110 calories.
- 23g x 4 = 92 calories from protein
92 / 110 = .836
.836 x 100 = 83.6% protein
Another factor to take into consideration is how well it mixes. Having a powder that always clumps is no fun, although that problem can be almost always solved with a blender. Not everybody has access to a blender though, especially if you drink your shake at the gym. So you want to look at how well the protein dissolves.
You also want a protein that you can digest. People with lactose intolerance will not be able to digest a casein protein, and might not be able to digest a whey protein concentrate. People with stomach problems may also find that a certain type of protein does not sit well in their stomach.
Probably the second biggest thing that is looked at. I personally don't care about the taste, but you might. It shouldn't be torture for you to drink your shake. MRPs generally have a good taste, as do whey protein isolates and casein powders. Some cheaper WPCs may not have a very good taste.
Results Of The Bodybuilding.com Protein Bar Taste Test...
The Right Protein For Your Goals
Now that you know what the different types of protein are, and how to find a quality produce, what type of protein powder best suits your goals?
For muslce building, basically any protein powder will do. A weight gainer may also be a good choice for you, it will provide a combination of carbs and protein. Whey protein should be the dominant protein powder in your diet. A good whey protein will do well for pre and post-workout, and a good casein protein will work well before bed. A protein blend also works well throughout the day.
For losing fat, you are going to want the purest protein, with as little added fat and carbs as possible. For this, a whey protein isolate would be a great choice. Soy protein isolate is also a good option.
Also, when losing fat, MRPs are your best friend. They provide protein, as well as carbs for energy, and are low calorie meals. You want to stay away from weight gainers, as your goal is not to gain weight (duh).
If you're just trying to maintain muscle mass, a good choice would be whey protein. This will provide the BCAAs you need, and is low-carb. You want to stay away from powders with high carbs from sugar (weight gainers). Soy protein and casein protein are also good choice. MRPs also make good meals for muscle maintenance. Protein blends also work well throughout the day.
For sports performance, you want a protein powder that may have added carbs. This way you will maintain muscle and burn the carbs for energy. A better solution to this is to buy a whey protein, and then just mix in a carbohydrate powder supplement.
Since you've probably been wondering "ok, you've told me to get these things, but you haven't given examples!", I have come up with a list a quality protein supplements that you can give a shot. Just read what protein you should be taking according to your goals, and take a look at the powders under these lists.
- Optimum Nutrition's 100% Whey Protein
- Dymatize Elite Whey
- EAS MyoPro Whey
- Syntrax Nectar
- AST VP2
- Nature's Best Isopure
Egg Protein Powders
- EAS Myoplex
- EAS Myoplex Lite
- Met-Rx Drink Mix
- AST Ny-Tro Pro-40
- VPX Micellean
- Prolab Lean Mass Matrix
- Optimum Nutrition's Pro Complex
- HDT Pro Blend 55
- Prolab Protein Component
Carbohydrate Recovery Drinks
- Cyto Sport's Cytomax
- Endurox Accelerade
Now you should have a good understanding of what protein powders are out there. You should be able to tell a good protein powder from a bad one, and be able to pick a protein that best suits your needs.
Good luck, and have fun!
*Best Tasting Protein Powder*
The best tasting protein powder I've had has probably been Optimum Nutrition's 100% Casein Protein. I got a sample of the chocolate in the mail, and it tasted so good.
*Worst Tasting Protein Powder*
Probably Vitamin World's Value Whey. The name just says it, it's value whey, not taste whey. It tastes horrible, but it was cheap and there was a sale, so I took the bait and bought 10lbs. I can't wait until I finish it off.
I also didn't like the taste of Syntrax Nectar at all, and I'm probably the only one that I've seen that doesn't. It's probably because I mix my shakes with milk, and fruit flavors don't taste well in milk.
3rd Place - dzL p Hr Ea K
What To Look For In A Protein Powder
The first aspect to look for in a protein powder is to see if you are getting your money's worth. You should check how many grams of protein are in each serving. Then you see the answer to that question and you check how many servings are in the container. If each serving is 2 scoops and the container is small like in such containers like the "Carborite" protein shake which is 2 large scoops per serving, $24.00 and not even 2 lbs.
You must also check the price of course. You need to make sure you aren't getting ripped off while you can have much better protein powder for a much cheaper price.
There are many great protein powders for fat loss. One of the most effective is AMP Pro Impact. It is about $25-30 for a 5 lb. container and it has 65 servings in 5 lb. container at 1 scoop per serving.
Each Serving Contains
- Calories 134
- Calories from Fat 18
- Total Fat 2g 3%
- Saturated Fat 1g 5%
- Cholesterol 40mg 13%
- Sodium 40mg 2%
- Potassium 150mg 4%
- Total Carbohydrates 3g 1%
- Dietary Fiber 0g
- Sugars 2g
- Proteins 26g 52%
Muscle maintenance is essential for pretty much any person. protein, and amino acids are extremely helpful in maintaing muscle mass and building. For muscle maintenance there are several choices of protein powders. One great one is PhytoCeutical OptiPro. It goes for about $30-35 for each 2.2 lb. container with 24 servings at 1 scoop per serving.
Each Serving Contains
- Calories 120
- Calories from Fat 20
- Total Fat 2g 3%
- Saturated Fat 0g 0%
- Cholesterol 25mg 8%
- Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
- Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
- Sugars 0g 0%
- Protein 22g 45%
- Sodium 130mg 5%
- Potassium 300mg 6%
- Magnesium 200mg 50%
- Calcium 300mg 10%
- Phosphorus 300mg 30%
- L-Glutamine 5g
- AminoGen 100mg
- Flaxseed Meal 500mg
The main part of sports performance is to try your hardest and to never give up. Even though you must be doing this, there are also many helpful supplements. One great one is Endurox R4. For each 4.56 lb. container there are 28 servings for the price of about $30-35.
Each Serving Which Is 2 Scoops It Contains:
- Calories: 270
- Calories From Fat: 10
- Total Fat: 1g 1%
- Saturated Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 10mg 3%
- Total Carbohydrate: 52g 18%
- Sugars: 40g
- Protein: 13g 26%
- Vitamin C: 470mg 780%
- Vitamin E: 400 I.U. 1330%
- Calcium: 100mg 10%
- Magnesium: 240mg 65%
- Sodium: 220mg 9%
- Potassium: 120mg 3%
- L-Glutamine: 2560mg
- Branched Chain Amino Acids: 2719mg
The majority of protein powders made today are mainly for muscle building. There are all sorts of different types of them. Different brands, flavors, nutritional aspects, and everything else. The most commonly used, which I personally use happens to be the "Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein." People love this brand because it shows them results and the taste is phenomenal.
It comes in a 2 lb., 5 lb., and 10 lb. containers. The 2 lb. containers have 31 servings in them and go for about $13-16, the 5 lb. containers have 77 servings in them which go for about $25-30, and the 10 lb. containers have 155 servings in them which go for about $55-60.
Each Serving Is One Scoop And Contains
- Total Calories 110
- Calories From Fat 10
- Total Fat 1.5g 2%
- Saturated Fat .5g 3%
- Cholesterol 10 mg 4%
- Sodium 40 mg 2%
- Potassium 220 mg 6%
- Total Carbohydrates 3g 1%
- Sugars 1g
- Protein 23g 46%
- Calcium 150 mg 15%
- L-Leucine 2470 mg
- L-Isoleucine 1520 mg
- L-Valine 1440 mg
- L-Lysine 2120 mg
- L-Methionine 440 mg
- L-Phenylalanine 670 mg
- L-Threonine 1720 mg
- L-Tryptophan 240 mg
- L-Alanine 1380 mg
- L-Arginine 480 mg
- L-Aspartic Acid 2490 mg
- L-Cystine 440 mg
- L-Glycine 530 mg
- L-Histidine 400 mg
- L-Proline 1540 mg
- L-Serine 1240 mg
- L-Tyrosine 590 mg
- Glutamine 3870 mg
I believe that my recommendations are the best because I have researched many supplements in the time that I have been bodybuilding. I have thoroughly researched every single supplement that has entered my body from the first one, to the last one.
There are many different supplements that can affect every person in a different way. You must find the best supplement that suits you and not just take a supplement just because someone else is taking the same one.
My favorite tasting protein powder that I have tasted was Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Powder chocolate mint flavor. It is absolutely amazing!! Even though you can't taste the mint that much and I thought it would be strong before I tasted it, it tastes like you are just having chocolate milk.
The worst I have ever tried would probably be any one that is cookies and cream. I love the ice cream but no shake can even get close to the taste of real cookies and cream. It always tastes disgusting no matter how many different juices and liquids you try it with.