Protein Powder 101

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I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of protein powder. Not only is it super convenient when you are in a time crunch, or needing to add some extra protein in your diet, but it tastes awesome too! I no longer dread drinking protein shakes like I used to. I remember them being really grainy, or just simply tasting nasty. I finally found powder that I like, and actually enjoy including in my shakes or when baking.

They key to any protein powder is to CHECK THE LABEL. I know that it can be really overwhelming at times when trying to pick one out. Have you ever been to a health food store, or shopped online, or a new one?? There are literally THOUSANDS of options.

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When I fix attempted to pick out protein powder it was sort of a disaster. I decided to just pick some up at the grocery store that I shop at, not at a health food store. Well that was my first mistake. The kind that my grocery store carries is just not good. Simply put: gross! It tasted tasty & I tried to choke it down, but I just couldn’t take it. To the trash it went. ($20 down the trash…perrrfect)

I learned my lesson, and the next time around I decided to start my search online. The best part about shopping online is that you can read all of the reviews that people write. The other thing that I learned is that there are so many different TYPES of protein powder.

The three most common types are whey, casein & soy. So what’s the difference??

Well I’ll sum it up really quick.

Whey is from cow’s milk & contains essential amino acids needed to build & repair muscle tissue. It also helps provide energy to the body. It is easily digested & quickly absorbed by your body, which is why it is ideal to take right after a workout.

Casein is also from cow’s milk, but it takes longer to digest. It is absorbed into the muscle tissues & helps prevent the breakdown of the muscle tissues. It is ideal for a shake at the end of the day, like before going to bed, since muscle repair typically occurs during sleep.

Soy protein powder is made form soybeans. It is a good option for those that are lactose intolerant & for those that are vegetarian. Soy powder is easily digestible, but can sometimes have a ‘bean’ taste. (I think you just have to get used to it.)

The only thing about Whey & Casein powder that I have found is that it can really bother your stomach, especially if you have any kind of intolerance towards lactose. It can be a really slight intolerance, and I’m almost positive you will feel the effects of the whey & casein. When I’m talking about about ‘bothering’ your stomach, I mean it can cause gas, bloating, and all of that other ‘fun’ stuff. ;)
fish-fart <—those kind of problems

I have tried all three types of protein listed above & my favorite is whey. Although, yes it can irritate my stomach, I have found that it works the best for me. I’m not big on having a big protein shake before bed ( prefer something a bit lighter), otherwise I would stick with the casein. I also like using whey when I’m baking with protein powder. Remember those Pumpkin Protein bars I made? Well the protein I used in that was actually a MIX of whey & casein.

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The main reason I used this one was because it is Aspartame free! Love that!! No fake sugars in this powder. I really like that when I’m using powder in baking, because aspartame always leaves that gross after taste…and I hate that, especially in baked goods.

I have a few favorite protein powders to use for shakes. My all time favorite flavor is cake batter, and I have found two brands in that flavor that I like: CytoSport Monster Mass Powder and Muscle Milk. Craig LOVES the Muscle Milk cake batter protein powder, it is his favorite flavor. The ONLY thing that I have noticed about that powder is that it is higher in calories & lower in protein. (It’s still not bad, just higher in calories & lower in protein than other brands in comparison.)
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150 calories & 16g of protein per ONE scoop. But look at the front of the container:
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notice anything??

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See how it says 32grams of lean protein?? Well that can be a BIT misleading because it is 32g per TWO scoops. Which when you take two scoops to get the 32grams of protein, you are ALSO doubling the amount of calories, which now instead of 150 calories it is now 300! Big difference, huh??

Now don’t get me wrong, I still use this protein powder A LOT! I love the stuff, but that’s why I said to make sure you look at the label when you buy protein powder. (they can be kind of tricky ;) )

Another powder that I have just recently been using is Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey. I got the cookies & cream flavor (by request of Craig) & actually found that it smells & tastes more like coffee than cookies & cream. I think it’s delicious, but it’s definitely NOT cookies & cream. Check out the stats on this powder:
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AWESOME, right?!?!?! 120 calories, 1 gram of sugar & 24 grams of protein per ONE scoop!!! So far these are the best stats that I have found on protein powder that actually tastes good. I am definitely going to try out the other flavors from this brand.

Well I hope this post helped with trying to determine which protein powder works best for you! A lot of it is just trial & error, but hopefully this gives you a little heads up when trying to pick out new powder. :)

References used:
Live Strong

9 thoughts on “Protein Powder 101

  1. Optimum Nutrition is the only brand I use! I like the extreme milk chocolate for pb/chocolate shakes and the strawberry for (obvi) strawberry ones. The plain vanilla flavor is a good “base” for anything else. :)

  2. Optimum nutrition is my favorite. I’ve been using it for years (well throughout college). I would always use the cake batter flavour which tastes like a high energy ultra sweet vanilla-cake I’m not sure about. Either way it’s good.

  3. I have been using the GNC 100% Whey Protein in Vanilla and Chocolate for a while now. That Cookies & Cream sounds great, and if it tastes like coffee, even better!! I should check out the Optimum Nutrition, since it seems very popular! By the way, I plan on making those pumpkin snack bars today! :)

  4. I use the ON protein too! Cookies and Cream is actually my LEAST favorite flavor so you will probably love some of the others. I like the Vanilla for everything, the chocolate mixed in shakes, and the strawberry I put in my milk and cereal in the morning with berries. So delicious! I have tried most of the other flavors too through a sampler pack and I found that I liked most of them even in flavors I thought I would hate!

  5. I love reading your posts bc they are so informative. You are so knowledgeable on fitness, working out, and nutrition!! :)

  6. I always use the BSN brands. Right now I’m using the BSN Syntha-6 Chocolate Peanut Butter and the Mochaccino flavor. My husband has the Vanilla flavor and I steal that for my baking : )

  7. You should try some of the Apex protein powders! Their Cookies ‘n’ Cream flavor is really good, and so is their chocolate flavor. I know that almost everyone in my gym who gets the protein powder gets the Cookies ‘n’ Cream flavor, though!

  8. That second picture, with the store shelf, is the reason why I don’t use protein powders. I’m always so overwhelmed and can’t figure out which one to choose, so I just choose none. :) I would love to find one I really like though, so maybe I’ll try some of the ones you use.

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