Even the physicians of ancient Greece knew that nutrition was the foundation of health. It’s even more important for people who want to put on muscle, since the human body needs nutrients to fuel growth. Protein is especially important, and some people need more of it than a normal diet can provide. Protein powder is the solution to that problem. Increasing interest in healthy living is making it easier to find than ever before, but the industry’s growth is also making in harder to pick out the right powder. Fortunately, it’s easy to narrow it down to just a few options by looking at a couple of important factors.
Look for Protein Quality
Not all protein is created equal. Humans need protein because proteins are made up of amino acids. The human body breaks those proteins down into the acids, and uses those acids to make new proteins. However, humans can also produce many of those amino acids on their own from other nutrients. The ones that humans need to get from their food are called essential acids, and getting them from the powder is much more important than getting other amino acids.
Since human digestion is imperfect, a person can’t access all of the protein that they consume. Some amount of it will be wasted, and the exact proportion will depend on how easy it is to protein. The more easily it can be digested, the more protein will be available.
Protein quality measures the combination of those factors. As the proportion of essential amino acids in the powder and its digestibility increase, so does the quality rating. The higher the rating, the better the powder for most purposes. This isn’t the only factor to consider, but it’s hard to go wrong by picking the powder with the highest protein quality.
Know Your Needs
Protein powders are blended for specific purposes. For example, mass gainers include protein along with some fat and calories in order to encourage muscle growth. That’s great for bodybuilders, but terrible for people who want to get more protein while losing weight. Always look at the powder blends to find out what they were designed to do, and choose one that matches your goals.
The protein that makes up the powder can come from a variety of different sources. The protein’s origin can have an impact on the powder, so you can narrow down your options by looking for specific types.
Whey protein is the most common type because it is cheap, nutritious, and easy to digest. It provides a burst of energy and reduces stress, so you should pick it for a post-workout powder. Soy protein is common for similar reasons, but it helps build bone mass instead of providing a burst of energy. Rice protein is one of the most common choices for vegan protein powder, since it also avoids most common allergies. Other types are also available, but they’re usually reserved for niche roles or used as parts of a larger blend.