Whether you’re looking to increase muscle mass, lose fat, recover faster post-workout, or support your body long-term, protein intake is essential.
The downside is there’s a mountain of protein powders on the market, from whey protein, pea protein and even hemp protein, making it a little difficult to really know which one to invest your money into.
In this article, we will discuss that there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all approach, and selecting the right protein powder can depend on your own lifestyle, dietary factors and individual goals and milestones.
When it comes to purchasing protein powder, it’s always best to consider how your choice fits into the needs of your lifestyle.
Do you train 6 days a week, lift heavy weights or work a fairly active job? You may want to look into something that's fairly fast absorbed, such as a whey protein, which is shown to maximally stimulate muscle protein synthesis (Tang et al., 2009).
That being said, plant protein powder such as a pea protein has been shown to produce outcomes similar to whey protein, including muscle thickness, workout performance and strength (Banaszek et al., 2019).
This means that when choosing protein powder for lifestyle, you do have some level of flexibility, so it’s always best to try whey or plant protein to see which fits best with your lifestyle, and makes you feel the best.
Of course, if you consume whey protein powder and you just don’t feel right, experience stomach upset or nausea, whey may just not agree with you, which leads us to our next factor.
This could also be an indication that you’re gut needs a little more nourishment, which we can do through the inclusion of prebiotics and probiotics.
Another major factor we must consider when choosing the right protein powder is if it fits within our dietary requirements.
Do you eat primarily plant-based? Are you following a strict diet regime? Or do you have intolerances that may prevent you from consuming dairy or certain ingredients, such as stevia.
Although whey protein powder packs a punch when it comes to its rapid digestibility (assuming you don’t have an intolerance to dairy) plant protein powder can actually serve as a nutritional powerhouse on top of its high protein content.
Hemp protein powder, for example, has an impressive 98% digestibility profile (House et al., 2010), delivers all nine essential amino acids, and is incredibly rich in minerals including potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc (Farinon et al., 2020).
Most plant protein powders also contain a higher level of fibre content, which is not only an added benefit, but an essential component to a healthy gut (Chhabra, 2018).
On the flip side, if your diet is strictly limiting carbohydrate intake, and you can tolerate dairy, it may be best to go with a whey protein, as these powders tend to be lower in sugars, especially a whey protein isolate or collagen powder (although Amazonia Plant Protein Isolate comes pretty close!).
It may seem that plant protein powder is the clear winner here when it comes to selecting protein powder based on diet, but again, it all boils down to what fits best for you.
Individual Goals or Milestones
The last factor to consider when buying protein powder is to simply ask yourself, is this protein powder in align with my individual fitness goals or milestones? Are you just taking a protein powder for the sake of taking one?
When we train, we generally have a goal in mind, such as to lose weight, gain muscle or improve the health of our overall wellbeing; does your protein powder align to this?
A good example would be someone looking to lose weight, support detoxification and achieve healthy muscle tone, and a good plant-based protein powder such as Amazonia Slim & Tone Protein can achieve this.
If you’re looking for a good protein blend that can support muscle gain, while containing a range of fast absorbing and slow release protein to keep you fuller longer, a whey protein such as BSN Syntha 6 Edge is the way to go.
Of course, as long as you’re buying a quality whey or plant protein, you’ll be ticking most boxes, but going that extra mile to pick something that supports your goals can do wonders.
There’s a ton of protein powder out there on the market, and choosing a protein powder that supports your lifestyle choices, dietary requirements and fitness goals is the best thing you can do in selecting the right one for you.
From supporting muscle gain, exercise recovery and even maximising on nutritional density, if you follow these factors, you’ll find one that suits your needs more than the rest.
Have a suggestion for choosing the right protein powder? Leave it in the comments!
About The Author: Stephen Brumwell
As a Nutritionist, Biohacking enthusiast, self-experimenter, research fanatic, and self-taught writer, Stephen immerses himself deep into the literature of human optimisation and holistic wellbeing. His goal is to help people better understand the science of human health, and how they can use it to perform better and live a life that is absolutely limitless.
- Banaszek, A., Townsend, J. R., Bender, D., Vantrease, W. C., Marshall, A. C., & Johnson, K. D. (2019). The effects of whey vs. pea protein on physical adaptations following 8-Weeks of high-intensity functional training (HIFT): A pilot study. Sports, 7(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports7010012
- Chhabra, S. (2018). Dietary fibre - Nutrition and health benefits. Functional Food and Human Health, 15-25. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-1123-9_2
- Farinon, B., Molinari, R., Costantini, L., & Merendino, N. (2020). The seed of industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.): Nutritional quality and potential functionality for human health and nutrition. Nutrients, 12(7), 1935. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071935
- House, J. D., Neufeld, J., & Leson, G. (2010). Evaluating the quality of protein from hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) products through the use of the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score method. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 58(22), 11801-11807. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf102636b
- Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., Kujbida, G. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: Effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 107(3), 987-992. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00076.2009