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All You Need to Know About Protein Powder

Protein Powder is one of the most popular supplements on the market, though many products are little more than contaminated high-glycemic waste. Knowing your brands and learning to read the labels can help you navigate this sea of powerfully beneficial supplements

This article was first published on the Organic Newsroom website under the title The Best Protein Powders: A Review and Buyer’s Guide. The article here omits brand recommendations and product reviews, which are available on the original source.

Protein powder is a wildly popular class of supplements that offer a wide array of essential and non-essential amino acids, and have been shown to offer many health benefits. Whey protein is the most-popular form of protein powder, and is known to offer one of the most complete profiles of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) of any product available. The best protein powder will consist of organic, non-GMO ingredients, be free of toxic residue, and be manufactured in a way that preserves the full bioavailability of the ingredients. Vegan protein powders are often seen in blended form, containing many different types of plant-based proteins.

These products have began to challenge the long-held notion that whey protein powder is the superior choice, and are now regarded as the best option for many. There are many different types of protein powders available now, and they all have different advantages and disadvantages over others. The best protein powder is a title that takes more into consideration than just levels of amino acids available. Manufacturing processes, ingredient sources, and overall company merit play a role in our determination of our best protein powder choices. Below you’ll find a quick reference to the protein powders found in this review.

Benefits of Protein Powder

Protein is one of the most vital nutrients in your diet, and your body uses proteins to help regulate an insane number of critical processes. Protein are structures that are build from smaller compounds known as amino acids. There are essential amino acids, non-essential amino acids, and your body uses both to build and repairing structures such as new muscle fibers. Essential amino acids are compounds that your body knows how to make on it’s own, given an adequate supply of raw material (food), and the best protein powders out there are loaded with them. Non-Essential amino acids are compounds that your body loves to use, but have to be supplied directly through diet or supplementation. Another notable type of amino acids are branched chain amino acids (BCAA) which are notorious for being favored by bodybuilders and performance athletes. Adequate amounts of dietary proteins are essential for many vital biological processes in your body. If you are on a calorie-restricting diet you may be at risk of a protein deficiency, and a protein powder supplements may be of great benefit to you. Certain supplements such as L-Glutamine can help your body better utilize the available protein, but the use of protein powder can greatly assist your diet or strength-training program.

Protein is a vital part of any diet, and does much more than simply helping build new muscle

Protein powders are highly-concentrated forms of whole foods, and if you have any issue with certain types of foods you’ll likely have an even harder time with them in concentrate form. For example, a slight issue with dairy products may greatly magnified when using a whey protein powder, although whey protein products are often free of caesin. If you have an issue with dairy, other protein powders such as hemp protein powder would likely be a better fit for you. The best protein powder supplements on the market offer very isolated ingredients, and are free of common allergens. For example, if you’ve a peanut allergy and you buy a quality whey protein powder, you likely won’t have to worry about traces of peanut proteins in you supplement. The awareness towards the many benefits of protein powder has given rise to many new options to choose from. Protein powders have been shown to help benefit overall health in many ways beyond just helping to build lean muscle mass, and the best protein powders are formulated with holistic nutrition in mind. Research has shown increasing your access to protein in highly bioavailable forms can help to reduce the risk of many major health concerns and diseases, such as osteoporosis and heart attacks. By better understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the many types of protein powders available, you’ll be able to gain a better sense of which type might be best for you.

Types of Protein Powders

If you’ve made it this far, then hopefully you have a better idea of the importance of protein for a number of vital processes in your body. Some takeaways you’ve hopefully found so far are the importance of buying high quality protein powders, that your body has an overall protein balance, and that they types of proteins you have in your diet are very important. The best protein powder option for you may not be the most popular supplement in your local gym. For example, whey protein is by far the most popular historically, but many other types are seeing a surge in popularity as well. Pea protein, egg white proteins, hemp proteins, and even soy protein powders are all seeing increased sales figures. A great example of the diversity found in the protein powder market today is the Organic Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder from Sprout Living.

Organic protein powder is the ideal choice for those striving for a better quality of life, but the avoidance of Non-GMO ingredients, Gluten, and artificial ingredients is important as well

The best protein powders aren’t going to taste good, and that’s just how it is. All the flavoring, sweetening, and disguising of many popular protein powders add loads of potentially-harmful ingredients. This doesn’t mean that you should expect a quality protein powder to taste bad — just don’t expect it to taste like a cherry-flavored hot-chocolate soda. Not only do this flavorings increase the likelihood that a product has unneeded ingredients, but it also increases the chances that it’s loaded with sugar. Many of those serious about getting the maximum benefit from their protein powders typically mix them up in juicers with other organic foods such as blueberries, bananas, or strawberries. Keep in mind that the best protein powder choice for you will account for all the subtleties of your individual nutritional needs, general lifestyle, and exercise routine. Below, you’ll find a list of many of the different types of protein powders.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey protein is best protein powder in the minds of many, and is what most people think of when they hear ‘protein powder’. Whey protein powder is made from proteins found in cow’s milk, and contains a very bioavailable selection of nutrients. Whey protein has demonstrated a remarkable ability to help reduce the loss of muscle following strenuous exercise such as weight lifting [3]. This marked increase of muscular repair is attributed largely to the potent blend of essential and non-essential amino acids in whey protein. Products such as Natural Force’s Organic Whey Protein Powder contains high levels of branched chain amino acids as well, such as isoleucine, valine, and leucine, which are particularly beneficial for muscular growth. Additionally, whey protein has been shown to boost overall immune function, attributed largely to such compounds as lactoferrin. Another tremendous benefit of Whey Protein is in it’s benefit to Cancer patients. Part of the process involved with cancerous cell growth is the reduction in a compound found in your body called Glutathione. This mother of all antioxidants’ is a crucial compound for reducing damage from free-radicals and oxidative stress, and whey protein has been shown to boost overall levels of glutathione [4] It’s important to know Whey protein powders are still considered dairy products, and therefore not recommended if you have any issues with milk, casein, or other dairy products. The best protein powders in this category will be from grass-fed sources, labeled as USDA Organic, and be processed through non-denaturing methods.

Hemp Protein Powder

Hemp protein powders have been rising stars in the supplement and nutrition world over the past few years. Research detailing the potential of hemp proteins is still pretty sparse due to the stigma of all things related to Cannabis. While hemp isn’t quite regarded as the best protein powder by many traditional nutritionist, several studies illuminate very promising aspects of the green plant have begun to emerge. The amount of available amino acids present in hemp are the most impressive among plant-based protein powders, and offer a tempting alternative to whey protein. In addition to the many essential and non-essential amino acids, hemp contains isoleucine, leucine, and valine branched-chain amino acids. Hemp protein, similar to whey, has shown a remarkable ability to increase serum antioxidant levels in tests. Specifically, hemp protein has been shown to cause an increase in Superoxide Dismutse and Catalase [5]. Both of these compounds are regarded as highly important natural anti-oxidants, and have been shown to exhibit powerful anti-aging effects and cellular repairing action when used in conjunction with stem cell therapy [6].The best hemp protein powders are the Organic ones, which is more commonplace among Cannabis related products than typical consumer products. While these products do not contain any active THC molecules, and will NOT cause any form of inhibitory effects, they are prohibited for many government employees, such as members of the ARMY. Hemp is a suitable Vegan protein powder for those abiding by Vegan ideologies in their use of dietary supplements.

Rice Protein Powder

Many regard rice proteins to be the best protein powders for several reasons. Firstly, they contain a fuller profile of essential amino acids than many other protein powders. Research has shown total amino acid composition of rice protein powders to be approximately 78% by weight, with 36% essential amino acids and 18% branched-chain amino acids.[7] This robust presence of amino acids marks rice protein as one of the more popular plant-based protein powders. In recent years however, hemp has been giving rice a run for it’s money. Additionally, rice protein powders have a slightly higher fiber content then many other protein powders, and is thought to help with overall digestive cycles and work to improve overall gut health. Compared to several other proteins found in this list, Rice protein powders have a slightly sweeter flavor, which make them preferred by many. Overall, rice protein powders are a favorable choice for Vegans or Vegetarians, provides a robust profile of amino acids, and provides healthy dietary fiber.

Egg white Protein Powder

Eggs were the original source of extra protein for athletes and bodybuilders before the explosion of the supplement market. Eggs exist as a means to provide all the most-essential nutrients to a developing chicken, and are present in highly bioavailable forms. Researchers have found that chicken eggs contain nearly 80 unique protein structures, offering a comprehensive nutritive profile[8]. Data like this makes it understandable why many feel eggs to be the best protein powder sources available for general nutrition. Typically, most protein supplements made from eggs are egg white protein powders, made from chicken eggs. The yolk-free form of these supplements were no-doubt birthed from the notion that egg yolks count increase the risk of heart attacks, although research has now proven that sentiment completely discredited [9]. Commercial chicken farms are notorious for their use of antibiotics, hormones, and GMO-laden foods. If you are looking to buy egg white protein powder, it is recommended to buy from brands that use eggs from free range chickens fed non-GMO feed at least — and optimally buy powders labeled as USDA Organic. The best egg protein powder will fall into all of these categories, and ideally be sourced from local farms. A common misconception about eggs are that they are bad for people with a dairy intolerance or dairy allergy. This is not true, although you should avoid these protein powders if you have issues with eggs.

Soy Protein Powder

Soy protein powders are made from isolated protein compounds found within soy beans. Soy beans are first dehulled, then removed of any fat content. The next step is to break the remaining plan matter down into three different forms; soy isolates, soy concentrates, and soy flour. All these different compounds are used in food products, but soy isolates are the most common among protein powder supplements. Soy is commonly sold as protein powder for women because it’s known to contain phytoestrogen compounds — which mimic the sex hormone estrogen. Soy is regarded as the best protein powder for women by many for this reason, and this reason alone. These types of hormone-mimicking compounds have been shown in research to cause unwanted feminization in younger children [1]. However, soy protein powders are often recommend as the best choice for women seeking to help counter-balance the lower levels of estrogen after going through menopause. Another benefit of soy protein powders is that they have been shown to drastically reduce the chances of heart disease, by acting to lower risk factors associated with lipoproteins.[2] Overall, soy protein powders offer some very attractive benefits over other proteins, but should be taken with caution since they have the potential to increase feminizing traits.

Protein Powder Mixes

This category is likely the most prevalent among plant-based consumer products, especially Vegan & Vegetarian protein powders. Pound for pound, the best protein powder for you will likely be found in this category. Plants offer a wide range of available proteins, which your body can use as robust sources for amino acids. However, there are few plant-based sources of protein that offer as complete or as bioavailable a source of protein as animal-based proteins like egg and whey protein powder. This dynamic is what has given many the impression that whey protein products are somehow superior to any plant based protein powder. While this impression may be true for any single plant-based protein, it’s just flat out wrong once your start mixing several different plant sources together. Raw Green Organic’s Vegan Protein Powder, for example, is a blend of pea, hemp, sacha inchi proteins. This novel blend allows for more different amino profiles to be combined into a single more-comprehensive nutritive profile. This category also encompasses all the general ‘nutrition’ powders out there that are packed full of many different types of vitamins and minerals as well. Take Thorne Researche’s MediClear plus protein powder for example, which is a rice and pea protein blend at it’s core. However, this product includes some 30+ other beneficial ingredients that range from vitamin A to Zinc. Products such as these are often regarded as the best protein powder option for those seeking a total nutritive solution rather than only building muscle.