One of the most common questions that I get asked is "what kind of protein powder do I recommend?". There are now SO many different protein powders available to us so I totally understand how confusing it can be. To be honest, most protein powders are filled with a lot of unhealthy ingredients that really do not need to be in there at all and that we definitely shouldn’t be putting in our body.
My number 1 biggest tip:
Always choose an all-natural protein powder and one that contains no nasty ingredients.
I would ignore all the marketing on the front of the packet, and instead to flip it over and read the ingredient list. You should recognize every single ingredient that is in this list. If there is something you don’t recognize then you probably shouldn’t be eating it or at the very least, just Google more information on that ingredient or ask your health professional who may know more.
Quite often protein powders (especially whey protein powders) contain chemicals that are purely added to bulk it up, to change the texture (such as making it thicker and creamy) or to change the taste (with artificial sweeteners). All these chemicals affect your gut and can cause digestive problems such as bloating and stomach pain.
The Different Protein Powder Varieties
There are quite a few different types of protein available to us but the 3 I see the most are; whey protein, pea protein and egg white protein.
1. Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein is definitely the most common protein powder, it’s derived from dairy and it actually is a by-product of the cheese production process.
There are a few people find that whey protein powder agrees with their body and they like. However, for most of us, it does not agree with our body and a lot of people actually have an intolerance or an allergy to whey which will cause bloating, stomach issues and skin conditions after consuming.
Because of this and because I know there are much better protein powders out there now, I just always recommend the other options available instead of whey.
2. Pea Protein Powder
The second most common protein powder that you can buy is pea protein. Pea protein is a plant-based protein powder which is great if you follow a vegan or fully plant-based diet.
Pea protein is derived from a legume (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans etc). For me personally, I do not eat a lot of legumes. That is because I have found that my body just doesn’t digest them well and I know a lot of other people experience this too.
The reason why a lot of people cannot tolerate them is that they contain a type of sugar that the body doesn’t break down easily. There is a specific enzyme that is responsible for breaking that sugar down and for a lot of us our body just not producing enough of that enzyme.
The legume is not broken down so it then travels down to the large intestine and that’s where bacteria ferment it, which will cause gas and a whole lot of other issues.
This is actually the basis of a low FODMAP diet, which reduces these indigestible carbohydrates and is why many might struggle with pea protein in general.
Pea protein is something that I have always used in the past, but have recently I haven’t been using it as I have been following (well trying my absolute best) to eat a low FODMAP diet. So, it just didn't make sense that I was avoiding legumes in my diet but having pea protein powder every morning.
3. Egg White Protein Powder
This brings me to egg white protein powder which I don’t think is as common yet but is becoming more popular now that a lot of people are becoming more aware of healthy eating, gut health, and the quality of food that we are buying in general.
The interesting thing about egg white protein powder is really easily digested and absorbed by the body. It has a high bio-availability, which just means the body can easily take the nutrients (in our case, we are talking about protein), so take protein from the powder, absorb it, and then utilize it.
Compared to a pea protein where the bioavailability is much lower, and even though there is X amount of grams of protein on the nutrition table, your body may not necessarily be able to extract 100% of that protein, and actually use it.
So you would need to consume a larger amount of pea protein powder than you would egg white protein powder to get the same amount of protein and amino acids into your cells. Definitely keep this in mind when weighing up the cost of the different types of protein powders.
Egg protein is also digested much slower in the body which means it will keep you feeling fuller for longer compared to whey which is broken down super fast leaving you to feel hungry soon after.
For the last month I have been trying egg protein powder and I'm really loving it, my stomach is feeling great which is really important for me. And the brand I use is CleanPaleo, it’s made from free-range eggs, all natural ingredients in fact there is actually is a picture on the back of each individual ingredient which I think is pretty cool.
A Quick Summary
There are a few main things to think about when you are looking to buy a protein powder.
1. Firstly, always make sure it is an all natural protein powder by reading the ingredient list and just make sure you recognize everything.
Keep in mind, that with all supplements/protein powders you do pay for what you get, so a higher quality protein powder usually comes with a higher price because to source good quality ingredients is more expensive but generally is a lot better for you.
2. Secondly, I do think it does come down to a bit of trial and error to finding one that suits your body. Remember every single body is so unique (something I say a lot), some people feel best off vegan protein sources and other feel best and thrive on more of a paleo based diet.
I think it is great that brands offer smaller tubs so you can try it for 1-2 weeks and see how you feel. You don’t want to buy a kilo of pea protein then to find it upsets your stomach or you don’t like the stevia taste or that it has or the grainy texture you don’t like.
3. Thirdly, if there is one protein powder that you should def avoid, it’s soy. Soy protein isolate is the devil of all protein powders. The main reason is because it is considered to be a phytoestrogen so it can really affect your hormones if you consume it daily and if your estrogen levels are already out of whack then I definitely recommend you avoid it.
I hope you all found the tips helpful and this video answers a few of your questions. And remember when in doubt, just flick me a message or comment below and I'll be more than happy to help you out.
Thank you to CleanPaleo for sponsoring this video and blog post.
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