When it comes to protein powders there are literally hundreds of options out there. Not only do you have different types like whey, egg, beef or vegan protein powder. But you also have different brands and degrees of processing like concentrates, isolates or blends.
So as a beginner you will probably ask yourself:
What type of protein powder or protein shake is best for building muscle and losing weight?
If you look for an answer to this question online you will notice that within the fitness and bodybuilding community there is always a lot of discussion about the best protein supplement.
But before we get into that let’s set one thing clear.
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Do You Need A Protein Powder To Build Muscle Or Lose Weight?
No. Even though your body requires more protein when you want to build muscle through strength training, this doesn’t mean you have to use protein powders (or any other protein supplement for that matter). As long as you reach your recommended daily protein intake you will be fine and see results.
However, consuming enough protein every day can be tricky, especially when you don’t have time to prepare high protein meals all the time. That is why most athletes and bodybuilders use protein powders in addition to a balanced diet. So if you are crunched for time, a good protein powder can really make your life easier.
That said, when you research different types of protein powders, you will almost certainly find people praising their product due to its special amino acid profile or some other magic ingredient.
Whey protein usually tops most lists, because of its high bioavailability, fast absorption and its high amount of essential amino acid. Even though I also recommend whey protein as the go-to protein for beginners, that doesn’t mean you have to use it.
What is often forgotten is the fact that, as long as you don’t get all your daily protein from supplements (which is never a good idea), you won’t notice the tiny differences among the different forms of protein.
Vegan Protein Powders & Amino Acids
For example, it is often said that vegan powders have an inferior amino acid profile when compared to whey protein. Now it is true that in theory most vegan sources are low in one or more of the nine essential amino acids.
But in practice, this won’t matter if the rest of your diet is balanced enough to supply you with all essential amino acids and you get enough total protein. Also, certain vegan protein powders like rice, pea or certain blends actually have an amino acid profile that is similar to whey so the differences are tiny to begin with.
That’s why my recommendation is to go with your favorite sort of protein. If you don’t have a favorite sort yet, try whey because it’s usually the cheapest, tastiest and mixes well.
So, unless you can’t use whey protein for some reason or don’t want to (if you are vegan, for example), then that’s the protein powder I suggest you get when first trying them out.
But what if you don’t want a whey protein?
Your other options would then be egg white protein powder or casein, which are usually recommended before bedtime because they are digested more slowly. And if you are a vegan the best options are usually rice protein, pea protein or vegan blends that combine a number of different sources.
Again, you will probably find someone who tells you not to buy one or more of the protein powders I just mentioned and usually they will mention reasons like amino acid profile or digestibility. But, like I said before, if your overall diet is healthy and balanced these small differences won’t matter.
What’s more important is that you research the top brands after you have decided on your favorite type of protein powder. There are definitely a lot of scams out there and amino spiking is a common problem. Your best bet is to head over to labdoor.com and check their rankings on protein powders.
The 1 type of protein I don’t recommend
Before I end this post, there is one form of protein that we haven’t talked about and that I don’t recommend: beef protein
The problem with beef protein is not so much the beef – after all it is one of the best whole food sources of protein – but the fact that most of the time you aren’t getting the real thing.
Many beef protein powders are made from what is left after you take away the quality meet. This includes ligaments, joint or even ears and hoofs, which isn’t exactly what you had in mind when you bought it, right?
Now I’m sure there are some reputable brands that sell good beef protein but why go through all the hassle when you can just get more common options like whey.
Take-Home Points: Best Type Of Protein Powder
To give you a quick recap of this post, here are the take-home points. All in all, my advice on protein powders is very simple:
What matter most is your total daily protein intake. As long as you meet it and get most of your protein from a variety of sources, any type of protein powder is ultimately fine.
This also means that you want to get no more than half of your daily protein from supplements. I suggest you start with a whey isolate and whey concentrate. Good vegan options include pea protein, rice protein or vegan blends.
The bottom line is that protein powder is basically filtered food, so it doesn’t require any special treatment outside of what I mentioned before. It’s not going to make you lift more weight or burn more fat, but it will help repair damaged muscle tissue and maintain muscle mass during a diet.