Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FUEL Better: Protein Powder

How to choose a protein powder???

Just when it seems protein powders cannot get any more popular they get more popular, Ha! Protein powder supplements are marketed to every major target audience; kids, teens, parents, seniors, and athletes of all sports. Most nutrition company markets its own line of protein powders to take advantage of all the hype. There are actually thousands of protein supplements worldwide and you can easily find a few hundred options at most major retailers. Unfortunately, with most dietary supplements there are more useless products on the shelf than high quality. With all the choices consumers can become confused quickly on which protein powder best suits their needs. 
Protein powder selection should be individualized to meet your needs.

A few simple steps to selecting the right one for you:

1)    Start your search at reputable, retailers with qualified staff that can answer questions.  Refrain from purchasing from large store chains with limited knowledge of the products on the shelf, at least until you get familiar with the brands and product that works best for you.  Although, you can find better deals on the internet avoid using them for first time purchases. Internet sites often have biased or unregulated product information. Do your homework first, trial and error a few and then shop for the best deals after an educated match has been made.   

2)    Decide what kind of protein you want, or at least, get a handle on the differences between the 4 most common types. 

Whey Protein
Whey protein is derived from milk. Whey protein is the most bio-available of all food protein sources, meaning that it is more efficiently absorbed and used by the body than any other type. Whey protein is separated from casein during cheese production, and is then purified into whey protein concentrate (WPC) by removing fats, water, minerals and carbohydrates. Another stage of processing can further reduce the small amount of carbohydrate and fat that remains in WPC; this yields whey protein isolate (WPI). WPC's are typically 80% protein. WPI's are typically 90% protein. The non-protein portion consists of moisture, fat, carbs and minerals.

For endurance athletes: Whey protein is used for promoting rapid recovery and rebuilding lean muscle tissue and optimal immune system functioning between workouts and races.  Ask your retailor for: 100% Whey Protein Isolate

Soy Protein
Soy is an all–purpose, all–vegetable protein that has been shown to have many health benefits.  Soy proteins are good for those lactose intolerant or vegan.  Many name brands available made with organic soy beans and are eco-friendly.

For endurance athletes:  Soy is the preferred protein for use during exercise, as it minimizes ammonia build–up.  Utilize mid run fueling options that contain soy based proteins when possible.  Also a well-rounded protein option for daily breakfast shakes, meal replacements, and daily snacks.

Egg Protein
Egg protein supplements are derived from the whites of chicken eggs. This type of protein is of very high quality, balanced in amino acids, highly bioavailable, and is fairly inexpensive compared to whole eggs or other high-protein foods. Egg white protein supplements are also carbohydrate and cholesterol-free. Before whey and dairy proteins became popular, egg white protein was the 'gold standard' of protein supplements, against which others were judged for quality and biological value.

For endurance athletes:  Egg protein is used for promoting rapid recovery and for rebuilding lean muscle tissue and optimal immune system functioning between workouts and races.   
Casein Protein
Casein protein, also known as milk protein, makes up about 80% of the protein in whole milk. Casein is a slow-digesting and complete protein, containing rich quantities of glutamine and all essential amino acids. Most casein protein users are concerned with gaining. For these customers, casein's slow digesting properties make it the ideal protein for a pre-bedtime shake or any type of meal replacement shake designed to supply protein over a long period of time, or whenever more frequent protein feedings would be impractical.

I would not recommend for endurance athletes due to it is primarily to achieve weight gain.

3)    Think about why you’re using the protein shake in the first place and then decide whether you want a protein-only product or if you want other ingredients besides protein. Depending on your purpose depends on the additives you will want to make sure your powder offers.

Meal Replacement Proteins (MRP) is protein powders plus added vitamins, minerals, carbs and fat to make your shake more nutritionally complete.

Recovery aid protein powders are ideal for supporting your immune system and enhancing recovery between workouts and races. These protein powders should contain high amounts of other recovery-specific amino acids and glutamine fortified for immune system support.

Weight Gainers are also known as “gainers” and these protein powders have the same additives as MRP but offer larger serving size and calories. Not recommend for endurance athletes.  

4)    Select a brand and flavor.

Brands matter, but only to a point.  Don’t always go for the most popular or most expensive brand.  Look at the labels for sweeteners you may want to avoid like aspartame or fructose, and pay attention to things like serving size and protein content.  Take into account differences in serving size according to price. One may use a scoop per serving and the other two scoops. Once you know what type of protein you want – there’s really no substitute for trying a few different brands over the course of a few months to know which brand’s flavors and other features you like.

Flavors are a personal preference. Most products come in vanilla and chocolate. The next most available flavor is strawberry.  One option is unflavored protein powder, which allows you to add the sweeteners and flavors of your choosing.
Below are brands that I have researched and are willing to recommend. By far are these the only brands available or reputable. With thousands of products on the market I cannot make a sound judgment on each and will be happy to look into any name brand for you upon request.

Whey Brand Names:

Hammer Nutrition Whey Protein- My favorite for many reasons. It is family owned, all natural, no artificial flavors or sweeteners, reasonably priced and has a stable viscosity. This means you can add it to anything and the texture is pleasing. You can find it at Stinky Feet Athletics in Jackson.  Average 24 servings - $37.95

NOW Foods WPI- It is all natural with no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners and has a great, smooth, natural flavor and well-priced.
Average 16 servings-$20.00

Soy / Vegetable Protein Brand Names:

Hammer Nutrition Soy Protein- My favorite for the same reasons as the Hammer Whey Protein. Formulated specifically for endurance athletes.
Average 24 servings -$29.95

Juice Plus+ Complete- is a whole food based beverage product that provides balanced nutrition. It has the added benefits of 17 fruits and vegetables on top of quality vegetable protein. Contact me to locate a local distributor.
Average 15 servings-$27.00

Vega Sports- is another one of my absolute favorite products and is a power house of nutrition. Features 20g of complete plant-based protein, 5,000mg of BCAAs, digestive enzymes, and glutamine. Vega Sports features a broad spectrum blend of sprouted whole grain brown rice, green pea, hemp, alfalfa and spirulina proteins. Alkaline-forming, Sport Protein provides a complete balanced array of essential and non-essential amino acids. However, it is pricey and you must appreciate the nutrition to acquire a taste for some of the flavors. J
Average 30 servings- $69.99

Living Harvest Organic- It is a high performance plant-based whole food. It is 100% certified organic, raw, gluten free and vegan. It contains all 10 Essential Amino Acids, with 45%-50% protein per serving, a well-balanced ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids, and GLA. Average 15 servings -$20.00

JARROW Formulas- Also 100% natural with no wheat, no gluten, no dairy, no egg, no fish/shellfish, no peanuts/tree nuts, no preservatives. Does not contain artificial flavors, sweeteners or colors and is non-GMO (genetically modified organisms). Not formulated specifically for endurance athletes.
Average 30 servings - $22.50

Egg Protein Brand Names:

NOW Egg White Protein Powder- Free of yeast, wheat, corn, soy, milk, additives, preservatives. Average 22 servings- $21.99

Optimum Nutrition 100% Egg Protein- Contains the nutritional equivalent of 7 egg whites containing 100 calories and a complete profile of essential amino acids, BCAAs, and glutamic acid. No lactose, sugar, or saturated fats.
Average 30 servings- $49.99

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing those tips. You should always choose the best for your diet. Take what's necessary.