If you have been following me for a while then you probably know that I am a big advocate of getting all of your nutritional needs from your natural diet, without supplementation. But life doesn’t always allow for that and sometimes having the convenience of a good powdered protein source on hand does make sense.
So if you are going to buy powdered protein, what should you look out for?
Whey vs Plant
Whether you are lactose intolerant, vegan or just are looking for something different, chances are high that you will have heard of the large variety of plant based proteins that have been becoming more and more popular in the market. So which is better, whey protein or a plant based protein? Well as with most things in life there are pros and cons to both sides:
- It is a complete protein source containing all 9 essential amino acids
- It also higher in Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s).
- It is derived from dairy which has been linked to some negative health outcomes
- It is also unsuitable for those who are lactose intolerant.
- Hypoallergenic: Plant proteins such as rice and pea proteins are generally well tolerated by the body for most people.
- Dairy free: Suitable for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan
- Digestion: Potentially easier to digest for people as it is less likely to be allergenic
- Taste: Some don’t enjoy the taste of plant based proteins as much as whey proteins
- Lower levels of amino acids, which are essential for muscle building
What type of sweetener?
Most brands of protein powder are sweetened with completely artificial sweeteners such as Sucralose, Aspartame or Saccharin. And while the studies on the health consequences of these sweeteners are not really comprehensive at the moment, I personally think it is wise to err on the side of caution and avoid them where possible.
Stevia is a more natural sweetener as is is derived from a plant and has not been linked with all of the same negative health consequences of completely artificial sweeteners. So if you need a protein powder that you can make on the run, look for one with a natural sweetener like this.
Of course the most natural way (which is always the best!) is to go for a completely unsweetened one and add your own natural flavours and sweeteners like honey or berries into your protein smoothies at home.