Questions to Ask When Shopping For Your Favorite Protein Powder
If you have been working out or are about to begin an exercise program, one thing that you must not forget is your nutrition — protein in particular. Including enough protein in your diet is essential, as it'll provide you with the energy you need to work out. However, not everyone can get enough protein on a daily basis unless they eat lean meats every day. It’s also important to note that a diet by itself won’t help you meet your daily protein requirements. This is when protein supplements and protein powders come into play.
Protein supplements are a convenient and effective way to meet your daily protein needs. Whether you're a vegan, vegetarian, or non-vegetarian, you can always find a reliable protein supplement.
However, finding the right protein supplement is tough, especially when there are so many to choose from. But don't worry. This blog contains the right questions you need to ask yourself before choosing a high-quality protein powder supplement. This way, you can make an informed decision.
Questions To Ask Before Buying Protein Powder
Q1: "What Is The Protein Source?"
Some people use protein sources according to their dietary preferences: animal-based or plant-based, or based on texture and taste. Whey is a common protein used in many protein powders, but it is not suitable for vegans or people who are lactose intolerant.
So how do you figure out which source gives you complete protein? The answer lies in the amino acids. Your body uses amino acids to make proteins. The 20 different types of amino acids play many important roles within the body, like breaking down food, aiding in the growth and repair of body tissue, making hormones and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), providing energy, helping with muscle building, and much more. With plant protein, a balance of all the ingredients mentioned below helps provide a complete amino acid profile.
Here are some plant-based protein sources that you should look for:
- Brown Rice Protein: This type of protein is completely plant-based and gluten-free. It has a smooth texture, aids fat loss, and is hypoallergenic. The high cysteine content of brown rice protein promotes speedy muscle repair, absorption and digestion, and weight management.
- Pea protein: Pea protein is a high-quality plant-based protein extracted from yellow peas. It is rich in iron and can aid muscle growth. Gold European Pea Protein is considered the highest quality protein and is high in protein, fibers, vitamins, minerals, and starch.
- Chia Seed Protein: Chia seed protein is a great companion for all fitness enthusiasts as it keeps you full for a long time. But the benefits don’t end here. This potent ingredient is high in fiber and PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids). These good fats have numerous benefits, some of which include regulating blood pressure, promoting brain function, and even lowering the risk of heart disease.
- Soy Protein: Soy protein is becoming increasingly popular among vegans because it is plant-based. It can reduce cholesterol and even ease menopause symptoms in some women.
Q2: "What Other Ingredients Are Present in Protein Powder?"
Other than the protein, a protein powder contains:
- Sweeteners: Different types of sweeteners can be found in protein supplements, be it nutritive sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc., or high-intensity sweeteners like saccharin, acesulfame potassium, etc. You may also find sugar alcohols, refined sugars, etc. in the protein supplements.
- Flavoring: Flavored protein powders have flavoring agents that are mostly marked as specific ingredients. Your protein powder can have artificial flavors or natural flavors. Artificial flavoring agents are not harmful if present in small amounts, but it’s always beneficial to buy protein powders that have natural flavors derived from quality ingredients like cocoa powder or vanilla extract.
- Thickening agents: You may also find thickening agents in protein powders. Thickening agents are not a matter of concern and are safe if present in small amounts.
While these ingredients are commonly found in protein supplements, you must look for the one that has the least amount of them. This will help you maximize the benefits.
Q3: "How Much Sugar Does It Contain?"
Sugar can be addicting and has a lot of empty calories, which do not help you achieve your fitness goals. It's also one of the main reasons behind obesity. So, opt for a product with minimal to no sugar, especially if you are aiming for weight loss or are diabetic.
Q4: "Why Is It Important For The Protein Powder To Be Tested By An Independent Lab?"
It is one of the most important questions to ask and factors to consider. The protein supplement you buy should have been tested by a third party or an independent lab. It is to ensure that:
- The label matches exactly what's in the product.
- The claims the brand and its products make are legit.
- The brand delivers the promised quality.
A third-party certification like GMP certification will also ensure that the supplement does not consist of banned substances, harmful chemicals or contaminants, or masking agents. Informed-Sport Certified is another certification you should look for when it comes to protein powders. This ensures that the product doesn’t contain illegal substances like steroids or other ingredients that are banned in sports.
Q5: "Are You Intolerant To Certain Ingredients?"
If you have a known food intolerance, you will want to avoid certain protein powders with those ingredients. For instance, if you're lactose intolerant, you might want to stick to plant-based protein powders and supplements, as they don’t contain milk byproducts, unlike whey protein.
If you have digestive issues or are more prone to them, more processed options like hydrolysates or isolates would be much better.
Changing Your Protein Powder Can Cause Digestive Problems, But It Is Common
Some people may experience an upset stomach or gut after trying protein powder for the first time. It is common and can happen due to multiple reasons:
- Amount: The amount of protein powder you take in one serving can affect the way the protein powder interacts with your system. It's always better to stick to the amount written on the label. That is because excessive protein powder can be too much for the digestive tract to handle. So start with the recommended amount or even smaller amounts in the beginning.
- Speed: Do not gulp down the protein shake. Fast drinking makes you swallow excess air, upsetting your stomach. If your drink includes several ingredients, your gut needs time to process them, so drink slowly.
- Time: When you consume your protein shake is also an important point to take into consideration. It is recommended to have it after a workout, as it helps with muscle repair and refueling. Anytime between 15 and 30 minutes, post-workout is best.
With the huge number of protein powder and supplement options available in the market, it is normal to get confused and overwhelmed. So, the next time you are looking for an effective protein powder, remember these questions. This way, you can make the right choice and ensure your body gets enough protein for muscle building, energy, and workouts.
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