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How to Pick a Protein Powder

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

If you’re searching for a protein powder to help you reach your nutrition and body composition goals - we have GOOD NEWS:

There have never been more high-quality, great-tasting protein powders on the market as there are right now! Most mainstream grocery stores even carry protein powder now - something that was unheard of even 4-5 years ago.

Whatever your dietary preferences - dairy/whey, plant-based, or egg white protein - you can easily find an affordable protein powder that tastes great and has high-quality ingredients.

So how do you know which protein powder to pick when you’re standing there, staring at a wall of protein powder canisters at Whole Foods or Vitamin Shoppe?

Here are our top tips for picking a protein powder!

1. Minimal ingredients.

A good protein powder contains a handful of simple ingredients. The protein source (dairy, plants, or egg whites), a natural, low-calorie sweetener of some kind, and maybe some gums and emulsifiers to give it a thick, creamy texture. That’s it!

If you don’t recognize an ingredient or know what it does, a quick “Google” can yield an answer.

Here’s an example: this is the nutrition label from our preferred protein powder here at REAL FITNESS:

2. Pure protein, with very little to no carbs or fat.

Chose a protein powder that has at least 20 grams of protein per serving, with very little to no carbs and/or fat.

Most quality protein powders clock in around 100 calories, contain no fat, and may have a few grams of carbs, sometimes from added fiber.

In our fat loss program, FAT LOSS LIFESTYLE SCHOOL, we use protein shakes to help replenish nutrients and repair muscle tissue after training.

Protein shakes are a quick, delicious way to get an easy hit of post-workout protein, which can help burn fat, lower cortisol, and build lean muscle.

While protein shakes can be a meal replacement option for some women, many find that shakes don’t have the satisfaction or staying power of a meal made with solid food. Check the label: if there is added sugar or fat, or it has 300+ calories per serving, you're looking at a meal replacement shake - not a protein shake. Spend those 300+ calories on a meal made from real food!

3. Natural > Chemical sweeteners.

Sucralose, Acesulfame, and Aspartame are chemical sweeteners that can cause digestive issues (bloating, gas, cramps, etc.) for many. Try to avoid these if possible.

Stevia and Monk Fruit Extract are natural, zero-calorie sweeteners that most people tolerate well without any negative side effects. They are commonly used in protein powders.

Stevia is a natural sweetener made from the Stevia leaf, and it has a slight aftertaste that some of our clients report as off-putting. Monk Fruit Extract is another natural sweetener, without the after-taste of Stevia, and you'll see it listed as the sweetener in some protein powders.

Erythritol is another natural sweetener often used in protein powders. Depending on the quantity, this sweetener can also cause some digestive upset in some people.

4. Taste Matters!

You shouldn’t have to hold your nose just to get your protein shake down! Experiment with different brands and types until you find what YOU like. If it tastes bad to you, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll make it a consistent part of your lifestyle.

Look for sample sizes before committing to a large container of a protein powder, or buy your protein from a company like Legion Athletics, who has a no-questions-asked refund policy. If you don't like it, contact customer service and they’ll take care of you!

5. Choose A Complete Protein.

Collagen has risen in popularity in recent years due to its reported benefits for joints, hair, skin, nails, and gut health.

However, collagen is not a complete protein, meaning: it only contains 8 of the 9 necessary amino acids (it’s missing tryptophan) needed to build muscle.

Complete proteins that include all 9 of the essential amino acids include:

  • Whey

  • Egg white

  • Some plant-based proteins (these are typically a combination of multiple plant-based sources)

Keep your collagen supplement if you believe it’s working for you, but don’t count collagen towards your daily protein intake goals or use it as a protein source.

6. Avoid Scam Supplements from MLM Companies.

Multi-Level Marketing companies routinely over-exaggerate and lie about the benefits of their supplements - protein powder included. In addition to the miraculous claims, you’ll get a hefty price tag as well.

For example, the Vanilla Protein Shake Mix from Multi-Level Marketing company Arbonne claims their protein powder,

“…is clinically tested and certified to have a lower glycemic index, which means it tastes great and won’t cause a spike in blood sugar.”

However, each serving includes 7 grams of added sugar, the equivalent of nearly 2 teaspoons of sugar. Cane sugar is the second ingredient on the label.

A bag of Arbonne protein powder is also an insane $77 - which is a bargain compared to the $129.95 you’ll pay for 30 servings of BeachBody’s Shakeology protein powder!

Sadly, it’s a similar story with protein powders by other MLM companies like Plexus, Herbalife, and more.

Protein powder isn’t that special, and there’s no reason it should cost this much. Anything you buy from an MLM will have an inflated price in order to pay commission to their consultants.

You can buy high-quality protein powder at places like Target, Amazon, Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, or wherever you buy groceries. Save your money for things that actually matter and don’t get sucked into MLM scams.

Finding a great protein powder you love can make hitting your daily protein requirements so much easier - and more delicious!

I’m a sponsored athlete with Legion Athletics, so you can use my code "RFT" for 20% off your first order, plus double rewards points for returning customers.

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