Whether you’re vegan, paleo, or an omnivore, getting enough protein during the day can often feel like a struggle. And if you’re living an active lifestyle, it’s even more important to make sure you get an adequate amount.
This is where protein powders come in. But with so many varieties on the market, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. Which ones should you choose? Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the main types of protein powders and their pros and cons. No matter what your lifestyle or your taste, there’s a powder on the list for you!
Made from yellow split peas, pea protein is gaining popularity for being another great hypoallergenic, vegan protein source.
Pea protein contains both essential and non essential amino acids, and is routinely GMO-free. The specific amino acids in pea protein are helpful to the digestive track lining, and because pea protein tends to be low fat, it’s a great way to stay full between meals.
If you’re allergic to peas, pea protein isn’t going to be the protein for you. Also, because peas have to be processed before they’re turned into the actual protein, there may be fertilizer and pesticide issues, so make sure you’re buying an organic, natural brand.
Like rice protein, pea protein doesn’t have all of the essential amino acids, so it’s not a complete protein and shouldn’t be the only source of protein consumed.
A simple protein made from dairy, whey is what remains after milk has been curdled and strained. It’s then made into a powder that is typically low fat, with minimal carbs.
A few studies have linked regular consumption of whey protein (in conjunction with a workout regimen) with weight loss and lean muscle growth, as well as with increased satiety. Whey can give your immune system a big boost (due to being a rich source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant), and consumption of whey protein has also been linked with lowered stress.
For those with a milk or dairy allergy, whey protein isn’t the best bet. It can also be highly processed, since most of the fat and carbs are removed from the product before it’s turned into a powder.
Typically, whey protein comes flavored, so make sure you’re choosing a powder that has minimal ingredients. Too many chemicals or sugar can outweigh the benefits.
Hemp protein comes from the seed of the cannabis plant, but has absolutely no THC (the natural chemical that gets people high when they smoke marijuana). Hemp is a complete protein, which means it contains all eight essential amino acids, is great for vegans, and is easily digestible (thanks to its quick dissolving globular proteins).
Because of its quick growth and hearty nature, hemp is a very sustainable crop. You can feel good about buying it!
High-quality hemp protein can be a bit expensive, and because it usually isn’t as processed as a lot of whey varieties, its protein content sometimes clocks in at a little bit less.
There’s also a lot of fiber in hemp protein, which may take your stomach a little time to get used to.
Soy protein, created from soybeans that have been dried and turned into flour, is another protein that has all the essential amino acids, making it a “complete protein.” Studies have linked soy beans to better immune function, a healthier brain, and bone health.
Because it’s plant based, soy protein is another vegan friendly powder. It’s also typically low in fat.
There’s also been a lot of talk about the dangers of eating too much soy and how it can wreak havoc on hormones.
Brown Rice Protein
Brown rice actually does contain protein, and healthy protein at that. Full of natural starch, B vitamins and fiber, brown rice is hypoallergenic and very easily digestible, which means that even people with sensitive stomachs (or people who don’t do dairy or are gluten-free) can use it freely. Because of its quick absorption, brown rice turns into energy fast.
Maybe people say that the texture of brown rice protein is a plus, since it’s “creamier” than hemp.
Brown rice is not a complete protein (it’s lacking in certain amino acids), so it shouldn’t be the only source of nutritional protein consumed. Organic brown rice protein can also be on the expensive side.
Egg White Protein
Made from dehydrated egg whites, egg protein powder is usually quite low in carbs and fat, and high in vitamins D, B and A. Lactose free, egg white protein powder has some of the highest amounts of protein per serving than any other type of powder on the list.
Egg allergies are common, and poultry factory farming can cause certain brands of egg white protein to have unnecessary amounts of antibiotics and hormones. If choosing egg white protein, make sure you’re buying an organic brand that has a good relationship with its sources.
No matter what your fitness goals are, there is a protein powder out there for you. While powders and supplements should never replace real food, there’s nothing wrong with adding a little bit of protein help to you in your quest to becoming the best version of you possible. And the best part is that every single one of these protein powders tastes great in a smoothie!
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