For highly active people like us gym rats, a powdered protein supplement is essential for muscle development and recovery, as intake allows for efficient growth and repair of muscle tissue (you know, the ones you’re tearing up in the gym!). Though other sources of protein are readily available as supplement (soy, egg, hemp), whey is by far the best and most widely used. Whey has the highest value in providing branched-chain amino acids, which result in building and retaining muscle tissue. It contains high levels of all the essential amino acids not produced by the human body, and is absorbed by the body very quickly. Though because whey is milk based, if you are lactose intolerant, soy or egg proteins are your best bets.
The Gym Coach’s favorite 3:
There are a lot of whey protein choices on the market, so what are the best for you? I’ve tried my fair share of brands, and I can highly recommend three:
1) Gold Standard – This is my go-to for daily use powder supplement. It’s got a decent taste (and a HUGE range of flavors like Chocolate Mint, Vanilla Chai), and pretty low in calories (130 for 24g protein). Just don’t try mixing with water! You really need milk to smooth this one out.
2) Zero Carb Isopure – by far your lowest calorie per protein gram choice – you can get 25g for only 110 calories, and since it mixes well with water, you can keep those calories low. The taste isn’t the best, so I usually use the Vanilla flavored powder as a base for my fruit smoothies. Yum!
3) Muscle Milk Light – By far the best tasting powder I’ve tried. Unfortunately it’s the highest in calories and fat, so use it as your desert or treat rather than your daily shake.
Here’s how these three stack up:
Protein Powder Supplement FAQ:
- How do I prepare the protein powder? You’ll need to mix 1-2 scoops (depending on the serving) of powder with milk or water. You can also mix the powder with fruit, juice (or milk), and ice for a yummy smoothie. Note: some proteins are better than others in terms of “clumpiness” when mixed with water (such as Gold Standard), if this happens try milk for a smoother texture.
- When should I use a protein supplement? Immediately to 30 minutes after exercising, or in place of a meal.
- How much protein do I need? Most sources will recommend about 0.5 grams per body pound (so a 150 lb woman should have about 75g per day). When training heavily, up that to 1g per lb. But this includes other sources of protein like meat, dairy, nuts. The average serving of meat or serving of fish contains about 25g, so you really only need 1-2 supplemental servings a day.
- Where can I buy protein powder? Your gym likely carries a few brands, or you can find them at a GNC. Online, I like this site for their huge selection: http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/whey.html