Ask The Expert:
What protein powder is best?
The question of the week comes from one of our online clients, she asked what protein powder is the best to buy?
This is a common question I get asked, and it’s not as simple as telling you a brand. There are many different protein powders on the market, and the answer depends on what you are looking for, and your goal.
First, let’s discuss the different types of protein:
Whey protein (Milk- Dairy)
Whey is a left over by-product from making milk and cheese. The liquid whey is sent through filters to remove all non-whey ingredients. It is then purified and the final step is removing the water from the whey by turning it into a powder.
Whey protein is broken down into different types:
Whey protein Concentrate
Contains low levels of fat and carbohydrates. Lower end concentrates have about 30% protein and higher end contain up to 90% protein. These usually taste the best because they have some carbs and fat in them, along with some sort of sugars (to make them take better).
For example, if the scoop size is 30 grams, 18 grams may be protein, 9 grams might be carbs and 3 grams may be fat.
Cost: This is one of the cheapest forms of protein because it is a blend of carbs, fat and protein.
Whey protein Isolate
These are typically at least 85%-97% pure protein, they are processed to remove all the fat and lactose. These protein powders tend to be more expensive because they are more pure (purer the protein, typically the more expensive they are).
For example, if the scoop size is 30 grams, 28 grams may be protein, 1.5 grams may be carbs and .5 grams may be fat.
Cost: This is more expensive than a concentrate but less than a hydrolysate.
Whey protein hydrolysate
Hydrolysate is considered to be the “pre-digested” form of whey protein, it has undergone partial hydrolysis- a process necessary for the body to absorb protein. This type of protein doesn’t require as much digestion as the other two forms of whey protein. This is considered to be the cadillac of whey proteins because it is absorbed quicker than regular whey protein isolate because of its ability to be absorbed rapidly.
Cost: Be wary when reading the labels for this type. It will be more expensive than regular whey, but check to see if its 100% hydrolysate. Some companies will use it in a blend. Not that that’s a bad thing, but if you’re paying extra money, you will want the protein source to only read hydrolysate. If it’s used in a blend, it typically will be roughly the same price or a bit more than a concentrate.
Egg protein comes from eggs. This type of protein is great for anyone with a dairy allergy or sensitivity.
Cost: Egg protein is more expensive than an isolate, and usually around the same price as a 100% pure hydrolysate.
Vegan protein powders are typically made up of a blend of rice, pea or beans. These are excellent options for people who have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy. They do contain more carbs than a whey isolate because the sources (rice, pea, beans) are higher in carbs than whey.
Cost: Vegan protein is typically one of the most expensive types of protein because of the manufacturing process, but it is worth it if you have a food allergy to dairy,eggs or are vegetarian/vegan.
Soy protein is made from soy beans. Soy contains plant estrogens which affect the normal production of hormones in the endocrine glands. Soy consumption has been linked to cancer, so I do not like to recommend soy protein to anyone. For more information about soy, I recommend reading “The Whole Soy Story” by Kaayla T Daniel, PhD, CCN.
Now that you have learnt about the different types of protein, let’s discuss what the best protein powder is!
As I said, it is dependent on what you are looking for:
- Do you want an all natural protein?
- Do you want something that tastes really good?
- Do you want a vegan protein?
All of these questions lead to different recommendations- there is no one protein powder that triumphs all the others on the market.
So let’s start off with what protein I recommend for people new to taking protein powder.
If you are new to taking protein powder
This protein powder is for you, if:
- You want something that tastes really good
This protein powder is NOT for you, if:
- You want a clean, pure protein
- You have a dairy or egg sensitivity or allergy
- You want something that is free of artificial sweeteners
I recommend Hexapro from Allmax for people new to taking protein. I recommend this protein because it taste’s amazing- it actually tastes like a milkshake. No joke. A lot of protein powders have fancy names like “vanilla ice cream milkshake” but taste far from it. Hexapro will not disappoint you- you will actually be pleasantly pleased at how good it tastes. I use it to make protein bars and protein cake too!
Hexapro is a blend of 6 different types of protein; whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, casein, egg and hydrolyzed whey.
It also uses xanthin gum and cellulose gum to thicken it up like a milkshake. It blends up very easily with a spoon, which is a far cry from most protein powders. I recommend drinking it with water or almond or coconut milk.
It does contain an artificial sweetener; sucrolose. So if you are someone who wants “all natural” this is not the protein I would recommend for you.
At 25g of protein per scoop and 10 grams of carbs, it is one of the best sellers at Aspire.
The protein I recommend for someone with digestive issues to dairy would be a vegan protein.
Thorne FX Vegan Protein
- Gluten, dairy, GMO and soy free
- Low allergen
- flavoured with natural sweeteners
- a clean, pure, natural protein
This protein powder is NOT for you, if:
- Taste is the number 1 deciding factor in buying protein
Thorne’s Vegan Protein is THE BEST tasting vegan protein I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried a lot. (Sunwarrior’s Vegan Protein, GNC’s VegaSport protein, Vega brand protein, all the big names in vegan protein). Unlike many vegan proteins on the market, it only has 5 grams of carbs for 21 grams of protein. It is a rice and pea based protein, and its gluten, dairy, GMO and soy free. A lot of vegan proteins taste gritty (this is from the rice), and it ends up tasting like dirt (sorry other brands but it’s the truth). Thorne’s texture is smooth, and blends very well.
Personally, this is my go-to protein because I cannot eat dairy. I’m so happy to finally find a vegan protein that tastes good and is easy to blend.