What to look for in protein powders? I’ve heard this question a great deal, and it is one of the hardest questions to answer quickly and easily, primarily because there is no blanket, one-size-fits-all response. The simplest way to determine what kind of protein powder you’re looking for is to know your goal.
If you’re just trying to lose a few pounds, or become healthier, and are in the gym six hours or less each week, you need some extra protein, but not a great deal. The ideal powders have 20 to 25 grams of either whey or soy protein. You’ll hear many people talk about ingesting ridiculous amounts of protein, but too much will do horrible things to your kidneys and liver. The next thing to consider is your life-style. Do you east well balanced meals at meal times? If the answer is yes, then you only want one drink each day. If you eat a good breakfast, skip lunch and have a balanced dinner, then mixing a scoop of protein with some fruits and vegetables in a blender twice each day is a good idea. But the goal is to be healthy, so do not overdo it.
If your goal is to build and sculpt muscle, maybe try and look like Hugh Jackman in the Wolverine movies, then you’ll need to kick up both your workouts and your protein intake. You’ll be in the gym at least fifteen hours each week, and you will be doing more muscle building exercises. So in addition to three or four balanced meals, you will want to kick up your protein intake quite a bit, say fifty grams of whey or soy protein with each scoop of powder, and two to three shakes each day. You will want to add some carbohydrates to each shake, to make digesting the protein easier. With this kind of workout adding a cup of oats to your shake will keep your body going strong.
If, however, you are looking to run a marathon, then casein protein is what you are looking for. Casein protein, unlike whey or soy, is better for muscular recovery after long-lasting endurance exercise. Mixing whey and casein protein, about 20 grams total, with about three cups of fruits like bananas and strawberries will do great things for a long distance runner. Because as a distance runner, you are less worried about building up your muscles than preventing breakdown of those muscles. Casein protein helps slow breakdown and allows for a more even recovery.
No matter what your goals there are certain proteins to avoid. Rice protein will yield few, if any, benefits, as it lacks essential amino acids. If you are not lactose intolerant, or vegetarian, you should avoid soy protein as well, as it isn’t as effective as whey proteins. Also, I cannot stress enough, be sure to careful in your choices. Keep them appropriate to your physical goals, to avoid damaging your kidney or liver.