This is going to be a series of explaining different supplements, what to use, why to use them, and how to choose which one. I remember when I first was getting into this lifestyle I was SO overwhelmed when I started looking into supplements.
When I started lifting weights more I saw everyone at the gym mixing up protein shakes and drinking them at the gym and I thought that’s just what you do. So, I started looking into protein powders. My husband had some protein powder at home, Muscle Milk, and I remember looking at the label thinking 300 calories?! Not worth it. Don’t get me wrong Muscle Milk is delicious but it does not have good macros. With 12g fat, 18g carb, and 32g protein, this would be more of a meal replacement shake for most females. I then made the mistake of going into GNC having no idea what I wanted other than some of protein powder. The associate talked me into buying some expensive powder that tasted horrible and I ended up throwing it away. It wasn’t until I started training and talking with my trainer, that I learned why protein is so important and I finally figured out what I should be looking for in protein powders.
Who needs a protein supplement or why should you take one? These are meant to increase your amount of protein in your diet, that’s it. Drinking protein alone will not make you bulky or ripped. And as always getting your protein from foods is always preferred. As a general rule, you should get at least 1 gram of protein per your weight in pounds. So, if you weigh 145 pounds then you should consume at least 145g of protein. Eating that much was not the issue but keeping my fat below 40g was the problem. This is also when my coach started having me consume a protein shake immediately following my workout. I would then go home and shower and eat a normal meal.
There are three types of protein, each has their own purpose.
Isolate Protein: Fast digesting and great for immediately post workout. These generally are lactose free and those who are sensitive to bloating or digestive issues can tolerate these better. If you have an intense training session, pair this with a simple carbohydrate to allow the nutrients to be transported to your muscles. Isolate is not designed to keep you full. This has the thinnest consistency.
Casein Protein: Slow digesting protein usually taken before bed. This will allow for slow release of protein to help with nighttime recovery and to keep you full during the night. If you are someone who is training and dieting and wake up in the middle of the night hungry, this may be for you. I usually make a pudding or “cake” out of this as an evening treat. This has the thickest consistency.
Whey Protein: General all-purpose protein. This is universal and can be taken anytime to increase your protein intake during the day. If you pair it with some carb and healthy fats, you will have a great meal replacement shake. The consistency of this varies, many brands will put thickeners in it, but in general it is middle of the road.
When I am looking for a protein powder I look for something that is at least 25g protein and under 6g fat per serving. That way I can drink it on my way home from the gym or have it as a snack but it doesn’t take up too many of my macros for the day. I wish I was someone who could drink a shake in the morning and then feel full and satisfied until lunchtime, but unfortunately that is not the case. Last but not least, if it doesn’t taste good, you are not going to want to drink it. Here are some of the ones that I have tried and I would re-purchase.
Dymatize- ISO 100
: This one is fast absorbing, gluten and lactose free, and also has some BCAA’s. If you have issues with proteins bloating you or causing digestion issues I would try this one. I have used the Birthday Cake and the Fudge Brownie flavors. With 0g fat, 1g carbs, and 25g protein anyone can fit this into their diet.
ISO pure Zero Carb:
This one is 1g fat, 0g carb, and 50g protein for 2 scoops. I only take 1 scoop. This mixes very easily with minimal liquid. I mix mine with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and pour it over cereal immediately post workout. Flavor recommendation: Vanilla.
Dymatize Elite Casein
: This is the only one that I have found that I like, that does not upset my stomach. I get mine in the vanilla flavor. I find that is the most universal.
Cellucor COR-Performance Whey
: I recommend this brand to anyone starting out because I think they have the largest selection of flavors and they taste great, minus the strawberry milkshake. I also find that this brand doesn’t upset my stomach. This brand tends to have low fat and carbs and minimal sugar. These are the flavors that I have tried and would recommend: Cinnamon Swirl, Red Velvet Cake Batter, Peanut Butter Marshmallow, and S’mores
BSN Syntha-6 Ultra Premium Protein Matrix
: If you are a peanut butter fan, I mean who isn’t, then you HAVE to try the Peanut Butter Cookie flavor. Hands down the most delicious protein flavor ever. I love to mix this with almond milk and ice and blend it until it’s the consistency of a Wendy’s Frosty. So good. I have also tried the Vanilla and Chocolate Milkshake flavors which are good if you want a basic flavor. This one is a little higher in fat at 6g per serving, but if that isn’t a factor for you then I would recommend this one as well. Add in a banana and some almond milk, and you have got yourself a great breakfast shake!
PEScience Select Protein
: This is a whey/casein blend. So it will keep you fuller longer than whey, but not as long as casein. This is also a good all around protein or meal replacement option when paired with fats/carbohydrates. This one is also great to bake with. Flavors I have tried and would recommend: Peanut Butter Cup, Peanut Butter Cookie, Snickerdoodle, Frosted Chocolate Cupcake
I hope this helps when you are trying to navigate the protein aisle!
All of these I have personally tried along with others which I would not recommend. If you have any additional questions or need other recommendations comment below, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org