Bikini season is fast approaching, and you have goals this year to bring to the beach a tight + toned physique that you’re truly proud of.
You’ve been killing yourself in the gym for a few weeks now. Even on your longest days, you’re still getting that workout in. Not to mention, your eating habits are healthier than ever – smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch, grilled chicken and broccoli for dinner and granola bars in between meals.
Still, you’re not seeing progress as fast as you imagined.
Meanwhile your boyfriend who seems to be casually chasing his summer bod goals is making strides. You can’t deny that he’s working hard in the gym, but you can’t recall the last time you’ve seen him sitting down to a fresh salad loaded with veggies + dressing on the side either.
No, he’s enjoying steak, bacon + eggs and even the occasional cheeseburger.
So what gives?
Is this just another genetic predisposition that once again gives an unfair advantage to men verses women?
I mean life’s already not fair- guys don’t have to deal with the struggle that comes from monthly hormone fluctuations. They have no clue that ‘chocolate cravings’ are, in fact, real. And they most certainly, don’t know how difficult it really is to escape from a sweat soaked sports bra.
Do they really have it easier when it comes to diet and weight loss too?
The short answer is- no. Guys, in general, seem to win at the ‘fitness game’ more often because they don’t over-complicate the process- they recognize what’s important + don’t get bogged down with the rest of the ‘fluff’. Simply put, they engage in challenging strength training workouts that progressively overload the muscles + they consume enough protein to support the growth of lean muscle tissue- ultimately, sky-rocketing their bodies into fat-burning mode.
So take a hint, ladies!
Whether you’re starting a new workout program, amping up an old routine, or even just recovering from an injury – there’s plenty of reasons to add more protein into your normal diet.
And while there is certainly no requirement to supplement with protein powders, consider this: protein powder can be a convenient, cost-effective means to up your protein uptake without also upping the amount of carbs or grams of fat you’re consuming- which is crucial when it comes to winning at fat loss.
Still, I know what you’re thinking- introducing protein powder into your diet can be a daunting process. With so many available on the market today- it’s tough to know what works, what doesn’t + what you should even consider when selecting one.
That’s why today, we’re discussing the 5 Most Important Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Protein Powder for You!
5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Protein Powder
- Source of Protein:
Whey, soy, brown rice, pea, hemp… are all potential sources of protein. Labeling a protein powder as a (fill-in-the-blank) protein is simply an indication of where that protein originated from.
There is a big misconception among the public that a gram of protein is simply a gram of protein, regardless of the source.
In turn, this misconception makes many people believe that as long as they eat a certain amount of protein per day that’s all that matters.
Unfortunately, there is one huge problem with this approach…Not all protein is created equal.
You see, food (even protein powder), when ingested, is not a useable form of energy that our body recognizes. To make use of the energy stored within food, our bodies must process that food through a set order of actions.
It’s a technical process, but simply put, it’s what we mean when we say our body is ‘metabolizing’ something- our entire digestive system is taking large food molecules + breaking them down into smaller, more recognizable energy molecules.
Hence, some proteins are more amenable to being broken down (digested) than others. This is what science refers to as a product’s bioavailability.
Bioavailability is a big word, but by definition, it is the percentage of protein that can actually be used by your body’s system.
For reference, here is a chart illustrating the differences in bioavailability of some of the most common protein sources:
|Whey Protein Isolate Blends||100-159|
A higher score indicates greater efficiency of the body to utilize that particular protein when consumed.
2. Speed of Digestion
Similar to the importance put on using a protein powder that is derived from a source which our bodies can efficiently break down + use, it’s equally important to find protein powder that is in line with our end-goals.
And by ‘end-goals’, I mean- are you choosing to use this protein powder to replace a meal? Or is this protein powder more for post workout recovery? Because, what you are using this protein powder for DOES make a difference.
Even the most ‘efficient’ proteins- proteins that are broken down and absorbed nearly 100 percent by the body- will do no good for your fat loss results if they are not digested in a timely manner in the first place!
While research is still being compiled to understand exactly ‘how fast’ or ‘how slow’ certain proteins digest within our systems, the general rule of thumb is that whey is best for digesting quickly (perfect for post-workout). Casein, soy + pea proteins, on the other hand, are slower digesting, making them more ideal as meal replacement options.
- ‘Completeness’ of Protein
Your body breaks down the protein you eat into amino acids, which build and repair tissues in your body, help digest food, provide energy, and perform numerous other bodily functions.
Of the twenty amino acids used by our bodies, 9 are classified as ‘essential’ amino acids- meaning that our body cannot produce these amino acids on its own, therefore they must be consumed through food.
Any protein source that contains all the essential amino acids our body requires on the daily is labeled as ‘complete’. Whereas, incomplete proteins only contain some of the essential amino acids. Typically, animal proteins- think whey, eggs, casein- are complete proteins. And plant-based proteins like rice, pea + hemp are incomplete.
Because complete proteins contain all essential amino acids, they are often referred to as high-quality proteins and easily utilized by your body. Eating complete proteins will ensure that your body has access to all the amino acids it needs to function properly.
Does that mean that plant-based incomplete proteins are useless?
No, not necessarily, it’s important, however, that you consume your protein from a variety of sources if using an incomplete protein powder.
Eating incomplete proteins from a wide variety of sources will balance your diet + your body will still have access to all of the essential amino acids without needing complete proteins.
4. Allergens + Other Intolerances
This one is plain and simple. Always be aware of the ingredients listed on the label. Your protein powder shouldn’t have loads of sugar or other alternative sweeteners.
And a true high-quality protein powder won’t require that stuff in order to taste good!
Remember you want to provide your body with the nutrients it needs. Nothing more.
5. Production + Manufacturing
I hate to break it to you, but all protein powders are processed. There is no ‘protein powder’ plant that exists in nature. For that reason, it’s important to take into consideration the process by which your protein powder is produced.
Production is directly correlated to quality of product!
It’s important to recognize practices such as ‘low-temperature processed’ protein. This fancy lingo just means that the protein is never exposed to high temperatures during manufacturing which ultimately means that the integrity of the protein is kept intact so your body can utilize the highest amounts of protein possible.
Heat can denature protein, rendering it practically useless once it gets in your hands. Still, companies employ high-heat processing at times because it’s cheaper for them- so buyer beware.
Learning about production + manufacturing practices of the individual protein companies may require you to do your homework- it’s the one factor on this list not always included on the product’s label. But it’s worth the time you invest. Don’t waste your money on a product that’s not going to delivery on what it promises!
So, let’s review!
A quality protein powder that will get you the best results is one that:
- Is sourced from a highly bio-available protein.
- Digests at the proper speed- fast for post-workout recovery, or slow for meal-replacement proteins.
- Contains enough of the essential amino acids that you may not be getting from the rest of your diet.
- Does not contain a long list of additives + unnecessary fillers.
- Is produced in a high-quality manufacturing environment.
As a Certified Personal Trainer + Supplement Consultant, I often get asked which protein powder I personally use. To be honest, I can’t recommend enough the protein powders from 1st Phorm.
In fact, the proteins from 1st Phorm are the only protein powders I recommend to my family, friends + clients because they hit all 5 points which I referenced in this post.
Level-1 Protein (the company’s meal replacement protein powder) has ultra-high bioavailability + contains low-temperature processed protein- so not only are you getting a high-quality protein, but you can be sure you won’t have to deal with bloating + other common stomach discomforts found with other proteins.
Similarly, Phormula-1 Protein (the company’s post-workout protein powder) is 100 percent hydrolyzed- meaning it has been exposed to natural enzymes that break down the protein’s long amino acid chains into smaller ones. Essentially, the protein is pre-digested so that your muscle repair (and ultimately fat loss) can begin as soon as possible.
Rest assured that all products from 1st Phorm are produced in SQF Level 3, FDA-inspected Facility. Again, it’s more fancy lingo, but SQF Certification is an assurance, assessment, and audit program which guarantees that the product is true to what is written on the label. That means the ingredients are being third-party verified before production, and the finished product is tested after. Testing before and after manufacturing is required under SQF Level 3.
Know that this is not a requirement in the supplement world! In my opinion, it’s worth noting because it speaks to the quality of the product you are investing in + it definitely sets 1st Phorm apart from other companies.
And have I mentioned yet that each protein powder comes in some pretty amazing flavors? – Cinnamon Cookie Butter, Mint Ice Cream Sandwich, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup … are a few of my favorites.
Now, before you assume that this post is written in hopes of selling you a product, let me tell you that all the opinions found here are 100 percent my own.
In fact, in full disclosure, I am NOT sponsored by 1st Phorm. I do affiliate with the company, however, so that I can keep offering you, my awesome readers free express shipping on all orders (just click on any of the links in this post)!
But I pay the same price for the product as you do- I believe in it, I use it myself and I just chose to share it with you here on my little blog because once upon a time I was completely stumped myself when it came to understanding the labels in the supplement world!
Want even more help on your fitness journey? Enter your email below to receive instant access to my entire library of (free) fitness printables!