Which protein shake is best?
If you’re hitting the gym consistently, it’s crucial to keep your body’s protein levels up. Protein is one of the most vital macronutrients required for efficient muscle repair and growth, so if you’re working out a lot, you need to make sure you’re getting enough of it.
There’s a lot of conflicting information about dietary supplements, especially protein powder, but the truth is, there’s no conclusive science surrounding them because everyone’s body reacts differently.
That said, they can help facilitate your progress, but which shake is the right one for you?
What you should consider before buying a protein shake
How much protein do you need?
If you’re unsure about how much protein you need, there is a baseline you can use as a starting point. The average adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you exercise often, you’ll need roughly 1.1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight, while weightlifters require 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram.
Types of protein powders
Whey protein powders are the most popular choice among athletes and weightlifters. There are three main types: concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. Whey protein concentrate has low levels of carbohydrates and fats, while whey protein isolate doesn’t have any at all. Whey protein hydrolysate is the least common of the three, but it’s the most easily digestible, which is why it’s primarily found in infant formulas.
Most protein powders contain one type of whey protein, but others include a blend of two, and some even incorporate other types of proteins like soy. Also, it’s important to note that all kinds of whey protein contain essential amino acids for muscle regeneration.
Casein protein is usually extracted from cow’s milk and is absorbed and digested by the body at a much slower rate than whey protein. Some athletes prefer it, as it allows for slow but steady absorption of amino acids, but it’s not as common as whey protein powders.
If you don’t want any animal by-products in your protein shake, you can do away with whey and casein protein and opt for a vegan protein powder. The protein in these powders is usually derived from eggs, soy, rice, hemp or peas.
Are protein shakes necessary?
Some skeptics believe that protein powders and other dietary supplements are a waste of money, and the truth is that they can be — but it depends on your diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, protein shakes and powders aren’t needed if you’re getting enough protein in your regular diet from whole foods.
As previously mentioned, everyone’s body reacts differently to supplements. So, while some may experience side effects after drinking a protein shake, it really depends on each individual and the type of protein powder.
Any side effects from consuming protein shakes are usually minor and can include bloating, stomach cramps and nausea. Some protein powders can also cause acne, but it’s not very common.
What are your fitness goals?
If your main fitness goal is to lose weight, look for protein shakes containing low or no amounts of sugars or sweeteners. Also, any protein powders with extra quantities of amino acids, specifically branch-chain amino acids (BCAA), can be detrimental to your weight loss goals, as they do the opposite and facilitate muscle growth and weight gain in general.
On the flip side, if you’re looking to increase muscle mass, you want protein powders loaded with BCAA. Whey protein isolate is digested quickly by the body and helps speed up the muscle recovery process, so it’s your best bet if you want to build your muscles at an efficient rate.
Best protein shakes
Best whey protein shakes
Dymatize Iso100 Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
This powder incorporates a combination of whey protein isolates and hydrolysate to deliver 25 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of BCAA per serving. It’s easy to mix and digest, and it’s available in more than 15 delicious flavors, including Cinnamon Bun and Orange Dreamsicle.
Sold by iHerb
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey
Whey protein isolate is the main ingredient in this budget-friendly protein shake. You’ll get 24 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of BCAA per serving. Plus, it’s gluten-free and available in 18 flavors.
Sold by iHerb and Bodybuilding.com
Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder
This whey protein isolate powder packs a whopping 50 grams of protein and 10.9 BCCA per serving and contains zero carbohydrates, gluten and lactose. It has an unpleasant aftertaste, but it offers an efficient way to get your daily protein intake.
Sold by iHerb
Best casein protein shakes
Bodybuilding.com Signature Casein Protein
If you want a protein shake that’ll help your muscles recover hours after your workout, this casein solution will do the trick. It contains 25 grams of protein per serving with just 0.5 grams of sugars and 2 grams of total carbohydrates.
Sold by Bodybuilding.com
Kaged Muscle Kasein Casein Protein
With this delicious vanilla-flavored protein shake, you’ll get 26 grams of protein and 10.5 grams of BCAA per serving. It mixes easily and is easy to digest, making it an excellent option for those with sensitive stomachs.
Sold by Bodybuilding.com
Best vegan protein shakes
This organic protein will provide you with the protein you need without the animal by-products found in whey protein shakes. Its protein is derived from chia seeds, acacia, peas and brown rice and each serving contains 21 grams of it.
Sold by iHerb
Garden of Life Organic Protein Powder and Greens
This vanilla-flavored, plant-based protein shake is ideal for those following a strict diet and offers 20 grams of protein per serving at just 100 calories. It’s easy to mix with water, but it also goes great with unsweetened almond milk.
Sold by Kohl’s
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Kevin Luna writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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