Protein powder is one the latest trends to hit the supermarkets, social media and online websites. With the variety of different brands being promoted in supermarkets, being endorsed by celebrities/social media the choices surrounding protein powder are expanding. There are many types of protein powders, made from a variety of different sources. With the many options, it can be confusing to figure out which one will be the most beneficial to meet our needs. Although our choices are increasing, it’s important to know that not all protein powders are made equal.
When choosing a protein powder its important to consider the type of protein (whey isolate vs whey concentrate), how much protein is in each serving, how much sugar has been added, how much fat has been added, and what other substances does it contain? Whey protein isolate is a much purer form of protein powder, as it has gone through a filtration process removing the fat, cholesterol, lactose and carbohydrates from it. Isolate is generally 90% protein whereas Concentrate is generally around 60-70% protein and still has the fat and lactose in it.
Protein powders can contain different types of protein from either animal or plant sources such as dairy, eggs, rice or peas and different levels of essential amino acids. Generally whey protein made from animal sources is the most popular due to the taste and affordability. If you are lactose intolerant, whey isolate is the best choice, or alternatively you can choose rice, pea or soy protein, however the taste of these is not as palatable as the animal based proteins.
When choosing a protein powder its important to read the label, and use our label reading guidelines. Choose a protein powder that has at least 18g of protein per serve and <10g of sugar and <10g of fat per 100g.
Like all foods at the supermarket, protein powder can be marketed and packaged to make it appear healthy. Therefore it needs to be treated as we treat all foods, and read the nutritional information label to ensure we are making the best choice for our health. If we find one that does not meet the label reading guidelines it may not give you enough protein for your increased needs (therefore not giving you satiety) and could result in dumping from being too high in sugars and/or fat.
If you are looking for a protein powder to help you met your protein requirements, we recommend the ‘Celebrate’ range, available from the Waikato Surgery clinic or www.amsnutrition.co.nz.
Here are some other options that meet the label reading criteria:
- ‘Balance’ 100% natural whey protein - purchased online or from health food shops
- ‘Horleys Sculpt’ protein - purchased from supermarkets
- 'NuZest' Clean Lean Pea Protein – purchased from health food shops or www.nzmuscle.co.nz
- ‘Shotgun lean protein’ – purchased from www.shotgun.co.nz
- ‘Optimum nutrition gold standard 100% Whey’ – purchased online
- ‘Red 8’ protein – purchased online or from health food shops
Remember despite protein powder being a popular buzz food at the moment we need to ensure we are using it correctly. It’s always important to include a “top-level” protein at every meal i.e. meats or protein powder. We do not recommend using protein powder as a snack or for use between meals unless you are trying to gain weight or maintain your weight.