I’m sure at one time or another, someone has told you to increase your protein intake. The current recommended daily intake of protein is 0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, and if you eat the typical three square meals per day, it might be a little tough getting that in unless you supplement once a day with a protein shake.
The unfortunate thing about protein shakes is that there are waaaaaay too many choices, which can be overwhelming. There are protein powders made from plants, eggs, beef – really anything you can think of! So I’m going to help you figure out the best type of protein powder to take, when to take it, and why. Thanks to my friend Allie for the post idea!
The #1 rule of protein powder
No matter when you’re taking your protein powder or what it’s made out of, you want to make sure that most of the powder is, in fact, protein. An easy way to do this is to compare the weight in grams per serving with the grams of protein per serving. For example, one serving of Dymatize ISO-100 whey protein weighs 30 grams and it has 25 grams of protein in it. That only leaves 5 grams to be made from “other stuff”.
Unless you are a performance athlete and need high protein and low everything else, looking for a protein powder with the serving weight and the grams of protein within up to 10-15 grams of each other should be fine.
Protein powder to have at breakfast
Pick a chocolate-flavored whey protein to mix into your coffee and make a protein mocha latte! (Yes, it has to be whey to dissolve properly and not get all weird and lumpy.) Just add 1/2 to 1 scoop to your cup of coffee after brewing, stir, and it becomes a super creamy and tasty mocha latte drink.
A vanilla-flavored protein is great to mix into a bowl of oatmeal. Add cinnamon, some fruit, and a dollop of nut butter and you have a wholesome, filling meal!
If you just want to drink a shake in the morning, I recommend a casein protein shake (egg protein). Casein is slow-absorbing so it will give you energy for longer than other types of shakes. A yummy casein protein I recommend is Optimum Nutrition’s mint chocolate flavor. It tastes just like melted mint chocolate chip ice cream!
Protein powder to have post-workout
My top recommendation for a post-workout shake is a whey isolate protein powder. This is different than a protein powder simply labeled as “whey” or one labeled as “whey concentrate”. You need to read the label to make sure what you’re buying is whey isolate!
The reasons I recommend whey isolate protein for post-workout are: a) it’s quick-absorbing, going right to your muscles where you need it, and b) it’s the purest form of whey, leaving out the stuff you don’t need, like lactose, extra carbs, and fat. (Hence the word isolate.)
A great whey isolate protein is Dymatize ISO-100. I’ve tried a few flavors but you can’t go wrong with chocolate!
Protein powder to have in the evening
Having protein before bed is a good way to quell your nighttime munchies without succumbing to unhealthy snacks. I recommend casein protein shakes for bedtime for the same reason I recommend them for the morning – casein absorbs slowly, and therefore helps your body rebuild muscle while you sleep. Here’s the link again to the casein protein I like!
Vegan protein powder options
Not everyone is keen on having milk and egg ingredients in their protein powder, so here are a few vegan protein options you can try:
Pea protein: has a similar amino acid profile to whey protein. I have read that it can taste bland, so I’d recommend having it blended into a fruit smoothie.
Soy protein: there is conflicting information out there about whether soy protein decreases testosterone in the body, so many bodybuilders steer clear from it just in case. But if you’re just looking for a vegan protein supplement and are not a bodybuilder, it’s totally safe and worth trying!
Hemp protein: hemp is a protein source that I haven’t tried yet and don’t know much about, but I have had hemp hearts before, and those are delicious. I look forward to trying hemp protein – if you’ve tried it, let me know what you thought in the comments!
Do you have any questions about supplementing with protein that I didn’t answer?
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