I receive a lot of questions about protein powder; is it necessary, which type of protein powder should I buy and etc. I decided to create this post as a way to answer questions, past, present and future, to settle this issue once and for all (unless some groundbreaking new research comes out which changes everything lol).
Important Questions Regarding Protein Powder
I wanted to get the expertise and opinion of a variety of qualified people. I asked Ben Coomber, performance nutritionist and owner of Body Type Nutrition, Tracy Lockwood, a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in clinical nutrition and Ben Coffin, a personal trainer and a friend of mine. Here is what I asked them:
Ben Coomber, Performance Nutritionist
1. Not at all, a protein shake is essentially a blended chicken breast, so really it should just be used as a convenience tool to add variety and ease to the diet.
Tracy Lockwood, Registered Dietitian
1) No, there is not enough evidence to show that protein powders are absolutely necessary to accelerate fat loss and/or muscle gain. Food first!
2) Animal proteins offer a more “complete list” of amino acids and adequate amounts of the 9 essential amino acids than plant proteins. Animal proteins (casein, whey) are broken down and used more similarly in the way that we use protein vs plant proteins (soy, chia, hemp).
3) It’s tough to choose a protein powder or supplement because there are bogus and flashy marketing claims on labels instead of sound evidenced based research. Clients should make sure the protein powder contains an even proportion and complete list of amino acids and has the highest quality of protein known as milk proteins (casein and whey). Avoid the protein powders that are colorful as they suggest food dyes and artificial food coloring.
4) I would recommend protein powders to my training athletes or active clients if they can’t obtain an adequate amount of protein from diet alone or don’t have enough time to eat a protein rich meal or snack post work out. I recommend both whey and casein proteins, often flavorless to avoid added sugar. If my clients are looking to build muscles faster and can’t get their high quality protein through diet, I would suggest opting for whey as studies have shown that it contains a larger proportion of BCAA (the amino acids necessary for muscle building) than casein.
Contact Tracy by visiting her website, Tracy Lockwood Nutrition
Ben Coffin, Personal Trainer
1) While I don’t think protein powders are necessary for fast fat loss, I do believe they can quicken the process if used properly. This is due to two reasons: the first is the thermogenic properties of the powders which is the speeding up of metabolism after digesting the mix. The second is how the protein powder helps to maintain and increase lean muscle mass which will quicken metabolism as well
2) The differences between different protein sources vary in the release speed of the protein and the amino acids found in the protein. In a well rounded diet, you should eat many different protein sources to ensure that all the essential amino acids are taken in, so which type of powder you take could relate to deficiencies in your diet (also intolerances such as lactose intolerant people should look more at egg protein and plant protein rather than milk based whey protein).
The intake speed of different protein sources would mostly refer to either isolates or miceller caesin. Isolates are fast releasing and so are a good muscle repair tool for after an intense workout whereas caesin is slow releasing and more suited for overnight muscle synthesis
3) As the regulations are fairly loose it is difficult to gain an accurate picture from the ingredient labels. Despite that most high quality protein producers will have isolates, caesin and protein concentrate in the labels whereas most cheaper brands will only state having protein concentrate. Its best to stick to well known brands such as BSN, USN and ON.
On a side note, I reckon you should add in that regardless of what the goal is, protein for breakfast is massively important and protein powders are an easy way to achieve that. Several articles have stated that a sugary breakfast, like most cereals are, release a chemical from the brain which makes you crave high calorie foods throughout the day. On the flip side, a breakfast of slow releasing carbs with protein releases a separate chemical which will block your cravings for bad foods essentially killing two birds with one stone in terms of fixing an unhealthy diet.
4) Yes, I always recommend protein powders to clients. In terms of which type, it depends entirely on the client’s goals. I would recommend whey protein and preferably the highest quality they can afford for clients looking for weight loss, the reason for that is the help it will give them in building lean muscle to increase resting metabolism.
For female clients, I usually recommend lean whey protein as the carbs and sugars are lower; it’ll give similar muscle building benefits but as the ideal image between a low fat and trained female compared to a low fat and trained male the clients will reach their ideal shape quicker.
The only type of protein I would not recommend is any hyperbolic or anabolic mass gainer protein. These types are always packed full of carbs and sugars to spike calories with the end goal being size gain. In order to gain size a client would be far better of eating the calories in a healthy clean diet rather than in shake of
Ben can be contacted at Ben.firstname.lastname@example.org
What do you think?
Now that you have insight from three highly qualified individuals, I want to let you all sound off. Do you agree with what has been said above or do you disagree?
I hope you have all found this blog post helpful and educational. Protein powder is a complex and controversial topic which everyone seems to have an opinion on so I believe it is important you get the facts from qualified sources 🙂