There are a few things that you should be looking at when trying to find a protein supplement that is right for you. Whether you are looking for a protein powder that will serve as a protein booster because you are having trouble getting the recommended amount of protein or as a meal replacement after jaw surgery, you will need to know what the different types are, the ingredients, nutritional value, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The choice of which protein supplement you choose will depend on several factors:
- How long has the product been on the market?
- How long is the list of ingredients?
- Is there any feedback available?
- Is it a supplement or a meal replacement?
- Will it be used as a weight loss or weight gain tool?
- Are you lactose or soy intolerant?
- Do you have allergies?
- Where will you consume it? If at home you have the luxury of using a blender,
and adding other products such as fruit and yogurt. If you are at the office you
will be far more limited in preparation and may opt for pre-made shakes.
Taste is one of the most important factors……it doesn’t matter how good the the protein powder is if you can’t manage to swallow it!
Most protein powders come in small packets….try it before you purchase a large container.
Research your options since there are hundreds of products on the market. You will want to find one that has a high quality protein, is free of additional supplements, and low in fat and sugar.
Protein Powder Options
Basically, there are four types of protein powders: Soy, Whey, Egg, and Rice.
Soy is the only plant protein that is complete. It contains all eight of the essential amino acids. Soy protein powder is highly digestible and is made from soy flour. Soy protein is appropriate for vegetarian diets (but that doesn’t mean that all protein powders made from soy are… make sure you check the ingredient list).
Improves the nutritional value of foods
Lowers the risk of heart disease [/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]Disadvantages:
Not for those with allergies to soy.
There is some controversy on how much soy we should be eating. [/twocol_one_last]
Whey protein comes from milk and is the most common of the protein powders. There are two types….a concentrate, and an isolate. Concentrate is most common, and least expensive. It contains 30-85% protein. Isolate contains around 90% protein, is lower in fat, and contains less lactose than the concentrate. Isolate is considered the higher quality type.
Great source of essential amino acids
Releases hunger suppressing hormones[/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]Disadvantages:
Eggs are a great protein source since they contain all eight essential proteins. Egg protein powder is made from egg whites, and is fat free.
Contains over 40 different types of proteins.
Egg whites have no cholesterol. [/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last]Disadvantages:
Not meant for those with egg allergies (though true egg allergies are pretty rare). [/twocol_one_last]
Made from brown rice and is a complete protein source. Great for vegetarians and vegans.
Gluten free [/twocol_one] [twocol_one_last] Disadvantages:
Difficult to find. [/twocol_one_last]
For me personally, finding a protein powder that I could tolerate several times a day for after my total joint replacement (I was wired shut) was very difficult. I either found them too artificially sweet, bitter, or thought they tasted “off.” Some people can tolerate anything, but I have a really strong gag reflex.
I also think it’s important to note that if you are planning on supplementing with protein drinks for a while (longer than a couple days), the ready-made drinks (Ensure, Glucerna, Boost, etc) may not be the best choice since they are loaded with calories and artificial ingredients. Personally, I also think they taste disgusting.
Here are some tips that helped me through the liquid phase of my recovery:
- Add a banana! Everything tastes better with banana (plus it has potassium which is good for you).
- Add sherbet or sorbet. Even though we’d probably all love it, adding ice cream to every meal is just not sustainable.
- Add malted milk. Some people love it, some people hate it, but I found that it can really help the taste of some protein powders.
- Drink it immediately! There is pretty much nothing worse than protein powder that has had a chance to sit and separate.
- Frozen fruit can stand in for ice. Ice can make many protein powders watered down and, well, icey. If you don’t like that, try adding frozen fruit instead of ice (strawberries, blueberries, etc).
- Flavoring extracts can be a lifesaver. They come in all kinds of flavors (vanilla, cinnamon, fruits, mint, etc). You can also add flavored syrups (the kind you add to coffee).
- Substitute high protein foods if you just can’t stand protein powder no matter what you do or add to it. Foods like greek yogurt, tofu, eggs, and flaky fish have lots of protein.
- Not a fan of the creamy nature of most protein drinks? There are some that are clear, like fruit punch or Gatorade. Some people can tolerate these much better.
- Make jello! If you dissolve the protein powder in water, and then add it to jello mix, you can squirt this into your mouth with the syringe they gave you post-surgery (or just eat it if you aren’t post-op).
- Add kale or spinach. I love this tip… you can put spinach or kale in your smoothie without noticing the taste (as long as you also put in some banana too). This adds some great nutrients.
What is your favorite protein powder? Do you have any tips to share with us? We’d love to hear them… Let us know in the comments!
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