Getting adequate protein is essential for health and optimal physical performance. An easy way to increase the protein in your diet is through the use of protein powders. These powders can be used in a drink, added to hot cereals, cold cereals or mixed into other foods. There are quite a variety of protein powders on the market and there are some key differences between them. Some protein powders such as whey, goat, and egg are complete proteins, meaning they provide all the essential amino acids for proper nutrition. Some protein powders such as rice, pea and hemp are incomplete, meaning they are low in certain amino acids and it is best if they are paired together with another protein to complete the amino acid profile. Here is a review of the various types and some great recommendations for you to consider.
Whey is a complete protein derived from milk typically as a by-product from cheese making. There are two varieties of whey protein, concentrate and isolate. The whey concentrate has a low lactose level and is well tolerated by lactose-sensitive people. It is more economical per gram than the isolate. Whey isolate is virtually fat free and typically lactose free which makes it better for those lactose-sensitive people who find the concentrate still creates problems. The isolate offers a greater amount of protein per gram. Some prefer the taste of the whey isolate while others like the thicker version of the whey concentrate.
1. Jarrow Formula Whey Protein offers a great unflavored whey protein powder concentrate. It offers 18 grams of protein per serving. It mixes fairly well with water and a vigorous stirring with a teaspoon. Since it is unflavored it can be put into many different foods without disrupting their taste. I like to use it as a drink and flavor it with unsweetened chocolate powder and a little stevia to sweeten it. When I have more time I like to use this with yogurt and blend it with some berries for a great tasting smoothie.
2.Pure Protein 100% Natural Whey Protein is a blend of concentrate and isolate. It offers 23 grams of protein per serving and mixes very easily. I use just a teaspoon to stir it into water and find that it mixes completely with not lumps or clumps. This comes in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors. This is very convenient when I am pressed for time and want something already flavored. It is sweetened with fructose and stevia but has just 3 grams of sugar per serving and only 5 total grams of carbohydrate.
3. Bluebonnets 100 Natural Whey Protein Isolate is sourced from grass-fed cows that are not treated with antibiotics or recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). As the name says it is a whey protein isolate which offers 26 grams of protein per serving. The isolate form is virtually lactose free which is great if you are lactose-sensitive. The grass-fed cows offer a protein that naturally has more omega 3 fatty acids. Although not organic, it is close with the lack of antibiotics and lack of rBGH so for those seeking to reduce chemical exposure this is a great choice.
Goat Milk Protein
Goat milk protein is a complete protein derived from goat milk. There is slightly more protein and less fat naturally in goat milk. Those who do not tolerate cow milk may be able to use goat milk. It is rich in oligosaccharide which aids in digestion and studies have found it can serve as a prebiotic agent for those with compromised intestinal function.
Garden of Life Goatein is a whey concentrate that offers 13 grams of protein per serving and only 3 grams of sugar (from Lo Han fruit concentrate). Goatein goats are not fed pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones or antibiotics and this product has no fillers, artificial ingredients or preservatives so this is another great choice for those who are looking to reduce chemical exposure. Protein molecules in goat’s milk have a different structure than those in cow’s milk. This allows certain people who cannot tolerate bovine milk to consume milk protein from goats.
Egg protein is a complete protein derived from eggs. It may be whole egg protein including the yolks or egg white protein alone. In addition to its usefulness in drinks or added to meals, it can be used in baking and can also be reconstituted with water as a fresh egg substitute.
Jay Robb Egg White Protein offers a great unflavored egg protein powder that offers 24 grams of protein per serving. It uses eggs from chickens untreated with hormones. The unflavored variety allows you to use this in cooking or baking as you would with egg whites. There is not strong taste to the unflavored variety, but I found I preferred to flavor it with unsweetened chocolate powder or add it to my fruit smoothie. It does come in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors, but those are sweetened with xylitol and I prefer to avoid this.
Rice protein is an incomplete protein derived from the rice grain. It makes a good alternative for those who cannot digest dairy products or who only want plant based proteins. Rice protein is low in lysine and threonine. It is best used paired with pea protein in order to complete the necessary amino acids.
Jarrow Organic Brown Rice Protein is a protein that is suitable for vegetarians or vegans. It offers an alternative protein to those sensitive to wheat, soy, and dairy. This brand offers a non-GMO rice that has been processed without chemical solvents and milled to mix with a smooth texture. It comes in vanilla, chocolate and berry flavors and has no sugars or artificial sweeteners. Blending this protein with pea protein will work very well in creating a protein combination that offers all the essential amino acids or it can be used as a part of a meal that contains legumes.
Pea protein powder is an incomplete protein derived from the pea seeds. It is high in glutamic acid which assists the body in converting carbohydrates to energy. Pea protein is low in methionine. It can be paired with brown rice or hemp protein to complete the amino acids needed for proper nutrition.
Now Foods Pea Protein is a non-GMO vegetable protein isolate. It offers a great alternative protein to those sensitive to wheat, soy, and dairy. Each serving gives 24 grams of protein with no fat or sugar. It comes unflavored and some may find the taste pleasant enough by itself, but you can always add your own flavorings or add it into smoothies. Blending this protein with brown rice or hemp protein will complete the amino acid profile. If you do not have a problem with dairy, you could also mix this protein with milk or yogurt to balance the amino acids.
Hemp protein is an incomplete protein derived from the hemp seed. It is touted as a ‘near-complete’ protein, but it is low in lysine and leucine amino acids. Combining hemp protein with pea protein will give a complete amino acid protein. Hemp is higher in fiber than other protein powders.
Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein offers 15 grams of protein per serving along with 8 grams of fiber. This is another one of the protein alternatives for vegans, vegetarians or those seeking a non-dairy, non-soy protein source. The seed comes from certified organic and non-GMO hemp that is grown on farms in Canada. If you want to avoid all diary, you will want to combine this protein with pea protein to make its amino acid profile complete. Just a note in case you were wondering, this hemp product will not offer any drug like effects, but I don’t know for certain how it would show up on drug testing.