by Angela Pohlman, Wellness Category Manager
If you’ve ever browsed a protein powder section of a store, it can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many to choose from, and it can be difficult to understand the differences between them. It’s no different at the Coop. Aside from asking your friendly Wellness department staffer for help, here are some pro tips to help you find the best powder for you.
There are some questions you should ask yourself before buying:
Why do I want to try a protein powder? There are several reasons people choose to add a powdered protein to your diet. Here are some examples.
- I want to increase the protein content of my diet.
- I am looking to use a smoothie/shake as a replacement for a meal/snack.
- I want to increase the calories in my diet.
How do I want to use it?
If you are adding it to a smoothie with other ingredients—you may consider getting an unflavored one so it doesn’t interfere with the flavors of the fruits and veggies you are adding. Or choose one that enhances it—like if you generally add a cup of coffee to your smoothie, choose chocolate flavored, or if you do lots of fruit, use vanilla.
Mix and go shaker cup or mason jar.
You’ll want to go with a good tasting powder that doesn’t require you to add things. This may mean trying out lots of packets until you find one you like. Keep in mind that some powders will thicken as they sit, so think about how long you take to drink it.
Cook or bake into things.
Keeping it simple with a straight protein may be the way to go. Some proteins, such as bone broth, can be added to savory things like soups or cooked with rice or noodles.
Do I have any preference regarding ingredients? Does it need to be dairy free? Soy free? Vegan? Do I want it to be sweetened? If so, with sugar? Stevia? Xylitol? Do I want it to be Organic? Raw?
Okay, now that you have an idea of what you want, here are some other tips to narrow down your choices.
Protein Powders can be divided into a few main categories
These typically have other nutrients added, may contain green foods, and generally have fiber to help you feel full. Look for the word “meal” on the label. These are great for folks who want to use a smoothie for a meal.
These are strictly protein or a blend of proteins. Depending on the source, it may be a good fiber source too.
Protein powders are also either made from animal proteins such as whey, eggs, muscle, or plant protein such as soy, hemp, pea, often a blend.
Another big piece regarding whey or soy protein is whether it is isolated or concentrated. Isolated proteins often have to use a chemical to separate them. This creates a very high potency protein, but many folks do not like the chemical often used to do that—hexane. Concentrated is more of a physical process—it can increase the protein content without adding unwanted chemicals.
Many brands, especially the plant-based ones, will add herbal or nutritional supplements to the blend to aid in the feeling of satiety, energy or digestive support.
The main thing to do with powders is to try several to find what works for you.
Wellness Wednesday is a great day to try a new one!