Best post workout protein powder
Walk into any gym nowadays, and you’re just as likely to hear the rattling of a shaker bottle as the clanking of weights. Powders, bars and other supplements have become so ingrained in our culture that it’s hard to imagine not following up a great workout with a shake of some sort (and sometimes even mid-workout). Protein powder is, in many ways, leading the supplement charge. Created by various sources — from whey to soy to pea — and popping up everywhere from GNC’s to neighborhood grocery stores, the popular supplement has cemented its place in our minds and in our diets.
Regardless of whether you’re an elite athlete or just a weekend warrior, chances are you have a tub of protein powder sitting somewhere in your house. At the very least, you’ve gulped down a shake at one point or another — maybe even a smoothie. But do you really know what’s inside your protein powder or how it should be used to give you the biggest advantage and best results? To help you more effectively decide how, when and if you should use this supplement, we created this beginner guide, answering the most popular questions about protein powder.
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Protein Powder Primer: The Why’s and What’s
Many gym-goers grab a tub and start adding shakes to their diet without first considering why or if they need protein powder at all. As Brian St. Pierre, sports dietitian and nutrition coach at Precision Nutrition, puts it, the most obvious reason to supplement with protein powder is to reach your protein intake goal for the day. However, they aren’t absolutely needed. “If you can meet your protein needs with whole foods, that’s fine, ” says St. Pierre. If you find yourself taking in a quality whole-food source of protein three to four times a day, generally a gram of protein per pound of body weight, you might not even need the powder fallback. But, when you’re crunched for time, protein supplements can be your biggest ally.
Although the labels may claim otherwise, the various tubs are more equal than you think. At the heart of all protein powders is just what one would assume (or hope) — protein — whether it’s from whey, hemp, soy, or elsewhere. Still, you might see terms like “hydrolyzed” and “cutting edge” to spruce up bottles. St. Pierre argues that the pursuit of better and faster digesting protein powders may be frivolous in the grand scheme of things (research agrees). “A lot of companies will push for getting you to pay big bucks for grass fed whey or cold-filtered whey, ” St. Pierre says. “These could be things that make them better, but how much better is up for debate.”
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So, if spending more doesn’t necessarily make a protein powder better, what should consumers look for when shopping the supplement aisle? St. Pierre recommends first looking for a reputable company that has good manufacturing practices (they’ll often advertise that on the label). He also suggests buyers vet out various products using third-party certifying brands like Informed Choice. Certifying companies buy actual products off of store shelves (just like a normal buyer) and run tests to make sure the bottle contains what the label advertises.
After narrowing your protein search down to a handful of brands, it’s time to investigate the nutritional facts. While the numbers and words may sound foreign, St. Pierre recommends just looking at a handful of characteristics. He likes a protein powder that is relatively low in fat and carbs.
When to Mix It Up
So, you’ve done your research and brought home a tub of high-quality protein powder. What now? Figuring out the best times to supplement can be difficult. Here are the two most common uses for protein powder during the day and specific applications for each.
1. Meal Replacement
When you’re rushing out the door late for work in the morning, the last thing you have time for is to make a quick breakfast to kickstart your day. That’s one scenario where protein shakes can come in handy. In general, St Pierre recommends adding in a source of vegetables, a serving or two of fruit and some healthy fats alongside a scoop or two of protein powder. In fact, he and the team at Precision Nutrition have coined a term for these massive meal-replacers — “super shakes.” These shakes can be used in place of a meal or in addition to a regular meal when trying to gain weight. Here’s their recommend recipe for both men and women:
2 scoops of protein powder
1-2 cups of vegetables (like spinach, which doesn’t affect the taste)
2 handfuls of fruit (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons of healthy fat (a nut butter or seed for example)
Mixer (almond milk, regular milk, water — your choice)
1 scoop of protein powder
1 cup of vegetables
1 handful of fruit