LifeTime WeightLoss Logo

« 5 Genius Ways To Use Protein Powder | Main | Questioning Coconut Oil? Here Are the Facts. »

Which Protein Powder is Best For You?

Interested in boosting your metabolism? Most of us would say, "yes," because of the benefits: promotes a lean physique, improves recovery between workouts, helps to manage your appetite and cravings, and supports bone health as you age.

Did you know your nutrition and supplement choices will play a huge role in how successful you’ll be at boosting your metabolism and achieving the benefits mentioned above? Our nutrition approach at Life Time is centered on choosing wholesome, minimally processed food, combined with high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade supplements to fill in nutrient gaps. Optimizing the quality of our food choices takes a considerable amount of daily effort that we should all strive for: shopping for groceries, prepping meals, and packing healthy lunches. But the convenience offered by supplements cannot be overlooked.

With so many protein powders (and supplements) in the marketplace, it can be daunting to figure out which is the best. As a dietitian and nutrition expert, I’m here to help you find the protein powder that’s best for your lifestyle.  If you’re looking for help with supplements, see my Beginner’s Guide to Supplements or email our coaching team.

Beginners Guide to Supplements

Why Use a Protein Powder, Anyway?

We hear conflicting messages about protein all the time. Some experts say the average North American takes in an excess of daily calories, yet there’s also evidence that consuming five times the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) has no negative effects on body composition or health.[i] Others advocate for protein restrictions, but if you exercise and want to promote better-than-average health, you need more protein than the RDA.

The International Society of Sports Nutrition’s (ISSN) latest Position Stand on Protein & Exercise recommends that exercising individuals consume at least 1.4–2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (1.4–2.0 grams/kilogram/day) divided into relatively consistent doses every three to four hours (while awake) to optimize muscle protein synthesis and prevent loss of lean tissue.[ii]

If you exercise and are trying to achieve weight loss through a calorie deficit, then you should aim even higher (more like 2.3–3.1 grams/kilogram/day) to maximize the retention of lean body mass during your hypocaloric efforts. In other words, adults who exercise should consume 20 to 40 grams of protein (or more) several times each day. This equates to about the size of one to two of your palms (same area and thickness) at each meal.

Protein needs per meal

Many of my clients come to me with a significantly low protein intake. Many times when individuals increase their exercise efforts and start to watch their diet, they may unintentionally put themselves at a protein disadvantage. While they’re eating enough to prevent deficiency (RDA), they aren’t consuming enough protein to maximize their results.

Protein supplements are an easy, effective, and enjoyable addition to a fitness plan. Beyond simple convenience, using protein powders boost protein intake with minimal additional calories from fat or carbohydrates. Many clients quickly find that protein powders help them to stay on track with their desired energy, health, and fitness goals.

Simply adding protein supplements (25 grams twice a day) to normal dietary habits during resistance training exercise programs, increases muscle mass and strength gains in both younger and older adults.[iii] Adding two servings of whey protein per day (with no other dietary changes) has also been shown to promote increased fat loss in comparison to equal amounts of soy protein or carbohydrate supplementation.[iv]

Other Benefits Of Adding Protein Powder:

  • Promotes healthy blood pressure levels. 
  • Supports antioxidant capacity. 
  • Manages appetite and promotes insulin sensitivity and glucose balance.[vi][v]

"Protein supplements aren’t just for bodybuilders and athletes. There are real health benefits you may be missing by not including protein supplements."

What Time of Day is Best To Add Protein Powder?

Based on your current eating pattern and goals, it’s likely there’s a time (or two) during your day that you could benefit from adding more protein. For many people, breakfast and mid-afternoon are the timeframes where typical food choices tend to be low in protein or missed opportunities altogether.

Two Questions to Ask When Choosing A Protein Powder:

  1. Do you want a plant- or animal-based protein supplement?
  2. Will you use your protein powder as a liquid meal supplement/snack or would you prefer to boost the protein content of a food you’re already consuming?

If You Tolerate Dairy-Sourced Protein:

My top protein recommendation is a Grass-Fed Whey Protein Concentrate. Whey protein concentrate from grass-fed cows offers a rich source of essential and branched-chain amino acids, immune-supporting immunoglobulin proteins and lactoferrin, and higher omega-3 fatty acids than non-grass-fed whey or whey isolate.

If You’re Vegan, Dairy-Free or Lactose-Intolerant:

A plant-based protein powder is an awesome option — and they’ve come a long way since they first hit the market. Times have changed, and plant-based proteins like our Vegan Protein or Vegan Protein+ All in One Shake have a smooth texture (instead of chalky and gritty) and offer complete amino acid profiles that compare to whey protein. It’s tough to notice the difference these days. The impressive amino acid content in our products comes mainly from pea protein isolate, with small amounts of other plant protein sources (rice protein, chia protein or chlorella protein).

Oral supplementation with pea protein promotes similar muscle gains as whey protein with 12 weeks of supplementation (25 grams twice daily) and resistance training.[vii] Similar to whey, pea protein also shows promise for the promotion of normal blood pressure.[viii]

This is great news for those who choose a vegan lifestyle or can’t tolerate dairy protein like whey; they aren’t missing out on any of the benefits of getting adequate protein for their lifestyle.

Do You Need an All-in-One Protein?  

When I’m just trying to boost the protein in a recipe a client is already consuming — like a smoothie, pancakes or dessert — I like to use our Grass-Fed Whey or Vegan Protein formulas. These have 22–24 grams of protein, fewer than four grams of carbs and only a couple grams of fat per serving.

If my clients are combatting a busy work/life schedule and tend to miss meals or need a substantial snack to keep them on track between meals, the all-in-one supplements we’ve formulated are perfect. They’re designed to be a just-add-liquid meal supplement offering 30 grams of protein, less than five grams of fiber, and five grams of fat from medium-chain triglycerides (a type of fat that’s easily digested, absorbed and utilized for energy). Plus, these formulas contain a multivitamin and multi-mineral blend, digestive enzymes, a fruit and veggie blend, and probiotics to support healthy gut bacterial balance.

"Whey and plant-based protein options are so close in quality that either source you choose will offer health benefits, and with 'just protein' and 'all-in-one'options, you can easily integrate protein into your lifestyle."

More to Consider . . .

Protein supplements don’t just end at whey concentrate and pea protein. There are a handful of other protein options with unique benefits too. Stayed tuned for my next article when I’ll introduce the new formulas we’re developing for our line: Beef Collagen Peptides and Whey Isolate Protein.

In the meantime, schedule an appointment with a fitness professional at your club or email our coaching team if you want more help sorting out your health and fitness program.


In health, 

Paul Kriegler, Registered Dietitian, Life Time - Nutrition Program Development Manager.


This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.











PrintView Printer Friendly Version