How to choose a Protein Powder

Protein is a necessary component of the human diet. In fact, it is used in almost every biological process in the human body. Getting enough protein each day can help to keep you feeling full, and can also help your muscles grow and repair themselves. However, there are many different proteins to choose from and they all have different properties that affect the body in different ways. One way to incorporate protein in your diet is through the use of protein powders. However, it is important to keep in mind that you can get all the protein you need from the food you eat. Take a look at your diet before you invest in protein powders.

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=== Determining Your Main Reason for Using Protein Powder ===
#Add protein powder for muscle gain. Protein powders can be added to your daily diet to help you boost your muscle mass and help your muscles recover after an intense workout. Protein is made up of amino acids that are responsible for toning and maintaining your lean muscle.

Again, protein supplements designed to help you bulk up should be an addition to your diet, not a replacement of a meal or meals.
Add protein powder for weight loss. Protein increases the feeling of satiety and fullness, which may help curb overeating. It is also important for maintaining current muscle mass when doing exercise. When you reduce the number of calories you eat each day by going on a diet, your body may begin burning away your muscle mass. Taking a protein powder will help to curb the loss of your muscle mass.

When trying to lose weight, the most important thing is to create a healthy diet for yourself and  get plenty of exercise each day. Once you have shaped your diet and created an exercise regimen, you can then add weight loss supplements if you want to.
Add protein powder for overall health. Some studies suggest that protein powders can help your body to move nutrients through the body and may help to lower your cholesterol.

Because of this, adding a protein powder to your healthy diet could help with lowering cholesterol, blood pressure or body mass quicker than just eating a healthy diet alone.
Add protein powder as a dietary supplement. Some medical conditions can lower your body’s ability to process protein or require that you get extra protein to keep certain symptoms at bay. These reasons may include:

Having gastric bypass. This can cause you to need extra protein because your gut does not absorb nutrients as effectively as it may have before the surgery.
Having certain diseases or conditions like Celiac disease or Crohn’s disease. These conditions may cause you to need extra protein in case of a flare up.

=== Determining How Much Protein You Need ===
Make sure to get enough protein each day so that you can stay healthy and energized. Protein is stored in the body muscle and must be consumed daily or it will be leached from the muscle for biological repair of tissue. This results in wasting of muscle tissue and loss of strength. For this reason, it is recommended that people get all the essential amino acids needed by the body on a daily basis.
Most people in western society do not need extra protein because the western diet is rich in protein. This doesn’t mean that using protein powders is bad for your health, but that you will need to plan your diet carefully, including the protein powders as a source of nutrition.
The research is still emerging on the amount of protein needed for everyone. However, there are current recommendations for protein based on scientific evidence that everyone can use.
Eat 0.8 g of protein for every 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of body weight. This is what the Institute of Medicine recommends for a healthy adult. These are subsistence levels for sedentary individuals, which means that if you exercise frequently, you will need more protein.

This means that a 200 lb person would need approximately 72 g of protein a day.
If you exercise at all, the minimum should be 0.8 g per pound of body weight. So, a 200 lb. human should have 160 g of protein daily, more that twice as much as sedentary individuals.
Try to get 15% of your daily calories from protein. Protein provides 4 calories per gram. So for a 2,000 calorie diet, you would eat 75 g of protein daily.

Again, this is for people who do not exercise regularly and is a minimum amount needed. Active people should get at least twice that amount of protein, or 30%.
Increase your daily calories from protein by up to 40% (with fat at 30%, and carbs at 30%). The extra calories you get from protein should be used to limit the amount of refined carbohydrates you eat. Refined carbs are found in high fructose corn syrup and in processed grains like white pasta.

For a healthy adult, this increase should not negatively affect the kidneys if you drink 12 (8 oz.) glasses of water daily. By increasing the amount of calories you get from protein, you should be able to lose weight while also increasing your lean body mass.
Limit your protein intake to 0.8 to 1.25 gram (g) per 1 pound (lb). of body weight per day if you are trying to gain muscle mass and decrease body fat percentage. When you are trying to lose weight, it is important to keep the calories you consume in mind. Just because you limit your intake of carbohydrates when trying to lose weight does not mean you can eat excessive amounts of other types of food, like proteins.

If you have any health conditions that could affect your kidneys, limit your protein intake to 0.8 g per pound of body weight and see your doctor for regular blood work to monitor your kidney function. Track your intake with smartphone applications like “Lose It!”, or another free application.

=== Choosing an Animal-Based Protein Powder ===
Pick an egg protein if high bioavailable protein is most important to you. Body builders looking to bulk up quickly might choose egg powder unless they have egg white allergies. Eggs have a bio value of 1.00, which means that they are essentially the perfect protein. Eggs contain all of the essential amino acids needed to help you maintain your muscle mass. It can also help your muscles to recover after an intense workout.

In addition to helping you maintain your muscle mass, egg protein powder can help to make you feel full, which makes it an ideal protein powder if you are trying to lose weight.
Consume milk protein powder if you are trying to lose weight and improve health by exercising regularly. Milk protein powder can help you to lower your body mass and is thought to be able to help you lower your blood pressure. It can help your muscles to recover after a hard workout, and helps your body to synthesize new muscle protein.

Milk protein is generally consumed after a workout, as it helps your muscles to recover and retain their mass.
Do not use milk protein if you are allergic to lactose as it will have the same effect as drinking milk.
Add whey protein powder to your diet if you are using protein powder to aid in post-workout recovery. Whey is the watery substance that is made when milk is made into cheese. Whey protein synthesizes new muscle protein more effectively than regular milk protein powders, which makes it the ideal protein powder if you are looking to bulk up with resistance training. The body can absorb whey protein quickly. However, this protein may cause you some gastrointestinal distress if you are lactose intolerant.

There are three different levels of whey protein: whey protein, whey protein isolate, and advance whey protein isolate. these levels are based on the filtering process each powder has gone through. The more a powder is filtered, the easier it will be for you to take if you are lactose intolerant. This means that if you are lactose intolerant, you would have the least gastrointestinal distress when using advanced whey protein isolate.
However, these advanced powders can be very expensive.
=== Choosing a Plant Based Protein Powder ===
Understand that plant-based protein powders can have the same effects as animal-based powders. The plant proteins available as protein powders are generally complete proteins. Some are gluten free and all can be considered vegan. They have lower protein content than animal sources, but still have many benefits.
Plant protein powders usually require more processing and tend to be more expensive than animal protein powders.
Choose a soy protein powder if you are looking to improve overall health. Soy-based protein powders are the most widely used plant-based protein. This protein powder is generally recommended for women, as soy contains phytoestrogen, a plant sterol that can mimic the hormone estrogen. Phytoestrogen can decrease the ability of the hormone lipase to break down body fat. In the past, soy was thought to aggravate breast cancer, but new studies are showing that it may actually help to shrink tumors.

Soy protein comes very close to animal protein in protein content and quality. It has a PDCAAS value of 0.92 to 0.99.
Studies have shown that soy protein lowers LDL cholesterol and affects fat metabolism.
Soy protein also promotes satiety, which can help to keep you fuller for longer, so that you lose weight.
There have been limited studies showing soy protein having positive effects on cognitive function.
Have hemp protein if you are looking for a high quality vegan protein that is also high in fiber. In fact, hemp is considered a complete protein, as it contains all 20 essential amino acids. It is considered a good protein powder for people hoping to lose weight because it is high in fiber, which can help to fill you up and keep you fuller for longer.

Hemp also contains phytoestrogen like soy. Hemp protein is usually sold in blends with other proteins and is not widely available. It is a relatively expensive protein powder to use.
Buy a flaxseed powder if you need to increase protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Flaxseed is not a protein powder, but does contain high amounts of protein and can be used as a protein powder or with other protein powders. It is high in fiber and contains essential omega fatty acids, including omega 3’s.

The protein content and quality can vary with flaxseed. It is gluten free. Flaxseed powder is sold in most grocery stores.
Incorporate brown rice protein powder into your diet if you have gastrointestinal issues, but still need a high quality protein powder. Brown rice powder is gluten free and easy to digest. It contains many of the essential amino acids, but not all of them, which means that it should be consumed in conjunction with other protein foods or powders.

Pick pea protein powder if satiety is important. Pea protein made from the yellow split pea and is easily digested, as well as gluten free. It contains a well-balanced amino acid profile and a high amount of protein, though it does not have all of the necessary amino acids. It has a PDCAAS rating of 0.93.

Pea protein is especially good for people looking to lose weight, as it can keep you feeling full for long periods of time.

=== Understanding Quality in Protein Powders ===

Understand what PDCAAS rating stands for. PDCAAS stands for protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score. This score rates the protein based on bioavailability and essential amino acid supply.

The highest score is 1.00. Eggs have a score of 1.00.
Know the difference between isolate and concentrate. Protein powders are generally not made entirely of protein. Because of this, it is important to look at how much protein you are getting, and how many other ingredients there are.

Concentrate contains between 30% and 85% protein. It is cheaper and easier to find.
Isolate contains more than 90% protein and is more expensive.
When purchasing protein powder, be sure to check the label for the percentage of protein to be sure you are getting the best powder for your money.
Check the label when purchasing protein blends. You will want to know how much of each protein is in the blend before you purchase the powder. This should be stated somewhere on the label.

If the amount of each protein is not stated, you may want to consider another blend.
Know that amino acid powders are not the same as protein powders. Proteins are made up of amino acids and, in order to be a complete protein, they must contain all 9 essential amino acids.

Amino acid powders have their functions, but will not do the same thing as a protein powder.

== Tips ==
The market contains many protein powders of varying qualities. It can be hard to understand which protein has the highest amount of bioavailable protein or which blend is the right for you.
Before adding protein powder to the diet, you should know why you are adding it. Knowing what the main reason is for the protein powder will allow you to choose a protein or a combination of proteins that will achieve the desired effect.
Animal-based proteins are complete proteins. They are gluten free and widely available. They also tend to be cheaper than plant based protein powders.
If you have never purchased protein powder, go to a nutrition store and review what they have. Also, ask the sales person questions because they will have more knowledge than an average sales person at a grocery store or health foods store. Once you have reviewed the selection and asked questions, go home and research before you buy.

== Warnings ==
*If you have any health issues, please discuss using protein powder with a nutritionist before making the decision.

== Sources and Citations ==