If you have been in and around the gym or hanging out with fitness enthusiasts, you’ve probably heard them talking about protein powder. You may believe that this is something that only people who are serious about getting/staying in shape can benefit from. The truth is, absolutely anyone can benefit from protein powder. In this article, we’ll talk more about protein powder and review the top 5 best protein powder for bodybuilding.
Types of Protein Powder
One thing is for sure, when you’re shopping for protein powder, you will see that there is no shortage of options. Depending on your goals and your lifestyle, there are several different types. You can choose from:
- Brown rice
- Egg white
When you start looking, you may find that you have too many options and have a hard time choosing the best. Honestly, there really is no “best” that fits everyone. It all depends on your goals for using the protein powder. Below, we’ll explore each one so that you can understand a bit more.
Whey is the most common type of protein. It is sourced from milk during the cheesemaking process. As the milk is processed, it separates into a solid and a liquid. The solid is the curds, which are used to make cheese. The liquid is whey. There are 3 different types of whey protein:
- Isolate: this type of whey protein is 90%+ protein and zero lactose, carbs, or fat.
- Concentrate: protein content is lower (30 to 89%), and is low in fat and carbs- does contain lactose
- Hydrolysate: this type of whey protein has gone through additional filtration, so it’s considered “predigested”- making it easier for your body to digest/absorb
It’s important to note that, as mentioned, whey comes from milk. Therefore, if you have a dairy allergy, you will want to choose protein from a different source. Additionally, while whey isolate doesn’t usually present any issues since the lactose has been removed, you may wish to avoid whey if you are lactose intolerant. Lactose is a sugar substance found in milk that some people can’t digest.
Also, whey protein is known to contain BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, which are three of the 9 essential amino acids. There are a total of 21 amino acids, your body does not produce the 9 essential ones, so you need to obtain them through diet and supplementation.
Research has shown that whey protein can help with gaining/retaining muscle mass, recovering from intense workouts, and improving strength- when used in conjunction with a strength training program.
Casein is also sourced from dairy. It is the substance that makes milk appear white. When you consume casein, it turns into a gel when it comes in contact with your stomach acid, which slows down digestion. This means that you feel fuller and satiated much longer than you would with other types of protein.
Since digestion/absorption is slowed, the amino acids have more time to get into your muscles, which decreases the degradation rate of muscle protein. Studies have proven that casein is more effective at improving muscle protein synthesis and strength than soy or wheat proteins. However, whey is still the superior option.
Research shows that soy protein is a high-quality plant-sourced protein. However, male bodybuilders do not typically use it because it contains phytoestrogens, a chemical known to reduce testosterone and increase estrogen when taken in high doses. Also, it’s important to note that soy protein contains less leucine than whey protein.
Also, it contains low doses of the essential amino acids and is fine to use moderately- especially alongside whey or other high-quality sources. Soy protein should not be consumed in high amounts.
Again, due to the phytoestrogen content, it’s not ideal for men to use. However, there is some research indicating that it may be good for postmenopausal women. Also, older adults and individuals with low bone density and at risk for heart disease may benefit from the phytonutrients found in soy protein.
Pea protein is the second plant-sourced protein on the list. This one is loved by vegetarians, vegans, and even those who have allergies/sensitivities to eggs or dairy. It is sourced from split yellow peas. These peas are high in fiber and contain 8 of the 9 essential amino acids. Additionally, pea protein is high in BCAAs.
Rodent studies indicate that pea protein is digested and absorbed slower than whey protein, but faster than casein. However, in regard to satiety, it seems to be on par with both of them.
Hemp protein is the second plant-sourced protein we’ll look at. Hemp protein is very quickly gaining popularity. You may be wondering about the name- yes, it does come from cannabis plants, but it only has trace amounts of THC.
Research indicates that it is high in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with several of the essential amino acids. It is not considered a complete protein because the levels of both lysine and leucine are low.
At this time, not much research has been dedicated to hemp protein, so we don’t know a lot yet. That being said, what we do know indicates that it is a quality plant-sourced protein.
If you are lactose intolerant but would prefer a high-quality animal-sourced protein, egg protein might be worth looking at. In general, eggs are a wonderful meal, ensuring that you remain satiated for longer. Unfortunately, egg protein powder is typically made from egg whites only. While the protein content is high, there’s no fat because the yolks are not included. This means that you won’t feel satiated for as long as you would with whole eggs.
Egg protein does contain the 9 essential amino acids, so it is considered a complete source of protein, just like the other animal-sourced proteins. It’s important to note that it is the second highest source of leucine, right behind whey protein.
Unfortunately, egg protein hasn’t gotten much attention compared to other sources of protein, but it does show promise. If you are allergic to dairy but want an animal-sourced protein, keep this one in mind.
Brown Rice Protein
Finally, we have brown rice protein. This is another plant-sourced protein and it’s been around for some time. However, research shows that it’s inferior compared to whey protein, especially in regard to muscle growth. It is not a complete protein because it only contains 8 of the 9 essential amino acids- it is lacking lysine.
There has not been much research dedicated to brown rice protein at this time, so it’s hard to confirm or deny if it’s a quality protein.
Benefits of Protein Powder for Bodybuilding
Experts tell us that protein provides a variety of benefits. In fact, it is one of the critical components for skin, bone, and muscle health. In order to function effectively and efficiently, your body needs protein. Below, we’re going to explore some of the major benefits of using protein powder.
- Managing weight
- Increasing muscle mass
- Recovering after a workout
- Nutritional boost
When you eat high protein foods or take a protein supplement, you feel more satiated for a longer period of time. This full feeling keeps you from eating so much in one meal and it also keeps you from snacking so often. Therefore, it’s easier to manage your weight: you can maintain a healthy weight or even lose weight if you need to.
According to a 2017 study, whey protein supplementation helped reduce body weight/total fat in individuals who were overweight or obese. Additionally, some research shows that protein reduces blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Increasing Muscle Mass
According to some experts- especially bodybuilders, athletes, and workout enthusiasts- protein can help you bulk up when consumed alongside a workout regimen. After all, research shows that you need protein for muscle growth.
In 2018, researchers reviewed 49 studies– all of which supported protein for increasing muscle mass. Results showed that those who used protein supplementation along with resistance training experienced an increase in muscle size and strength.
Results were similar for both men and women. However, results do decrease with age because as we get older, our protein needs increase. It’s important to note that more doesn’t always mean better. Once you go over 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, benefits stay the same.
Recovering after a Workout
Protein does not just encourage muscle growth- it also helps with repairing damaged muscles/tissues. This is one of the main reasons people use protein powder– to help them cope with the soreness that follows an intense workout.
In fact, many studies support the use of a protein supplement following a workout to improve recovery because it improves muscle performance/protein synthesis and reduces muscle damage.
Nutrition experts tell us that the RDI (recommended daily intake) of protein for adults over age 19 is:
- Females: 46 grams
- Males: 56 grams
Ideally, it should come through your diet- but some people have a hard time reaching these requirements for various reasons. If you are one of those that struggles with getting enough protein naturally, a protein powder may be worth considering.
If you are an athlete/weightlifter/bodybuilder, have a chronic illness, or are older, you may want to exceed the RDI. In fact, some research indicates that athletes who participate in intense training may benefit from consuming twice the RDI from 1.4 grams to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. This means if an individual weighs 175 pounds, they should consume 111 to 150 grams of protein.
Top 5 Best Protein Powder for Bodybuilding
Now that you know more about the types of protein powders and the health benefits associated with protein powder, we’ll review the top 5 best protein powder for bodybuilding.
XWERKS Grow – Editor’s Choice
XWERKS Grow is considered one of the highest quality protein supplements on the market today. That is why it is the first one on our list. It is a whey protein isolate that has been sourced from grass-fed cows in New Zealand. The farming practices are strict in New Zealand, so you can be sure that the dairy cows are never given antibiotics or hormones and there are never any pesticides used.
Since it’s a whey isolate, the lactose, fat, and carbs have been removed. This means even if you are lactose intolerant, you should be able to use it without any issues. Plus, it is easily digestible, so you won’t have to worry about gas or bloating. Finally, it is soy-free and gluten-free.
Each serving of XWERKS Grow contains:
- 0 carbs/0 fat
- 6 grams BCAAs
- 25 grams protein
You will find XWERKS Grow in four traditional flavors:
- Peanut butter
Huge Whey Protein Powder by Huge Supplements
Huge Supplements was founded in 2019, so they are still a fairly new company- but they quickly became quite popular. They did their research and their formula was subjected to some strict testing, so you can be sure that it’s high-quality.
Huge Whey Protein Powder is a blend of whey concentrate and whey isolate, which provides users with balanced protein. For those who prefer all-natural supplements, it’s important to note that this one does contain some added flavors.
According to the website, Huge Whey Protein has a stellar nutrient profile. Each serving contains the following:
- 120 calories
- 23 grams protein
- 2 grams fat
- 5 grams BCAAs
Huge Whey Protein powder is offered in several unique flavors:
- Peanut butter
- Cookies & cream
- Strawberry cheesecake
Since Huge Whey Protein only has 2 grams of fat, it’s one of the leanest options on our list.
Whey Protein by Transparent Labs
The third option on our list is Whey Protein by Transparent Labs. This protein powder is 100% whey isolate. The primary reason it is on our list is due to the protein content. Each scoop is 32 grams and contains 28 grams of protein. Therefore, this supplement is 88% protein.
This protein supplement is also sourced from grass-fed cows, but this time from the United States. These dairy cows are only fed a natural diet and are never given any supplements, antibiotics, or hormones. Also, Transparent Labs is completely honest and never adds any synthetics to their protein. Due to this fact, this is one of the best options on the market today.
Every serving of Transparent Labs Whey Protein contains:
- 28 grams protein
- Up to 120 calories, based on flavor
- Less than 1 gram of sugar
- 1 gram of carbs
Transparent Labs Whey Protein offers several flavors:
- French vanilla
- Milk chocolate
- Salted caramel
In addition to the stellar macronutrient profile listed above, it has a great price point. So, you really don’t have to break the bank to get a quality source of protein.
Whey + Protein Powder by Legion
Whey + Protein by Legion is a popular protein powder. It is 100% natural, sourced from dairy cattle on farms in Ireland that are family owned/operated. These farms follow the strict guidelines of the SDAS, that is Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme, which means that this protein comes from the healthiest, cleanest milk in the world.
Each serving contains:
- 22 grams of protein
- 5 grams of fat
- 6 grams BCAAs
- 2 grams carbs
- 22 grams protein
If you appreciate natural protein powders that provide a variety of benefits, you might want to keep this one in mind.
100% Tri-Protein by CrazyBulk
The final option on our list of 5 best proteins for bodybuilding is 100% Tri-Protein by CrazyBulk. According to the website, this protein powder increases gains and soothes pain from intense workouts. There are six types of protein in this supplement and they are released in three different stages, making it easier for your body to absorb it.
100% Tri-Protein contains the following protein types:
CrazyBulk 100% Tri-Protein also contains DigeZyme, a digestive enzyme that reduces bloat and improves absorption. It is available in a decadent chocolate flavor and provides 21 grams of protein.
Creative Uses for Protein Powder
Most people who use protein powders make shakes by blending the powder with water or milk. However, some people don’t really care for them and honestly, it’s easy to get burnt out when you do the same thing all the time. Below, we’ll show you a few creative ways that you can use your protein powder for bodybuilding.
Below are five ways that you can start your day with protein powder.
If you start your day with coffee, why not add a little something to it? Add ½ scoop of your favorite protein powder- flavored or unflavored to your morning coffee. Pour a small amount of coffee into the mug and then add the protein powder. Whisk to mix and then finish filling your cup.
If you enjoy a bowl of oatmeal, you can add some protein powder to it. Simply sprinkle ½ scoop over your oatmeal when you make it or, if you make overnight oats, you can add it when you put them together the night before. If you wish, you can add ground flax seeds, chia seeds, or walnuts to increase protein content.
If you prefer cereal, you can sprinkle ½ scoop over the top of your cereal. Typically, vanilla or unflavored is best, but you can choose whatever you like.
If you’re making a batch of pancakes/waffles, add a scoop of your favorite protein powder to the mix. This is also a great way to sneak some extra protein in the kids’ diet, especially if you have picky eaters. This is a great way to experiment with some different varieties.
For some extra flavor, add some protein powder, usually 1 to 2 tablespoons is enough, to plain yogurt. If you want, you can also add fresh fruits and/or nuts or seeds.
If you typically skip breakfast or you want to increase the protein content of your other meals, we’ve listed a few creative ways that you can add protein to your lunch or dinner.
Soup is a great dish to add protein powder to simply cook your soup as usual and remove from the heat. When it has stopped simmering, you can add 1 tablespoon of unflavored protein powder to your favorite creamy soup.
Though we’ve listed it here, this is also a great option for breakfast as well. Scramble eggs as usual and add a sprinkle of unflavored protein powder before cooking them.
When you are warming your pasta sauce, add some plant-based protein powder. Be sure to get some high protein pasta to serve it on for a more powerful protein punch.
When you are putting together your salad, add some unflavored protein powder to your dressing. If you prefer, you can make your own salad dressing with olive oil, vinegar, and a dash salt/pepper. If you wish to increase the protein content of your salad, add some chickpeas and/or walnuts.
Snack time is another great way to add protein to your diet. Below are a few snacks you can add protein powder to.
Chia Seed Pudding
When you are making your chia seed pudding, add some vanilla protein powder. If you’re not sure how to make chia seed pudding you can find lots of them with an online search.
When you are making cookies or brownies, add some of your favorite protein powder to the dough/batter. Start with 1 to 2 tablespoons and see if that works. You may need to experiment to find the right measurements or- as mentioned above, you may find some recipes online.
Cut up some fresh fruit and sprinkle your favorite protein powder on top. Some of the most popular flavors are vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry.
You can find lots of recipes online, but one of the most popular is blending together peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts/seeds, and oats to make energy bites/balls. You can blend in some protein powder to make it even better.
If you frequently find yourself in the gym or around fitness enthusiasts, you’ve probably heard talk about protein powder. You may be wondering if the hype is true. Honestly, it really is. Protein powder offers many health benefits, including building muscle. Therefore, it’s a great supplement to consider if you are into bodybuilding. Consider trying one of the recommendations we’ve provided here if you are interested in adding protein to your regimen.
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