If you want to build your strength and muscle mass, choosing a good protein powder is a good place to start. In a baseline review of 49 studies and 1,863 participants, published in British Journal of Sports MedicineData show that protein supplementation has significantly improved changes in muscle strength and size when taken as part of a strength training program.
But when you’re ready to go shopping and find the “best protein powder” on Google, you’ll have to sort out literally thousands of results. As a dietitian and sports nutritionist, I want to help you by recommending the best ones you should buy.
Today’s protein powders go beyond whey, casein, albumin and soy. There are also a variety of vegetarian and vegan options made with peas, almonds and other herbal proteins.
So which protein powder is best? Well, it depends.
Technically, whey protein powders have the most research to support their role in building stronger muscles.. However, if you eat an herbal diet, there is growing evidence that protein powders in peas, hemp, soy, almonds and other plants will also promote stronger muscles.
As you can see, the best protein powder is not the only solution. When I recommend a protein powder to my clients, I start by assessing their general nutritional needs, sports-specific requirements, and any dietary restrictions.
Depending on whether you’re looking for an animal protein powder or an herbal protein powder, Here are my specific recommendations for the best protein powders for stronger muscles and what I like about each of them. Read on for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss out on eating habits to lose belly fat as you get older, dietitians say.
Decades of research show that Whey protein is one of the best building blocks for building muscle mass. This is because whey protein is rich in leucine, an amino acid that is responsible for stimulating muscle protein synthesis after exercise. Whey is a fast-acting protein, so it is digested quickly and goes into action, making it an excellent choice after exercise.
Many of my customers love this product because the whey comes from cows raised on pasture and fed on grass. No synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics or pesticides are used, and the list of ingredients is short.
This protein powder provides 19 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat, just 2 grams of sugar, no added sugars. One serving contains 2 grams of xylitol, a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener and stevia leaf extract, a natural, calorie-free sweetener.
Quest Nutrition creates products for athletes who want all the positive nutrition they can get, while minimizing low-quality added sugars.
Quest protein powders are among my favorites because they keep the added sugars at just 1 gram. Protein powder provides 20 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of total fat and 1 gram of sugar.
The protein in the product is a blend of long-lasting whey and faster-burning casein. They also taste great and can be used in a variety of carbohydrate-controlled recipes.
Casein is the other major protein found in dairy products. Unlike whey, casein is digested and absorbed more slowly and is considered a protein powder that is best taken before bed. In fact, studies show that taking casein protein before bed results in greater muscle size and strength gains, compared to athletes who did not take casein before bed. For a night option, here are two of my favorites:
I like this casein protein powder because it contains 25 grams of slow-digesting casein per serving. It’s great to have it before bed so that it can help you recover overnight. It has a short list of ingredients and is sweetened with monk fruit. A serving has 110 calories, no sugar or added sugar and 50% of your daily calcium requirement. Ascent products are also certified by Informed Sport-certified, a third-party supplement testing program.
This is one of my favorite casein protein powders. It is best taken before bed and has 24 grams of protein, 120 calories, 1 gram of total sugar, no added sugars and 40% of your daily calcium requirement.
It comes in some great flavors, such as Chocolate Supreme and Cookies and Cream, which will become your next favorite bedtime ritual.
READ MORE: The best supplements to take before bed, according to dietitians
In a recent study published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, female students were randomly assigned to consume either an almond-based or whey-based protein drink twice a day for a week. Results?
Both sources of protein (almonds and whey) have been shown to significantly improve nitrogen balance, indicating that almond protein powder may be a functional herbal alternative to animal whey proteins.
For a great almond protein powder, I like Bob’s Red Mill Almond Protein Powder. For those who want a more natural product, this is it. With one ingredient: almond protein powder.
This protein powder provides 20 grams of protein and 180 grams per serving. It has 6 grams of filling fiber, 4 grams of total sugar, no added sugars and is a significant source of calcium, iron and potassium. It can be incorporated into a variety of recipes, making it a more versatile protein powder than many others.
IN CONNECTION WITH: The best vegan protein powders for your muscle development needs
If you are wondering how much protein is ideal per day, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends 0.5 to one, 8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, that means 75 to 120 grams of protein a day.
To gain more power, divide your total daily protein into three or four servings a day, with at least 20-25 grams per serving. Consuming more than 25 grams of protein in one session will not further improve muscle protein synthesis and can only contribute to the addition of body fat.
Here’s an example: Breakfast with 25 grams of protein; a protein powder after a 20 gram workout. Lunch and dinner will provide 25 grams each (50 grams in total). Then you can have a protein powder before bed with another 20 grams of protein. That means 115 grams of protein.
And for more, look at 20 ways to get 20 grams of protein at each meal.