How to Pick a Protein Powder

Most at some point wonder if they need a protein powder to help their training efforts, and that depends on your goals and current diet. Endurance based athletes have different needs from power/strength based athletes. Due to this I decided to write a post detailing what protein powder is, if you need it, and how to pick a safe protein powder.

Sponsored post by Naked Nutrition, all opinions are 100% my own

What Are Protein Powders?

Protein powders come in various forms. If you stop by your local health store and you’ll see rows of protein powders. The main ones are whey, soy, and casein protein. Of course, there are many others, but these tend to be the most common, specifical whey due to it being a water-soluble protein.

Along with types of protein powders they also come with varying price points, and this is due to the varying quality of the protein powders. For the casual athlete who doesn’t have a specific need at a certain time, the less expensive and more commercial proteins will be enough.

For those understand certain training schedules protein powder can be useful. They’re an easy and convenient source of complete, high-quality protein.

When Use Them?

When you’re growing. A teenager is going to need more protein to help fuel his workouts because his body is still growing and using more protein in general

When you’re starting a workout regimen. If working out is new to you and you’re trying to build muscle, you’ll require more protein than you normally would.

When you’re amping up your workouts. If you normally work out for thirty minutes a couple times a week, but you’ve switched to training for a half-marathon, your body will naturally require more protein.

When you’re recovering from an injury. Athletes with sports injuries will need more protein to help aide the body in the healing process.

If you’re going vegan. People who pursue a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle end up eliminating a majority of common protein sources from their diet, including meat, chicken, and fish, and sometimes dairy and eggs as well.  

Protein Math

Even though the above are valid reasons for trying to incorporate more protein into your diet, it may not be necessary. It doesn’t take that much protein to achieve the average goals. Most Americans already get about 15% of their daily calories in protein. To build a pound of muscle, the body needs between 10 and 14 additional grams of protein per day. Which really isn’t a lot, especially since some powders have 80 grams of protein per serving. You don’t need that, your body can’t even process that much in a serving.

So how can you tell if you’re getting enough? Do the math.

The following recommendation come from the American College of Sports Medicine and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

  • The average adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
  • Those taking part in recreational athletics need 1.1 to 1.4 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight.
  • Competitive athletes need 1.2 to 1.4 grams, and those involved in ultra-endurance sports may need up to 2.0g per kilogram per day.

Say you’re an adult athlete who wants to build muscle mass, and you weigh about 75 kilograms (165 pounds). The most protein you would need per day is 150 grams. That sounds like a lot. But one 4-ounce hamburger contains 30 grams of protein, 6 ounces of tuna has 40 grams, and a single ounce of cheddar cheese has 7 grams.

How to Use Protein Powders

If you calculate your intake and determine that you’re not getting enough for your athletic needs (some signs of too-low protein intake: you’re unusually fatigued, feel weak when lifting weight or doing other strenuous activity, or are recovering from injuries slowly) how can you best use protein powders to help you improve your performance?

First, ignore those who say to take protein right after a workout. Before, during, and after a workout your body needs carbs. They fuel your body and it’s what your muscles run on. This isn’t to say protein isn’t important, but research is showing that at that point the body needs fuel with a 4-1 to 5-1 ratio of carbs to protein. Given that most protein powders have at least 20 grams of protein per scoop, you’d need about 80 grams of carbs to go with that scoop to get the proportion of nutrients right.

It’s due to this ratio that many recommend chocolate milk after a workout since it hits this ratio. 

How to Pick a Safe On

When choosing your protein powder the type (whey, casein, soy, etc.) depends on when you plan to consume it. Beyond that, there are other criteria that are a bit more important. 

For example, some protein powder’s have fillers, lack essential amino acids, and don’t use quality ingredients in general. Because of this, I trust Naked Nutrition to deliver the purest ingredients with all of the essential amino acids without any artificial sweeteners or colors. 

My personal favorite is the Naked Chocolate Peanut Butter protein powder. It tastes great and mixes perfectly into my post-workout smoothie. Since adding the Naked Chocolate PB to my recovery routine I’ve noticed a difference in my recovery time between training sessions, and when coming back from an injury this is even more crucial than normal. So if you’re looking for a quality protein poweder that you can rely on, I highly recommend one form Naked Nutrition.

Ally Gonzales is the founder & editor-in-chief of RunningSoleGirl. Along with blogging she is also juggling attending college and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science with a Sports Management minor.

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