CHOOSING A PROTEIN (made easy)

When most of us think of supplemental protein powders immediately we think of the mainstream powdered protein on the market today that have become so popular. These protein powders come in jumbo sized containers with beautiful labels to catch our eyes. Many use metallic finishes, with bold bright lettering designed to stand out among a sea of their competitors across store shelves. Open any bodybuilding magazine and you’ll find pages upon pages of eye catching ads touting that one is better than the next. Let’s face it, for the person looking to find a solid high-quality protein powder it can get confusing really fast. My goal is to break it down for you quickly and easily.

I’ve been supplementing with protein products since the 1980’s when Weider Nutrition first hit store shelves and Tiger’s Milk offered the only bars on the market. They actually tasted pretty good too! Since then we’ve seen major strides in protein supplementation from their quality to improved consistency, mix-ability and of course taste. I’ve taken them all! With that said here is my journey across the powdered protein landscape. I’m not going to bore you with all the details of why you should supplement with protein as there are a billion articles on the worldwide web that will give you all those details. Rather, the purpose of this article is to offer information based on my personal experience to help shed some light on your decision the next time you’re standing in the health food store among a sea of powdered protein products.

WHEY PROTEIN

This is the mother of all protein powders on the market. Whey protein is the bodybuilders choice for high-grade, easily digestible muscle building protein. The popularity of whey protein powder is evident by the sheer number of diverse brands on the market that offer it. It comes in just about every flavor that you can come up with, like cookies and cream, peanut butter, mocha java, strawberry swirl, banana split and of course your basic chocolate and vanilla.

THE 3 MOST IMPORTANT THINGS I LOOK FOR:

1. Container size – I don’t like to purchase garbage can sized or jumbo sized containers of protein powders because I feel over time they can become denatured through oxidation (opening the lid or package numerous times allows oxygen to enter the container) as well as prolonged shelf life.

2. Sweetener – Artificial sweeteners are common practice among most all of the popular brands on the market. For example, look for sucralose, aspartame and acesulfame potassium and opt for natural sweeteners like stevia and cocoa.

3. Source – Where is the protein powder coming from? This is a question people often overlook because it’s a powder, but whey originates from milking a dairy cow. Do you buy conventional milk or organic milk at the grocery store? If you answered “organic milk” then you should consider choosing a protein powder that is derived from organically fed, free range cows that have been raised without hormones and antibiotics.

Once you pay attention to the 3 things listed above all of a sudden that massive list of protein choices narrows very quickly. One way to narrow your search on a superstore site is to search for “natural” or “all natural” whey protein. You may find 2 out of 3 that pass my criteria, but it’s always best to find a protein that passes the full enchilada (all 3 important things that I look for as stated above). Some that I use and recommend are WellWisdom Vital Whey BB3 Formula 1 Whey Protein , Optimum Nutrition 100% Natural Whey Gold Standard, Dymatize All Natural Elete Whey Protein and MRM All Natural Whey Protein.

CASEIN PROTEIN

This form of protein is popular because it is a slower digesting protein. Usually it is recommended for evening supplementation as well as times during the day when you may not eat for several hours. Recently I have had some concerns about casein protein as noted by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. the author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. In his book he says, “Casein, the major protein in milk, has been shown in animal studies to powerfully promote cancer growth.” This research came from Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, and while thought provoking, there have been some discrepancies found in the research when it comes to human trials. Overall, casein is found in dairy products, notably cottage cheese. Because there is no comprehensive proof I still enjoy cottage cheese as a late night snack mixed with a little stevia.

EGG WHITE PROTEIN

I don’t really supplement with egg white powdered protein too often. It actually tastes a little weird to me because I can taste the egg whites (maybe that’s just me). I’ll have it now and again and when I do I usually pick up a packet or two of Jay Robb’s Egg White Protein because it’s about as pure as you can find. My only issue with powdered egg white protein is that I have yet to find one derived from cage-free egg laying hens.

PEA, RICE & HEMP PROTEINS

These make a great protein alternative source for those with any allergies to gluten, yeast, milk, eggs, soy, nuts, and shellfish. They are also perfect for vegans and anyone who wants to take a break from animal based whey, casein or egg proteins. Out of the plant based pea, rice and hemp proteins, I use pea and rice the most. They actually taste good, have an impressive amino acid profile, digest easily, and when combined they create a complete protein. Pea protein alone is considered a complete protein! Some of the ones that I currently use are Rainbow Light Protein Energizer Chocolate (which has greens mixed in), Olympian Labs Pea Protein Vanilla (which I get at the Vitamin Shoppe), Sun Warrior Raw Vegan Protein Chocolate, and Lifetime Life’s Basics Pea/Hemp/Rice with Chia Seed Plant Protein (chocolate flavor). With that said there are many more quality plant based protein products out there. I suggest you go to Whole Foods or your local health food store and grab several single serving envelopes to try a few for yourself.

If you’re into building and maintaining your best body ever, protein supplementation is a smart choice to help supplement a healthy diet. In my last monthly newsletter I gave a protein shake smoothie recipe called “The Hulk.” I’ve had tremendous feedback on it and how much people love it as much as I do. If you don’t receive my free monthly newsletter, please be sure to sign up today.

Live a High Integrity Life,
Gregg

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17 Responses to “CHOOSING A PROTEIN (made easy)”

  1. Chuck Davis Says:

    Be glad you weren’t around in the 70’s for York’s protein powders….I still gag thinking about it.

    I prefer blended protein’s, as Whey is digested in 75 minutes, and your catabolic after that if you haven’t had time to eat again. Have you tried Dymatize Elite XT? It seems to be a good deal, but any word on the quality of the protein itself?

  2. Gregg Avedon Says:

    Dymatize Elite XT is fine, although they add acesulfame potassium and aspartame in this particular product. The overall nutritional profile is impressive though. If you prefer to go with one from Dymatize that doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners you can check out their All Natural Elete Whey (as stated above).

  3. Tyrone Bauer Says:

    In Men’s Health Muscle Chow, you liked ON Gold Standard whey protein, and I have used it for a number of years now. Have you change since then and if so, why? Do your new ones in this blog work as well with your recipes?

  4. Gregg Avedon Says:

    Optimum Nutrition (ON) is a good quality protein that meets 2 of the 3 criteria. It’s good for recipes and the company maintains a GMP standard facility when producing their protein products.

  5. Chuck Davis Says:

    Thank you Sir! If it were me, I would add a 4th criteria in selecting a potein powder–no “proprietary blends”! I would like to think Metrex and some of the other prominent companies use that ploy for legitimate reasons, but I fear the bulk of the nutrition industry use it as scam to sell a teaspoon of whatever protein than can find mixed in a with a 55 gallon barrel of flour or someting–either way, I want to know what I am buying, and if they aren’t going to tell me, they won’t have my business.

  6. Gregg Avedon Says:

    Chuck, and this is even more reason to stick to the 3 most important factors when choosing a protein supplement. If you do you will be assured that you’re getting a high-quality product.
    While it can be a loophole, proprietary blends also protect the formulation from being duplicated, repackaged and marketed as another brand’s product. Rest assured, it bothers me too when I can’t see the amounts of each ingredient.

  7. Jason Sani Says:

    I recently have been focusing on more plant based proteins like they hemp, pea, and brown rice based proteins. Besides being an alternative to milk and whey based mixes do you feel like you miss out on anything by going plant based? I have leaned down for sure… I felt like the whey and casein proteins could be hard on my stomach. After reading The China Study, I definitely reconsidered my approach to casein! I used to live off of muscle milk!!

  8. Gregg Avedon Says:

    I’ve really enjoyed the plant based proteins, but you’ve also got to remember that I’m also eating chicken, turkey, fish, and every once in a while lean red meat. So from that standpoint I don’t feel like I’m missing out on meat based complete proteins while having the plant based protein powders (which too are complete proteins). Eventually I’d like to cut back more and more on my meat consumption, especially when you read material like the China Study! I’m thinking about doing meat on training days and plants on non-training days as a start.
    You’re right, for some individuals whey and casein can upset their stomach, but I really don’t have a problem with it. For me it was a decision to cut out all dairy for the moment, but there are some really nice high-quality protein powders out there and I’ll be looking forward to taking them again. I’ve got several jugs here that I’m looking forward to cracking open!

  9. Adam MacLeod Says:

    Hello Gregg,

    I will be sure to use the information and tips you provided when choosing another protein powder. I have enjoyed your shake/smoothie recipes over the years and am quite interested in finding out more about “The Hulk” smoothie. Is it comparable to the Muscle Juice recipe in Muscle Chow? I was more than pleased with this shake and as an ectomorph, I like to keep an eye out for different weight gainer formulas. Any further suggestions you could provide would be appreciated. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

    Regards,

    Adam

  10. Jake Says:

    I recently wanted to try out the rice protein – as I am allergic to the other typical protein supplement sources. However, I found that even though I had chosen an organic rice protein product – they all fall under Prop65. Which got me worried, and I decided to stick with my whole foods for protein sources (but it is difficult, with all the cooking needed).

    I was just wondering what you take was on Prop65 for these plant based protein powders?

    Thanks
    Jake

  11. Gregg Avedon Says:

    Jake, I haven’t seen a rice protein label with “proposition 65” on it, so it’s difficult for me to tell you either way. This was a California law that passed way back in the 80’s and while harmful chemicals in our foods via drinking water is certainly a concern, I’m not sure what the current laws are and how this is regulated today. I would find a rice based protein that you like and call the company to ask your specific questions. Also, I’m not sure if hemp and/or pea proteins would fall under this act, but it may be worth a little more research. Good luck!

  12. John Klaver Says:

    Hi Gregg,

    What do you think about the whey from Jarrow Formulas ?

    http://www.jarrow.com/

    John

  13. Gregg Avedon Says:

    It’s not bad. I haven’t tried the taste, but overall I can see that it’s sweetened with Lo Han. I’ve tried other products with Lo Han in them and it is an effective sweetener that doesn’t produce a glycemic response and it is all natural. The whey is derrived from cows not fed growth hormones (which is great), but it does come from conventional milking cows (not the best). Overall I think this is a good product so long as you like the taste and it looks like it covers 2 out of the 3 criteria I talk about in the blog.

  14. Nun Says:

    It’s worth mentioning that some brands have a lot more cholesterol than others. That may or may not matter to each person, but mine had 50mg per serving. I just didn’t realize it. I use brands with 0-5mg now.

  15. Gregg Avedon Says:

    Yes, but if you go with plant based proteins you’ll find that they have zero cholosterol. With that said, unless your cholesterol is high and you’re trying to lower it you shouldn’t have a problem with good quality whey protein.

  16. Andrew Says:

    What protein bars would you recommend? Thanks

  17. Gregg Avedon Says:

    You’ve got to really watch what protein bars you eat only because most are glorified candy bars!
    Larabar is a good very simple bar with only a small handful of ingredients. The only problem with Larabar is the lack of protein, so you may have to add a protein shake when you eat it or a few egg whites.
    Kashi makes a snack bar called the Go Lean Roll Bar, which has a nice ratio of carbs to protein and the ingredients are solid.
    Luna Bars are also decent and boast a nice protein to carbs ratio. They also make a higher protein bar that’s pretty good.
    2:1 bars are about as close to the candy type of bars out there that are decent for you. The flavors are REALLY good!
    VPX Zero Impact bars are a good bar, they’re very filling and are really clean.
    Greens Plus Protein Bars are also pretty good.

    If you look for more of the whole food type of bars as well you’ll be more assured that you’re getting one that’s better for you overall. The biggest issue with these bars is the lack of protein to help balance out the carbs and the fact that most have a lot of fat in them. Keep in mind though that they’re using “healthy fats” but it’s still fat.
    Good luck!

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