Protein powders have been very popular for many years, not only among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. They can also be a useful tool for anyone who wants to lose weight, increasing the feeling of satiety and minimizing muscle loss. Even for people who prefer a vegan or vegetarian diet, protein powders can be a convenient and easy way to meet their protein needs. But with the variety of protein powders on the market, it can be difficult to find the right product. In this blog article, you’ll learn what to look for when buying protein powder.
What is protein powder anyway?
Protein powders are dietary supplements and can be made from various animal or vegetable protein sources. Common sources include milk, eggs, soy, rice, peas or hemp. There are basically three forms of protein powder: protein concentrate, protein isolate and protein hydrolysate. These differ in the way the protein is extracted from the source and processed:
Protein concentrate is separated by heat and acid or enzymes and is the simplest way to filter out protein. It contains about 60 to 80 percent protein and an additional 20 to 40 percent fat and carbohydrates.
Protein isolate is derived from protein concentrate, using another process to remove additional fat and carbohydrate. This concentrates the protein even further, resulting in Protein Isolate containing about 90 to 95 percent protein.
Protein hydrolysate is a form of protein powder made from either isolate or concentrate. Here, the amino acids are broken down through further processing so that the body can absorb the protein even faster. This allows the muscles to process and use the proteins faster.
Some protein powders also contain vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, as athletes have a higher need for these. Protein powders often contain a mixture of different types and sources of protein. This makes sense, because your body can use the protein best. When buying protein powders, make sure that they contain at least 70 g of protein and no more than 7 g of carbohydrates per 100 g of powder. Artificial flavors, sugar, sweeteners and sugar substitutes should be avoided as much as possible, as these ingredients can have negative effects on your health. Sweeteners in particular can damage your intestinal flora and irritate the gut-associated immune system. Therefore, it is advisable to choose protein powders with natural flavors and without added sugar or sweeteners.
Who needs protein powder?
Protein powder is a dietary supplement that can help you meet your daily protein requirements. Especially when losing weight, a protein-rich diet is recommended, because on the one hand protein saturates well and it is easier for you to eat fewer calories. In addition, a protein-rich diet helps you maintain more muscle mass while losing weight. If you find it difficult to get enough protein from your normal diet, protein powder can be a useful supplement for you. However, if you already eat a protein-rich diet in general, you don’t need an additional protein powder. It is quite possible to cover your protein needs with natural foods. But if this is difficult for you, you can help yourself by using protein powder. It is important that you always consider the protein powder only as a supplement to a balanced diet. You should replace a maximum of one meal per day with a shake and ensure a sufficient supply of vegetables, fruit and whole grain products in the other meals.
What is the biological value?
The biological value is a measure of the ability of a dietary protein to be effectively used by the body and converted into endogenous protein. It indicates how much of the ingested protein is actually used by the body. The biological value is given on a scale from 0 to 100, where 100 means the highest biological value. A protein with a biological value of 100 is called a reference protein because it contains an optimal composition of all the essential amino acids that the body needs.
Here are some examples of the biological value of common protein sources in protein powders:
Whey protein: about 104.
Chicken egg protein: approx. 100
Milk protein: approx. 80-90
Soy protein: approx. 74
Plant protein sources usually have a lower biological value than animal protein sources. They often do not contain all essential amino acids in sufficient quantities, which affects their biological value. However, plant protein sources can also achieve a higher biological value by combining different sources (e.g. beans and rice).
How much money do I have to spend on protein powder?
The price of protein powder can vary greatly and depends on several factors, such as the type of protein, the quality of the ingredients, the brand and the size of the package. In general, you should expect to pay between 20 and 50 euros per kilogram of protein powder. However, some brands can be more expensive and cost up to 80 or 90 euros per kilogram. It is important to note that the price is not necessarily an indicator of the quality of the protein. There are high-quality products that are relatively inexpensive, while others can be more expensive but may not contain the best ingredients or nutrients. Therefore, before you choose a protein powder, you should pay attention not only to the price, but also to the ingredients and nutrients and make sure that it meets your specific nutritional needs.
Can I also meet my protein needs with natural foods?
You can also meet your protein needs through a balanced diet of natural foods alone. There are many protein-rich foods that can be part of a healthy diet and are a good alternative to protein powders. Examples besides meat, fish or eggs are dairy products (especially, for example, low-fat quark, Harz cheese or grainy cream cheese), legumes (for example, lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu), nuts and seeds (for example, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds) and whole grain products (for example, oatmeal, whole grain bread).
Reading tip: How can I replace meat?
A combination of different protein-rich foods can definitely help to meet your daily protein needs. It is important to eat a combination of different protein-rich foods. This way, you will not only consume a sufficient amount of protein, but also other important nutrients that are necessary for good health.
Losing weight can be quite frustrating. If aggravating diseases such as Hashimoto's, lipedema or drug therapies with cortisone or antidepressants are added to the mix, there seems to be no way out. As a nutritionist at My Weight®, I support my patients individually and personally on their way to their desired weight. Losing weight can and should be fun...and we work on that together! 😊
Maike - Weight Buddy® and nutritionist at My Weight®