A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Protein Powder Choices - Is It Worth It?

I was perusing Amazon for my next purchase of clean protein powder the other day and before I knew it, I had spent 2 hours searching! Upon this realization, I began to question how much I should really stress over the different types, flavors, functions, and brands.

It seems there are protein powders made out of things you'd never expect.  We all know the common whey protein, which is broken into concentrates, isolates, and even goat whey protein. Other popular varieties are soy, egg white, and casein. Some less common, but still good types are rice, hemp, and pea proteins, but did you ever see beef protein powder? Doesn't even sound good.

Aside from the stomach churning thought of drinking a chocolate, cherry vanilla, or blue raspberry flavored beef shake (yes, those are real choices), even ridiculous brands promoted by stars like Mark Wahlberg makes me sick.  Seriously, Marked Nutrition; check it out, and then clear it from your memory like I'm trying to do.

Mark, I like you in some movies, but not in my smoothie

Anyway, my lengthy searches for another protein powder made me question what I'm really trying to achieve.  Do I really need protein in the form of powder instead of just eating some delicious fresh or canned tuna or salmon?  I'm pretty sure whole food sources of protein are obviously the better choice since powder (no matter how clean, organic, and super-duper ultra filtered it is), is still a processed food.

I think protein powder is wonderful, and I am by no means saying I'm quitting the stuff, but maybe not stressing over so many types.  I would really like those 2+ hours back.

There are many people who rave about certain whole food and plant based powders; I have tried and like them in smoothies and for their excellent nutrition profile.  We could all use added digestive enzymes and 500mg of spirulina, right?  I was about to purchase the Garden of Life Raw Protein, but then thought about how I like to cook a lot with my powders.  Wouldn't cooking pretty much make the whole "Raw" aspect obsolete?  I think so; then I just paid a premium for higher quality protein and destroyed the premium part. WTF....is there ever a middle-ground?

There is a middle-ground, it's called buying more than one type of protein.  But wait, then I'm spending hundreds of dollars every few weeks for bottled and flavored protein.  Hmmm, that can of no salt added tuna in water is only $1.39 at the store I go to; not looking too bad.

Nevertheless, I think I speak for most of us when I say it's just good and fun stuff to have.  I enjoy protein powder in smoothies (here's several of my past posts on Google Search) and using it in place of flour for baked goods.  Maybe I will break down and buy a raw powder just for mixing into drinks or no-bake recipes like these Peanut Butter Pumpkin Cookies and another kind for baking.

Setting several guidelines before you look to purchase protein can be helpful; here are things I look for in protein powder:
  • No artificial sweeteners...EVER!
  • Very little to no sugar (less than 3g per serving); prefer no sugar and only stevia
  • No added soybean or other oil; don't know why that's in some of these
  • No nonsense "super pump" marketing/gimmicky (spelling?) ingredients
  • Short, simple list of ingredients; unless it is the raw green food kind
These guidelines can limit your options and usually result in higher prices, but I'm willing to pay more to put good stuff in my body. I have used a lot of whey proteins and really like About Time for it's simplicity and flavor choices, but am currently using MRM Vanilla Egg White Protein and really like it.

Check out Protein Pow for a plethora of protein packed recipes (both sweet and savory) and useful information on the types of protein and each one's unique use in the kitchen.

So, what type or types of protein powder do you use?  I have tried Spiru-tein powders and like them, but might try a different plant-based powder that's raw next...any suggestions?

Do you get caught up searching for the "right" protein powder or anything else?  Too much information makes too much confusion sometimes!

Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!


  1. meat protein powder? WTF! omg people really think they'll make money on that? haha- then again- some meathead would totally probably jump on this! yes to those peanut butter pumpkin cookies...another recipe of yours I am bookmarking!

    Lately- I've been doing well cutting back on the protein powder. I'm doing about 1-2 per week instead of 5-7. I'm taking a liking to the egg white vanilla protein powders, which is shocking since I'm such a chocolate hound!

    I agree- the simpler and less complex the ingredients/brand the better!

    1. I know, mixing flavored beef powder into a smoothie or with water just doesn't sound good. Call me crazy!

      I need to make another batch (or two) of those cookies, they go too fast! Glad you're able to cut back some, I'm still struggling to do the same; slowly but surely! The egg white vanilla powder is pretty good, and I like how it cooks in the microwave or oven. Thanks for the comments, Christy!