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Wondering what’s the best protein powder for weight loss? This post is for you! In it, I break down the different types of protein powders so you’ll better understand your options and what’s best for you.
With so many protein powders on the market, it can be confusing and downright difficult to determine which one is right for you.
I have your back, girlfriend!
I mean… walk into a GNC or google best protein powder and you’ll be inundated with dozens of powders options. So before you whip out your credit card number there are some things you should consider before investing in a protein powder.
The Best Protein Powders for Weight Loss
Different protein powders have their own unique set of pros and cons.
The type of protein powder you choose will determine:
- How long you’ll feel full after drinking it
- If you’ll have adverse side effects (hello bloat and gas!)
- How easily/quickly the protein will absorb into your body
It’s best to use a protein powder that digests slowly but absorbs quickly so you’ll be able to soak up the most benefits, prevent cravings, and experience the least amount of side effects.
All of this is determined by the protein’s digestion speed, source, allergenic properties, complexity, production process and your personal sensitivities.
When it comes to protein powders it’s best to take a few things into consideration… all of which determine when or if, you should consume it.
Questions to ask when choosing a protein powder:
1) Speed of Digestion and absorption: Does the protein digest & absorb slowly or quickly? Remember we want slow digestion to regulate hunger but quick absorption, so you can soak up the benefits asap.
2) Source: Is the protein from a plant or animal? Is it organic and/or GMO-free?
3) Allergens: Does the protein contain allergens you may or may not know you’re allergic to? Things like dairy, gluten, soy, wheat, etc. can cause bloating, swelling, and sinus problems.
4) Complexity: Is it a complete or incomplete protein? The more complete a protein powder is, the better it is for your muscles and post-workout, recovery.
5) Production: Is the protein processed with synthetic, chemical additives, or is it non-toxic? Is it loaded with processed sugars or sugar alcohols? (HINT: Sugars and sugar alcohols cause cravings and digestive distress.)
Use this chart to find the right protein powder for you!
In this post, I break down the differences between Protein Powders, how to tell which powder is right for you, and when to use your powder for the best results.
Different Types of Protein Powders
Casein and Whey
Milk is made of two proteins, casein, and whey. Whey protein can be separated from the casein in milk or formed as a by-product of cheese making.
When milk is processed to separate casein from protein it coagulates, turning into a thick, lumpy consistency, which is made of lactose (milk sugar), water, and loaded with minerals.
Remember the nursery rhyme Little Miss Muffet? She was sitting on her tuffet eating curds and whey…
Whey is a leftover by-product, which makes up 20% of the protein in milk, the other 80% is a protein called casein, which are the lumpy curds found in cottage cheese. Lil Miss Muffet was eating cottage cheese…
I hope she was eating organic, non-GMO cottage cheese because dairy that isn’t organic is loaded with hormones which can have a negative impact on your hormones, too.
Casein Protein Powder
Casein powders digest and absorb into the body slowly. Casein is a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids. Casein powders are not hypoallergenic and have to be processed to become separated from the whey proteins in dairy. Casein is the main protein in milk and has high amounts of lactose (milk sugar).
Because it digests slowly and it’s full of hormones, antibiotics, and (usually) GMO fillers, it can cause abdominal discomfort, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, cramps, and/or the runs. That’s because casein has to be (heavily) processed to separate it from the other substances found in milk so that it can reach its powdered state.
I don’t recommend casein protein powders that aren’t GMO-free and organic. However… casein proteins are complete and slow digesting. They tend to be higher in natural sugars, which tend to taste better.
Because they’re complete and have high sugar content they make excellent breakfast meal replacements and pre-workout snacks… but that’s only if they’re organic and GMO-free.
I do not recommend casein powders because they don’t absorb quickly and it’s hard to find a good brand that isn’t processed like crazy.
Whey Protein Powder
Like casein, whey protein is considered a complete protein and contains all 9 essential amino acids. But, whey protein is lower in lactose (milk sugar). Whey proteins digest quickly and absorb moderately.
Heavily processed whey proteins often time, have a lot of adverse side effects including upset stomach, cramps, constipation and/or diarrhea… again that’s typical because they’re packed with artificial sugars, preservatives, and made from genetically modified dairy.
When organic and GMO-free, whey protein powders make an excellent meal replacement or snack. They also tend to taste better even though they’re low in sugar, allowing them to be enjoyed at any time throughout the day.
I recommend whey protein powders as a default for those that are okay with animal proteins. They tend to be cheaper, are complete proteins, and have the most benefits compared to other types.
Whey protein shakes make an excellent evening snack. See the protein powders I recommend here.
Egg Protein Powders
Egg proteins digest moderately and absorb quickly. They aren’t hypoallergenic, but they are a complete protein. Egg proteins are available in egg and egg white forms. Make sure your egg-based protein powder is made from egg whites, in which the yolk is removed and the whites are dried and powdered.
Egg whites are one of the best sources of protein because their structure best matches human protein structure and provides a concentrated shot of essential amino acids.
Like whey, egg white proteins are low in sugar and can be enjoyed as a meal replacement or snack throughout the day. It’s hard to find organic egg powders that don’t also cause a lot of bloating. I prefer whey to egg. See the protein powders I recommend here.
Pea Protein Powder
Pea proteins digest and absorb quickly. They are hypoallergenic but not (but very, very close to a) complete protein. Pea proteins come from a plant source, making them vegetarian and vegan-friendly. They also absorb easily into the body delivering benefits (almost) instantly.
They contain fiber which will help you feel fuller longer and help digests other foods. Plus they have a naturally pleasant taste.
Pea protein powders are perfect for anyone, anytime throughout the day, BUT they typically do’t taste the best. For tastier plant-based powders, I do recommend click here.
Rice Protein Powder
Rice proteins digest quickly and absorb moderately. They’re hypoallergenic but not a complete protein. Rice protein can be made by extracting the proteins from both white and brown rice. White rice protein powders are high in simple carbohydrates (sugar).
Brown rice, is low in sugar, but high in complex carbohydrates. Both, typically have a neutral, bland taste. Because rice protein isn’t complete, it’s not the best choice as a meal replacement or post workout snack.
Plus, because of its bland taste, you’ll end up having to add things like fruit, peanut butter, and milk to add more flavor. Remember, combining fruit and/or dairy (simple carbohydrates) adds fat storing sugars… if you add fats like peanut butter your otherwise healthy protein shake just became a fat storage provoking, sugar bomb.
Because they are plant-based and high in carbohydrates, I do recommend (brown) rice proteins for vegan or vegetarians and/or very active athletic people, like race-runners. BUT I don’t recommend them for every day people trying to lose weight. I like algae powders a lot more.. keep reading.
Soy Protein Powder
Soy proteins digest and absorb moderately. They are a complete plant-sourced protein that, aren’t hypoallergenic. A lot of people think that soy is bad for you.
That’s because soy has been found to cause disruptions in hormone function which can impact your metabolism and ability to lose weight… But, that’s because roughly 90% of all soy available in the United States is genetically modified. (GMO)
Please be aware that only GM (genetically modified) soy is bad for you. Organically grown, GMO-free Soy is a complete, plant-based protein that does your body a world of good.
Check the nutrition label to make sure your soy-based protein is organic and GMO-free. Soy protein is an excellent source of complete protein that is low in sugar.
Because it’s hard to find organic soy that tastes good, I don’t have a brand I’d recommend, nor would soy be my first choice for a protein powder. See the protein powders I recommend here.
Algae Protein Powder
Algae is one of the best superfoods in the world. Algae like, spirulina or chlorella, are my favorite protein powders to use and recommend. Chlorella is my all time favorite and one I recommend the most.
Chlorella is a blue-green micro-algae native to Taiwan and Japan. Chlorella’s unique preventive-health and anti-aging benefits are due to their significant amounts of chlorophyll and Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF).
Chlorella is the world’s richest source of chlorophyll, which gives it its rich green color. Chlorophyll contains powerful properties proven to help accelerate detoxification, healing, and repairing of oxidative damage to cell membranes.
Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF), is a nutrient unique to chlorella. This nutrient-rich extract is produced during photosynthesis within Chlorella pyrenoidosa algae. Chlorella grows fast. Chlorella Growth Factor, or CGF, is the reason why.
GCF contains nucleic acids DNA and RNA, which are responsible for cellular regeneration. It also accelerates the growth and development of cells in other organisms, like your muscles.
Chlorella Growth Factor offers many of the anti-aging benefits found in natural human growth hormones. CGF also helps repair nerve tissues throughout the body and is excellent for treating degenerative brain and nerve disorders.
Chlorella also helps regulate hormones, boosts the metabolism, improves circulation, and promotes higher levels of energy. It’s great as a meal replacement and post-workout. See the protein powders I recommend here.
The Best Protein Powder
The best protein powders: Digest and absorb slowly, so they’ll keep you feeling fuller longer when used as a meal replacement… but they quickly, so that your muscles can absorb the nutrients to recover from a weight training workout.
SLOW = MEAL REPLACEMENT
FAST = POST WORKOUT
The best protein powders will contain complete proteins that are both organic and GMO-free. This combination of traits is universally beneficial to virtually everybody on the planet.
Now that you know what the different sources are, I encourage you to choose the best protein powder for you.
Which powder do you think is best for you? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments.
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Christina Carlyle is a certified Holistic Nutritionist, Sports Nutrition Specialist, Personal Trainer, Health Coach, & Behavior Modification Specialist. After overcoming her own health issues, getting off 7 medications, & losing 40 pounds (& keeping it off for 10+ years) she’s dedicated to helping others get Happy, Healthy, & Fit for life, with science-backed strategies. Christina shares real deal (no BS) weight loss and wellness advice, workouts, and recipes that get results and work in the real world.