NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — If you’re looking to incorporate a protein powder into your diet, the sheer number of options on shelves can be overwhelming, to say the least. In today’s FUELED Wellness + Nutrition, Molly has the rundown on key differences between protein powders and how to determine which one is right for you.
The 411 on Protein Powder:
- Proteins powders aren’t an essential part of a healthful nutrition plan, but they can be a convenient and versatile way to add more protein into your diet.
- Look for protein powders with less than about 3-4 grams sugar per 20 grams protein; sweetened with natural plant-based sweeteners (e.g. monk fruit, stevia, erythritol), steering clear of artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesulfame potassium and sucralose.
- Frame of reference: 20 grams protein = approximately 3 ounces of lean meat
How to incorporate:
- Protein shakes & smoothies
- Cereal or oatmeal (dissolve in a bit of milk or milk alternative first, then add to cereal)
- Baked goods – can use in place of flour in products like brownies, cookies, muffins
- Breakfast items like pancakes, waffles, granola
- Sauces, soups
Top Picks by Category
A note about PDCAAS: There’s significant variation in how proteins are digested and assimilated. The Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) ranks protein quality on a scale of zero to one.
WHEY PROTEIN (milk-based; PDCAAS 1.00):
Top pick for Whey Isolate: Garden of Life Sport Grass Fed Whey
Top pick for Whey Concentrate: Designer Whey Natural (blend of Whey Concentrate + Isolate)
- Whey isolate & hydrolysate are low lactose; often tolerated by those with lactose intolerance
- Quickly + easily digested & absorbed; excellent pre- and post-workout
- Whey protein concentrate: 70 to 90% protein
- Whey protein isolate: >90% protein
- Whey protein hydrolysate: Purest form. ‘Pre-digested’ for body to utilize. Typically more pricey.
CASEIN PROTEIN (milk-based; PDCAAS 1.00):
Top pick for Casein blend: GNC Pro Performance 100% Casein
- A slow-digesting protein, resulting in a slow release of amino acids
- Molly typically recommends casein before bedtime to minimize muscle losses through the night
- Can also be useful anytime for those looking for a protein source to keep them fuller, longer
PLANT-BASED PROTEIN POWDER:
- PDCAAS varies by protein source: Hemp protein (0.46), rice protein (0.47), and pea protein (0.69)
- Beneficial for people with milk or soy allergies, as well as those looking for vegan options
PROTEIN POWDER FOR BAKING + COOKING:
- Plain, unflavored protein powder can be used in place of ingredients like cake mix or brownie mix; in savory dishes, it can provide bulk and texture of flour with minimal carbs.
- PDCAAS is less relevant for collagen peptides. The PDCAAS score is 0, primarily because collagen lacks the essential amino acid tryptophan. However, collagen is still a good option for protein powders, knowing that we can easily incorporate tryptophan via other protein sources.
- Collagen research shows potential benefit for joint and gut health, as well as hair, skin and nails.
- Skin Elasticity: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23949208
- Wrinkle Reduction + Dermal Matrix Synthesis:
- Osteoarthritis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24852756
- Athletes & joint health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18416885
FUELED Wellness + Nutrition is powered by Smoothie King. Learn about Eat Fit at Smoothie King; click here for the full list of Eat Fit options available at Smoothie King, proud sponsor of FUELED Wellness + Nutrition with Molly on WGNO.
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD. See more of Molly’s articles + TV segments at www.mollykimball.com, and sign up for Eat Fit Wellness Bites weekly newsletter, here.
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