This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

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 blendGNC 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


Top picks [vegan, soy-free, dairy-free]:  Orgain Organic Plant Protein & RAW Protein by Garden of Life

  • 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


Top pick:  simply tera’s organic whey protein, plain unsweetened

  • 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.


Top picks [bovine-based]: Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and Orgain Grass Fed Collagen Peptides

  • 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. 


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, and sign up for Eat Fit Wellness Bites weekly newsletter, here.

Stay updated with the latest breaking news, weather, and sports! Download the WGNO News App and subscribe to our daily headlines newsletter.