Whether you’re trying to gain muscle mass, lose some fat, or just achieve a generally strong and muscular physique, you’ve probably looked into buying a whey protein drink. That’s good, because whey protein powder is one of the best ways to get extra protein into your diet without breaking the bank or taking time out of your busy schedule. However, not all protein shakes are created equal. You must be on the lookout for overpriced, impure, and just plain nasty-tasting powders! Here are five things you should look for in a protein powder…
1. Taste, Taste, Taste
Do you think you’re hardcore about your nutrition and supplementation? Do you think you can stomach anything nasty as long as it gets you the results you want? Whether or not that’s the case, you should NOT apply that kind of thinking to your whey protein drink. Having tried tons of different products, I can safely say that the better a powder tastes, the higher quality the protein it contains. Avoid the nasty brands you get from big department and bulk stores, as they are typically the worst-tasting and most impure proteins. Besides, you’re going to be more consistent with your nutrition if your food and supplements taste good.
2. How Low Can You Go? (On Carbs)
A low carbohydrate diet is not a great option for building muscle, but you should definitely avoid carbs in your protein powder. Firstly, powders with lots of carbs also tend to taste the worst. They are the least filtered and have a kind of rotten flavor to them. Second, since whey protein is a byproduct of milk and cheese production, the carbs are almost exclusively lactose. Some guys can get away with drinking lots of milk when trying to get big, but lactose tends to make most people fat and bloated. Finally, powders with too many carbs tend to cause a lot of stomach and indigestion problems, something you can’t afford to deal with when you’re eating to gain.
3. Fight the Fat!
If you pay any attention to news about nutrition, you surely know that eating fat is NOT what makes you fat. However, you definitely want to avoid most fat in your whey protein drink. The fat in a protein powder is mainly saturated milk fat, which is not good for body composition or clear skin. Also, powders with more than one or two grams of fat per serving typically also have lots of carbs. They taste bad, give you inferior results, and hurt your stomach.
4. Does it Mix?
It would be nice to be able to make a smooth, tasty protein shake in the blender every time you needed one, but chances are that’s not an option for you. After all, you’re probably buying a protein powder because you don’t have the time or money to get all your protein from meat! Since you’re going to be mixing your powder in a shaker on the go, you need to find a product that mixes well. Some powders have a tendency to clump easily, and nobody likes getting a dry clump as they gulp down their shake. To find out how well a particular brand mixes, read reviews online and look for powders that say “instantized.” These have been specially formulated to mix quickly and not form clumps.
5. Save Your Money!
With all of these criteria for a quality whey protein drink, you may think you’re going to have to go for the priciest name-brand product. Fortunately for you, this isn’t the case! Protein powders have become extremely popular over the last decade or so, and it is very easy to find a reputable, quality, and low-cost powder. To get the most for your money, buy in large quantities (5-10 pounds per container), and shop online. If you’re paying more than eight or nine dollars per pound, you’re getting ripped off!