Which protein powder is best? Pea, Rice, Whey, Soy, Hemp or a Blend? Our quick guide to choosing the best protein powder for you makes the choice simple!
Protein powders are a super healthy way to improve your daily nutrition and are popular with people ranging from the fitness elite to those of us who want to stay lean and healthy.
But with their huge popularity comes a huge range of choices. Here is a quick guide to the different types of protein so you can find the one that fits you best.
- Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey protein concentrate is typically 80% protein (that's almost pure protein) with a very small amount of natural sugars (5 g per 100 g) and fats (7.5 g per 100 g). Whey concentrate is very popular because it tastes great, mixes well and whey has been shown to be great for lean muscle growth and overall health. The downside is it’s not great for people with dairy intolerance.
- Whey Protein Isolate
Compared to whey concentrate, whey protein isolate is a bit higher in protein at 90% and lower in fat (1.3 g per 100 g) and sugar (2.2 g per 100 g). This slight nutritional difference changes the flavor a lot and its not as creamy and palatable as whey protein concentrate. This one is for the hardcore.
- Pea Protein Isolate
Pea protein is all the rage. Research has shown that pea protein helps build muscle just as well as whey protein, and a lot of people find it easier on their digestive system. It is around 80% protein with low levels of sugar (0.5 g per 100 g) and fat (7 g per 100 g). And as a bonus, its got a bit of fiber (3.9 g per 100 g). Pea protein is rather bland on its own, but whisked up in a smoothie with a banana it has a great consistency and taste.
- Brown Rice Protein
At 80% protein with no sugars, low fat (1.0 g per 100 g) and with a boost of fiber (8.0 g per 100 g) brown rice protein has a great nutritional profile. Research has shown rice protein builds muscle just like whey, and rice is unlikely to cause bloating like some powders. However, it's a bit grainy and the taste can be challenging. Blended in smoothies it's fine, but you have been warned.
- Soy Protein Isolate
You either love or hate soy, but we love it. Why? Because it’s long been associated with a range of health benefits and may help support a healthy vascular system. But if you are looking to get fit, whey is better than soy for building lean muscle. Soy protein isolate is around 90% protein with no sugar and low fat (2.9 g per 100 g). It is bland and has a chalky texture so is best blended up with a banana or mango.
- Hemp Protein
Hemp is the wild card. It’s much lower in protein at around 47% and is funky, both nutritionally and in taste. It is actually just crushed up hemp seeds so contains a huge dose of good fat (12.6 g per 100 g), some natural sugars (5.4 g per 100 g) and is full of fiber (21 g per 100 g). It's a wild brown/ green color and has an equally wild taste. Hemp protein is more like a green super food than a classic protein powder so don’t chug down a big serve after the gym, but a tablespoon to nutritionally boost your smoothie is perfect.
- Vegan Protein Blends
If you are not on the plant-based, enviro-friendly, dairy-free, raw-nutrition tip you are missing out. Vegan protein blends are not just for vegans and are a vibrant new alternative to outdated protein powders made of whey, sweeteners, flavors and sugar. There are some great options that blend pea, rice, and even cranberry protein to provide a good protein spectrum and better flavor without any nasty additives. Protein-packed, clean-nutrition.