By Candace Rhodes
Choosing a protein powder can get confusing! There are thousands of brands and variations to pick from, as well as new products that are released every month and are endorsed by celebrities, trainers, and athletes.
When I first started drinking protein shakes, I had no clue about what to look for and bought one based on the recommendation from my trainer. Years later, when I became a big box trainer, I realized how big and complex the supplement industry really was.
According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the supplement industry was valued at $127 billion dollars in 2016 and it continues to grow at a rate of 3-4% each year! The industry is booming as more and more people are choosing health as their #1 New Year’s resolution and the demand for health and wellness supplements grows.
No wonder there is so much confusion about where to start looking for a protein powder. If you’re looking to add a protein powder to your diet, here are three things to keep in mind before making a purchase.
#1 – Nitrogen Spiking
The main ingredient for building muscles in protein is amino acids, which are derived from whey.
Whey protein is a quick and convenient way for lifters to meet their protein requirements every day without having to eat it. It also contains all the essential amino acids and pure whey itself is very expensive.
To determine the amount of protein and specific amino acids in protein powders, laboratories measure them for their nitrogen content. Nitrogen is an atom that all amino acids contain and it gives off a specific signal during detection.
Due to the cost of branched amino acids (BCAAs), many companies make substitutions for them by adding cheap amino acids that will pass laboratory inspections so that they can still include them on the nutrition label as ‘protein.’
Cheap fillers, such as glycine and taurine, provide the nitrogen signal to pass inspection but neither one does anything to help muscle growth. This method of adding cheap fillers is called nitrogen spiking and it’s a way for manufacturers to cut product costs.
Nitrogen spiking is a common practice because high-quality amino acids are expensive. Manufacturers know that they can pass on only so much of the cost to you before you decide to look for a cheaper brand of protein powder.
You can check to see if your protein powder has been manufactured with nitrogen spiking by looking at the nutrition label.
If the ingredients are a ‘proprietary blend,’ the odds are pretty good that you have nitrogen spiking going on. Manufactures involved in nitrogen spiking like to hide behind the ingredients label and say that their protein powders are a top secret blend.
Make sure to look at the nutrition label for individual amino acids versus a ‘protein blend’ to avoid nitrogen spiking. Use Google and do some research to see that the brand has been inspected by the FDA or an independent third party testing company for accurate amino acid content.
#2 – Amount of Protein in a Serving Size
Another way that manufacturers lie about protein content is in the scoop size. You want to make sure that you’re paying for a protein powder and not a meal replacement supplement, both of which can look very similar.
Check the nutrition label and do a comparison of serving size (g) versus the grams of protein (g). Often times, you’ll find that there can be a drastic difference between the two. This happens when the protein powder contains a lot of fillers and artificial flavours to mask the serving size of protein.
You want to look for a serving size that is close as possible to the grams of actual protein on the label. For example, a serving size may be 2 scoops (37 grams) but only contain 25 grams of protein listed. This means that the other 12 grams in your scoop could be a combination of fillers, artificial flavours, sugars, and thickeners.
There are some instances where the scoop size contains more of ‘other ingredients’ versus actual protein.
If your nutrition label only lists the servings per container with no serving size (g), be suspicious. You’re most likely drinking less protein than what is listed on the label, so make sure you check the serving size and compare it with the protein (g) listed.
#3 – Clean Ingredient List
High-quality protein powder is expensive because of the costs associated with the extraction process. To reduce manufacturer costs and drive profit, companies will add fillers, flavourings, and artificial ingredients that make the drink taste good and have a nice consistency when blended.
Just like you avoid processed foods because they contain artificial ingredients and chemicals that you cannot pronounce, you should also apply the same vigilance to your protein powders.
When choosing a protein powder to add to your daily diet, buy the highest quality protein powder you can afford with the least amount of filler content. The amount of artificial additives and fillers you consume add up and could have a negative cumulative effect on your health and body.
The extras you’re paying for flavour and consistency do nothing to benefit your muscles or your health. Instead of paying for flavours, use your dollars to pay for better quality protein that will improve your muscle growth and health.
The supplement industry is booming and competing for your hard earned dollars. Keep these 3 points in mind when choosing a protein powder to get the most for your money and for the betterment of your health.
Candace Rhodes helps women lose weight and achieve amazing toned bodies so they can feel healthy and confident on the beach and in their businesses. Join Candace’s course 7-Day Rapid Results at https://rhodestostrength.lpages.co/free-course/ which teaches you everything you need to get started for a weightlifting lifestyle to be toned and strong.