Choosing the right protein powder in general can be a real headache. With so many options out there and so many experts and so-called experts with their unique opinions, it can be really difficult to find something that actually works for you.
Now I’m not going to pretend that my guide is superior – I can only share my own experience and perhaps give you a tip or two. Ultimately, what you do with the knowledge is totally up to you.
Step 1: Identify Your Goals, or Why You’re Really Here
Before we dive into the world of protein powders, it’s essential to figure out what you’re trying to achieve. This step will save you from the inevitable post-purchase regret that comes with buying a tub of protein only to realize it’s as useful as a pet rock.
Not quite sure what your goal is? No worries, here are some common goals to consider:
- Bulking up: You want to transform your body into a walking billboard for a Marvel superhero movie.
- Weight loss: You’d like to shed a few pounds because your favorite jeans are starting to feel like a corset.
- Muscle recovery: You need something to soothe your aching muscles after a workout so you can continue to delude yourself into thinking you enjoy exercise. This goal and the associated protein type are great for sports like intense bodybuilding, boxing, gymnastics, and so on.
- Meal replacement: You’re too busy (or lazy) to cook a proper meal, and you’ve heard that protein shakes are the perfect solution. These are also called gainers and usually contain a whole bunch of carbohydrates.
Step 2: Decoding the Protein Types, or Protein Powder Pictionary
Once you’ve figured out your goals, it’s time to unravel the mystery of protein types. But once again, worry not – I’ve got you covered with this handy cheat sheet:
- Whey protein: The protein equivalent of the popular kid in high school. Fast-absorbing, versatile, and great for muscle growth and recovery.
- Casein protein: Whey’s introverted cousin. Slow-digesting and perfect for a bedtime snack, so you can dream of toned muscles.
- Soy protein: The plant-based friend who always brings up being vegan at dinner parties. Great for vegetarians and vegans, and provides a complete amino acid profile.
- Pea protein: Another solid choice for vegans, who don’t need to explain their dietary choices every time they buy protein powder.
- Hemp protein: The hippie of the protein world. It’s plant-based, environmentally friendly, and packed with essential nutrients.
Step 3: The Flavor Factor, or How to Avoid a Protein Shake That Tastes Like Feet
Now that you’ve got the protein type down, it’s time to address the elephant in the room: flavor. From my own experience, I can tell you right away that choosing the wrong flavor is a surefire way to end up with a tub of protein powder that’s about as appealing as a kale smoothie with a side of Brussels sprouts.
If you are not sure which flavor you prefer, there is a simple solution, don’t try combinations or unorthodox flavors and rather stick to the time-survived classic:
- Chocolate: For the chocoholics who want their protein fix with a side of cocoa goodness. I’ve been using protein powders for almost 10 years and have tried about 9 different brands and I can tell you one thing – you can’t go wrong with a chocolate flavor. One might be slightly better than the other, but overall, they are very similar in taste.
- Vanilla: The Switzerland of protein flavors. A neutral and safe choice for those who can’t make up their minds.
- Strawberry: For the fruit lovers who think protein shakes should taste like a summer picnic.
- Unflavored: For the purists who believe protein should taste like protein, and nothing else.
Step 4: Price and Serving Size, or How to Avoid Going Broke in the Pursuit of Gains
Congratulations – you have found your winner. Only now you’ve realized you can’t quite afford it. Great, you can start all over again.
Price is definitely a huge factor for most of us, so make sure that’s one of the first things to check before you start reading all the labels.
Here are a few tips:
- Compare price per serving: Don’t just look at the price tag; consider the number of servings you’ll get from the tub. We’re doing the math to save money, people. This is adulting at its finest. 2. Buy in bulk: If you find a protein powder that you absolutely love (and let’s be honest, it’s as rare as a decent Tinder match), consider buying it in bulk to save some cash.
- Look out for deals: Coupons are your friends, fellas. Keep an eye out for sales, discounts, or special offers. Signing up for newsletters from your favorite supplement stores might be annoying, but it could save you a pretty penny.
Step 5: The Moment of Truth, or Putting It All Together
By now you should be armed with the basic of protein powders and which type is the best for your goals.
There’s no hurry, so take your time, consider your options, and don’t forget to congratulate yourself on navigating the treacherous world of protein powders – at least the very basic world. Now go forth and conquer your goals, one protein-packed scoop at a time.