how to shop for a protein suppelement

There are just so many good protein powder supplements on the market!  With options including vegan, casein and whey, it can get confusing as to which one you should take and when!  Here is our guide on how to shop for a quality protein supplement that fits your goals and lifestyle.

Vegan or Animal Based:

First, decide whether a vegan or animal- based supplement is more suited to your lifestyle, goals and diet.

Animal based protein are the most dominant protein supplements in the market and are complete proteins as they contain all 9 essential amino acids. They are typically manufactured from eggs or milk. There are two variety of milk based protein powders, namely whey and casein. Whey protein is the most optimal after workouts while casein and egg protein can be used to at other times during the day to reduce muscle catabolism.

Vegan protein powders are plant based and dairy free! If you are a vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant or have some intolerance to dairy products, then vegan is is the way to go! Vegan protein powders are derived from soy, pea, hemp, chia, beans or rice. It’s important to note that only soy and hemp based proteins are complete to buy a quality protein supplement

What to look for:

When out shopping, make sure to buy the RIGHT protein supplement for your goals and needs. If you are a vegan or lactose intolerant then stick with a plant based protein. If are looking for a protein to replenish muscle and help recovery after workouts stick with an isolated whey protein. If you are trying to help muscle recovery when you sleep, go with a concentrated whey, casein or an egg protein.

Isolated whey protein is the fastest absorbing protein so it is most beneficial after workouts when your muscles are in need of replenishment.  Casein, egg and concentrated whey proteins takes a while longer to digest so great as a snack or before bedtime to help repair tissue while you sleep. 

Ingredients matter!

Whether buying a vegan or an animal based protein, ensure to read the ingredient and nutrition label! Look for products that have little to no additives, no sugar alcohols (like aspartame or xylitol) and are manufactured from good ingredients (like grass fed cows!).

How to shop for a protein supplement

As far as the nutrition label goes, ensure one serving provides at least 20 grams of protein. You could opt for a protein powder that provides both protein and healthy does of carbs if you are a hardgainer. If you are looking to lose weight, stick with a protein powder that is sugar free and has 10 grams of carbs or less.

Manufacturing matters!

This step is more important for animal based protein than vegan ones. Animal based proteins can be manufactured in a number ways resulting in an isolated or concentrated powder. As mentioned before isolated whey protein is faster absorbing than concentrated. It is best to buy an isolated whey for after workouts. Concentrated protein powders are better as a snack! The type of whey also matters. New Zealand whey has been shown to be superior to other types of whey in the market. Look for labels than mention “New Zealand Whey” and are micro filtered. 

As far as vegan protein, best to stick with hemp, rice, or pea based protein as they will cause less hormonal havoc than soy based ones.

Flavour matters!

You will be using the protein powder quite a bit so make sure you actually LIKE the taste! Vegan protein can have a very earthy, sometime even a chalky taste. If you can ask for a small sample before purchasing.

Both vegan and animal based protein come in a variety of flavours (depending on manufacturer) including vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, raspberry, cookies and cream and coffee! Ask for a sample and see if you like the taste before committing to a larger purchase!

Some good brands for vegan protein include Vega, Sunwarrior, Kaizen Natural, Bodylogix, Manitoba Harvest, Sprouted Protein.

Some good brands for whey protein include Bodylogix, Kaizen, PVL and Perfect Nutrition.

We hope this guide helps! Happy shopping!

With over 15 years of experience in training and nutrition, this savvy entrepreneur, TV host (of a US syndicated nutrition and cooking show), and Pro Athlete has coached well over 3000 athletes in gymnastics, dance, cheer-leading, fitness and bodybuilding; including celebrities, models and actors. Lyzabeth is also recognized through her regular magazine appearances as a model and writer, as well as through her blogs and posts to over 4,000,000 social media followers.