Fitness

A Quick Guide to Common Protein Powder Ingredients

Many people add protein powder to their pre-workout smoothie, without taking a close look at the ingredients label. It's important to understand the purpose of common protein powder ingredients, however, as it will help you optimize your workout and diet regimen. Ahead, find out what ingredients you want in your protein powder, and which ones you want to avoid.

Coco Powder

What you should be looking for

When you check the nutritional label on the back of your preferred protein powder, you’ll see a long list of multisyllabic, hard-to-pronounce ingredients. While these ingredients may be hard to parse at first, you’ll soon learn how to determine which ingredients are beneficial, and which ingredients are simply filler.

The first thing you should consider is the type of protein. Many experts consider whey protein to be the best option. This type of protein has a high concentration of amino acids, which promotes healthy muscle protein synthesis. Some people have a hard time digesting whey protein, however. In these cases, casein is a good substitute. This protein, derived from milk, also has an excellent amino acid profile. Casein protein releases slowly, while whey is fast acting. This means that it’s excellent for muscle recovery, but doesn’t deliver the immediate results of whey protein. Many bodybuilders mix opt for protein powders that combine whey and casein, as it boosts immediate and long-term results.

In any protein powder, the mixture of proteins is going to be the main attraction. Most powders contain other ingredients as well, which further enhance the muscle building process. Creatine is essential, as this peptide boosts energy levels within the muscle tissues. This helps users to train harder for longer. It’s also useful for recovery and muscle cell hydration. Many protein powders also contain fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and mitigate post-workout muscle soreness.

Bodybuilders should try to find a protein powder with carrageenan. This seaweed extract has numerous health benefits, from improved digestion to reduced cholesterol levels. The main reason it’s found in protein powders, however, is its potent antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the cells in the body from free radicals—including muscle cells.

What You Don’t Want

When shopping for the perfect protein powder, there are also ingredients that you should try to avoid. This includes artificial sugars. Many protein powders are stuffed with sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame, but these sugar substitutes can wreak havoc on your metabolism. You should try to avoid standard sugar as well. It triggers the body’s desire to store fat, which isn’t a desirable side effect of protein powder. Stevia is the best protein powder sweetener, as it doesn’t have the metabolic effect of artificial sugar substitutes and doesn’t have the fat storing effect of sugar.

Male bodybuilders may also want to avoid soy protein. This form of the protein has plant estrogens, which can have a disruptive effect on male muscle gain. It can also increase inflammation levels, which can have a negative impact on the recovery process.

Using Protein Powder

Bodybuilders should also strive to choose a protein powder that’s easy to use. When it comes to protein powder, usability is defined by two characteristics: blend-ability and digestibility. Protein powders shouldn’t require a blender for even mixing. You should be able to throw a scoop into a water bottle, shake, and drink. If you can’t do this, it’s a sign that the protein powder is poorly made.

Finding a protein powder that’s easy to digest may require some trial and error. A powder that causes no bloating for one user may cause cramps in someone else. Before purchasing a powder, take a look at the types of protein included in the product. People with lactose issues, for example, should avoid powders that contain proteins derived from milk.

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