How to Choose the Right Protein Powder for You

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

Having a protein shake is supposed to be a quick, mindless way to get the nutrients your body needs. Yet, somehow, finding the right protein powder to shake is a testament to not only your nutrition knowledge but your patience, as well. Sorting through the infinite flavor options is hard enough. The search doesn’t end there, though.

The “right” protein powder will reflect your better-body goals, please your palate and work within your dietary needs. For a clearer head – and healthier body – consult this quick guide. It breaks down the most common protein powders, so you can easily digest the complete package.

How to Choose Between Different Types of Protein Powder

Whey Protein Powder

  • Most commonly used form of protein
  • Typically, the least expensive option
  • Dairy based
  • Supports muscle repair
  • Helps increase muscle strength and size
  • Best taken pre- and/or post-workout
  • Provides about 24 grams of protein per serving

Trainer tip: Drink your whey protein shake 30-60 minutes before or after your workout for optimal results.

Top product picks: NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate in Natural Vanilla & MET-Rx Instantized Natural Whey Protein in Chocolate

Casein Protein Powder 

  • Dairy based
  • Primary protein in cow’s milk
  • Slow-digesting protein
  • Steady release of essential proteins and amino acids
  • Takes about 5-7 hours to fully breakdown
  • Provides about 23 grams of protein per serving

Trainer tip: Best taken before bedtime, since your body is without food for a long stretch of time.

Top product pick: ARO Vitacost Black Series Casein in Natural Chocolate

Soy Protein Powder

  • Plant based from soybeans
  • Contains all essential amino acids (it’s considered a complete protein)
  • Helps stimulate muscle growth post-workout
  • Loaded with glutamine and BCAA (great for recovery after a workout)
  • Provides about 15 grams of protein per serving

Trainer tip: If your current diet consists of a lot of soy, you may want to enjoy soy protein shakes sparingly.

Top product picks: Earth Blends Isolated Soy Protein Powder in Vanilla 

Pea Protein Powder

  • 100% plant-based protein
  • Naturally free of fat  and cholesterol
  • Gluten free
  • Safe and gentle for the lactose-intolerant or anyone sensitive to whey or casein
  • Provides about 20 grams of protein per serving

Trainer tip:  If you’re trying to lose weight, pea protein is great between-meal filler.

Top product picks: NOW Foods Unflavored Sports Pea Protein & Nature’s Way Alive® Pea Protein Ultra-Shake™ in Vanilla

Hemp Protein Powder

  • Made from hemp seeds
  • 100% plant-based protein
  • Rich in omegas 3 and 6
  • Highly digestible
  • Provides about 15 grams of protein per serving

Trainer tip: Hemp is a terrific source of fiber. Just one hemp protein shake a day can account for up to 19% of your daily fiber needs.

Top product picks:  Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Hemp Protein Powder & Genuine Health Vegan Proteins Plus™ Natural Vanilla