As part of some research I’m doing for another project, I looked into protein supplements. For myself, I’ve always confined my choice of protein supplement to the best ones, and haven’t looked around a lot in general. I also asked some of Twitter peeps if they’d recommend candidates for the worst protein supplements. While this post is not meant to be a comprehensive guide, here’s a quick tour d’horizon of the best and worst protein supplements. I confined myself to ten of them.
Best Protein Supplements
These are not in any particular order.
- Immunocal. This whey protein supplement is clinically proven to raise glutathione, and therefore it’s good for people suffering from an illness that increases oxidative stress. (Most of them do.) Immunocal is non-denatured and unflavored. Downside is that it’s quite expensive. While if I were ill I’d be happy to spend the money on it, this product is more than what athletes and bodybuilders need; they can use a less expensive product without loss of effect.
- NutraBio Whey Protein Concentrate. I’ve long recommended this protein. Cold-processed, non-denatured, moderately priced. NutraBio has both flavored and unflavored types. The flavored contain artificial flavors and sweeteners, so avoid those if you’re concerned about them.
- Bulk Supplements Whey Protein. Unflavored, great quality, and inexpensive. This may be the best protein supplement for the money, at 20 bucks for a kilo.
- MyProtein IsoPro 97. This one gets high marks for purity and quality, according to my research. Probably a bit harder to find, but it’s available at Amazon
- Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder. This may be among the best of the big-selling brands. Artificially flavored/sweetened.
- Vega Sport Protein. I doubt if I have many vegans in my audience, but if you want a vegan protein option, here it is. The protein comes from pea, pumpkin, organic sunflower seed, and alfalfa. There’s some interesting research that plant proteins can be as effective for muscle growth as animal-based protein if you get enough, or possibly more. This one has 30 g a serving, so it would likely do the job.
Worst Protein Supplements
Again, in no particular order.
- Muscle Milk. Lousy protein combo, spiked with glutamine, contains maltodextrin, corn fiber, fructose, sunflower and canola oil. Only 16 grams of protein per 150 calories serving. Just, no.
- Optimum Serious Mass. While two scoops has 50 grams of protein, it also has 1250 calories, maybe half of what a normally active, moderately sized man needs. This might be good if you’re a malnourished ICU patient, but even then there must be better choices. The mass you gain is likely to be fat. First ingredient is maltodextrin. Mass gainers make a lousy choice as a protein supplement.
- Odwalla Vanilla Protein Drink. Hipster protein. First two ingredients, soy milk and sugar. Enough said. A whopping 43 grams of sugar, or about 10 teaspoons. 370 calories. Good Lord, where do they come up with this stuff?
- Gatorade Whey Protein Recover Bar. 360 calories. Look at the garbage ingredients: sugar, vegetable oil, nonfat dry milk, etc. Avoid. And avoid protein bars generally, even if you need the protein, although there may be a few good ones – I don’t know, I never eat them.
There must be thousands of protein supplements out there. If you want to supplement protein, you should look for a short list of ingredients with few of them artificial. For those seeking the highest purity, unflavored is best. Chocolate and other flavors are usually artificial, as are sweeteners. Others may contain vegetable oils, sugar, and unpronounceable artificial ingredients.
By the way, what do you eat for protein if you’re on the go and want something quick, but without the lousy ingredients in protein bars? keep a supply of hard-boiled eggs in your fridge. They’re 8 grams protein each, have lots of healthy fats, and are low calorie. Perfect.
This list is far from comprehensive and is just meant as a quick view of protein supplements. If readers have suggestions or, God forbid, criticism, I’d be happy to hear them.