If you’re into bodybuilding, and health and fitness in general for that matter, one thing you will no doubt have noticed, is the fact that everywhere you look, you will find protein supplement after protein supplement. Okay, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration, but you never need to look far in order to find a protein supplement. Protein powders, especially whey protein powders, are the most popular form of supplement on the market today, so of course more companies are manufacturing their own blends in a bid to get in on the action. Whilst being faced with too much of something is the type of dilemma that most people would prefer to the exact opposite, it can still make it difficult to find the right product depending on your goals, budget, and personal preferences. Most people simply make do with the cheapest and most convenient protein supplement they can find, but these products are generally cheap for a reason. To help you find the right protein supplement to help transform your physique and take it to the next level, here are 6 things to look for and to consider when selecting a protein supplement.
Concentrate or isolate?
First up, the seasoned bodybuilders and fitness buffs reading this will already know which of the two they would prefer if money was no obstacle, but if you’re not familiar with whey isolate versus whey concentrate, let’s fill you in quickly. Basically, whey protein comes from milk, when it separates into cheese. They whey liquids that are left are then taken away, filtered and processed before being turned into the delicious powder you mix with milk or water to help get you buff. However, whey isolate undergoes additional processing and filtration, leaving you with a much purer and better quality protein. Whey concentrate can be anything from 70% – 80% pure protein, with the remaining 20 – 30% being made up of fats and carbohydrates. Whey isolate however, is generally around 95 – 98% pure protein, so you get more protein per serving. As it is better quality, it is much more expensive however, but if you have the budget, always choose isolate over concentrate.
If you can find out how a protein powder has been filtered, and as companies are so competitive nowadays, finding out as much info about your protein supplements couldn’t be easier, you should try to find a powder that has been cold filtered, instead of hot filtered. With hot, or warm filtering, the proteins become damaged and become denatured which is obviously not what you want when selecting a protein supplement. You want a protein supplement with as many nutrients and protein molecules intact as possible, so cold filtration is always going to be the best option, because it preserves more of the nutrients, leaving you with a purer and better quality supplement.
Organic produce is always going to be the better option, so if you do have your heart set on going organic, you should come to terms with the fact that it is going to cost you more than regular produce. However, there are now a number of organic whey protein supplements that do not cost the earth, and if possible, you should always select organic as your primary choice. Organic protein comes from cows that have been allowed to graze on pastures that have not been treated with pesticides or fertilizers in any way. They also are not fed with grains that have been contaminated with chemicals either, and finally, the cows themselves are not injected with antibiotics or hormones. This results in them producing milk that is much purer, it tastes nicer, and it contains more nutrients and nothing harmful or detrimental. The milk is then turned into protein powder, and, well, you can probably figure out why this protein powder would be the better choice.
When selecting a whey protein supplement, the taste of the protein itself is going to be very important, because let’s face it, you need to be enjoying the protein that you’re drinking, otherwise what’s the point. You should look forward to drinking your next protein instead of fearing it, so you will need to find a supplement that tastes great. Remember, as there are so many protein manufacturers nowadays, it can be tough to find the right flavour as some taste better than others. For example, if you enjoy chocolate, just because you choose a chocolate flavour from a certain company, that doesn’t mean that their chocolate is going to taste nice. On the flip side, there could be company whose chocolate you absolutely enjoy, so if possible, make use of samples until you find a taste that you love.
There is absolutely nothing worse than a protein supplement that clumps together, no matter how much you mix, shake, and blend it, so unless you are happy with chewing lumps of dry protein powder instead of drinking it, go with a company that produces a protein powder that mixes very well. Some people blend their protein in a blender, in which case the result is always going to be relatively smooth, but if you are using a shaker cup, even with the shaker ball in, you may not get the desired consistency.
Amino acid content
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules, so of course you are going to have amino acids naturally present in your protein supplement, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t benefit from consuming even more. The best advice in this instance would be to read the nutritional label and find out exactly which amino acids are present, and in which quantities. There are more than 20 amino acids, all of which play some type of beneficial role in the human body, but in terms of exercise and fitness, some are definitely better than others. BCAAs, and amino acids such as Glutamine, for example, are very beneficial, though truthfully, the more aminos, generally the better the protein.