Shake it Up: Different Protein Shake Options

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chocolate-smoothie-1058191_640Protein powders are fast becoming the latest rage in the quest for physical fitness. Walk into any local retailer, and you will find a plethora of products that are designed to fit any diet. From plant-based products to soy to designer whey protein shakes, each protein powder has a purpose. In order to discover which is best for your particular needs, let’s take a look at the different types that are out there for purchase.

The most common and least expensive protein powder currently on the market is whey protein. A dairy-based product, whey protein powder has been found to repair muscles post-workout. It can also help to build muscle size. Whey protein is easily digested, and comes in a variety of flavors. It can easily be added to carbohydrate-based recipes, such as pancakes and waffles. A container of whey protein powder should run you about $15 to $20, and can contain up to 20 grams of protein per serving.

Casein based protein powders are also dairy based, but are absorbed at a slower rate than whey protein. This slower processing is beneficial when taken before bedtime, when the body will be without food for a long period of time. Casein is the essential protein that is found in cow’s milk, so vegans and those with a dairy allergy should not use either casein or whey based protein powders.

Soy protein powder is a plant based protein that has cardiovascular benefits. Soy protein powder is a complete protein which gives you all of your amino acids necessary for proper nutrition. It can reduce triglyceride levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol while maintaining your HDL (good) cholesterol levels, according to over fifty studies done within the past several years. However, soy protein is not without risk. Soy protein can alter one’s hormone levels, as it interacts with estrogen when taken in excess. It is also thought to interfere with testosterone levels in males. For occasional use, soy protein is a good choice for vegetarians and vegans. To be on the safe side, soy protein concentrate is a better option. This version of soy protein is processed to have a lower amount of isoflavones, which are the potential “bad guys” that interact with estrogen.

Hemp protein powder is a grittier form of plant protein. It’s high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 oils, and is a viable option for vegans and vegetarians alike. Trader Joe’s carries both vanilla and chocolate hemp protein powders for approximately $11 a container, and is considered a superior protein powder due to its above-average digestibility. Hemp powder may also help reduce the effects of fatigue and have some immune enhancing benefits. It has also been proven to help with overall kidney health.

We’re presently using a plant protein shake that we purchased in Target, which is made with pea, cranberry and hemp seed protein. We prefer Orgain’s smooth and creamy consistency, although Vega and Whole Foods each offer an excellent gluten-free, vegan protein powder. Garden of Life’s Raw line is superior, but also has a hefty price tag. Another less expensive option might be to either use CVS’s brand or to purchase Plant Fusion’s brand of protein powder. With powerful proteins like quinoa and brown rice, vegan/plant-based protein powders are an excellent choice for those who are looking to supplement their protein intake without becoming amino acid deficient. When purchasing plant based protein powders, always look for the products that offer complete proteins, such as Plant Fusion or Vega One.

Protein powders come in single serving packets, for around $2 to $4 a packet. If you’re considering protein powders in your diet, it might be wise to purchase a few different brands to see which tastes best. If you’re still undecided about which type of protein powder would work best in your diet, you can consult either a certified dietician or a personal trainer.

Protein powders are a great way to stay full longer, which also helps with weight management. They’re portable, and you don’t need to be an athlete to reap the benefits of fat loss, muscle repair and muscle building, all in one rich, creamy shake!

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