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The Best Protein Powder for Every Goal

scoops of superfoods and protein powders

By Michael Martin

When you walk into a health-food store, the wall of protein powders may seem insurmountable.

The varieties available have radically expanded from whey into beef and egg on one end of the spectrum, and a garden’s worth of plants on other: pea, hemp and rice just to name a few. First, know this: Plant protein is more slimming than milk-derived proteins. Next, different varieties have qualities that make them the best choices depending on your lifestyle needs. We’ve broken down a few of them here—use one to make The Best Weight-Loss Smoothie Ever!

To Lose Weight

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Garden of Life Raw Meal, 1 scoop

Calories

155

Fat

2.5 g

Saturated Fat

1 g

Carbs

16 g

Sugar

3.5 g

Protein

17 g

To Lose Weight

Garden of Life Raw Meal

This organic protein blend is derived from belly-blasting brown rice, quinoa and beans, plus tea and cinnamon extract. With 34 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber per two-scoop serving with a reasonable 310 calories, having one of these for lunch before a workout will keep you feeling full and energized while preserving muscle. AND CLICK HERE FOR 11 EATING HABITS TO UNCOVER YOUR ABS!

To supplement your diet

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Alive! Ultra Shake Pea Protein, Vanilla, 1 scoop

Calories

120

Fat

less than 1 g

Saturated Fat

0 g

Carbs

15 g

Sugar

9 g

Protein

15 g

To supplement your diet

Alive! Ultra Shake Pea Protein

Protein powders are no substitute for eating well, but this one can offer an occasional hand with nutrition. Pea protein is rich in amino acids and is easy to digest. This variety by Alive! contains a substantial 15 grams of protein per scoop, plus a multivitamin’s worth of nutrients. DISCOVER OTHER SURPRISING WAYS TO LOSE WEIGHT—FAST—WITH THESE 24 NUTRITION MYTHS—BUSTED!

To Power Up Your Smoothie

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Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein, 3 Tbsp

Calories

90

Fat

3 g

Saturated Fat

0 g

Carbs

9 g

Sugar

1 g

Protein

15 g

To Power Up Your Smoothie

Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein

Stifle the Woody Harrelson jokes: Hemp protein is derived from the less-fun parts of the hemp plant, offering a substantial amount of fiber (here, 8 grams) that’s easy to digest. With 15 grams of protein per scoop, this organic option is an ideal mix-in for oatmeal or smoothies (or brownies, if that’s your thing); the fiber will make you feel fuller longer, and it contains eight essential amino acids to build muscle.

To Beat the 3 pm Slump

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Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Raw Vegan Protein, 1 scoop

Calories

100

Fat

2 g

Saturated Fat

0 g

Carbs

2 g

Sugar

0 g

Protein

19 g

To Beat the 3 pm Slump

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Raw Vegan Protein

With 19 grams of protein and 100 calories per serving, this organic protein is derived from peas, cranberry and hemp, with no sugars, gluten or artificial sweeteners to cause a metabolism-confusing midday crash. But it’s tasty enough to take on its own. If you down some pre-workout, the branched-chain amino acids can give your gym session a boost. AND IF YOU'RE HUNGRY AT 3PM, AVOID THE VENDING MACHINE AND INSTEAD ENJOY ONE OF THESE ESSENTIAL 50 BEST SNACKS FOR WEIGHT LOSS!

To Stop Late-Night Snacking

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Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein, 1 scoop

Calories

120

Fat

1 g

Saturated Fat

0.5 g

Carbs

4 g

Sugar

1 g

Protein

23 g

To Stop Late-Night Snacking

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Casein

If you don’t suffer belly bloat from milk-derived protein, pick casein before whey—the former digests more slowly (it’s the same principle as low-glycemic-index ‘slow carbs’) and stays in the system longer to nourish muscles. This makes it a good option if you need a nighttime snack on workout days: It’ll help kick-start recovery and build fat-burning muscle. This option has 23 grams of protein and only one gram of fat per serving. (If you do want to drink whey, do it in the PM: A study published in 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that active men who consumed whey at night increased their next-morning metabolism.)

To gain muscle

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Jay Robb Enterprises Egg White Protein, 1 scoop

Calories

115

Fat

0 g

Saturated Fat

0 g

Carbs

1 g

Sugar

0 g

Protein

24 g

To gain muscle

Jay Robb Enterprises Egg White Protein

Whey tends to be the first word when it comes to protein supplementation. Trouble is, it can cause belly bloat. For a better option that’ll help you bulk up only in desirable areas, try egg-white protein, which is naturally low-carb and no-fat. This option has 25 grams of protein and 115 calories per serving.

Plus, are you looking for more ways to amp up your protein intake and unsure what meat-free protein options to mix into your weekly diet? Scroll down to check out some Eat This, Not That! favorites.

1
Beans

Protein Payoff: 1/2 cup, 109-148 calories, 7-10 grams of protein

Beans are good for more than just your heart. They’re loaded with proteins, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can benefit your brain and muscles, too. Not to mention, they digest really slowly, which can help you feel fuller, longer, and fuel weight loss efforts without causing feelings of deprivation. Look for easy-to-use, pre-cooked BPA-free varieties that come in a pouch or a box.

Add them to soups and salads or mix them with brown rice and steamed vegetables to create a hearty—yet healthy—dinner. Big into snacking? Mix black beans with some salsa and corn, and serve with some whole grain crackers in place of your favorite packaged dip. Just make sure you slip them into your diet! Eating beans is one of the 10 daily habits that blast belly fat.

2
Sprouted Whole-
Grain Breads

Protein Payoff: 2 slices, 160-200 calories, 8-12 grams of protein

This nutrient-dense bread is loaded with folate-filled lentils and good-for-you sprouted grains and seeds like barley and millet. Reinvent lunch time with a veggie and protein packed sandwich overflowing with wholesome nutrients. Here’s how to make it: On two slices of sprouted whole-grain bread combine tahini-free hummus (also one of the best snack foods), avocado slices, roasted red peppers, cucumbers, onions, spinach and tomatoes. Kitchen reserves running low? Opt for the classic—but always delicious—peanut butter and banana sandwich. The creamy, sweet treat is a protein-packed crowd pleaser.

3
Teff

Protein Payoff: 1/4 cup, 180 calories, 7 grams of protein

This nutty-flavored gluten-free grain may be small, but it packs a mighty nutritional punch! It’s loaded with fiber, essential amino acids, calcium and vitamin C—a nutrient not typically found in grains. To reap the benefits, trade your morning oatmeal in for a protein-packed teff porridge. Combine a half cup of teff with one a half cups of water and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Let it come to a boil before turning the heat down to low and letting it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and top with apples, cinnamon and a dollop of natural peanut butter.

4
Spinach

Protein Payoff: 1 cup (cooked), 41 calories, 5 grams of protein

Popeye's favorite veggie is a great source of not only protein, but also vitamins A and C, antioxidants and heart-healthy foliate. One cup of the green superfood has nearly as much protein as a hard-boiled egg—for half the calories. Looking to get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck? Be sure to steam your spinach instead of eating it raw. This cooking method helps retain vitamins and makes it easier for the body to absorb the green’s calcium content. Add a handful to soups, omelets, pasta dishes and veggie stir-fries, or simply steam it and top with pepper, garlic, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. And don't feel like you have to double down on the greens. Spinach is one of the 10 greens healthier for you than kale.

5
Triticale

Protein Payoff: 1/2 cup, 323 calories, 12 grams of protein

While you may have never heard of this hearty whole grain before, it may become your new favorite. This wheat-rye hybrid packs 12 grams of protein per half cup, and is also rich in brain-boosting iron, bloat-busting potassium, magnesium and heart-healthy fiber. Use triticale berries in place of rice and mix it with soy sauce, fresh ginger, cloves, shiitake mushrooms and edamame to make a healthy, Asian-inspired dish. If you prefer to firing up the oven to using the stove, use triticale flour in place of traditional flour in your baking.

6
Quinoa

Protein Payoff: 1 cup, 222 calories, 8 grams of protein

This versatile, gluten-free seed is loaded with protein and all nine essential amino acids that the body needs for growth and energy. It’s also a good source of potassium, fiber, iron and magnesium, which may help control Type 2 diabetes by keeping blood sugar levels stable. Use quinoa as a base for a hot breakfast cereal in lieu of oatmeal, add it to soups and salads or make a creative snack by popping the seeds over the stove like popcorn.

7
Peanut
Butter

Protein Payoff: 2 tablespoons, 191 calories, 7 grams of protein

This creamy spread is downright addictive. While eating too much peanut butter can wreak havoc on your waistline, a standard two-tablespoon serving provides a solid dose of muscle-building protein and healthy fats. According to a 2014 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming peanuts can prevent both cardiovascular and coronary artery disease—the most common type of heart condition. Look for the unsalted, no sugar added varieties without hydrogenated oils to reap the most benefits. If you’re tired of plain old PB&J sandwiches, try stirring the spread into hot oatmeal, smearing it on fresh produce, or blending it into your post-workout smoothie.



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