7 Best Protein Powders for Stronger Muscles, Say Dietitians
Exercising and spending time moving is such a healthy way to care for your body, especially when our society is so used to sitting at a desk all day. If one of your goals with working out is to become stronger and build more muscle, how can you make sure you're accomplishing this?
A key to building stronger muscles is making sure you get enough protein in your diet so that your body can repair the muscles you work. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, consuming protein after a workout provides your body with the essential amino acids required for muscle repair.
Depending on what you enjoy eating after a workout, it can sometimes be difficult to find a healthy, protein-heavy snack. This is why many people turn to protein powder or shakes for a post-workout treat.
If you've ever shopped around for a protein powder, you know how overwhelming it can be to choose from so many options. Registered dietitian Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our expert medical board, says that there are two main types of protein powders you should look for: whey protein and casein protein.
"Whey protein is a milk protein and considered to be one of the fastest digesting proteins and is also naturally the highest in branch chain amino acids (BCAAs)," says Goodson, "and casein protein is also a complete milk protein that provides all of the essential amino acids, but is slower digesting, which can help keep athletes and exercisers in an anabolic state for a longer period of time."
We asked a few dietitians about their favorite brands and types of protein powders in hopes that it could make your selection process a little easier. Read on to learn more, and for more health tips, check out Best Yogurt Combinations for Stronger Muscles.
Zhou Nutrition Plant Complete Protein Powder
"Zhou Plant Complete is a plant-based protein powder that has a complete amino acid profile. And since the protein is fermented with shiitake mushrooms, they have a higher digestibility score. Finally, this protein powder has no added sugars but comes in awesome flavors!"
– Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility
NOW Foods Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder
"NOW Grass-Fed Whey Protein is made with no synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. The whey protein has a nice amount of branch chain amino acids, making it a great choice to support a workout. With a whopping 19 grams of protein per serving, this powder is a great choice for people who want the benefits of whey protein."
Garden of Life – Raw Organic Protein Powder
"Garden of Life's Raw Organic Protein is a plant-based, non-GMO, certified organic protein powder. It is naturally free of most common allergens like dairy and wheat. It is made from various plant protein sources, but primarily pea protein. It can be used as a meal replacement, mixed into recipes to amp up the protein, and added to any health regimen for weight loss. If opting for protein through vegan powders, it is vital to select a protein powder that is made with all 20 amino acids. Garden of Life provides an amino acid panel to show it contains all essential amino acids in great volume. Any vegan protein powder that does not have an amino acid panel should be avoided because it likely does not contain all twenty."
– Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements
Six Star Elite Casein Protein Powder
"Six Star Casein Protein Powder is a high-quality protein blend designed to feed your muscles. Each serving contains 26 grams of protein derived from a variety of sources and digested at varying rates. Casein is another milk protein but, unlike whey, it digests more slowly over a period of around seven hours making it perfect to sip on before bedtime when your muscles are fasting during sleep."
– Janet Coleman, RD, a registered dietitian with The Consumer Mag
NOW Sport Egg White Protein Powder
"This egg white protein powder is unflavored, making it a nice addition to smoothies when you want your other ingredients to shine. Eggs are a high-quality protein source, and this powder provides 16 grams per serving. This is a quality protein powder for people who want the benefits of including egg whites in their diet in a convenient way."
Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein Powder
"This popular protein is not only affordable and available in a wide variety of flavors, but it is also packed with the best quality protein. A one scoop serving provides 24 grams of protein, which is the most ideal amount for the body to process efficiently at once. Choosing this protein powder will also provide you with 5 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are essential for muscle building and recovery."
Orgain Organic Protein Powder
"Protein powder can provide more than just protein necessary for recovery and building. Orgain's vegan, organic protein gives the consumer probiotics and fiber as well to aid in gut health and immunity. There are zero grams of sugar in this protein, and it's gluten-free and non-GMO. The 21 grams of protein contained in this powder are from plant sources, making it ideal for vegan consumers as well."
And for more, check out Orgain Protein: What Nutrition Experts Want You To Buy.