According to Harvard Health Publishing, the average adult in good health and with at least a somewhat active lifestyle should consume 0.36 grams of protein per day for every pound of body weight. That means an individual who weighs 160 pounds should look to consume nearly 58 grams of protein every day, which is backed by the FDAs recommended daily value of 50 grams of protein per day. But if youre not getting enough protein in your diet, or you simply need more, the best protein powders can help whether youre looking to enhance muscle growth, increase weight loss or improve your personal health. And while Rituals 18+ Essential Protein earned high marks for its nutrients and lack of additives, options abound.
In writing this article, I consulted with more than half a dozen experts, including medical doctors, registered dietitians, fitness coaches and even a professor of biophysics. Their insights confirmed what I had long known only in general terms: Proper protein consumption is essential for good health. Many people think protein is all about building muscle, and while you do indeed need plenty of protein to increase your strength, toning and muscle mass, protein does so much more than that.
Proteins are needed for hormone and enzyme synthesis, for the creation of bone cells and of hair and nails, for transporting oxygen throughout the body, for supporting immune health and so much more. In short, dont sell your body short of protein. Should you be in the market for a protein supplement, these are the best powders available today.
How We Chose The Best Protein Powders
Before selecting any of the protein powders on this list, I consulted with experts who use and recommend protein powders on a regular basis. In fact, I had input from more than a dozen experts, and I leaned heavily into their insights and recommendations when putting together this list. These experts include: Dr. Laura Purdy, MD, MBA; Professor Jed Macosko of Wake Forest University; Avery Zenker, a personal trainer and registered dietician; Michelle Routhenstein of Entirely Nourished; and Dr. Danielle Kelvas, MD.
When the time came to identify noteworthy protein powders, I first cross-referenced all of the input I received on protein powders in general, considering ingredients, use cases, price per serving and more. I then developed categories by which to differentiate various protein powders from one another in a manner that suits different consumers. Whether youre looking for a protein powder to build muscle, to stimulate hair growth or to simply up your daily intake, theres an option on this list for you.
Finally, after weighing many of the specific product recommendations I received from the experts against my own experience using protein powder over the years, I looked over reviews and ratings left by customers to confirm my selections. And with that, I arrived at this list of the best protein powders that serve different needs.
If youre in need of energy before and during a workout, weve also reviewed the best pre-workouts with insights and recommendations from fitness and nutrition experts.
What Is Protein Powder Good For?
Protein Powders work as a supplement if you are not consuming the daily recommended amount of protein or are an individual who requires more protein daily, says Dr. Laura Purdy. Adding protein powders to your diet can also aid in weight loss, boost your metabolism, help you maintain strong bones or help you build muscle and increase muscle strength. Protein powder can be a convenient way to increase your protein intake which is important for your overall health. And protein Powders may aid in increasing your body’s muscle mass, enhancing athletic performance when taken before you work out, or post-workout to support muscle repair or even to help aid in weight loss.
How Much Protein Powder Do You Need?
We touched on this earlier, but its a question that flummoxes many folks, so lets cover it again. Professor Jed Macosko, a biophysical chemist by training who has been a professor of biophysics at Wake Forest University for 20 years, explains it like this: You [need to] consume 0.80 to one gram of protein per kilogam of body weight per day.
Who Best Benefits From Protein Powder?
Registered dietician and personal trainer Avery Zenker says: Protein powder can be helpful for individuals who want to increase their total protein without increasing total calories, fat or carbohydrates. It can help meet macronutrient goals with more precision. This isn’t limited to fitness goals, there are many other reasons protein is important, including bone and hormonal health.
Protein powder can help increase total protein intake, which can support muscle building and maintenance. This may be helpful for those looking to build muscle, lose fat or maintain muscle mass. They can also be helpful for people with dietary restrictions, including individuals who are vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free. And its great for those struggling to eat enough: Certain medical conditions and poor appetite are just two of many reasons why someone may struggle to eat enough protein.
Is There Anything To Avoid In Protein Powders?
Many protein powders have added sugars, artificial sweeteners and some have been found to have harmful chemicals, says Michelle Routhenstein, a preventive cardiology dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist. It is important to read the ingredient list on the food label and ensure the product is third-party tested.
And primary care physician Dr. Danielle Kelvas, MD adds: Casein powder is high in lactose and may cause bloating and gas, and additives like dextrins and maltodextrin are often processed with GMO corn, which can be an insidious source of gut inflammation. Also, artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame and saccharin can cause headaches and gastric distress.
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