Recently I was asked which protein powder I thought was the best.

As with most things health related, the answer was a definitive “It depends”.

Most protein powders these days have as a base either whey protein, soy protein or pea protein.  Based on this general breakdown, here is my thinking on choosing a protein powder.

I am leery of any processed soy.  While I am neither a dietitian nor an MD, in general, recent thinking is that minimally processed soy for healthy females is probably ok in moderate amounts.  Any cancer (especially breast) history, or for males–only unprocessed soy is generally recommended (think edamame or tofu).  So, how much will you be using this and for how long are two important questions I would ask yourself when choosing a protein powder based on soy proteins.

Whey protein is very popular and probably the least expensive on the market.  Whey is derived from cow’s milk…in “laymen’s terms” as it is processed in cheese making, the milk separates into casein (which becomes curd for cheese) and a liquid.  When that liquid is drained, dried and processed it is whey powder.  So, if you are avoiding dairy (allergies, sensitivities, or inflammation issues such as autoimmune diseases or gut issues), you probably want to either avoid whey or test it cautiously.  There is the slight danger that whey proteins are contaminated with the antibiotics, etc. (blood, pus) that may have been present in the cow’s milk the whey was derived from.  If you drink milk and don’t worry about these issues, you probably don’t need to worry here either.

Isagenix has a great protein product that is whey based.  You can use it alone, or like many of these products, it comes with a complete lifestyle you can adopt.  I Joint Venture with a trainer who is a distributor (and user) of Isagenix and is a walking poster for the product!  (You can look her up on FB…Lisa LaManna).

Pea protein has gained popularity recently.  Sounds gross if you don’t like peas (like me), but in reality I have found that pea protein does not taste at all like peas (Thank Heavens!).  Pea protein based powders do not appear to trigger allergies, cause inflammation, or have other adverse side effects.  Plant based (you can find rice protein powders, but pea is the most popular right now) are thought to be more of a detoxifier (due to their lessened likelihood of triggering any reactions), but not as good at muscle building as whey protein powders.  There have been fears of arsenic contamination in rice protein powders, but I haven’t seen any issues with pea protein powders.  Personally I use Arbonne Protein Powders  and have been very happy the results and taste.

At this point you’re probably thinking I haven’t done much to help you make a decision!  Basically, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

1.  Are there any allergies, sensitivities, etc. that you need to be concerned about?  I would choose the protein base you are most comfortable consuming based on this, then…

2.  Compare labels of similarly based products for protein levels (20 g protein per serving is typical and is what we can readily process in one meal).

3.  Compare sugar levels and decide if you are comfortable with sugar substitutes to lower the sugars in the label.  I am amazed when I see a “healthy” protein powder that contains high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.  I would rather have a higher sugar level on the label and avoid most of these (Stevia would be one exception in my world).

4.  Compare other added nutritional components…many of these have proprietary blends that include probiotics, minerals, etc.

5.  Compare price and ease of purchase.


Now, I know I have “left out” some (hemp protein for one)–and have only hit what I would consider the 3 main types of protein powders I get asked about.  Have one you love, thoughts you’d like to share?  Leave me a comment below!  I’d love to hear from you–this is an area that is growing as we look for ways to concentrate pure nutrition quickly and cost effectively into our lifestyles.