Parents and players ask me about best options for protein powders, nutrition, supplements, sports drinks, etc. I do NOT claim to be the best person to ask about these things. Are you interested in the non-genetically modified (non-GMO), gluten-free, paleo or body & muscle building discussions? If so, I recommend talking to a professional nutritionist or dietitian. (& if you are interested in applying such knowledge to being an athlete then I recommend checking out the e-books written by Alana Mears.) Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Finding what options for protein powders is best for you
While I am not an expert, there are some things I have learned over the years. Plus having family with special dietary needs, like Gluten-free, paleo, milk allergies & more.
Every person is different in the way they respond to, process, & build with protein.
What used to be considered a general standard of performance & recovery support has changed as we become more educated about what we put into our bodies.
Still, what is most important for me to let families become more-educated consumers.
As my knowledge has grown, I have continued to remove certain products out of my diet. (okay – except sugar, as my wife affectionately refers to me as the ‘Cookie Monster’). 🙂
There are certain names that we toss about like whey concentrate and whey isolate without really knowing the difference. OR someone tells us that soy is best – but not necessarily for males.
Then there is the quality of the offering to consider. How is the material sourced? AND – is whey bad for a diabetic?
What if you have a medical condition such as diabetes or PKU? (Phenylketonuria – a condition that restricts one’s consumption of protein & something I knew nothing about until my daughter’s ballet teacher – an athlete – shared about this condition).
These are questions that weren’t even discussed when the mainstream use of protein powders and supplements emerged onto the public awareness.
As these products continue to grow in their offerings.
You need a short list of products to get you started in learning to differentiate between better or worse options & why.
I hope you’ll take this list as a baseline for comparison shopping & to visit with your personal health adviser.
Why should you understand protein types & sources?
Protein is a necessary component for athletes, including for performance & muscle recovery.
Athletes need to replace essential nutrients to their body, including the amino acids & minerals found in protein. It was for this reason that I always drank chocolate milk after games.
The liquid protein post-heavy workout / game / muscle use is a quick way to replenish & promote recovery. Especially for younger athletes this is a highly recommended post-game treat.
For older players, however, the addition of protein powders is important because most athletes have difficulty consuming the necessary amount of protein to sustain their level of play.
This is important because it may make a player more prone to injury and inhibit recovery.
Which is best? Whey or Soy?
Again – no 2 athletes are the same & their body needs are unique as well.
That is one reason why so many products exist and do well on the market – they produce results, but maybe only in certain body types, blood types, nutrition needs, etc.
I personally prefer the grass-fed whey but I have known some athletes who could not digest soy.
Other sources of protein offer similar if not the same type of muscle recovery & maintenance. So again, talk to a professional nutritionist about your specific needs.
I have tried to include some of the best (& better tasting) powders here for ALL types for your consideration.
Best options for protein powders
Mt. Capra Products Double Bonded Goat Milk Protein – Great if you have an allergy to cow’s milk. This is also non-GMO.
Quest whey protein – A more pricey option but the brand is familiar if you’re one of the fans of their Quest protein bars. They bake really well, have a good flavor & are soy free and gluten free. They also have less than 1 gram of sugar per serving.
Optimum Nutrition – The ON brand’s soy protein. This is a great line for people needing soy-based products but beware! They’re currently redoing the line so it may be hard to find for a while.
Orgain – Developed by a physician & cancer survivor, this product hits many of the big triggers for many people – it’s organic, plant-based protein, vegan, dairy-free, gluten free, kosher, lactose free & more.
ProMix Grass Fed Whey Protein – A front-runner to the grass-fed phenomenon. I know that some people can’t tell the difference in taste or performance with grass-fed but I just feel better about it; this product is hormone & antibiotic-free but is hard to find; currently you can only buy direct or on Amazon.
Worst options for protein powders
Honestly there are so many bad guys it makes a top candidate hard to choose. However, they all have some common themes, including bad consumer reports, a long list of modified ingredients, heavy metals, & many additives.
The surprising addition to the list is price point – higher cost does not necessarily equal better quality.
Not sure that any of these are for you? Find your own ‘best’ product & let me know about it on Facebook.
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