Should I take protein powder?

I get asked this question ALL THE TIME!  What do I tell people??  Most often (after looking over their daily food log) the answer is YES! Why? Because most people do not get enough protein on a daily basis.  Why do you need to eat more protein and why protein shakes?  Well continue reading if you’re interested….

If you have ever been to a gym or a health food store you’ve probably seen and heard about various flavours, brands and kinds of protein powder.  If you are a health and fitness guru/nut like me, protein shakes are a part of your daily meal plan, at least once (post workout) or maybe even twice a day.  They are becoming more and more popular as people are discovering that the key to weight loss and building muscle is adding more protein to their diet, therefore protein powder has become a neccessary supplement. But do you know which kind is best?? How they are made?? Or how much protein you need?? Hopefully I will answer all your questions below…

You can buy protein powders in every nutrition store and the are sold all over the Internet. You can even find pre-mixed, ready-to-drink protein shakes in many stores.  But are protein powders just for bodybuilders, or can the average everyday person benefit from them as well? The answer is YES, everyone can benefit from adding more protein into their diet.  Why? Lean sources of protein increase your metabolism, increase muscle mass, increase recovery, leave you feeling full so you eat less which eventually lowers body fat, increases adaptation to training demands, lowers your risk of cardiovascular disease, boosts your immune system, etc.

What Are Protein Powders?

Protein powders come in various forms.

Protein powders are dietary supplements that contain a high percentage of protein, this protein being derived from a variety of different food sources including:

Rice, Egg, Milk, Pea, Hemp and Soy

Here’s what you should know about each type…

Rice protein: Hypo-allergenic, gluten-free, neutral taste, economical

Egg protein: Fat-free, concentrated amounts of essential amino acids

Milk protein: includes whey, casein, calcium caseinate, and milk protein blends. – May enhance immunity, high in BCAA’s, contains lactose, most likely to not be tolerated, highly studied

Pea protein: No saturated fat or cholesterol, highly digestible, suitable for vegans, hypo-allergenic, economical

Hemp protein: Provides omega-3 fats, most forms provide fiber, suitable for vegans, free of trypsin inhibitors, can get in raw form, high in arginine and histidine

Soy protein: May have benefits for cardiovascular disease, suitable for vegans, contain trypsin inhibitors

h percentage of protein, many manufacturers fortify their products with synthetic vitamins and/or minerals as well as additional fats and carbohydrates. These later products, which also contain appreciable amounts of carbohydrates and fats are often referred to as MRPs or meal replacement powders.

As protein powders come directly from whole food sources, they are created by extracting the protein component of the food through a variety of processing methods. Typical processing methods include:

Protein concentrates
Concentration is a high heat drying process and acid extraction to lessen the whole food source into a concentrated protein powder. It is fairly inexpensive. During the processing other impurities can be concentrated with the protein (e.g., lactose, fat, cholesterol). Concentrates end up being about 60 – 70 percent protein by weight.

Protein isolates
With isolated protein, the idea is to separate out a majority. This is accomplished through an alcohol wash, water wash, or ionization technique. Each method has a different expense. Water is the least expensive and ionization is the most expensive. After the isolate is created it goes through a filtration process. At this point, virtually everything but the protein has been eliminated. Minimal carbohydrate, fat, fiber and phytochemicals are left. Isolated protein is about 90 – 95 percent protein by weight.

Protein hydrolysates (hydrolyzed)
Hydrolyzed protein is created by adding water to protein polymers and breaking them into miniature groups of protein called peptides. The groups will range in size from 2 to 5 amino acids. This is done to enhance absorption. Hydrolysis is essentially pre-digestion. Hydrolyzed protein is expensive to produce.

Ion-exchange protein
Ions are atoms or molecules containing charge-bearing groups. Ion exchanging separates protein molecules from other fractions in the food by taking advantage of electrical charges.

Microfiltration, cross microfiltration, ultrafiltration
This is a powerful filtration process that removes contaminants from the concentrated protein component by passage through a membrane. It is similar to reverse osmosis used for water purification.

The industry gold standard for milk protein processing is ion-exchange. However, different protein sources require different processing techniques.

While protein powders provide a significant amount of protein, most people, even athletes, can also get everything they offer by eating sources of lean protein like meat, fish, chicken, and some dairy products (greek yogurt and cottage cheese preferably) BUT let’s be honest, who wants to eat  more than 3 chicken breasts a day!? Not me!

How much protein do I need?

The general rule of thumb is 1-1.5 grams/pound of body weight (seems like a lot and very few people get enough protein everyday).  So for most women this is 20-30g of protein PER MEAL (120-180g/day) and for men 40-60 g of protein per meal (240-360g/day).

If you’re unsure as to how much protein you’re currently consuming click on this link to find out the protein content of almost every food you can imagine!

With the many options of protein powders currently available, it is important to find the option that matches YOUR needs. Digestibility is an important issue and should be established before choosing a protein powder. For most people who first start taking protein powder it will take a few days for your body to get used to it.  So give it time and if your body still doesn’t like what you’re giving it, try a different type of protein powder.

Also, the method in which the protein powder is used will also influence your selection (e.g., shakes, puddings, bars, pancakes, etc). Finally, remember this, with dietary supplements, you get what you pay for. By choosing a “cheap” protein powder, you’re likely to get higher amounts of lactose, fat, etc. not removed during the isolation process.

I have tried all types of protein powders, and to be honest I like to mix it up and try different flavours and kinds (and try and find the expensive ones on sale!)  My favourite is the new VEGA Performance Protein (chocolate flavour). Here’s a link for more info on what’s in it.  I’ve also used ALLMAX Isoflex Whey Protein Isolate in the past (so many flavours to choose from).  Here is a link to find out more about this product.  What’s great about this brand is you can buy it in most grocery stores (check the health food aisle) so it’s very convenient.

Any one else have any opinions on protein powder?  Feel free to comment!  Hopefully this post has been useful in answering any questions you had about protein powder.

In my opinion the BEST way to lose weight/gain muscle is to follow a regular strength training  and cardio routine (most effective with the guidance of a personal trainer), practice yoga at least once a week and most importantly follow a consistent healthy diet, high in protein, loaded with veggies and minimal fruits, healthy fats, and lots of water…there’s so secret formula, it takes hard work and dedication to your goal!  Contact me for more info and I’ll show you how to get the most out of your workouts and help you get the results you’ve always wanted!



Les 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Should I take protein powder?

  1. Adam says:

    Hello Les, great post as this is something I am currently looking into. You explain things in an informative an easy to follow manner.

    I am trying to eat as clean as possible and try to eat organic, non-GMO etc. In this case would you recommend an organic (ex: hemp) protein vs a natural, unflavoured option like All-Max Iso-Natural?

    I would like a quick absorbing (clean) option but from what I have been told most of these organic plant-based versions are slow release.

    2) I have been told one of the reasons certain pills, etc. are bad for the body is the body has a hard time dealing with foods in a processed and/or refined form that it’s natural form as it is found in nature. In your opinion is this something to be concerned with regarding protein powders?


    • Hi Adam! Thanks so much for your questions! I had to do a bit of research before I got back to you. I called up a good friend of mine Scott Jen who has been a personal trainer and nutrition expert for many years. Here’s what he had to say…
      “Hemp protein will have way more fat (thus way more calories) and will not be as complete of a protein because it also lacks essential amino acids. There are literally hundreds of protein supplements on the market. What’s most important is to establish why/what you want from your supplement. Whey and milk protein in general lead to bloating in most people, and make some retain water. WRT the pill and powders question, the body sometimes responds better to pharmaceuticals, as opposed to with protein powders. The body will almost always absorb them and synthesize them faster than regular foods. However food will almost always give more nutrition, and will also offer a thermic effect as well as raise metabolism more than a shake will.” Hope this answers your questions Adam! 🙂

  2. jsclen says:

    I have tried allmax, currently I am pretty much settled on the Optimum Nutrition brand. I take the casein and the whey (gold standard), and for the whey I prefer the natural when I have the choice. I like the flavours (except for vanilla, ugh) and the mixability.

  3. ChrisG says:


    The I’ve heard many things about protien, and the strongest advice I’ve heard is that

    Use of it in dailey nutrition is not something I’ve researched or yet paid much attention to. However what I do know and strongly believe is that the first 10 – 15 minutes after your heart rate starts to drop after your workout is when you need to get your recovery nutrition in you.

    Protein and Carbs
    After training your muscles are primed for growth and repair. So ideally within 15 – 30 minutes, fuel up with foods to give lots of carbs (50 – 100g) and adequate protein (10 – 20 g). Eat a balanced meal within 2 hours (or snack every 2 hours until your next meal).
    — PSP (Organization in support of Canadian Forces Fitness)

  4. ChrisG says:

    A correction to my last post
    * .. strongest advice that I’ve heard is that **It is when and how you use it, not if you use it.**

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