Lets face it, there are thousands of protein products currently available, each making claims that theirs is the best... but how can you determine which ones are actually good, and which ones are just expensive garbage? In this article, we'll look at a few ways to determine how to evaluate protein quality so you can make informed choices on how to supplement your gains!
The first think to look at when evaluating a protein product is to look at how much of that product is actually protein. After all... that is what you're paying for.
This is a pretty simple thing to figure out... Simply divide the grams of protein by the grams in the serving size!
As you can see, the protein on the left has a much higher protein content than the one on the left, meaning more of each scoop is pure protein. Lower protein content powders tend to contain more byproducts from the production process and cheap fillers that have no place in a protein product.
Next, check out the ingredient list. In the case of protein, shorter is better. Pretty simple, right?
Things to avoid:
These are all things that really do not need to be in a protein supplement. Maltodextrin and dextrose, for example, are low cost carb fillers that are generally used to increase the volume of the product while providing a bit of sweetness.
Amino spiking is something that you should always look out for in your protein product. Basically, this is when a company adds cheap amino acids to the protein blend in order to artificially inflate the protein content of the product. Say, for example, a company is producing a protein that actually contains 14g of protein per serving, but they've added 6g of alanine and glutamine (cheap amino acids) to the blend. Technically, the product now contains 20g of protein per serving, even though the 6g of amino acids are almost completely useless for muscle building and recovery on their own. There have been some major lawsuits on this issue, but sadly it is still very prevalent today. Amino acids can be easily identified in the ingredient lists, as most one them end with "ine", such as glutamine, glycine, and alanine.
The final piece of the protein quality equation is the process used to extract the protein. This could be filtration, precipitation, salt treatments, and more. Each of the various extraction processes will result in a different protein content, with different bio-availability (or how easily your body can use it). Not every manufacturer discloses the production method, but this information is crucial if you are looking to get the most from your protein supplementation.
One of the most importance factors when evaluating an extraction method is the temperature of the process. High temperature processes will damage the protein structure, making it less beneficial to your body. While the protein content may still be high, your body may only be able to use a small amount of this protein for muscle building and recovery. Look for a cold-processed protein for the best results!
At the end of the day, you need to choose the protein that best fits your goals. If you are cutting for a show, obviously you want the cleanest protein available. If you are bulking up, a few extra carbs may not be an issue. If you need to limit your cholesterol, obviously choose a product that contains no cholesterol.
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