With protein powder, you can get the extra protein your body needs when you exercise. It’s also a great way to add building blocks if you have an increased need for protein for other reasons or if you have an otherwise low-protein diet.
Tips – where to find good protein powder
What is protein powder?
Protein powder is a type of food supplement that primarily contains protein in powder form. It is used by people who want to increase their protein intake beyond the amount they get naturally from their diet.
Protein powder is a popular dietary supplement for exercise. But it is also good for people who can benefit from a little extra protein, such as the elderly or vegans.
Protein is the building block of the body
Protein is called the building blocks of the body. Usually when people talk about protein, they associate it with muscle and exercise, preferably weight training.
But the truth is that the body uses these building blocks for a wide range of other functions too.
Protein allows the body to make hormones and enzymes. The immune system and antibodies also depend on adequate protein intake.
Types of protein in protein powders
There are lots of different protein powders to choose from:
- Whey is a type of milk protein and it is popular
- Casein is also derived from milk
- Beef protein is the tendons and cartilage of cattle
- Egg is also available as a powder
- Soy is a common ingredient in vegan protein powder
- Oats is also a popular ingredient
- Peas and rice are common in vegetarian protein powder
- Protein from hemp and pumpkin seeds is also common
In addition to the protein itself, the dietary supplement often contains some form of flavouring, such as:
- Other fruit flavours
But there are also protein supplements with all-natural flavours, which is great if you’re going to make a protein shake with fresh fruit or berries, for example.
Sweeteners in protein powders
Many protein powders contain sweeteners. These can include sucralose, acesulfame-k or aspartame.
The natural sweetener stevia is becoming increasingly popular as a healthier alternative to the artificial ones. Some protein supplements are completely sweetener-free.
Other additives in protein supplements
Depending on the protein powder manufacturer, other additives may also be present such as:
- Xanthan gum
- Emulsifier / soya lecithin
Most additives are completely harmless. But if you are particularly concerned about your health, you can choose a protein powder that is completely free of artificial substances and is also organic.
Popular protein powders
Of all the protein powders available, which one should you choose?
VegoFuel takes a look at some of the most common types of protein powders on the market.
Whey protein – whey protein
Many of the protein powders available are made from whey. It is a product found in milk where it makes up about a fifth of the protein.
Whey protein is popular because it is effective, easily absorbed by the body and cheap. However, it is an animal protein and is not suitable for lactose intolerant or milk allergic people.
Milk protein is also made up of four-fifths casein and is also available in the form of protein powder.
Casein is absorbed much more slowly than many other proteins and can therefore be a good source of protein in the evening. However, casein has been criticised for having negative health effects.
Among animal proteins, beef protein is also available as a protein powder. Unlike whey and casein, it is lactose-free. Beef protein contains creatine which provides extra energy for muscle building.
Most beef protein on the market is made from the residues of the slaughter industry – tendons, cartilage and connective tissue. Apart from being rather unpleasant to the touch, beef protein usually has a poor amino acid composition.
“Pass,” we at VegoFuel say, and hastily move on to the vegan alternatives.
Soy protein comes from the soybean and it’s the most common type of vegan protein powder. It is a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids.
The body can easily absorb soy protein. Therefore, this protein has become popular among people who cannot eat whey protein because they are lactose intolerant, milk allergic or because they are vegan.
Thanks to the manufacturing process, soy protein powder does not contain any phytoestrogen. This substance is otherwise found naturally in soybeans and is similar to female oestrogen = not so good for strength training.
Protein powders made from peas are also common. The proteins in peas are separated from the carbohydrates to form a concentrate.
It contains all the essential amino acids. However, there are slightly low levels of methionine and tyrosine. For this reason, mixtures are often created with pea protein and another vegetable protein source, such as oat protein.
Oat is a really good vegetable protein source. Consequently, there are a lot of protein powders based on oat protein.
It is rich in the essential amino acids lysine and leucine. This protein is often combined with pea protein to get a more complete coverage of amino acids.
An advantage of oat protein is that it tastes pleasant and is therefore easy to mix into various shakes or meals.
Hemp protein powder is made from hemp seeds. Yes, it’s the same type of plant used for marijuana – but rest assured – it has no narcotic effect whatsoever and is completely legal!
Hemp protein is rich in amino acids but not quite in the recommended amount. Therefore, you should combine this protein powder with other protein sources.
A plus, however, is that hemp protein also contains essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6) and dietary fibre. It also contains magnesium, iron, B vitamins and other beneficial substances.
Rice protein has all the essential amino acids except lysine. For that reason, it should be mixed with other proteins such as oat protein.
An advantage of rice protein is that it has a neutral taste which makes it suitable for various protein drinks. It is also gentle on the stomach.
Like rice, rice protein may contain arsenic. However, far from all brands have this problem. At least among US brands, only 1 in 12 protein powders containing rice protein had arsenic levels above the limit.
Cheap protein powder
How much does protein cost and what is a cheap protein powder anyway?
There are big differences in price between different types of protein powders and between different manufacturers.
- The cheapest is whey protein (whey protein). It can be bought for around SEK 150 per kilo, which is very cheap. At the same time, there is whey protein that costs around 500 SEK per kilo as well.
- Casein protein is more expensive. Expect 250 – 500 SEK per kilo of protein powder.
- Beef protein can cost 200 – 400 SEK.
- Among the vegetarian options we have soy protein which is in the price range of 180 – 200 SEK per kilo. We think this can be seen as cheap.
- A vegan protein mix with peas, oats and rice often goes for 250 – 450 SEK which is not exactly cheap, but still OK.
- Hemp protein is quite expensive and costs around 300 – 450 SEK per kilo.
Vegan protein powder increasingly popular
Vegan protein powder or vegetable protein powder is protein that is completely free of substances from the animal kingdom. These supplements are becoming increasingly popular. More people are choosing this type of protein source for the sake of the environment and, of course, for the animals.
Although whey protein, for example, is very much a by-product of dairy production, the fact remains. This protein is dependent on large numbers of livestock being out to graze. It contributes to the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
Which is the best vegan protein powder?
Just because many people choose whey protein for its rich amino acid profile doesn’t mean you need to despair if you want to eat completely vegan. There are plenty of good vegan protein sources.
But which vegan protein powder should you buy? Which is best?
A: A blend of different vegan proteins is best. The following blend provides a fairly complete amino acid profile and tastes great:
- Ground protein
- Oat protein
- Rice protein
If you’re going to choose a single protein from a vegan source, it has to be soy protein. It is the most complete vegan protein powder and it contains all the essential amino acids. However, it doesn’t have quite as much of all the amino acids as you might want. In addition, there is still disagreement about how healthy soy protein really is.
Our choice is therefore a mixture of pea protein, oat protein and rice protein.
Tip – If you are allergic to legumes, there are vegetarian protein powders that contain only oats and rice!
Vegetarian protein vs animal protein
Critics argue that vegetarian protein is not of the same high quality as animal protein – whether it’s in the form of whey or pure meat.
There is some truth to the claim, but the answer requires development.
For a protein to be called complete, it must contain all 9 so-called essential amino acids. Eggs, meat and milk are full sources of protein.
However, beans, nuts or peas, for example, are not. But if a single food doesn’t contain all the essential amino acids, there’s really no problem – you just have to combine them! It’s enough to get them all in during the day.
If we’re talking about protein powder, the problem is even less. Many of the vegan protein supplements on the market consist of several protein sources that together provide a full amino acid profile.
Who needs protein supplements?
Do you really need to eat extra protein as a supplement? The short answer is no. You get enough protein from food to survive – even if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.
But some people have an increased need for protein. If you do strength training or exercise and don’t eat enough protein-rich food, you won’t reach your full potential. You need protein to build muscle and recover.
Tips – Please read our article on how much protein you need per day.
Contrary to what you might think, older people also have an increased need for protein. We’re talking retirement age and up. If you belong to this group and also have a bit of a poor appetite – well then supplementing your diet with a protein supplement is a very good choice.
Buy protein online
VegoFuel loves protein. To be precise: We love vegan protein. With our partners, you’ll find plenty of both vegetarian protein powders and more “classic” whey protein to buy online.
Frequently asked questions about protein powder
What does protein powder do?
Protein powder helps you get more of the body’s building blocks, proteins. If you train hard and hard, you can improve your muscle building by supplementing a high-protein diet with extra protein supplements.
Is protein powder good?
Protein powder is good for those who exercise or otherwise need a protein supplement. If you don’t exercise very much, you’re probably getting enough protein from a regular home-cooked diet.
When should you take protein powder?
Taking protein powder is not very effective, but if you can spread your intake out over three times during the day, it’s probably a good thing. It can also be good if one of the intakes is reasonably close to your workout. Some people claim that taking protein in the evening is a good thing so that your muscles can recover during the night.
Is protein powder dangerous?
No, protein and protein powder in themselves are not at all dangerous. However, if you are allergic to any of the ingredients, such as whey or casein (milk protein), soya or peas, you should of course avoid this type of protein powder. At VegoFuel we also like to avoid artificial sweeteners and unnecessary additives.
How much protein powder should you eat?
If you train semi-intensively (on average), you can expect your protein needs to be around 1.3 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you train hard and intensively, you should expect to eat at least 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. You are likely to get a significant proportion of this from food – the rest can be obtained from protein powder.
Why take protein powder?
If you are exercising or if you are not getting enough protein from your diet, it is a good idea to get extra protein from a protein supplement. However, most people do well on regular protein-rich foods.
How long does protein powder last?
How long it lasts depends on the type of protein powder and its additives. For example, some tests show that whey protein lasts up to 18-19 months if stored properly. Most protein powder manufacturers indicate the date of manufacture and the best before date.
Is it dangerous to eat old protein powder?
No, if the protein powder has been stored properly, it will probably only gradually lose its protein content over time. But if it has a rancid smell, starts to clump, changes colour or suddenly tastes bitter, it is a sign that it has oxidised. Then you shouldn’t eat it.
Is there protein powder without sweeteners?
Yes, there are protein powders that are completely sweetener-free, and there are protein supplements that contain only natural sweeteners such as stevia.
Which protein powder is best for building muscle?
Whey protein is the protein powder that is considered the best for building muscle because it is complete. But vegan options like soy protein or a blend of oat, pea and rice protein actually work just as well.
Is whey protein environmentally friendly?
It depends on how you calculate. If you take milk for granted, you can consider whey as a residual product and then the CO2 footprint is very low. On the other hand, if we want to drastically reduce the use of cows (which are actually environmentally harmful) then we will have to choose vegetable protein sources to be environmentally friendly.
Which vegan protein powder is best for the environment?
Soy protein has the lowest carbon footprint, but most of the soy plant is used for the meat industry which in turn is an environmental villain. Pea protein and oat protein are considered environmentally friendly protein powders.
Which protein powders are lactose-free?
All vegan protein powders such as soy protein, pea protein, rice protein, oat protein and hemp protein are completely lactose-free.
Is there a vegan protein powder without soy?
Yes, many of the vegan protein powders on the market are completely soy-free.
- Collin Campbell, Casein Consumption
- The China Study
- Center for Nutrition Studies
- Chemistry Forum: Does rice protein have a high concentration of arsenic?
Photo: Protein powder in a spoon by Marco Verch Creative Commons 2.0