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#156 How To Choose A Protein Powder

By Rachael Attard, Updated Jan 6, 2016
how to choose a protein powder

So there are a few things about protein powder that you need to know. Do you need one? Should I use it everyday? What should I look for in a protein powder?

When I initially started lifting weights and training at the gym, I didn’t want to use a protein powder because I genuinely thought it was only for guys and for people who wanted to build lots of muscle. I now know that this isn’t true.

Do You Need A Protein Powder?

Protein is SUPER important and EVERYBODY needs protein in their diet. The recommended protein intake (that I have learned in my nutrition course – different to Australia’s guidelines) is 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.

If you are a sedentary person you would be at the lower end of this; if you are an active person you would be at the higher end. And if you are extremely active, you could even have as much as 2.4 g/kg body weight. So for someone like myself who weighs about 54kgs and is very active, I would stick to around 108g of protein (54 x 2).

So with all of that being said, do you actually need a protein powder? The answer is – if you can get your recommended daily intake of protein from your food, then NO you do not need a protein powder. The reason that so many people take protein powders is because they find it difficult to get the recommended amount of protein from food, especially for those who don’t eat certain foods such as vegans / vegetarians, dairy intolerant, coeliacs, etc.

108g of protein for me would look like:

  • ½ cup chicken breast – 22g protein
  • 150g steak – 35g protein
  • 2 whole eggs – 12g protein
  • 2 egg whites – 8g protein
  • ¼ cup nuts – 5g protein
  • 1 scoop of protein powder – 26g protein

Without the protein powder, I would find it quite difficult to eat the required amount of protein. Obviously fruit, vegetables, seeds, lentils, grains, dairy etc do also contain small amounts of protein too.

There will be some days that you eat lots protein and others when you don’t. I usually have 1 scoop of protein powder in my smoothies every morning, but there are some days that I don’t. If I do notice that I haven’t had much protein that day, or I haven’t eaten some form of protein for lunch or dinner, I will generally have a scoop of protein mixed with almond milk. You don’t need to use it everyday, it really just depends on your diet.

how to choose a protein powder

For females or for anyone who just wants to be healthy and stay lean, I would suggest the following. Look for a protein powder that has:

  • At least 24g of protein per serve
  • Less than 2g of carbs per serve
  • Less than 2g of fat per serve
  • Less than 150 calories per serve

If you are someone who is looking to bulk up or put on lots of muscle, you would be looking for something that has more carbs, more protein and more calories.

If you are dairy intolerant, I would look for a vegan source of protein such as brown rice or pea protein. If you are not dairy intolerant, then a whey protein isolate or blend protein powder would suit you great. Others prefer protein powders that don’t contain preservatives and there are many of these available too! But it is really a personal preference.

Note: a hydrolyzed whey protein absorbs into your muscles quickly so is great for post workout. A whey protein blend will generally absorb slower and is better at keeping you full for longer.

At the moment, I am using Proper Protein Whey Protein (Revitalize), which has 107 calories, 0.6g carbs, 25.2g protein and 0.2g of fat per serve and contains minimal preservatives. This brand does have vegan proteins available too.

If you have any questions about protein powders, feel free to ask me and I will try to help! xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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20 comments on “#156 How To Choose A Protein Powder”

    Ella says:

    Hey Rachael! What are some good protein powder brands in Australia that I could get from Woolies/Coles? I can’t find the protein powder you linked in the article but would love some alternatives. I’m about to start your program as a mesomorph. Thanks xx

      Ana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hey lovely,

      Rachael usually recommends plant based protein powders as they don’t have any dairy which can cause some unpleasant side effects.
      Of course, you can use whey powder if you prefer and aren’t lactose intolerant.

      Here are some of the best protein powders she would recommend:

      Vega Clean Protein

      Livwell protein blend

      PranaOn Plant Protein

      I am not sure which ones out of these can you find in the store you mentioned, but I’m pretty sure they can bet ordered online. :)

      If you still need Rachael’s thoughts on that store you have mentioned, let me know and I’ll ask her! :)