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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.

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

    Shir Avital says:

    Is protein powder safe to consume if I’m under age 18?

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      Yes, protein powder is safe for girls under 18 too! :) xx

      Love,
      Diana

    Claire says:

    Hi,

    I have done your programme a few months back and stopped and want to start doing it again as I need to tone up. I don’t want to get muscly but obviously want to tone, especially focusing on my legs as I have cellulite on my thighs. My stomach tones very fast. While I’m doing your programme, I want to start taking a protein to help! Do you know what protein is best for toning? I don’t want to lose any weight! Thanks, Claire!

    Shannon says:

    Hi, I am looking for a natural, good tasting protein powder. I am based in Durban, and can’t seem to find a tasty but ‘healthy’ (no added color ants and flavourants or anything extra our bodies don’t need) Was wondering if you could help suggest one?
    I currently use biogen diet lean protein powder, what are your thoughts on this product?
    Thanks Shannon x

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Shannon, my best suggestion would be to buy one online that ships to Durban. I’m not too sure about what ranges you have there. Also I find that whey proteins taste better than vegan ones, but definitely understand the attraction of a vegan protein powder. But if you’re looking for a better tasting one, try whey. I looked that protein powder up online but for some reason the nutrition facts page wasn’t working x

    Patricia says:

    Hi Rachel,
    me and my friend are looking for a protein powder to lose weight and build muscle.
    We are afraid of gaining to much weight if one serve is over 100 calories.
    How much is a protein powder in generale?
    Thank you so much!! :)

    Patricia

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Patricia, 100 calories is very normal for a protein powder. Most I see are between 100-150 calories. Also 100 calories is a very small amount so don’t be afraid of having it! :) It will keep you really full xxx

    Zahra says:

    Hi Rachel!

    Do you know if this protein powder is available in the UK? If yes, where from? If not, what brand would you recommend I should buy from the UK?

    Also, keep up the great work! You’re amazing :)

    Zahra xx

      Zahra says:

      I weigh about 50 kgs and work out 4-5 times a week :)

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Zahra, thanks lovely. I think they ship worldwide but it is expensive. I’m not too sure about brands from the UK, but just try to find one that is low in sugar and carbs and as high in protein as you can! xx

    Giselle says:

    Hi Rachel!

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with the vega brand (all plant-based, vegan protein). there are various products, but the one I’m closely looking at (proteins and greens) has 20 grams of protein, 110 calories, 6 grams of carbs, and .5 grams of fat. I know you’re recommendation says 24 grams of protein and less than 2 grams of carbs, would this be suitable? also they also have another product that includes daily essentials vitamins, but has 13 grams of carbs , 160-170 calories and, 6 grams of fat with the same amount of protein as the other. I like that this one is also the equivalent to taking a vitamin(I’m not opposed to taking a regular multivitamin but I guess this is more convenient), however do you think the amount of carbs, calories and fat in this one is suitable ? I want to have lean muscle without bulking up, and sustainable fat-loss, in a short slim and tone up. I exercise 6 days a week for 30-40 min, doing a combo of cardio and resistance training.
    thanks :) ,

      Rachael Attard says:

      Hi Giselle, I do actually know the Vega brand you’re talking about. Most vegan protein powders will have higher carbs just because of what they’re made from. I think this is fine, as long as you’re not having more than 1 scoop per day :) I think either of them would be good! xx

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