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Everything I know about Protein Powders

Posted Jul 04 2010 12:13pm
A couple of readers have asked for some information on protein shakes and powders so I thought I'd do full post on them. I'm no expert, so this information is based on what I've picked up over the last couple of years from books, websites and blogs, and my own experiences of course! If you been reading the blog for a while you will see that I use protein powders in my diet quite often in various forms such as in smoothies, with porridge, mixed into yoghurt, in muffins, pancakes, cakes or even just straight up mixed with water or milk as a shake or goo.

Why is protein important?
  • Keeps you fuller for longer and therefore supports weight loss and weight maintenance 
  • Supports the building of muscles / preserves muscle mass. This is especially important when dieting to make sure that you lose fat rather than lean muscle
  • Helps the body to repair - protein supports tissue repair which is important for recovery after working out, as well as having healthy skin, hair and nails
  • Important if you are wanting to develop a more 'toned' look (however, you can not 'tone' a muscle, you can only make a muscle larger, which will result in the sculpted 'toned' look) as protein helps to build the muscles 
Which foods are rich in protein?
  • Diary - cottage cheese, yoghurt, milk, cheese 
  • Eggs - particually egg whites
  • Meat and Poultry - chicken and turkey are my faves
  • Fish and seafood
  • Soy based products - tofu, quorn etc
  • Beans and legumes - lentils, kidney beans etc
So why use protein powders then?
  • Convenience - using protein powders can be a more convenient way of increasing your protein intake rather than eating protein rich foods.  
  • Effectiveness - the protein in some suppliments is in a form which is easier for the body to use than other food based proteins
  • Flavours - many protein powders come in various tasty flavours. This can help to control cravings when dieting or maintaining weight
  • As a useful ingredient in various recipes - protein powders can be used in cooking to make healthier treats or to add more flavour to smoothies etc
Will using protein powders make me too bulky?

Protein suppliments are not just for the big blokes that body build, you would have to be working out an awful lot (and taking additional suppliments) to get too bulky. I use protein powders and eat plenty of protein alongside a balanced diet I've just noticed that I have more muscle definition.

Protein powders - some of the varieties 
  • Whey - Whey is a bi product of the production of various dairy products. You can get a couple of different types of whey, whey isolate and whey concentrate, or a product which is a mix of the two.
  • Soy - Protein powders can also be made with soy products for those that prefer to avoid any diary products (although most lactose intollerant people are ok with the very low levels of lactose present in whey protein) and those that follow a vegan diet)
  • Pea / Hemp etc - There are loads of other kinds of protein powders that are derived from all sorts of different protein sources such as pea, hemp, rice, egg etc
Unfortunately most protein powders are highly proccessed products (the ones that aren't are a lot more expensive) and often contain artifical sweeteners etc. I usually like to eat a diet that is as free from processed food as possible, protein powders are pretty much the one thing that I eat on a regular basis that is processed as I believe the benefits outweigh the negatives within my individual diet.

Where to start
Over the last few months I have tried out a couple of different brands of protein powders and in my experience all of these have been very good products  (Obviously I am writing this from a UK perspective, and can only provide my views on the products I have actually sampled) -

My Protein - this website has an almost mind boggling selection of protein products. So far I have tried the True Whey which comes in a huge 5lb drum and in my opinion, is good value for money. I have tried this in the chocolate and vanilla flavours (I find that these make good flavour bases to be used in different meals and recipes as they can be combined with different ingredients with complementary flavours). I have tried these as a shake made with water which tasted ok, a shake made with milk which tastes better, but my favourite way to use this product is in smoothies, porridge, mixed with yoghurt, to make protein pancakes and simply mixed with a little milk to make a protein goo desert. I have just purchased some samples of the Impact Whey Blend and some other flavours of the True Whey which I will review when I try them. Ordering from My Protein is very good, their delivery options are next day and only cost £3.95.

Maximuscle / Maxitone - Again, Maximuscle offer a large range of protein products. The Maxitone website is aimed at women and the Maximuscle site for men (but don't be put off visiting it as well, many of the same products have just been repackaged in a more female friendly way on the Maxitone site). I have tried Promax Diet , Promax Natural and Sculptress (which as far as I can tell is the Promax Diet repackaged). I just used the Promax Diet and Sculptress mixed with water as a shake when I was really focusing on getting my weight down. These products contain additional ingredients to support weight loss such as added caffeine. I certainly lost weight while using these shakes and they kept me really full. They tasted ok as well. I really liked the Promax Natural as this could be mixed with smoothies and porridge without affecting the taste and just adding extra creaminess. These products are quite expensive, but in my experience pretty good quality.
Spiru-tein - The other product I have used is Spiru-tein. I was initally attracted to this product due to all the fab flavours they have available such as chocolate peanut butter and cherries jubilee. Spiru-tein contains a mix of soy, pea and rice proteins, although they do have some powders that are derived from whey. They also contain a number of vitamins and the green superfood spirulina. I used to use this mixed with milk as a desert after dinner. I have just purchased more and will review how I use it as I go. I have read on various blogs that soy based protein products work much better than whey products in cooking and baking so I'm looking forward to giving that a try! I purchase Spirutein from this website based in the UK.

When to use protein powders
  • Post workout - especially a weight lifting workout, to support recovery and muscle repair 
  • Evening / before bed - the body repairs itself while you sleep, protein will support this
  • To help keep you full when cravings strike
  • To make lower fat and calorie treats
Recipe Ideas

Chocolate Cherry Green Monster

1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
Frozen Cherries
Big handful of spinach
Milk (I like using rice milk)

Blend till smooth and serve in a large glass or bowl


Protein Pancakes
1 scoop of protein powder of your choice
3 egg whites
1 tablespoon of apple sauce
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
Mix all ingredients together well. Spray a frying pan with spray oil and spoon three tablespoons of the mixture into the pan. When bubbles appear on the surface, flip the pancake and cook the other side. Serve with fruit, yoghurt, chopped nuts or nut butter, agave syrup etc. You can also add other ingredients into the pancake batter for extra flavour such as desicated coconut, raisins, cinnamon etc.


Quick Microwaved Protein Cake
1 scoop of protein powder of your choice
1 egg white
1 tablespoon of apple sauce
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
Mix all ingredients together in a shallow bowl and microwave for 1 - 2 minutes (keep checking - the cake should be slightly firm to the touch) Turn out onto a plate and eat as it is or top with chopped fruit, yoghurt or nut butter.


Protein Goo
1 scoop of protein powder of  your choice
1-2 tablespoons of milk
Mix together into a goo like consistancy. You can eat it as it is like a pudding, with fruit or spread on bread. I've only tried this with the True Whey so I'm not sure how this would work with the Spirutein, I will be giving it a try though!


I hope you have found this post useful. Please remember that I'm no expert and that all of this is based on my own personal experiences. I believe our bodies are all different - I seem to respond to protein very well but I know that protein powders aren't for everyone. I really enjoy the variety that protein powders bring to my diet in terms of flavour and taste and the fact that they help me stay fuller for longer to prevent me snacking on other unhealthy foods, as well as supporting my muscle growth. Do you use protein powders in your diet? What has been your experiences with them? How do you use them?

I'll be back tomorrow with today's eats, and they have been tasty again! Hope you have all had a good weekend, catch you tomorrow x
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