Whenever I am buying a new protein powder, I look for the following criteria:
1. Look for greater then 15 grams of protein
Ideally you could get up to 25g of protein per serving, but I would say 15-20g is a minimum.
2. Look for less then 10 grams of carbs
Not all protein powders are <5g carbohydrates, and it’s not necessarily bad if they are higher than 5g, depending what ingredients are in it. Often, it’s straight sugar that’s making it have over 5g carbs, in which case you definitely want to avoid that. In general, you want the lower carbohydrate amount so as to not spike your blood sugar at all.
3. Sweetened with Stevia or monk fruit
Most protein powders are sweetened, because otherwise they would be pretty gross. The key is to understand what they’re sweetened with. First of all, you don’t want it to be straight sugar (per the carbohydrate point above), but you also don’t want it to be artificially sweetened with something like sucralose, aspartame, or acesulfame. Stevia or monkfruit are the best options, as they are natural sweeteners.
4. Protein source
There are a variety of different foods the protein can be derived from. I prefer rice or pea based. Hemp is great nutritionally if masked with other ingredients for a desired taste. Whey protein has a good nutritional profile, however if dairy bothers you, which for so many it does, I would not recommend. Lastly, there are some protein powders out there that are soy. As for soy based, this depends. If it’s organic, and you aren’t consuming it all the time, soy can be a good source of protein. However, soy on a continual basis (and it’s a filler in a lot of packaged foods too) is a no-go in my opinion because repeated soy consumption can mess with your hormones!
5. The ingredient list
This is probably a given, however you’d be surprised as to how many additives and not so great ingredients are in some protein powders.
My favorite protein powder brands are below and can be found at the majority of health food stores or online:
By: Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN