There are literally hundreds of protein supplements on the Australian market, all promising you amazing results whilst vying for your hard-earned cash.
Which to choose?
Well, maybe a blended protein powder is the answer.
Whether you decide to go for a chocolate-flavoured whey protein powder, a salted caramel keto powder or a vanilla plant based protein blend, it comes down to what you want to put in your body, what you want to get out of your chosen nutritional supplement, and how far your budget will stretch.
Things to Consider
Plant-Based vs Animal-Based
First up, do you hold a strong ethical position on taking a protein powder derived from whey, eggs or other animal products?
If you are vegetarian or vegan, you are clearly going to want to avoid protein supplements made from animals, but this isn’t the only reason why people prefer vegan protein powder. Many plant-based proteins are more sustainable than those containing milk byproducts, for example. Maybe you have allergies to consider?
Then there are factors like digestion. Some people find whey proteins make them bloated and gassy.
In contrast, other sports nutrition devotees like easy-to-digest options like bovine collagen protein powder simply because they can’t get past the grassy flavour of some of the vegan alternatives like pea protein.
Why Are You Taking A Protein Powder?
Do you want to gain muscle?
Are you missing essential nutrients in your regular diet and looking to replace them?
Are you recovering from an illness?
Are you time poor or unable to eat regular, rounded meals and so need something nutritious to plug the gaps in your working day?
All of these factors will have a bearing on which protein powder you go for.
And if you’d like to try taking your protein powder in a delicious, nutrient-rich smoothie, take a look at our Best Protein Shake Recipe.
A Whey And Casein Protein Powder Blend Is My Choice
Well, I usually use a protein shake as a meal replacement, either in the middle of the afternoon or before I head to bed. Initially I took a whey protein powder, but our bodies absorb whey protein really quickly and I found I was getting hungry again, pretty soon after I’d had my drink.
This wasn’t too bad mid-afternoon, when I still had my dinner to look forward to, but wasn’t good when I was going to bed.
I needed something that would give me a slower energy release than whey protein and casein is the obvious choice. Rather than the rapid energy boost of whey, casein is digested slowly throughout the night and so I don’t wake up with the midnight munchies.
In an ideal world I would be taking 2 different protein powders compatible with my two different requirements – whey protein powder for when I’ve finished up weight training in the gym and casein protein powder for before I nod off to sleep.
Sadly, protein powders can be expensive and I’d rather pay for one quality blended protein powder than two cheaper and poorer quality whey and casein supplements.
The best option if you want optimum nutrition and value for money is a protein that contains a blend of whey and casein protein.
I also like to stick to a basic product.
As soon as you start buying sports nutrition with added extras like creatine and glutamine, you are going to be paying a lot more.
And I’m similarly wary of the designer ‘protein matrix‘ and fancy added vitamins and minerals found in some brands. If you want to boost the nutritional value of your protein shake, I recommend buying supplements like creatine separately and adding them yourself. It’s usually cheaper.
Blended Protein Powder Money Saving Tip
Did you know that regular old skim milk from the supermarket is a great source of casein protein? And it’s much more budget-friendly than a tub of branded casein protein powder – though admittedly not as finely tuned as a premium sports supplement.
If you want to save a little extra cash, try buying a pure whey protein powder and mix it up with skim milk. You’ll have your own blended protein powder and some dollars left over.
Just be aware that skim milk has a comparatively high sugar content to casein powder – which may muck up your dietary goals. Also, if you are in any way lactose intolerant, skim milk is likely to trigger it.
If you’d like to read more about skimmed milk and protein supplements, see here.
Sample! Sample! Sample!
The best advice I can give you is to try before you buy.
If you are going to be downing even a couple of protein shakes a day – and if you’re seriously training, you’ll probably be drinking more – you need to know that you can stomach the taste.
Walk into your sports supplement shop and ask for a sample of the protein powders that you like the look of. You are going to be buying whatever protein powder you choose by the kilo and you will be spending a decent chunk of your disposable income on it, so you want to be sure that the flavour isn’t so artificial that you want to gag every time you look at the packet.
Believe me. I’ve been there!
If you prefer to buy your protein supplements online – which often works out to be more economical – you have a couple of options. Some of the bigger brands offer sample size packs and if they don’t you can always go for the smallest tub that they make and see how you get on with it.
Alternatively, you can still stroll into your local supplement shop and try out the protein powders on your shortlist. Then go home and order them online. Maybe not the most ethical of shopping practices but if you’re on a very tight budget it could be the way to go.
Just promise yourself (and deliver on that promise!) that when you’re better off financially you willl give your local retailer your business and buy direct from them. Everybody deserves the opportunity to make a living.
And don’t fall into the trap of buying the cheapest protein powder you can find, in the belief that, no matter how bad it tastes, you’ll be able to tolerate it. Unless your taste buds are dead and buried, you will regret your decision.
Mixing up a batch of your own blended protein powder from a well-known make of whey protein plus some skim milk is one thing, enduring a month of chemical after-taste from a cheap trademarked protein blend is quite another.
And if you’ve bought a new, plastic protein shaker and would like some tips on getting rid of the chemical smell, please see here.
Recommended Protein Supplements
As I’ve highlighted above, apart from your motivations for taking a protein powder and any ethical choices you might make concerning animal and plant based protein, the big points to consider are cost and taste.
Having tried a number of brands, I keep coming back to Optimum Nutrition and MuscleTech. These are both major players in the dietary supplement market with a huge range of tried and tested products. And thousands of happy customers can’t all be wrong.
Having said that, a few people I know have been giving Australian company UProtein good reviews – especially the choc brownie flavour – so that’s next on my ‘to try’ list.