Protein Powder – Not just for Bodybuilders

It seems like only a few years ago that protein powder was something only bodybuilders took. Well, not anymore.

These days, protein powder is a booming business and it is everywhere, from pharmacy shelves to your local supermarket.

What’s more, having a tub of whey isolate powder sitting on your pantry shelf is no longer an indication that you are a slave to the gym.

Supplements that were once only taken by professional sport people are now popped into smoothies by teenagers and rolled into lunchbox protein (bliss) balls by mothers.

There is even a growing interest in protein powders for children, though we suggest you read the post below before you make a decision on that one:

What is Protein Powder?

Protein powder is a powdered form of concentrated protein which is taken as a nutritional supplement.

The protein in the powder may come from a number of sources. Whey, casein and soy are amongst the most common, though it can also be derived from peas, hemp, collagen, eggs, rice and spirulina, amongst other things.

The protein content varies from brand to brand and depending on the manufacturers objective. For example, the hugely popular Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder contains 24g of protein per scoop, whilst one of the best-selling vegan products, Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder has 21g.

Also to make the supplements palatable, a number of other ingredients may be added, like sugars or sweeteners, vitamins and minerals, thickeners and flavourings.

If you are curious about the supplements that professional sports people include in their regime then check out this article for more insights:

What Does Protein Powder Do?

Protein powder is a convenient way to get protein into our bodies.

Do we need this extra protein in a supplement form? The answer to that depends on the individual.

We need protein in our diets, that is undeniable. It is a vital macronutrient made up of chains of about 20 amino acids which combine to make muscle, bone and tissue along with enzymes and hormones.

The catch is that we can make 11 of these essential amino acids ourselves, but the other have to come from outside sources – and that’s where protein (and protein powder) comes in.

A balanced, healthy diet should give you all the protein your body needs. However, if you are struggling to get sufficient levels of protein, a protein supplement can make up for that loss. Similarly, if you want to bulk up at the gym or are looking to build muscle mass after an illness, there may be a place for protein powder in your diet.

How to Use Protein Powder?

The most common way to take protein powder is by adding it to a liquid to make a drinkable protein shake.

The label on the powder’s packaging will advise you on ratios of the protein supplement to water, milk or juice.

If you are unsure how much protein you need these medical guidelines may help, as it’s worth being aware that there is little, if any, monitoring of what actually goes into most protein powders.

Our advice to is always buy a reputable brand.

The other option for taking a powdered protein is to cook with it in some way. You can add it to a surprising variety of dishes and treats, from chocolate and orange overnight oats to peanut butter based bliss balls.

For some inspiration, see the section on Recipes with Protein Powder below.

How Long Does Protein Powder Last?

Generally, it has a shelf life of up to 2 years.

Protein powder, as the name says, is a powder and most of the moisture has been removed. This prohibits the growth of bacteria.

Also, most protein supplements have additives included in their formulation to pre-long their life.

Types of Protein Powder

Whey protein powder holds a big share of the sports supplement market.

It comes as whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate which are both made from whey – a by-product of cheese or yoghurt making. Whether the whey becomes whey protein isolate or concentrate depends on how it is treated and dried.

Our bodies absorb both forms quickly, which makes whey protein popular as a post-exercise supplement.

Casein protein powder is also derived from milk, but it is the dried curds.

Another difference is that is also takes considerably longer to break down in your body.

As whey and casein protein powders are absorbed into your bloodstream at different rates, there are also a number of blended protein powders available which combine the 2 of them into one, easy to take protein supplement.

Of course, not everyone wants to take a dairy-based protein and there is high demand for vegan protein powder.

Soy protein powder is big hitter in the world of plant based protein powder as it is a complete protein which comes in between whey and casein proteins in terms of muscle development. Hemp is another vegan alternative that is considered a complete protein.

However, as any healthy vegan knows, you have to be careful that you get all of your essential proteins and for someone on a plant-based diet, that often means mixing and matching proteins to hit the jackpot.

Plant based protein powder often contains a blend or 2 or more protein rich ingredients to ensure all of those important amino acids are being ingested. Hence there are vegan protein powder blends in Australia which combine rice protein with pea protein and others with elaborate cocktails of grains and pulses.

And if you’re looking for a keto protein powder, you’re in luck. There are plenty of specialised keto protein products, but you also have a lot of choice within the regular dietary supplements – whey, casein, collagen, and whole-egg protein powders are generally fine, but make sure you check them for added carbohydrates.

To learn more about different types of protein powder, see our detailed articles:

Recipes with Protein Powder

The easiest way to take a powdered protein is to toss it into some water or milk and drink it. It’s effective, but can get a bit boring – especially if you’re working your way through a 4kg tub of slightly insipid vanilla supplement.

So we’ve taken over the kitchen and test run a few recipes for you so you can get that all important protein into your body without losing your desire to eat.

Protein Shakers

A protein shaker bottle is the most convenient way to mix a scoop of protein powder and a liquid into a drink.

Amongst other things, a blender bottle:

  • is portable
  • can be prepared ahead of time
  • takes the guess-work out of measurements
  • has a design feature that ensures no unpleasant ‘clumping’ of your chosen powder.

This last point is really important and is the reason that there is such a huge variety of protein shakers for sale.

To learn more about the pros and cons of some of the biggest-selling protein shakers, take a look at the following posts: