Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Protein Powders- an informal review

When it comes to endorsing supplements, I'm probably not the best "salesman".  I have tried my fare share of pills, powders, and liquids loaded with protein, amino acids, and creatine- but as far as telling someone "You need to take product X", I'm not the guy. There are some products I feel would be beneficial to a person with specific goals in mind such as decreasing body fat and increasing strength and lean body mass.

The most valuable supplements I feel any own can take will be those that are for general health purposes.  I have mentioned in past blogs somethings I am currently taking such as probiotics, greens plus, and fish oil- but they fall more into the general health category. 

One product that can be used as a "general health" supplement as well as a "physique/sports" supplement is protein powder.  I'm sure there are some people in Internetville will read through this post and have questions such as "What about whey hydroslate?",  "Doesn't casein protein take longer to absorb?", "Should I go with protein from grass fed cows?".  All of those are legitimate questions, however choose what protein you feel is right for you- look at cost, carb/fat content, and the specific source of protein and then make a decision.

My intention is to review 7 of the protein powders I've tried in the past and rank them from least favorite to my current grand champion.  I will discuss mixabilty, stomach/digestive issues, taste, and a little bit on the type of protein and its specific uses.  I don't intend ramble on the science side of things and stuff like "nitrogen retention" and "breakdown ratios/times" because I just don't know enough about that stuff  (and it's probably a little boring to read anyway).

fyi- I usually have my "shakes" mixed with plain water, that's what the reviews were based on.  Adding fruit, peanut butter, cinnamon, and other ingredients can make pretty much anything taste good.  I do happen to mix frozen blueberries, spinach leaf, flax or chia seeds, almond milk, and some walnuts to make a "meal" type shake when I am at home. 

7.  Optimum Nutrition Casein Protein. (Vanilla)  When I first decided to give this protein a shot, it was because I heard though broscience that Casein protein should be taken before bed because it "keeps your nitrogen levels up while you sleep".  Sounded good to me.  Well to be honest I didn't like the taste, it was kind of like vanilla flavored chalk.  The mixabilty sucked, very clumpy.  This protein may have many benefits but it just wasn't something I would want to consume on a daily basis. As far as stomach issues, lets just say that I had a case of the "bubble guts".  I did recently hear this protein was good for a pudding like concoction, but my digestive track will be happy if I stay away.

6.  Dymatize Whey Protein (Berry).  This was a very cheap protein I purchased from Vitamin Shoppe.  It was around 20 bucks for roughly 30 servings.  It kinda tasted okay at first, but the aftertaste was not too delightful.  It did mix fairly easy, and it was something you could chug down rather quickly.  I looked at the ingredients and notice whey concentrate was the main supplier of protein.  From what I heard about whey concentrate, it's cheap and if you have any form of lactose intolerance it's better to avoid the stuff.  I did have some stomach issues when I chugged the shakes, but if I drank them like a fine wine my gut was A-okay.

5. Gaspari Myofusion.(Chocolate) This protein had a pretty good taste.  There was a combination of whey, casein, egg, and some other protein sources.  It mixed pretty well, and was pretty easy to drink.  The only draw back was the digestive issues.  I felt really bloated after ingesting this stuff, no matter how fast or slow it was consumed.

4. Optimum Nutrition Whey (Chocolate, Vanilla, Mint Chocolate, Banana, etc.)  I bought the 16 pack variety box.   It was a really cool concept to have individual packets of protein powder in different flavors.  I wish more companies did stuff like this.  Most of flavors tasted pretty good, I like rocky road and mint chocolate the best- mainly because they were a little different from the norm.  I decided to buy a tub of Rocky Road and within a week the flavor was unbearable.  It is a pretty cheap product, but I really wasn't impressed with the consistency or the way my stomach felt afterward.

*Most of the proteins listed above are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, is it a coincidence I some had stomach/digestive issues?

3. Jay Robb Whey (Chocolate and Vanilla).  I purchased both favors from whole foods, they had single serving packs.  This protein is a little on the expensive side, it is whey isolate which mixes really easy and is a little more "watery" than the whey blends.  I heard this protein was from grass fed cows, so I figured it's a little more on the "natural side" of things- even though there is some processing going on.  One of the major problems I have with the protein (Besides Jay Robb's face plastered on the packaging) is that there is not a whole lot of flavor, it's really kinda bland.  It's very easy to slam a shake if you are in a hurry, and there was absolutely NO gut issues.  I would purchase this again, it's a pretty good product, I just wish they redid the packaging!
Good protein = bad packaging

2.  Biotest Metabolic Drive.  (Chocolate). This powder tastes awesome.  It's a little thick so a little more water (or other liquid) is needed to fully mix well before drinking.  This was a very close "runner up", I enjoyed the taste, it was easy on the stomach with no digestive issues, and I will be going back and fourth between my "grand champion" and Metabolic Drive.  The price is right around $34 for roughly 30 servings on and, but if you buy 2 or more on tmuscle its only 30 bucks a tub. I plan on trying some other flavors such as banana and strawberry sometime it the near future.
A close "runner up"

1. At Large Nutrition Nitrean. (Chocolate and Vanilla).  I've tried both flavors and they were awesome.  Easy mixing, easy to drink, and very smooth on the stomach.  This powder contains Whey, Casein, and Egg Protein and I was first heard about it through Men's Health magazine.  I also saw that Nate Green's blog post that discussed a few supplements and some of his favorite protein supplements, and he recommended Nitrean as well.  I decided to order one tub of chocolate and one tub of vanilla online (I don't think it sells retail) and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of this product.  Now, I know it's not from "grass fed cows" and I know that it contains whey concentrate, but honestly this is the first protein powder I could drink everyday and not get sick of the taste or have the feeling of a gang of ninjas having an all out battle in my stomach.  I'm actually looking forward to my next shake as I complete this post.
The Grand Champion!
 So there you have it my "Lucky 7" protein powder list.  Feel free to post any suggestions or any feedback regarding any of the above listed supplements.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I agree with you on the Jay Robb. I actually mix it in oatmeal sometimes and it doesn't overpower it with a fake tasting sweetness. Good Post, Good reviews!