Which protein supplement?
January 4, 2008 7:21 AM   Subscribe

What protein powders I should use for my morning smoothies?

I've recently started eating healthier and exercising (yay Crossfit!), but I want to know what protein supplement powder I should be using. Mostly, it will be for smoothies and the occasional scoop in my oatmeal.

I've read these two threads on smoothies and protein, but I was wondering which actual product the Green recommends, and why. As always, less expensive is better.
posted by LouMac to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
For price, taste, and quality, I prefer Optimum Nutrition's Whey Protein.

Regardless of what kind you decide on, check out DPS Nutrition's site. Best prices and selection around.

Good luck with Crossfit! Besides some members' elitist attitude, the workouts are great, as you know.
posted by nineRED at 7:33 AM on January 4, 2008

I'm personally a fan of ON (Optimum Nutrition) Protein Powder. You can get it a GNC, or Amazon, for a little cheaper. Generally the best bang for your buck if your on a budget. Somebody with more money to spend should go to someplace like TrueProtein.com, mix in casein and whey. But yeah, ON is the stuff. Mixes well, tastes pretty good, not too bad on the price side. A lot of people like their Rocky Road, but I think I got that and it tasted a little weird (some sort of sweet flavor that didn't belong).
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 7:37 AM on January 4, 2008

For smoothies, I prefer to use extra-firm tofu instead. It avoids that "grainy" texture that can sometimes happen. It doesn't have any added sugar and it makes a creamier smoothie.
posted by answergrape at 8:03 AM on January 4, 2008

Me, I use Muscle Milk. It's the only one I've found that, well, doesn't give me gas. But I just mix a couple scoops with plain water, and I've only tried the chocolate flavor. Vitamin Shoppe seems to have it cheapest - there on the website it's $29.99 but in their actual store here in Chicago it's usually more like $24.
posted by dnash at 8:08 AM on January 4, 2008

Optimum Nutrition is my favorite. I have been using it exclusively for a year and most of my meat head weight lifting friends across the wide internet really like it.

Make sure you get the Gold Standard Natural formula. It uses stevia (an all natural, non-caloric sweetener) rather than sucralose as in the formula linked to by nineRED.

This formula has a lot of added amino acids including 5g of BCAA which makes me really, really happy. Also, it is pretty cheap and has a quality whey protein so it shouldn't cause you gas problems as dnash wrote about.
posted by munchingzombie at 8:53 AM on January 4, 2008

I like Matrix Cookies & Cream, personally. Less of that protein smell and it's not super-thick like some can be.
posted by cabingirl at 8:55 AM on January 4, 2008

Are you sure you need protein powder? Even if you are doing the Crossfit WODs as Rx'd (good luck with that), you probably don't need much more than 1 gram of protein per kg of body weight per day. (Surprisingly not that much!)

The RDA for protein is set at .8 g per kg of body weight per day, but you have to keep in mind that the RDA is set at a level that is high enough to meet the needs of 98% of the population. The average person only needs .67 g per kg of body weight (this level is called the EAR, the Estimated Average Requirement). If you load up on protein powder, you are creating some pretty expensive urine. And there are some suggestions that too much protein can be harmful to certain systems.

To get an idea of how the RDA and ERA were determined, flip through the Institute of Medicine's Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). The book is available on-line for free. Very interesting, if dense, reading.

IOM DRIs for Macronutrients
posted by tiburon at 8:59 AM on January 4, 2008

I heart Whole Foods' vanilla soy powder.
posted by mynameisluka at 9:00 AM on January 4, 2008

Er, Wild Oats. Shame that they're all becoming so interchangeable to me!
posted by mynameisluka at 9:00 AM on January 4, 2008

Another vote for Optimum Nutrition. Their chocolate is the only powder I've ever found drinkable. Do not go with the cookies and cream flavor, however. As delicious as it sounds, it was a mistake I'll never make again.

As an aside, I see people recommending soy protein. You'll probably want to make your own mind about it, but there's some evidence that soy promotes estrogen production – that's not really a good thing for us guys.
posted by kepano at 9:10 AM on January 4, 2008

I dont remember the brand, but I've been VERY happy with what they sell at costco. Its about $5/lb which is pretty good.
posted by neilkod at 9:40 AM on January 4, 2008

Nthing Optimum Nutrition. Note, however, that Rocky Road has really strong smell, and can stink up a backpack at a time. Don't know about the rest of the powders.
posted by ye#ara at 9:57 AM on January 4, 2008

i have been using Penta Protein from Protein Factory for quite a while and like it a lot. varied protein sources so it will digest at different rates, very high protein content (26g for 30g of powder) and you can add stuff like flavors or sweeteners or aminogen or whatever if you'd like.
if you just want straight up whey protein they also have very cheap in price but high in quality powders for that.
since they provide the protein for a lot of the major manufacturers, their prices rock.

as does Crossfit, gotta get in my workout today, still aching from the 120 dips/pull ups from yesterday. ug.
posted by annoyance at 10:39 AM on January 4, 2008

Response by poster: tiburon, I don't eat very much red meat at all, and with a chance in diet, I'm afraid I won't be getting enough protein. Plus, protein helps me feel full, which leads to less snacking, etc.

annoyance, I couldn't even get through the 120 pull-ups and dips with weight assistance! those workouts are freakin' hard for an out of shape loser like me! I've been doing the BrandX forums scaled workouts, mostly. But I like the workouts because they are varied and functional.

Thanks to all for your responses!
posted by LouMac at 11:01 AM on January 4, 2008

Most people overestimate the amount of protein they need, and underestimate the amount they are already eating.

If you weight 190 lbs, the most you'll need is about 85 grams of protein per day. (And that is if you are really tearing down and building up muscle, busting through 30 muscle-ups as the full Workout of the Day). You'll get halfway to that requirement with a can of tuna. Coach Rip would tell you to drink a gallon of milk.

Forget the powders -- save your money and buy a set of Tyler Haas fitness rings, a new kettelbell, or Concept II. Almost every person using protein powders is simply paying to make very expensive urine. And again, there are suggestions of deleterious effects as well.

Here is a great database for determining how much protein is in food
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
posted by tiburon at 11:42 AM on January 4, 2008

My favorite brand of protein powder is Nutribiotic Rice Protein. It tastes good (I use the vanilla flavor) and is also good for people who have allergies or whatever issue with soy or whey. It's vegan, too!
posted by zippity at 12:45 PM on January 4, 2008

I don't recommend any powdered protein. It's sourcing is unregulated by the FDA. Imagine buying a piece of steak in a supermarket that is comprised of unknown materials that could be derived from chicken marrow, worms, egg etc... You are eating it as food, thus you should treat it accordingly. Look for a soy derivative tofu and skip on the corporate protein.
posted by stratastar at 12:55 PM on January 4, 2008

There are about 10-15 grams of tuna in a typical can, compared to around 25 grams in a scoop of a typical protein powder. I use Optimum's whey like most of the posters above, which has 24 grams per scoop. A 5lb. jug of the protein powder costs $39.95 on Amazon, so that's 52 cents per serving, about the same as a can of tuna if not cheaper. Fat and caloric content is also about the same. Protein powder is a lot easier to carry around with you, though. It definitely tastes better than tuna to me, too.

Does anyone have a link to a study done on people who weren't on total parental nutrition that shows any kidney damage from excess protein? How about one that shows consumption of phytoestrogens (like in soy protein) has any significant impact on weight training? I stay away from soy myself but all the papers I could find on the subject by searching around on Pubmed are far from definitive.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:57 PM on January 4, 2008

Curious--how does Optimum Nutrition's product stack up with others in terms of total calories? It seems like Muscle Milk and some of the others are loaded with sweeteners.

Note: eating that much protein from tuna would concern me about one's mercury intake.
posted by gramcracker at 1:58 PM on January 4, 2008

Unless you are pregnant, the mercury risk is far outweighed by the benefits of omega-3 in fish. Plus, tuna is a pretty "clean" fish. This is a complicated topic. I recommend the JAMA article Fish Intake, Contaminants, and Human Health: Evaluating the Risks and the Benefits . This paper is surely not the final word on this topic, but it does a good job of framing the debate.

Dariush Mozaffarian had a good "Author in the Room" podcast on JAMA that explains the study and answers some questions from readers.

ps - Thoughtcrime, there is much more than 15 g of protein in a can of tuna. Make sure you account for the "servings per container" when reading the label.
posted by tiburon at 7:23 AM on January 5, 2008

Optimum Nutrition's gold standard natural formula is sweetened with Stevia so it is all natural and non-caloric. There is very little fat in it so most of what you get is whey protein and amino acids. The muscle milk that i have tried is very, very sweet but with artificial sweeteners.
posted by munchingzombie at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2008

ps - Thoughtcrime, there is much more than 15 g of protein in a can of tuna. Make sure you account for the "servings per container" when reading the label.

The Starkist Solid White Albacore Tuna can I'm looking at has one serving with 21g of protein, no carbs, 2.5g of fat, 40mg of cholesterol, and 240mg of sodium. One serving of Optimum Whey (not the natural formula, which I hadn't heard of before) has 24g of protein, 1.5g of fat, 3g of carbs, 30mg of cholesterol, and 80mg of sodium. If you have a larger can with more than one serving, sure you'll get more protein, but you'll get more of everything else as well.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 11:00 AM on January 5, 2008

For those that are doing Muscle Milk, you might want to read into the ingredients a little deeper:

Check this article..
posted by hboogz at 12:41 PM on January 25, 2008

Response by poster: As a follow-up, I want to thank everyone for their responses. I went with the Optimum Nutrition protein powder, and I'm very satisfied. It tastes good, mixes well, and plays nice with other ingredients in my blender.
posted by LouMac at 1:04 PM on February 15, 2008

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