Protein powder is an essential tool that the vast majority of bodybuilders use. It can add serious amounts of muscle in a short a time span, whilst also aiding recovery.
But with so many out there, do you know what you should be looking for? Time released blends, soy protein isolates, pea protein isolates, low carb options, added creatine – the list goes on, so it’s no wonder many get confused about which to pick. Let’s take a look at exactly what you should be on the lookout for.
What is protein powder?
Protein powder offers a great way to consume the high levels of protein required for building mass, which can be difficult to achieve from just whole foods. A typical protein shake will usually contain anywhere from 30-50g of protein per serving, which can be mixed with water or, if you need the extra kcals, whole milk.
However, an all in one protein powder will usually contain added carbohydrates and fats. This is where the “all in one” name comes from, as it will provide you with a serving of all three of your macronutrients.
Sounds simple? Well at face value it is, but as with everything bodybuilding related, there is fierce competition from supplement companies developing specialised blends to provide you with that additional edge to push your training and nutrition to new levels. One example of this is the inclusion of “time release carbs” in many all in one powders.
Time release carbs
Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source, and are used to power everything from your brain to your muscles. What most people don’t realise about all in one protein powders, is the option of using time release carbohydrates to provide a consistent level of energy release throughout the day – this is done by using complex carbohydrates.
Think of it this way, complex carbohydrates are a slow release, gradual process, whereas simple carbs are more like an injection of sugars. When choosing your all in one protein shake, you need to consider your needs.
If you want an energy boost pre-workout, or something to spike your insulin levels post workout and drive the nutrients into your muscles, simple carbs would be the ideal choice. If you just want to hit your macronutrients for the day and won’t be breaking down your muscles in the gym, then complex carbohydrates are a great choice. By using complex carbs you will avoid an insulin spike, which, without muscle damage to repair will simply cause you to pile on the fat.
We’ve talked about creatine before, and you’ve no doubt heard about countless times on your bodybuilding journey. For more information on creatine and the role it plays in building your ideal physique, take a look at our Complete Guide to Weight Gain Supplements.
Generally speaking, the addition of creatine is reserved for pricier blends of all in one protein. Not a bad idea, considering the important role it plays in muscle building. However, if your budget won’t stretch that far, simply add your own creatine to your shaker. This will ensure you’re getting the most cost effective nutrient delivery system possible.
A key selling point in many all in one protein powders is the source of the protein content. We’ve already discussed the differences between whey protein concentrate and isolate. Something we didn’t cover in that article however was some of the lesser well known sources of protein such as soy protein isolate and pea protein isolate.
These are excellent choices for vegetarians and vegans, as these protein sources contain no ingredients extracted from animals. They are extracted entirely from plants, but still provide the essential amino acids we need to build muscle mass. Another benefit of these isolates is that they are often cheaper than their whey counterparts, enabling suppliers to be much more competitive with their pricing.
Choosing an all in one protein powder can be difficult , with such vast varieties out there. It is important to think about what you need from an all in one, and find a powder that can best help you work towards your individual goals.
Don’t be afraid to try a broad selection – and as is always the case with choosing supplements, you really are spoilt for choice – you might surprise yourself and find something you respond extremely well to.