The Ultimate Guide To Protein Powders For Beginners

Protein powders are the power house of protein. If you are an athlete, or into any kind of strength and weight training, you need to add protein powder in your diet. This guide will help you find the answers to all the questions popping up in your mind about protein powders.

Category: Health & Beauty     Written By: Madiha Jamal

The Ultimate Guide To Protein Powders For Beginners

Today, the sports supplement industry is ballooning like a bodybuilder`s biceps. The global market for sports nutrition was valued at 12.4 billion U.S dollars in 2016 and is expected to rise by 6.3% by 2025. 

The use of protein powders is rapidly increasing with the awareness toward maintaining a healthy diet and leading an active lifestyle. Not only Gym junkies are fueling this growth, but different shots of “gunpowder” are also used by athletes, dudes at a local gym, guys who play a bit of sport, and people who want to be in better shape.

Now people have realized that using the right protein powder at the right time builds lean muscle mass faster. If you’re spending hours in your gym lifting a dumbbell, and expecting to get bigger, stronger muscles, you need to think twice. Because, if you’re not making the same effort in eating the right food to support your workout regime, you won`t be able to get the required outcomes. 

Protein powders provide you the added nutrition that your body needs. If you have also bitten by the bug of protein powder movement, and want to give it a try, this beginner's guide to protein powder will help you. 

What are protein powders?

Protein powders are the dietary supplements that contain all nine of the amino acids necessary for human nutritional needs. People take protein powders to meet their protein needs, to increase muscle mass, and improve overall body composition. 

Common forms of protein powders

Protein is a king of performance nutrients and makes up roughly 80 percent of muscle mass and is responsible for muscles` structure and action. Protein powders can be found in three common forms.

Protein Concentrates

This form is derived by extracting protein from whole food using enzymes, heat or acids. They have an average of 60–80% protein.

Protein Isolates

Protein isolates are composed of an additional filtering process in which more fats and carbs are removed to concentrate the protein further. They may contain 90–95% protein.

Protein Hydrolysates

These forms of protein powders are made by further heating with acid or enzymes. The warming will break the bonds between amino acids. Your body and muscle absorb hydrolysates more quickly and enhance muscle growth. Hydrolysates increase insulin levels more than other forms.

How much protein do you need daily? 

How much protein do you need daily

To build a pound of muscle your body needs about 10 to 14 additional grams of protein per day. Most of the people in the United States are already consuming about 15% of their daily calories in protein via eating protein-rich foods. But too much protein can be harmful to your kidneys and your liver. So, it`s better to concentrate on the ratio before taking it. 

So how do you know how much protein you need daily to complete the body`s nutritional requirement?  Here are the daily recommendations that come from the experts of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine. 

The daily requirement of protein per kilogram of the bodyweight is as follows;

  • An average adult needs 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.
  • Athletes required 1.1 -1.4 grams.
  • Competitive athletes need 1.2 -1.4 grams.
  • Athletes building muscle mass need 1.5 -2.0 grams.
  • Protein is also essential for young athletes. The average teen needs 0.4-0.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight every day. Excessive protein can contribute to dehydration. To avoid those risks, make sure your teen gets the protein from high protein foods. 

When do you need to use protein powders? 

When do you need to use protein powders

Why an ordinary athlete needs more protein in his or her diet and when the time to use protein powders is, here are some suggestions from the expert.

Barbara Lewin, who is a sports nutritionist and dietitian and has worked with NBA, NFL, and NHL athletes, says that you need protein powders,

When you’re growing to fuel your workouts because at this time your body is developing and it needs more protein in general.

When you’re starting a new work out program, or trying to build muscle, you will need extra protein than you usually take.

When you are extending your workouts from half an hour a week to a half-marathon.

When you’re recovering from any sports injuries, your body needs more protein in the healing.

When you start a vegan lifestyle, you need more protein because you are going to eliminate many primary protein sources from your diet like chicken, meat, fish, dairy and eggs.

What are the different types of protein powders?

There are numerous types of protein powder available in the market and it can be difficult to determine which will provide optimal results. Here are the best protein powders that you should try.

Whey Protein

The most common form of protein powder is Whey protein that comes from milk. It can be found during the cheesemaking process in the form of liquid that separates from the curds.

Numerous studies reveal the benefits of whey protein; it supports in developing and maintaining muscle mass, assist athletes with recovery from heavy exercise and increase muscle strength. It promotes fat and reduces appetite.  

Whey Proteins (both isolate and concentrate) are the powerhouse of protein and have their own benefits depending on your physique goals. They have a lower lactose content and is preferred for those who want to keep away from dairy products. 

People commonly use whey protein as supplementation with resistance training to improve muscle protein synthesis and amplify the growth of lean muscle mass. 

Whey protein is also known as a complete protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids that your body needs. It has less lactose content and the body absorbs it quickly and easily.

Casein Protein

Casein is a slow-digesting protein. It is also found in milk like whey. But it is 80% of the milk protein, and whey is 20%. Casein is a complete protein source, rich in glutamine (an amino acid that may speed up muscle recovery after exercise). 

It releases amino acids slowly, so people prefer to take it before bed to help with recovery and reduce muscle breakdown while sleeping.  Studies have shown that Casein protein helps boost muscle growth and promote fat loss during calorie restriction. It is unsuitable for people with milk allergies and vegans. 

Egg White Protein

Egg white protein is low in fat and carbs and has concentrated amounts of essential amino acids. Egg white protein powder is basically dried egg whites that can be derived from non-GMO eggs. It is cholesterol-free and an excellent choice for people who avoid dairy products. If you do not take it in the right amount, it may upset your stomach. For those who are on a Paleo diet can use this powder in their recipes and shakes.

Milk Protein

Milk protein is also a favorite among strength and speed athletes. It includes whey, casein, calcium caseinate, and milk protein blends that help enhance immunity. Milk Protein is an excellent alternative to people who are not into whey Protein. 

It absorbs a lot slower than whey and delivers a slow, sustained flow of amino acids and nutrients to the muscles during your sleeping hours. It is nutritionally versatile and can support any number of training goals. It may upset the digestive system of people who are sensitive to whey, casein, and lactose.

Pea Protein

It is a plant-based protein powder and a high-quality alternative to soy- and dairy-based proteins. It has no saturated fats or cholesterol, highly digestible, hypo-allergenic, a good source of the amino acid arginine, lysine, and glutamine. 

Hemp Protein

Hemp protein powders are rich in omega-3 fats, and it is regarded as a complete protein. Most hemp protein powders provide fiber, arginine, and histidine. You can get it in raw form, and it is 100% plant-based. Hemp makes an excellent choice for vegans or those with soy or dairy allergies. 

Soy Protein 

Soy protein is an excellent alternative to casein and whey for people who do not like to consume dairy items. It has all the vital amino acids and nutrients derived from genetically modified soy. It is 100% plant-based and has many benefits for cardiovascular disease.

Rice Protein

It is Hypo-allergenic, gluten-free and 100% plant-based. It is made from genetically modified rice and has a neutral taste.

What are the qualities of the best protein powders?

Before purchasing a protein powder, the first question that comes in everybody’s mind is “What makes a good protein powder?” Let me help you with it. The following methods determine the quality of protein powders;

Protein efficiency ratio (PER)

It is based on the weight gain of a test subject divided by the intake of a particular protein-based food during the test period. This method determines how much protein is needed for growth.

Net protein utilization (NPU) 

It is the ratio of amino acids converted to proteins to the ratio of amino acids supplied. 

Biological value (BV) 

The proportion of protein absorbed from a portion of food that becomes incorporated into the proteins of the body. How good the protein can be used for synthesizing new proteins. 

Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS)

It is a method based on the amino acid requirements of young children. It is preferred for determining the quality of protein.

The best protein powder passes through the following methods and then deliver it to you so you can get all the essential nutrients and lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

What ingredients are used in protein powders?

Protein powders are a rich sources of minerals and made from Whey, hemp, soy, yellow peas, cranberry, rice, and many others. Both animal- and plant-based protein powders have nutritional properties, boasting high levels of amino acids that are vital for muscle repair. 

Apart from protein-rich ingredients, many manufacturers fortify protein powders with vitamins, minerals, additional fats, dehydrated vegetables, grains, fiber, thickeners, artificial flavors (chocolate, gum, etc.), sweeteners, or other plant products. They usually contain considerable amounts of carbohydrates and fat and are often considered as meal replacement powders instead of straight protein.

What ingredients you should avoid when buying your protein powder?

Ingredients You Should Avoid When Buying your Protein Powder

These are some ingredients you should avoid while buying your protein powder.

  • Gluten can be the cause of inflammation and should be avoided. Especially those people who are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease.
  • Milk solids and skim milk powders may upset your GI (gastrointestinal) system. These powders have low nutritional value and can trigger issues in lactose-intolerant people according to Live strong.
  • Glucose can lead to many health conditions. High glucose levels can lead to heart attacks, strokes, hardening of blood vessels and more, according to WebMD.
  • Vegetable oils and fats can give a smoothie a richer taste but increase the cholesterol levels in your body. Vegetable oil can elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease, and cause inflammation, according to Healthline.
  • Artificial sweeteners can improve the flavor of your smoothie, but try to avoid sweeteners like sucralose, saccharin, or aspartame. They provide fewer calories, and high intakes can lead to diarrhea, abdominal gas, and other gastrointestinal and health issues, according to Medicine Net.

When and how you should take your Protein Powders?

When and how you should take your Protein Powders

If you take a too low amount of protein you will feel fatigued, weak when lifting weights, or recover from injuries slowly. To improve your performance, use protein powders in the right way.

Most protein powders have 20 grams of protein per scoop. To get the proper proportion of nutrients, you’d need about 80 grams of carbs to go with that scoop.

An article on nutrition review published at Oxford academic in 2018, stated that taking protein supplements with meals is beneficial for reducing fat mass and weight management than taking them between meals.

Forget the conventional wisdom of taking protein powders immediately after a workout. Experts say that you can take protein powders before, during, and after a workout. Or you can take it the first thing in the morning as well.

You can blend your protein powder with milk, fruit or vegetable smoothie. If your protein powder has artificial flavors you can mix it with water. Besides taking them in shakes, you can use them to make protein pancakes, flapjacks or cookies as well.

quick recipe for making protein powder

What are the health benefits of Protein Powders?

Protein is a vital macronutrient that helps repair tissue, build and tone muscles, and make enzymes and hormones. Following are some potential health benefits of protein powder

  • Promote weight management and weight loss

Promote weight management and weight loss

Taking protein shakes before bed could help with weight loss, but you should watch the total calorie intake. If you take the calories over the amount you require daily, effective for weight loss as it helps keep hunger at bay. You should watch the amount of protein you need to lose weight.

Protein is shown to boost your metabolism which speeds up the rate you burn calories and this increased metabolism can help with weight loss. Recent studies suggest that taking 40 grams of protein before bed is beneficial to best stimulate muscle protein synthesis (growth) rates during sleep. 

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, states that drinking a protein shake before sleeping may have a positive benefit for athletes.

Melissa Majumdar, MS, RD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics National Media Spokesperson, recommends that if you drink a glass of protein shake at night as meal replacement may help prevent grazing or overeating before bed.

  • StimulateMuscle Growth

StimulateMuscle Growth

Protein is shown to stimulate muscle growth. Many gym enthusiasts and athletes consume protein shakes to bulk up after strength training. When you perform hard workouts, you require more protein in your diet than you usually take. Drinking protein shake is the best way to get the necessary protein into your body and refuel muscles after exercise.

The protein contains essential amino acids that are important for muscle recovery and growth. When your body is lacking amino acids, it causes a negative shift and drinking protein shake can bring back your body into a positive balance that is vital for optimal muscle growth.

In 2018, a study was conducted on the effect of protein supplementation on resistance-training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults. After gathering the data from 49 studies with 1863 participants, the result suggested that protein supplements improve muscle size and strength in adults who perform resistance training exercises, like lifting weights.

Protein supplementation was found equally useful in women and men. However, the effectiveness may decrease with age because older adults have higher protein requirements than younger people.

  • Boost muscle recovery after exercise

Boost muscle recovery after exercise

Protein can help build damaged muscles and tissues. After exercise many athletes experience muscle soreness and to speed up the recovery, they use protein powders. Studies suggests that taking protein shakes after a workout can promote healing by reducing muscle damage and enhancing muscle performance and muscle protein synthesis. 

Protein powders can also enhance overnight muscle reconditioning, increase lean mass, and improve muscle adaption to exercise training.

  • Aid in manufacturing enzymes and other immune-system components

Protein also helps in manufacturing hormones, enzymes, nucleic acids, cellular messengers and immune-system components. Our body is built upon the cellular structure and protein helps in putting together the structures that make up every tissue, cell, and organ. Without protein, the body would not generate the biochemical substances that are essential for cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, growth, and healing. 

You can take protein via eating solid foods, but it may take more time to digest. It is ideal to take a protein shake immediately after a workout so it can effectively reach the muscle. Protein usually takes 30 minutes to breakdown and absorb in the body. 

Where can you buy protein powders?

The different types of best-tasting protein powders from the numerous gain changing protein brands are available in the market. You can buy them as per your kind. These are some good names. 

  • Gainful

If you want to buy the best protein powder for weight loss, Gainful can be your best bet. You can also customize your protein powder according to your needs. Registered dietitians will help you in calculating the exact ratio of ingredients you need to reach your fitness goals. Some simple ingredients you will find in Gainful are Whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, organic pea protein, no sweetener, and natural vanilla or chocolate flavoring. If you want to buy this protein powerhouse at your pocket price, you can use a Gainful Coupon while shopping.

  • Vitacost

At Vitacost, you can get non-GMO, easy to digest, or gluten-free protein powder. For those who are not into whey protein or any kind of dairy or animal ingredients, Vitacost provide them a protein powder that is nutrition-packed with vitamins and minerals for vegans to get significant protein benefits. You can blend it into smoothies or sprinkle onto cereal, soup, or yogurt. It is 100% plant-based and is available at an affordable cost with Vitacost Coupon.

  • BodyBuilding

At BodyBuilding, you will find the best protein powder for building muscle or muscle recovery. From whey protein, casein protein to protein bars, weight gainers, and plant protein, you will find everything that meets the fitness needs of both men and women. The protein powders can easily digest and perfect for fat loss. You can buy all the protein supplements at astonishing discounts with BodyBuilding Coupon.

What are the hidden dangers of protein powders?

Side Effects of protein powders

Apart from potential benefits, some side effects of protein powders can be associated with dosage and chemical interactions within the body. A lot of best-selling protein powders contain heavy metals, like lead, cadmium, and arsenic that can be harmful to your health. Some effects are mild while some can be chronic.

Effects associated with high dosage

To further understand the harmful effects, let’s take a sneak peek into the research results. 

  • Disorders of bone and calcium homeostasis

A survey was executed to find out the Adverse Effects Associated with Protein Intake more than the recommended dietary allowance. It was found that high protein consumption can cause bone disorder, renal dysfunction, and calcium deficiency. When a person takes a high protein amount, it increases the amount of acid in body fluids, and the kidneys will respond to this dietary acid challenge with net acid excretion, and, simultaneously the skeleton supplies shield by active adhesion of bone resulting in excessive calcium loss. 

  • May damage kidneys

A study was conducted on the Controversies Surrounding High-Protein Diet Intake; the researchers found the relation between high protein consumption and Kidney dysfunction. 

It was found that the excessive consumption of protein may damage the kidneys and liver. The results were found useful in individuals with existing kidney dysfunction. As a consequence of high protein intake, urea and other nitrogenous wastes are produced which causes dehydration. Your kidneys will suffer to get rid of the extra waste products. Thus, you need more water to avoid dehydration and kidney dysfunction. 

  • Coronary heart disease in women

Taking a high-protein diet may lead to coronary heart disease because of the higher intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol. Some Protein powders have vegetable oils and fats that can enhance the cholesterol levels. A study was conducted to check the relation of Major Dietary Protein Sources and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women. Scientists figured out by multivariable analyses including age, smoking, and other risk factors, that higher intakes of food sources that are rich in protein like red meat, and high-fat dairy were significantly correlated with an elevated risk of Coronary Heart Disease. 

  • Digestive Discomfort

People who are lactose intolerant can experience digestive issues because some protein powders are made from whey and casein, which naturally have less lactose but they can still cause gastrointestinal discomfort. While taking more substantial amounts of Whey and soy protein powders may cause stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation. 


Protein powders are a beneficial supplement for athletes, older adults, and vegetarians and are a convenient source of complete protein. As a Beginner, you can also try any of the whey, casein, or vegan protein powder as all of them have good health benefits. But before taking any protein supplement, you must consult your conventional dietitian or a doctor. 

So, what do you think about protein powders? Did this guide help you? Or surprise you? How do you make your favorite protein shake? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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beginners guide to protein powders