By Lisa Stanton-Smith, clinical sports nutritionist
When considering supplements to aid exercise regimes, protein powder seems to gain the biggest airtime. This baffles me greatly, until I remind myself of the multi-billion dollar industry backing its success.
Protein powder is at the end of the day a highly processed, unnecessary substance (for most people) that has been VERY well marketed. A perfect whole food recovery snack could be Greek yoghurt and fruit rather than protein shake. However I understand that protein powder is convenient. And so if you really cant be swayed from the elusive marketing genius, then at least follow these tips in order to choose the best versions possible.
From a research perspective, WPI (whey protein isolate) outperforms all other protein as far as bio-availability and digestibility. Basically your body uses it more easily than other protein powders. If you don't consume dairy, then a hemp protein or a mixed pea and rice protein is a great alternative. Opt for a powder with minimal additives.
A little vanilla extract and stevia for example is fine, but if the ingredients list is much bigger than that; leave it on the shelf. Ideally after an intensive training session, one would consume a good source of both protein and carbohydrates as soon as possible following training. This could be in the form of a smoothie with fruit and protein powder. Or depending on timing, it could be your next meal. Ultimately whatever your refueling strategy; it needs to be sustainable and enjoyable to you. If you want further reading on this topic, check out Lisa's blog at https://lssnutrition.com.au/blog/f/protein-powders-what-you-need-to-know