If you have decided to start including protein shakes in your daily diet to increase the amount of healthy protein you eat in an easy way, then you may be overwhelmed by the dizzying array of protein powders on the market today. You may wonder if the source of the protein in your powder matters, and it really does. If you choose the wrong powder, you could not only be wasting your money on a product that your body cannot use efficiently, but you could even end up harming your health. Follow these tips for choosing a protein powder that is healthiest for you.
1. Skip Soy Protein Altogether
Not only is soy protein a low-biological value protein, meaning it is not utilized by your body as efficiently as many other protein types, soy food products of all types have been under scrutiny by medical professionals and for good reason.
Eating too much soy every day, such as tofu or soy milk, has been suspected to increase breast cancer risk in men and women, due to components of soy called phytoestrogens that mimic natural estrogen in the body. There have also been cases of male gynecomastia, which is development of breast tissue, in men who consume too much soy.
Don't be afraid to eat that occasional tofu dish or drink an occasional glass of soy milk, but when purchasing a protein powder you plan to consume daily or even several times each day, it is best to avoid soy and the health risks that come along with it.
2. Choose the Right Whey Protein
A much better option than a soy protein powder is whey protein. Whey not only has a high biological value, meaning that every gram you take in will be used by your body, but it is a very safe protein that will not contribute to any ill health effects. Actually, whey has other positive effects on your health other than helping you to build muscle. It can help reduce depression and anxiety, support your immune system, and it may even help protect you from some types of cancer.
Not all whey protein is the same, though, so you do need to take caution even when purchasing this healthy source of protein. First, it is best to choose organic whey protein powder, as you should when purchasing any dairy product. This is the only way you can be sure that the dairy cow that produced your whey protein was not fed antibiotics and growth hormones to increase her milk production.
Also, find whey protein from grass fed cows, as this will greatly improve the quality of your protein as well. Many dairy cows today are fed a high-grain diet and not grass, which is their natural diet. When cows eat the diet that nature intended them to eat, all of the dairy they produce is healthier and has a higher percentage of healthy fatty acids and less unhealthy fat.
Remember that not all protein is alike, and that even includes proteins that go by the same name. Choose a quality whey protein powder in a great flavor and you will likely end up looking forward to those healthy shakes every day.