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The best protein powders for effective workouts

Consuming enough protein is essential for making progress in any fitness routine. Protein helps you recover and is essential for building muscle. Consuming protein shakes before or after a workout allows you to maximize the effectiveness of your gym or home gym session, by making sure that your body has the right building blocks to both grow and recover properly.

As we enter the new year, many of you probably have “get fit” or “get more exercise” in your resolutions. If you’re looking for a good source of protein, protein powders are the way to go. Why? They usually come in various delicious flavors that can fit well into your diet and culinary habits. It’s usually made into a pre-workout shake, while other exercise enthusiasts opt to incorporate them into baked goods and other kitchen creations. They’re great for bulking up and making sure your muscles are strong and healthy. We’ve listed down the best protein powders in the market so you can start your fitness journey the right way. While you’re at it, check out these deals on activity trackers and energy supplements to fully maximize your workouts.

At a glance:

  • Best overall: Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Powder
  • Best tasting: BSN Syntha-6 Protein Powder
  • Best plant protein: Optimum Nutrition Plant Protein Powder
  • Best for muscle building: Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein Powder
  • Best for fast digestion: Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed Protein Powder
  • Best energy boost: Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder

Best overall: Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Powder

Whey is the most popular protein to help build muscle. Each scoop or 32 grams contains 24 grams of protein and amino acids that help you absorb and utilize protein. More importantly, they build muscle and boost energy. To save you money, you can buy up to 10 pounds at a time, making this the best overall option for someone who’s about to start a new exercise and diet plan.

Best tasting: BSN Syntha-6 Protein Powder

Protein powder can taste chalky and synthetic, but BSN Syntha-6 Protein Powder provides an enjoyable chocolate peanut butter flavor. BSN’s patented Syntha-6 formula lets you power up with 22 grams of protein at any time of day, not just before or after workouts. It’s the most versatile and best tasting option, which is ideal for those who just want an energy boost during the day.

Best plant protein: Optimum Nutrition Plant Protein Powder

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder is made of organic pea, rice, Sacha Inchi proteins, various grains, and flavored with natural vanilla. This powder is also USDA Organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. It offers 24 grams of protein to help repair muscle for people who want an all-natural protein powder.

Best for muscle building: Body Fortress Super Advanced Whey Protein Powder

In one 60-gram container, you’ll definitely get all the muscle-building benefits from Body Fortress’s vanilla-flavored protein powder. You can make protein shakes for pre- and post-workout and you will get all the supplements needed to bulk up and maximize your routine. Plus, you can mix any flavor with this protein powder and make your own yummy healthy shake.

Best for fast digestion: Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed Protein Powder

The great thing about the Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed Protein Powder is that it can be digested and absorbed by the body faster than other products out there — this is thanks to the hydrolyzed whey protein isolates. It’s also formulated with vitamins and nutrients like amino acids and leucine, which can help with muscle growth, maintenance, and recovery. And the best part? Dymatize has a vast range of flavors from chocolate to Flintstones Fruity Pebbles, so you won’t have a boring protein shake every time. These powders are also safe to use for smoothies, brownies, and other baked goods for that healthy sugar rush.

Best energy boost: Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder

Aside from muscle building, protein powder is also great for giving you enough energy to power through the day. Sprout Living’s Epic Protein Powder is plant-based, gluten-free, and made better with superfood-based protein also provides probiotics and phytochemicals for complete muscle recovery and better digestion.

What to consider when buying protein powder?

First, ask yourself: “What’s my goal?” Many consume protein powder when they’re building muscle and improving muscle recovery, while others drink protein shakes for appetite control and improving their immune system. Of course, you can get all these perks too, but it’s still important to research and ask your doctor about how much protein you should be consuming to get the results you want. To give you an idea: The optimal amount of protein you can consume in a day is 2 to 3 palms worth — this estimate works for both powder, meats, and other sources of protein.

Next, you have to decide on the type of protein powder you want to consume. Traditionally, the most popular protein powders are made of whey — but as the exercise supplement market has grown, more and more plant-based protein powders have become available for customers who are lactose intolerant or vegan.

When it comes to the price tag, whey-protein isolate powder is usually more affordable, but they do the trick. It’s also said to be easier to digest and has a better effect on muscle synthesis compared to casein-based protein powder. You might also encounter collagen-based protein powders — collagen may have a good reputation for its skincare benefits, but there aren’t a lot of studies yet on how effective it is for bulking up.

Protein powders are lifesavers for gym buffs who want to build muscle, for office workers who need an afternoon pick-me-up, and for people who are just starting on their new exercise routine. Choose from whey or plant-based proteins to help repair muscles or fuel your body at any time of day. However, if you’re sensitive to whey protein, the best plant protein is Optimum Nutrition’s 100% plant-based protein powder. If you just dislike the taste of whey protein, you can still reap its benefits but enjoy the taste with BSN’s chocolate peanut butter flavored-powder or Dymatize’s Fruity Pebbles-flavored powder for that sweet nostalgic taste. For the best overall protein powder, try Optimum Nutrition’s whey protein, which offers 24 grams of protein and amino acids for the perfect pre- and post-workout drink.

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