Protein Powder Comparisons – March 2015 Focus on Food

Picture of Miriam

Hi folks!

I’ve had quite a bit of inquiry about which protein powders to use. I have always had a few in my back pocket that I would recommend… but so many more have popped up in the market place that pass my criteria. SO. I want to share my assessment with you so you can be ultra-unformed. You’re welcome. 😉

MJ (Miriam)

Protein intake recommendations:

Protein is an essential part of the human diet, and most Americans eat plenty of it. Adults should eat a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight daily — that’s about 58 grams for a 160-pound adult.  The maximum is about 2 -2.5 grams for every kilogram of body weight – that’s about 145grams for a 160-pound adult.  It is suggested to consume 2 to 3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish, or half of a cup of cooked beans at any meal.  It’s important to mention there is a specific recommendation for Endurance athletes: 1.2 – 1.4 g protein/kg/day and Strength athletes: 1.2 – 1.7 g protein/kg/day.

List of Recommended Daily Protein Intake

Portion sizes in the U.S. are often bigger than that. Three ounces of protein is a serving about the size of the palm of your hand. But a hamburger at a fast food place is usually 4 ounces. It’s important to bear in mind that if calories are limited, high protein intake may displace other important nutrients. Renal function and bone density are also effected but there is no sufficient evidence for someone with a healthy body.

Before adding protein powder to the diet, you should know why you are adding it. Knowing what the main reason is for the protein powder will allow you to choose a protein or a combination of proteins that will achieve the desired effect. Consider what you hope to accomplish when using a protein powder before making your selection. The following are ways to help you get the product that will best suite the health of your body and your personal goals:

  • Understand what PDCAAS rating stands for. PDCAAS stands for protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score. This score rates the protein based on bioavailability and essential amino acid supply. The highest score is 1.00. Eggs have a score of 1.00.
  • Establish digestibility before choosing a protein source. (You may have to experiment.) The method in which the protein powder is used will also influence your selection (e.g., shakes, puddings, bars, pancakes, etc).
  • Know the difference between isolate and concentrate. Protein powders are generally not made entirely of protein. Because of this, it is important to look at how much protein you are getting, and how many other ingredients there are.
    Concentrate contains between 30% and 85% protein. It is cheaper and easier to find.
    Isolate contains more than 90% protein and is more expensive.
    Hydrosolates contains more than 90% protein and are pre-digested, partially hydrolyzed and more expensive. May be less allergenic.
  • Check the label when purchasing protein blends. You will want to know how much of each protein is in the blend before you purchase the powder. This should be stated somewhere on the label. If the amount of each protein is not stated, you may want to consider another blend. This is also critical if you desire a vegetarian or vegan powder. If you use protein powders frequently it’s best to choose a clean and natural formula. One without questionable sweeteners, fillers, and additives. It’s also more healthful if choose a milk protein from cows that are grass fed, rBGH-free/hormone-free, and from an ethical company.
  • Choose as basic as possible. Powders with carbohydrates, added vitamins and minerals, stimulants, and other proposed ‘ergogenic’ additives are unnecessary and potentially harmful. If you want more omega 3’s or caffeine do it separately where the dose is more controlled. If you wish to have carbohydrates with your protein, eat some fruit alongside your protein.
  • Know that amino acid powders are not the same as protein powders. Proteins are made up of amino acids and, in order to be a complete protein, they must contain all 9 essential amino acids. Amino acid powders have their functions, but will not do the same thing as a protein powder. Plus, if you take too much of one amino acid, it might displace others. More is not better.
  • Rotate protein sources every 2-4 weeks if you use protein powders regularly may be a helpful guard against building intolerances and provide your body with healthful variance.
  • Don’t fall for the salesperson’s pitch. Places like GNC even health food stores will have well-meaning employees who typically don’t have the nutrition science background to steer you in the right direction.
  •  You get what you pay for. By choosing a “cheap” protein powder, you’re likely to get higher amounts of lactose, fat, fillers, and so on not removed during the isolation process. Researching what you want to buy first then purchasing on line from a reputable site is the most economical choice.

Dietitian Approved Homemade Protein Powder Ingredients

Consumer Reports conducted an eye-opening investigation that revealed that several popular highly processed protein powders like Myoplex, Muscle Milk, Designer Whey and GNC brand all contained arsenic, cadmium, and lead. EW!
This is just another reason why it is incredibly important to know what you are buying, where it is from and how it is produced. Below are some suggestions for current quality protein powders that are a little closer to nature. Check out this link from lab door to see how your current protein powder fairs and/or you wish to choose a new one.

Picture of Protein Powders
Picture of Protein Powders

The shown products have been currently evaluated by an R.D (me!) These product formulas are subject to change and updated reviews might come about at any time. Always keep up to date on your protein powder choices. Always consult with a physician when starting any supplement. .

What’s in your protein drink

Here are the average amounts of metals found in three servings of these protein drinks. The maximum limits for them in dietary supplements proposed by the U.S. Pharmacopeia are: arsenic (inorganic), 15 micrograms (µg) per day; cadmium, 5 µg; lead, 10 µg; mercury, 15 µg. Experts said three servings a day is common. Chart from:Consumer Reports.

List of Protein Powders and Metals

List of Protein Powders and Metals
List of Protein Powders and Metals
List of Protein Powders and MetalsLimit intake to 1-2 servings/day at times when the ingestion of rapidly digested HBV proteins may be advocated (immediate post-exercise period). Individual doses should be limited to an intake of no more than 20-30grams per day.

Hope this has helped enlighten you to what the freak is in that drink you have every day. Give me a holla if you need me.



The information contained in this material is for informational and educational purposes only, and is meant to complement the advice and guidance of your qualified healthcare provider.


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Here's what people said about “Protein Powder Comparisons – March 2015 Focus on Food”


Hi Miriam – same comment as Kendra, very useful information, but I can’t make out the images, could you append the names of the recommended powders below the image you included? Thanks for the research.

Awesome, awesome article! Thanks for the review. I’m able to tell what some of the brands are of the protein powders you recommend in the picture, and some of them are on the blurry side. Is there a way to get a printed list of the ones too? Thanks again for your research! This saves me lots of work… 😉

Hi Miriam,
Is Shakeology in the same category as protein powder? Did you research it? Just wondering since it’s heavily pushed on the internet. Thanks!!!

Hi Cara! That is music to my ears. I love how invested you are in your health. I don’t recommend shake ologies because it didn’t pass consumer labs tests

Hi Cara! That is music to my ears. I love how invested you are in your health. I don’t recommend shake ologies because it didn’t pass consumer labs tests.
Thank you Kendra and Ralph! I will talk to Cat and see if we can put some links to the protein powder pictures. Stay tuned.

User Photo 47

Thank you, I just looked on Amazon and will be switching powders, my current one was a fail too Bethany! Wish there was a Costco where I lived.