What is the best protein powder for me? I have often asked this question and the answer has been different depending on where I am in my workout cycle. In general, I will be going through either a weight gain phase going in to the fall/winter or a lean down phase in the spring and throughout the summer. Since we are well in to the bulk up time of year, lets start with the best protein powder for putting on weight.
I swear by whey protein. It absorbs in to the body quickly, offers an extensive amino acid profile and is one of the less expensive options for straight protein. It is a good start whether your goals are to bulk up or lean down. When I am looking to add some muscle weight going in to the off season and am not terribly concerned about adding a few pounds of stored fat weight I reach for a whey protein based weight gainer. In addition to copious amounts of whey protein, these gainers add complex carbs in to the mix to increase total calories and give the body much needed fuel when recovering from heavy weight training. Several products from General Nutrition Centers (GNC) can give you a good balance of protein grams and carbohydrate calories. In fact, I have one weight gainer from there that rings in at over 1000 calories when mixed with 2% milk! This will definitely add weight to even the most wiry frame. I will take these meal replacement supplements throughout the duration of the off season.
When I am looking to lean down I still reach for whey protein but I consume it in its most basic form. Straight whey protein powder is very good at providing enough fuel for muscles without the additional calories found in animal proteins. While the majority of protein should still come from fish, poultry, eggs, dairy or beef, protein can be supplemented at least partially on a daily basis and is a great way to lean down before beach season. I live in a cold part of the country so the work up to beach season is very much anticipated and straight whey protein always helps me prepare.
The options for whey protein are almost limitless but I get all of my best protein powder at GNC. They are not always the most competitive on price but in general their staff is knowledgable and if you shop the first week of the month you can take advantage of special pricing for gold members. The most important thing to remember when looking for the best protein powder is to choose something that agrees with your body. Look for the best protein powder for your specific goals, whether that be as part of a high calorie meal replacement or as a low calorie alternative to animal proteins.