Thought you've seen them all? Pea protein comes from the yellow split pea, making it a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans alike.
Pros: As with most plant-based proteins, pea protein is hypoallergenic. It boasts a 98-percent digestion rate, meaning the body is able to process the vast majority of each serving. It is another highly satiating protein, which may help promote weight loss. And with few additives or artificial ingredients, this one appeals to those looking for protein sources closest to the whole-food source. Don't like peas? Don't worry; the protein version doesn't taste like mush!
Cons: Isolated pea protein is often considered complete because it can contain the spectrum of essential amino acids. Even still, it remains deficient in certain amino acids and should not be used as a primary source of dietary protein.
Looking to bulk up? Weight gainer combines protein, often whey, with a mix of high-carbohydrate ingredients that makes it much more calorie-dense than typical protein powders. It is often used by bodybuilders who are looking to pack on the pounds, or by serious athletes who have difficulty consuming enough calories to offset the large amount they burn through intense training.
Pros: Jam-packed with calories, weight gainers allow people to consume more calories than they could through food alone. They also help keep the grocery bill in check by delivering calories at a (slightly more) economical price.
Cons: Unsurprisingly, weight gainers often contain many additives, artificial sweeteners, and fillers so that they can pack the calorie and protein punch their users are looking for. It's also worth mentioning that the huge calorie count in these products doesn't necessarily translate to more muscle. In fact, all those extra calories will be stored as fat if not needed for recovery after an intense exercise.
TO THE PROTEIN AISLE!—THE TAKEAWAY
When it comes to protein powders there really is something for everyone. Just keep in mind that when it comes to buying protein, as in life, "You get what you pay for." Low-cost proteins often use inexpensive protein blends that may not be very digestible by the body. It is also worth noting that the amount of protein required by the body depends on a person's activity level, physical size and gender.
Testing various sources and quantities of protein can help determine a mix that works best. And just because it's easy to chug a shake after a workout doesn't mean protein powders should replace whole foods entirely. Protein powders are supplements, best used to supplement a healthy diet of nutritious whole foods.
This article has been read and approved by Greatist Experts Dan Trink and Carlene Thomas. Which protein powder is working well for you? Tell us in the comments below or tweet the author @greenfit_health.
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