As a former competitive bodybuilder, I have taken a wide variety of protein powders over the course of my career. From whey protein to casein to a blend of both, I have pretty much tried them all. But when it comes to protein powders, there are a wide variation in the quality that you can purchase. Not many consumers are aware of this and have the mindset that “protein is protein.” However, as you will see, this is hardly the case.

Let’s start with the most popular of protein powders – whey protein. Whey protein took the bodybuilding and nutritional supplement industry by storm back in the 1990’s. With a high content of branched chain amino acids and essential amino acids, whey protein was the choice for anyone wanting to pack on pounds of ripping muscle. While whey protein is an excellent choice for protein, there are different grades that can dramatically affect the quality of these protein supplements.

Here are some benefits of whey protein powders:

· Easy to mix
· High concentration of branched chain amino acids
· Low fat
· Increases fat burning potential
· Aids in gaining muscle mass

The cheapest grade of whey protein is whey concentrate. To be classified as whey concentrate, the protein powder can be anywhere from 30 to 88% protein by weight, the remainder being lactose and fat. The next step up is whey isolate, which has a content of 89 % + protein by weight. The top of the line is whey hydrolysate, which is basically a predigested whey isolate. When choosing a whey protein, be aware of the primary protein in the powder to get an overall idea of the quality of the supplement. The higher the quality of whey protein, the more expensive the powder is likely to be.

In addition to whey protein powders, milk protein powders have steadily been seeing more demand. Milk was used in large part by “old school” bodybuilders like Dave Draper, Reg Park, and of course Arnold Schwartzenegger. Over time, the bodybuilding culture has strayed from using milk because of allergies, lactose and stomach discomfort. However, milk protein powders have brought this old bodybuilding tool back to the forefront.

Much like whey protein, milk protein powders come in grades of concentrates and isolates. Milk protein concentrate is less expensive to manufacture, but you also have a range of 40 to 85% percent protein by weight. Milk protein isolate is 85%+ protein by weight. Again, you need to be aware of the primary protein source in milk protein powders to determine the overall quality.

Eggs will probably never be replaced on the menu for a high protein diet. As far as whole food sources for protein go (not protein powders) eggs are second to none. Unfortunately, not many people want to deal with the hassle of cooking eggs over and over, or trying to find new ways to cook them to break up the monotony. But since eggs are such an excellent source of quality protein, somewhere along the line a convenient egg protein powder was developed. This provided consumers with an excellent and convenient source of protein.

Unfortunately, in the early 2000’s, an avian (bird) flu developed and was cause for millions of chickens to be slaughtered to prevent a worse outbreak of the sickness. This caused the price of egg protein to skyrocket, and many supplement companies were forced to discontinue their egg protein powders. Some unscrupulous supplement makers started using low-quality ingredients and were passing them off as egg protein. If you want to be sure you have a pure egg protein powder, mix the powder with a little bit of water and put it in the microwave. If you have a pure egg powder, it will “cook” just like a real egg would. This simple step will help to ensure you have purchased a quality egg protein powder.

This is just a starter lesson in protein powders. There are more types of protein powders to be covered, but that will have to wait until another time. For now, keep checking those labels to be sure that your protein powder is a quality powder.

Author's Bio: 

Tim Mielke
Author and Supplement Expert

Tim Mielke has been involved in the supplement industry for over 15 years. As a former competitive body builder and personal trainer, Tim has extensive first-hand knowledge of the benefits and pitfalls of fitness supplementation. Knowledge so extensive that his book, “The Book of Supplement Secrets: A Beginners Guide to Nutritional Supplements,” was recently published and is currently available through Tim brings this supplement and bodybuilding know-how to as a contributing author and researcher.