No, it’s not a scientific question. It’s a legitimate question, I asked myself when I started getting serious about my fitness and diet. When I started way back in February (5 months is way back.) I was not at all sure what I wanted to accomplish other than lose weight. We had been eating clean for a while and I had seen an improvement in my energy and the way I felt about my body but NO weight had come off. So exercise was added to supplement. Protein was also added because I wanted to feel fuller while building muscle, lean muscle. At first I did not know anything about protein, Which brand? What to look for? What the hell are BCAA? Why are their so many flavors? I started with one and now am on my forth. Each one had their chance and each one had pros and cons. I will detail the result below so that you can see for yourselves which one would work for you. I wish I had a list when I began to make it easier to choose, so I am providing one in order to help you avoid the stress and overwhelming sense of being lost I felt when starting out.
First brand I tried was easy to come by and relatively cheap. I thought “Hey, why not start here.” So I picked up a 2 pound tub at Wal-mart called Six Star Nutritional Strength Whey Protein Plus. It was sitting on the shelf in the pharmacy area and seemed to call to me. The packaging is everything you can imagine from a bodybuilding infomercial. It had big buff guys on the front posing. I’m a realistic person and I was under no assumptions of what this stuff would do. But it had the right protein to sugar ratio I was looking for. Triple chocolate sounded good especially since we were eating a very low to no sugar diet. The tub actually lasted a lot longer than I thought it would, a whole month. I took one scoop, which was included, mixed with 8-10 ounces of water everyday after I finished working out. I usually drank it while I ate baby carrots and cucumber slices. It kept me full for 3-4 hours and I actually enjoyed the benefits. It made me feel stronger but no muscle definition. It tasted pretty good so I never balked at drinking it. The packaging promised that it contained BCAA’s and that sounded cool but I didnt know what that meant.
What are BCAA’S? Well they stand for Branched chain amino acids. It is actually only three amino acids with similar structures that beneficially influence the muscles. They can be found in any food containing protein, such as eggs or meat. Supplementation is not necessary unless you were like me extremely overweight, trying a new grueling workout plan and didn’t want to quit because you were so sore. I’m in no way saying you should workout until you hurt yourself or that BCAA’s complete take away the soreness. Supplementation of BCAA’s help to prevent fatigue in novice athletes. They help your muscles recover faster and help to maintain muscle mass. That’s what I wanted and needed. Starting out any exercise when you were sedentary (non-active) in any way is going to make your muscles sore. They are not used to the strain. But I went from barely walking 6000 steps a day to working out cross fit style for 30-45 minutes a day for 5 days a week. I entered a crash course and was headed toward absolute failure. The protein actually helped me maintain my workouts and get used to the soreness so that I could continue on my journey.
- Comes in two sizes. 2 lbs and 5 lbs.
- Helped with energy and muscle fatigue
- Even though Package advertised BCAA’s it only minimally helped soreness.
- No muscle gain
After the container was finished I weighed and did my 4 week measurements and had lost inches and weight. Not a ton but it had helped me stay motivated enough to keep me trucking. This is when my husband decided to up the game and go to GNC. For weeks he had been doing research for me and him to narrow down exactly what we needed for what we were doing to our bodies. See my husband wanted to bulk up while I wanted to create lean muscle in order to lower body fat. However, we also wanted low-calorie and high protein. At this point we had already discovered that our carbohydrate and fat intake was greatly higher than our protein intake. In order to get the most out our food we needed to change from Simple carbs (Breads, pizza, etc.) to complex (veggies, fruits…etc) Complex carbs stay in your body longer and help fuel energy where as simple carbs burn hot and fast. A high protein diet allows you to feel full longer and protein helps build essential building blocks in your body aka muscles. Muscles eat fat so they are the good guys.
At GNC my husband bought me Beyond Raw ISO-Peptide Protein. This was the beginning of real results. Just like the previous protein I took 1 scoop with 8-10 ounces of water. It cam in a larger tub about 3 lbs and lasted me a little bit over a month. I noticed an immediate change in the turnaround of the soreness in my legs, midsection, arms and back. Before I started Beyond Raw I was have a major issue fighting the pain (yes, pain) in my shins and legs, all from the running, sprints and jumps I was doing as a part of my work out plan. Two days after starting the shakes, I was seeing and feeling a much improved sense of soreness. My shins didn’t have that sharp can’t take another step feeling. My thighs and calves didn’t scream at me to just stop. I found that with continued use, I actually beat my personal best times and wasn’t feeling wore out after my workouts. I could still give some of my all to the boys whether that be playing in the park or wrestling on the floor. Now I know it’s not just the protein that is giving me improvements, its my hard work and dedication but I can’t help but feel as though the protein definitely gives me an edge. But I will elaborate in a bit.
Pros of Beyond Raw
- Immediate help in soreness
- extra energy and drive to complete workouts
- Less than a gram of sugar per serving
- More BCAA’s
- Expensive ($60)
- More Calories
- A taste to get used to.
After the last scoop, we actually took a break from buying and using protein. I wish I could say it’s because we wanted to see what the effects would be without it but it boils down to cost instead. For a month we couldn’t justify the cost of using protein when its an added supplement we wanted instead of something needed for weight loss. For the first few weeks without it, I suffered. The soreness defiantly came back with a vengeance and my motivation just left. Literally pushing myself mentally to just start my workout was a struggle. But you know what we continued on and then we added running distance 2 days week. But this was when we stalled out on the weight loss. I have lost somewhere between 20-30 pounds depending on when you start the clock. but Since my last weigh in over a month ago where I weighed 198 lbs I have not lost a single pound since. Haven’t gained either but no lose. However, I have lost a boat load of inches. almost 20 all over. I continue to lose inches, so I’m building muscle at the same rate as losing fat. In fact my Body Fat percentage has gone down by 10-12%. That is huge. and Awesome. And how ever much that made me happy I was still dragging my feet through the mud to workout. Even skipping workouts and feeling guilty for doing it. Then when I was at my moms she had a small container of protein that she gave me.
Jillian Micheals Pure Protein Whey protein
Let me be clear, this stuff is awful. I had to add powdered peanut butter an almond milk just to get it down. I didn’t buy it so I still used it. Thankfully it was a small 1 lb. container and only lasted a week in a half. It didn’t do anything for soreness or muscle definition but my motivation was back. I started feeling good about working out and looking forward to it. It didn’t last long but we had already ordered new protein from a new company we had been seeing and researching.
- Motivation Back up
- Protein Consumption increased
- Taste like Crap
- Does not help muscle soreness
- Offers very little added protein compared to other brands
The last brand that I have tried and may be my favorite is by MyProtein. We got turned on to through several web groups we follow on Facebook. And a guy at Hubs work said that is would be good to look at. So we started looking. The company itself makes a bunch of different product that are high in protein, low is calories and fit any workout regimen. Many different flavors are also available. We ordered 4 bags of their MYPROTEIN Impact Whey Protein. Each bag is approximately 2.2 pounds and taste amazing. They also contain a good deal of good BCAA and are low in calories but high in protein. The best part, its economical for us because that much protein will last each of us two months. Initially it cost about $35 for everything but compared to the monthly expenses the other brands were costing this is nothing. Defiantly manageable in the long-term. So far i can feel a difference in the way my muscles recover from a grueling workout and the next day I am ready to workout again. I have only used it a couple of times so it is still working its way into my system. But what I have so far in all positives.
- Great flavor
- Shipped quickly
- Works fast
- I don’t have any yet. Everything so far has been a pro but if there is a con then I will add it here.
I hope that my experiences will help you in your endeavor of choosing the right protein. And I will probably be adding to this as time goes on. There are so many brands, types and mixtures of proteins out there that I could review just protein powders for the rest of my life but I’m money conscious, Calorie conscious and I like my protein to have a ratio of protein over sugar and carb content. For now Myprotein is pretty awesome for all those categories. Right now I am currently using the cookies and cream flavor which is off the chain. So it also helps me curb my sweet tooth a little bit.