Fuel Your Strength 404: How to Pick the Best Protein Powder

How to Pick the Best Protein Powder

If you are confused about protein powder, you are definitely not alone. One of the most common questions I get from listeners is what to look for when shopping for a protein powder. This is why I have dedicated this episode to everything you need to know about the science and research behind protein powder, the differences, the benefits, how to read the label, and so much more.

Click play to listen right on this page, no app is needed:

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher

Want a free week of strength workouts? Click here to get started!

Watch the Episode on YouTube

Key Takeaways

If You’re Confused About Protein Powder:

  1. Inform yourself about the science and what the research is saying about different types of supplemental protein
  2. Look for a protein powder that is third-party tested and will give your body what it needs
  3. Learn how to read the label so that you can make an informed decision when shopping in-store or online

What the Research is Saying About Protein Powder

The best way to understand what is going on with protein powder is by looking at it from an evidence-based perspective. There is a lot of research out there to show you the different benefits and results of various types of protein powder. This is incredibly useful when determining which protein powder is right for you and will help you achieve the results that you are looking for. When you are empowered with this knowledge, you can make an informed decision and supplement your nutrition for your performance.

The Power of Protein

Protein and protein supplementation is key to achieving your goals, yet so many women are protein deficient. I know, because I was one of them!

Whatever you decide when it comes to protein powder, remember that it is supplemental to all the other things you are already doing. Making sure you get adequate daily protein is priority number one, which I spoke about in depth during my protein series. My goal is to give you the science and information that’s out there so that you can put this framework into practice and see the results.

How do you feel about your level of knowledge when it comes to protein powder? Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • Addressing the controversy and misinformation surrounding protein powder (6:16)
  • What you need to know scientifically about your amino acid intake (11:41)
  • Understanding the differences and similarities of whey protein (18:13)
  • Diving into the world of plant-based proteins including serving size (22:28)
  • Breaking down the confusion surrounding collagen (27:12)
  • How to select a brand of protein powder and what to look for (35:18)


“Are you just the tiniest bit confused about protein powder? If so, you are not alone.” (0:06) 

“For a lot of people, frankly, a scoop of protein powder daily is such an easy change.” (7:16)

“The evidence of collagen improving joint pain is actually quite strong.” (29:03)

“If there is one time when you want muscle protein synthesis to happen, it is after you are done training.” (34:19)

“What to look for in a protein powder when you are out shopping whether it is on the internet or in the store so that you can be assured that you are getting high-quality supplements that actually contain what they say they are going to.” (38:42)

“Just use the information here provided in this episode to go out and make the best choice for you.” (39:26)

Featured on the Show

Apply for Strength Nutrition Unlocked Here

Legion Whey Isolate Protein Powder – use code Steph for 20% off your first order

The effects of collagen peptide supplementation on body composition systematic review 

Follow Steph on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Pinterest

I’d really love it if you would take 1 min and leave us a rating and review on iTunes!

Podcast production & marketing support by the team at Counterweight Creative

Support the Podcast

Get 20% off Legion Supplements with code STEPH (20% off your first order, double points on follow up orders)


Follow Steph on Instagram

Rate and review on Apple Podcasts

Related Episodes

FYS 395: How to Calculate Your Daily Protein Needs

FYS 396: Should Protein Be Spread Throughout the Day?

FYS 397: What is High-Quality Protein?

FYS 398: Protein Around Workouts

How to Pick the Best Protein Powder Transcript

Steph Gaudreau
Are you just the teensiest bit confused about protein powder? If so, you’re definitely not alone. This is one of the most common questions I get from listeners. Hey, can you break down the basics of what to look for in a protein powder? So on this episode, I am going to be doing just that. answering some questions also that I get along the way. If you 3have been curious about collagen, definitely stay tuned to hear more about that as well. By the end of this episode, hopefully, you will be more empowered to go out and make an informed decision about which protein powder may be right for you.

If you’re an athletic 40, something woman who loves lifting weights, challenging yourself, and doing hard shit, the fuel your strength podcast is for you. You’ll learn how to eat, train and recover smarter, so you build strength and muscle, have more energy, and perform better in and out of the gym. I’m strength nutrition strategist and weightlifting coach Steph Gaudreau. The ç podcast dives into evidence-based strategies for nutrition training and recovery. And why once you’re approaching your 40s and beyond, you need to do things a little differently than you did in your 20s.

We’re here to challenge the limiting industry narratives about what women can and should do in training and beyond. If that sounds good, hit subscribe on your favorite podcast app. And let’s go over what’s going on, welcome back to the √ podcast. Thanks so much for being here. If you’re watching me on YouTube, hello, make sure you hit subscribe and ring the bell for more notifications. And if you’re listening on your favorite podcast app, hit subscribe as well. And thank you so much for being here.

Now before we launch into the details about protein powder, just a little bit of a quick life update, I guess our business update. So I took a little break from recording because after you’ve done 400 and some odd episodes, sometimes life just gets life. So took a little bit of a break, we had a friend come into town from Scotland to visit my husband so we hung out in early April. And then I had the good fortune of being able to go to Sandlot Jack’s, in Jacksonville, Florida with the amazing team from go rock.

I’m really so proud to be a partner of theirs and just an ambassador and really talking about rocking and sandbag training and all that great stuff. So we had an amazing time at The Sandlot Jack’s event in Florida. Definitely put it on your calendar for next year. And I’m now signed up for my very first GORUCK challenge. I was so inspired over that weekend, just seeing all the folks who are participating in challenges and rocking and all that great stuff. So I came home and signed us up for our very first go-rock challenge, probably not going to be the last one to be quite honest.

So that’s kind of what’s been going on. And then also, you’re gonna have to watch us on Youtube. Because you know, we just don’t have the ability to show you on the podcast. But I would love to know in the comments, I have this amazing neon sign and I want to hang it here in my quote-unquote studio, which is my kitchen. And I don’t quite know where I should put it. So what do you think? So here it is.

It’s this incredible neon sign and it is in the shape of someone flexing a bicep and there you go, I just turned it on. It’s not fun. So I don’t know, where should I put it in this cupboard? You should have put it behind me here. Should I put it on the other wall? What do you think? Leave me a suggestion in the comments. I would love to hear your feedback on that. So continuing to try to make this little space of mine look really cool.

But hey, here we are. So all right, let’s get into the nitty gritty about protein powder. If you haven’t yet heard the protein series that I did on this podcast, which is episode 396, I think I’m gonna have to double-check that somewhere in the 390s. We did four episodes all about protein and really looking at protein priorities. Everything from you know, overall protein intake to potential nutrient timing and those sorts of things. So starting with basic stuff and getting a little bit more advanced. And this is a topic I’ve really wanted to cover for a while because I get so very many questions about protein powder.

And frankly, I think it’s it’s kind of misunderstood. So, on this episode, I really want to take you through what you need to know because again, helping you be informed and understand this from an evidence-based perspective is really important. So that you can go out and make your best choice if you’re looking for a protein powder to supplement what you’re doing with your nutrition for performance.

But before we hop into the rest of the episode if you’re really looking for a framework to help you put all of this stuff into practice, meaning you want to marry the nutrition information with training and recovery, especially for women over 40. And we’re looking through that lens in terms of our physiology, and what’s changing, I want to invite you to apply for Strength Nutrition Unlocked, this is my group program, and we’re going to help you to put these really key principles into practice, so that you actually start getting the results from your hard work, really, you know, training is great.

But if you’re not seeing improvements, or it’s been a really long time, and you’ve been struggling with this for months, and months, and months or years, then let’s help you sort it out and get some clarity and start to see progress, building strength, building muscle, increasing your performance and feeling really great while you’re doing it. So go ahead and check this out over at, fill out your application, and you’ll hop on a call with my team to chat about what’s going on and see if you are a really good fit for what we are up to.

Alright, let’s go ahead and talk about protein powder now. So this is kind of a controversial topic, believe it or not in a lot of places on the internet. And I just wanted to start off by framing the conversation. You know, some people say, Oh, well, you should only get your protein from whole foods like any kind of supplementation is somehow cheating, or it’s subpar, or it’s you’re causing damage, or something like that by supplementing with something like a protein powder. So here’s the thing, my stance on it. And what I would encourage you to consider is let’s tick off or let’s kind of pick the lowest hanging fruit from the branch first.

And if you go back and listen to that podcast series that I did on protein, you know that there are some things we really need to prioritize. And the very first thing is making sure we are getting adequate total daily protein. Right. So if you’re really low in protein, we want to make sure we’re getting your baseline of protein up. And that’s priority number one. So far, a lot of people frankly, a scoop of protein powder daily is such an easy change, nutritional coaching, right when we’re, we’re even in Strength Nutrition Unlocked or one on one coaching, when you start to actually make other changes in your life and address, maybe you’re eating very chaotically, or you skip meals, or you just really don’t know what to put on your plate or you don’t know how to address the timing of your say pre or post-workout, nutrition.

All of that stuff generally requires not just knowledge, but that you go out and you implement those changes. And that means addressing things in your environment, building systems and structures, thinking about your support systems, even in some cases, and really going through the process of trial and error and making time to make space. And that’s hard. It’s not the easiest thing. So when somebody comes to me, and we’re talking about nutrition for performance, and we assess the sort of where are you at in terms of your protein intake, if that protein intake needs to come up, and that person is extremely busy, one of the first things I tend to recommend is adding some additional protein powder.

Even one scoop, maybe two, depending on the person, there’s a little bit of wiggle room there. But add a scoop or two of protein powder daily to what you’re doing in your other meals. Right. That’s the key, we want to make sure we’re Yes, increasing our baseline of whole-quality protein sources. And yes, protein powder is supplemental to that. But if we can add that, and it’s like the lowest hanging fruit on the branch, and you start to feel better because you’re recovering better, then that’s a really easy win.

So I understand, right? You know, people think, well, it’s a supplement and supplements are all bad. Supplements are really kind of on a case-by-case basis. If somebody’s really not active at all, and they have an adequate daily protein intake, then they probably don’t need a protein shake or a scoop of protein powder. But for people who are busy, you’re trying to prioritize building muscle. So muscle hypertrophy and recovery from your training, maybe you’re lifting heavy, then adding that protein is really kind of a no-brainer.

So let’s go ahead and kind of bust that idea that somehow adding protein powder is you’re cheating the system in some way. Now, if you do manage to get that higher baseline level of protein intake, and again, we talked about this in previous episodes, but for active people, we’re generally in the range of like point seven to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight or 1.6 to 2.2 grams per kilogram of body weight. There are some other kinds of outliers and recommendations there for different reasons. But that’s kind of the range that we’re looking at.

So if you’re thinking about that range of protein, and you have to make an increase, which is most of the people that I work with, and this was me really low in protein overall, and I have the documentation to show it, what I worked with my sports nutritionist over a decade ago, protein had to come up, right. So if you’re working toward those higher ranges of protein intake, and you’re really active or prioritizing muscle, then adding that scoop of protein can just really help you meet your targets for the day. So that’s kind of what I wanted to say first and foremost before we get into some of the other technicalities.

The second thing I want to talk about here is some sort of basic science and thinking about like, why protein powder, and why it can be helpful and kind of what we want to be looking for. So yes, it is true that protein powder is going to be derived from some kind of whole foods. So it could be some kind of a dairy product, for example, it could be some kind of plant food, for example, if we’re talking about plant protein isolates, but really, those are not going to have the same say the total nutritional profile of those Whole Foods.

However, what we’re really concerned with, and what most people are thinking about when they’re taking protein powder, is the amino acid content of the powder itself, like thinking about, that’s the reason we’re taking that on board because we’re trying to increase our overall amino acid intake. So let’s do a little boop little dive into amino acids. And I’m going to try not to overwhelm you with information and I am not a biochemist, as well.

So I’m going to try to bridge the gap here between what you need to understand scientifically so that the recommendations make sense without overwhelming you and making this a college-level science lecture. So we need to think about, for example, two things. And I’ll kind of go into this because I recently talked about this on one of my Instagram reels, and it created a lot of discussions. The first thing we want to think about is protein powder as a source of those amino acids, but not all amino acids are created equal. So let’s start off with a discussion of amino acids, we have nine essential amino acids.

Essential means that our body cannot make these amino acids we need to eat them. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, we have 11 non-essential amino acids for a total of 20. So our body can synthesize the non-essential amino acids. So what we’re really looking for, and we’re if we’re talking about protein quality, and I talked about this in a previous episode is a complete array of the essential amino acids. So when we consider that when we are thinking about muscle protein synthesis, this is the process of the cellular machinery that is going to build muscle tissue.

So muscle protein synthesis means to make after we train we want to be able to recover. And part of recovery is that we’re able to repair and build new muscle proteins do muscle tissue. So we need certain amino acids for that to occur. Primarily, we need first and foremost one of the essential amino acids called leucine. So Leucine is also one of the branched-chain amino acids because it has a branching structure. So of the nine essential amino acids, three of them are branched, hence the term branched-chain amino acids.

They are leucine, isoleucine and valium or valine. Depending on where you went to school and how you learn this. I learned it as Valium. So there we go. So these three branched-chain amino acids are often talked about in terms of their muscle-building potential or their importance in the process. And even available in supplemental form.

Leucine is kind of the most prominent of those three. So again, Leucine is one of the BCAAs. And it’s also an essential amino acid. We need leucine for a very specific reason. In order to begin or trigger the process of muscle protein synthesis. We need enough of this amino acid called leucine. Generally speaking, the research seems to indicate somewhere between two and a half to three grams of Leucine per serving of whatever it is we’re eating whatever protein it is, in order to trigger the process of muscle protein synthesis.

So we have this trigger threshold where Leucine is the trigger and we need to exceed the threshold in order for muscle protein synthesis to kind of kick off right cellularly In order to initiate from there, after it, it kicks off, right we have the trigger, then we need the rest of the essential amino acids, we need all nine in order to carry out the actual process the cellular machinery process of creating, of making synthesizing muscle protein. So we want to look for protein sources that are complete in terms of their amino acid profile, and also meet the leucine threshold.

So that we can actually trigger the process to begin, those are kind of the criteria that we’re kind of looking at from that biochemical point of view. Now, obviously, there are other criteria that go into selecting a protein powder, for example, if you are someone who cannot tolerate dairy in any way, shape, or form, whey protein, right casein protein, or something of that nature, then we’ll talk in a minute here about the differences between for example, isolates, and concentrates and those sorts of things.

But you may want to select a protein powder that tends to agree with your system a little bit better. And, you know, there are plant proteins that can meet the meat, the mark, so to say, but there are a few kinds of little considerations to think about there. So when we’re selecting a protein powder, we kind of want to look for those things. And this is why transparency and labeling is really important. And we’ll talk about that a little bit later on.

So if we’re talking about whey protein, for example, whey protein is considered kind of the gold standard here for being really great at triggering muscle protein synthesis and being able to carry it out. Whey Protein is fast digesting. And really great for pre-post workout, those sorts of things because it creates a pool of amino acids that are available to your system relatively quickly. versus some other types of proteins.

And I just mentioned Casein, right? Casein is a much slower digesting protein, because it basically gels in your gut as it is moving through, so it moves through a little bit more slowly. So when we’re considering when which form of protein we want to take, and this is where I want to talk a little bit about isolates and concentrates. And those sorts of things. People can get really confused about the differences. So the first thing you’ll oftentimes see, especially if you’re shopping at kind of your general grocery stores and things like that, oftentimes they’ll see a whey protein on the shelf and you think, Wow, this one seems so inexpensive, like what’s the deal here, it looks like such a great deal.

And then when you turn over the label, you might see something like whey protein concentrate or WPC whey protein concentrate, and isolate and hydrolyzed whey protein, for example, refer to how those proteins have been processed, and for lack of a better term, purified, if you will. So let’s talk about the difference between whey protein isolate whey protein concentrate, and even hydrolyzed whey protein because people can get a little bit confused about which one is which, what does it mean, and which one’s better?

So whey protein concentrate is one of the more common forms of whey protein that you’ll find, especially if you go to like a regular grocery store. Maybe you see whey protein on the shelf, and you’re like, wow, why is that so cheap, like, so inexpensive? And then if you turn over the label, and you see whey protein concentrate, what does that mean? What it means is that whey protein has not been purified, as much as something like a whey protein isolate.

So, therefore, it will have actually less protein per scoop. So about 70 to 80% protein and it will also contain small amounts of both lactose and fat. So if you are someone especially who is pretty sensitive to lactose, whey protein concentrate probably won’t be what you select. If you’re extremely sensitive to it, you may opt for a nondairy form of protein powder like a plant, blend, and we’ll talk about that here in a little bit.

You may actually be able to get away with a whey protein isolate if you’re not super sensitive to lactose, but just know if you’ve been taking away protein and you’re like why is this making my gut go kind of nuts? And you turn it over and you know, you’re sensitive to something like for example lactose, and you look and it’s a whey protein concentrate, that could be what’s going on. So oftentimes, I’ll hear from people and they’re like, oh, took this protein powder and just like made my stomach gets so bloated and I can’t figure out why.

Or maybe it gave you diarrhea or something like that. And you’re like oh, it’s whey protein concentrate. So it’s going to have higher amounts of those lactose and fat components. So the next one you’ll see pretty commonly is whey protein isolate. It is going to be more processed and more purified and has undergone additional filtration to remove almost all of the lactose and almost all of the fat.

Those things may be proudly sent in trace amounts, but it’s going to be a higher concentration of protein. So about 90% protein, as compared to the whey protein concentrate, which might be 70 to 80%, is going to be generally more expensive. So if you’re kind of like looking for that, and price shopping, and you’re like, why is that whey protein is so much more expensive than that whey protein that I saw on the shelf at Kroger’s or Ralph’s, or wherever you were, or even sprouts or something like that.

I’m just listening to source kind of that I know of, and also in my area, but you get the gist, then you might see that there’s a big price difference, because whey protein isolate is much more concentrated. I’ve been partnering with Legion for quite some time now, I think almost two years at this point, their whey protein isolate is amazing. It’s delicious like digested super easily. I know even some folks who are not, you know, super sensitive to lactose and can tolerate that. But as everything is going to be like try it out and see how it goes for you.

The last thing that you’ll oftentimes see is going to be a term called hydrolyzed. Protein, generally hydrolyzed whey protein for example. So, not to get too scientific here, but lies l y z or lice, l y s is referring to the chemical process called lysis, which is just to break something down. So hydrolyzed essentially means that the whey protein, or the protein in question has been further broken down, and then provided to you in that form. So it breaks it down into smaller peptides.

And it’s going to result in a protein that for some people is a little bit easier to digest than even whey protein concentrate, or whey protein, isolate it. So you may not see it very commonly. But if you did happen to run into that, or you look at the label, and you’re like What the fuck does hydrolyzed mean? It basically means it’s been pre-digested, or digested partially so that when you take it, it should hit your system like, the process of digestion would be a little bit easier.

But also those amino acids should be more readily available to your system a little bit faster. So let’s just have a little bit to do with the labeling. Now what about plant proteins? Okay, I get a ton of questions about plant proteins. And for some people, they’re a great option. Maybe you can’t tolerate any form of dairy, maybe you just want to experiment with something like a plant-based protein, we went extensively into plant proteins and talked a little bit more about this in the protein series. So make sure if you haven’t heard that yet, and you’re curious about this, that you check it out.

By and large, the challenge with plant-based proteins can can can be can fall into a couple of categories. The first one is leucine content. So oftentimes, the leucine content or the branched-chain amino acid content is a little bit lower than it would be in some other kinds of comparable animal proteins. So there’s that. The second issue is that the amino acid the essential amino acid profile may not be complete. The bottom line here is that most of the plant proteins that you do see out in the world are formulated so that they can contain a complete set of essential amino acids.

For example, P blended with rice. So you got to check that though, and not just assume that they’ve got you covered. And this is also where transparency and labeling can be important. And we’ll talk about that here in a moment. So if you are going to select a plant protein, you want to make sure that it contains proteins that are going to give you a complete set of the essential amino acids. And this is where it’s really helpful to see some kind of labeling, especially on the plant protein front to make sure that the amount of Leucine in that is going to be adequate.

Remember, we talked about the like two and half to three grams range in order to trigger muscle protein synthesis. Now, one of the things you’ll often see, and you may have to do this on your own, but one of the things you’ll notice is oftentimes the scoop the amount of that plant race, plant-based protein, I really struggled to say this I struggled to actually pronounce this on the last episode I talked about plant-based proteins, but plant-based proteins, you’ll oftentimes see that the scoop like the actual scale weight or the scoop size has to be larger and that is again to provide the correct amount and give you enough of Leucine in that blend.

So if it doesn’t do it for you, you might turn it over and I’ve seen this with some of my strength nutritional lab students. Sometimes they’ll post pictures of their protein powder that they’re recusing in the group and say, you know, what, what do you think about this? And sometimes it’s impossible to tell because there’s no transparency in the labeling, sometimes you can tell. And that’s easy.

Other times they can see, for example, it might say one scoop is about, I don’t know, 10 to 12 grams of protein, what that automatically tells me is that person has to double the number of scoops in order to hit a total amount of protein that would likely give them the, again, the correct amount of Leucine, and kind of, we’re looking at that adequate essential amino acids split. So plant proteins can be doable. Absolutely, that can be an option. One of the challenges a lot of people find is just the texture and the taste is not as nice, but hey, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.

I know I have personally tested the Legion Plant Plus, just because I wanted to see before I recommended it to anybody, you know, how did it taste? What was the texture like? Was it gritty, I’ve tasted other plant-based proteins before that were not the best, not the most palatable. And that one was actually really, really good. So I would say, of all the plant-based proteins, I’ve tried that one was probably in the top two or three.

So I personally use the way plus from Legion because I can do that I tolerate it really well. So that’s why I stick with it most of the time. But yes, plant-based proteins can be great, you do have to watch the servings, make sure that you’re looking at the servings on the back of the label. And if one little scoop is only going to have 10 or 11 grams of protein, and you’re hoping to get you know, 20 or 30, between 20 and 30, in your post-workout, for example, you’re going to have to double that.

And that means that your servings per container are actually half, which can really kind of drive up the price. So you have to kind of just do that, that math on your own, depending on the company that you’re using. So all of that considered, yes, planning can be an option. And this is kind of where I wanted to talk about college and now. Okay, this is I oftentimes get a lot of confused questions about collagen. And for the kind of good reason.

I mean, it’s being promoted all across the internet as the most miraculous supplement. And companies will oftentimes say things like, you know, it’s great for building muscle, or it’s great for recovery. And they put that in our marketing and then you’re like, Yeah, okay, cool, like I’m gonna, I’m gonna get that because it’s going to help me build muscle. Alright, so there was a 2021, systematic review, and meta-analysis, and I will post the link in the show notes are this called the effects of collagen peptides supplementation on body composition, collagen synthesis, and recovery from joint injury and exercise, a systematic review.

And as you know, hopefully, systematic review. And meta-analysis is like the top tier of scientific literature because it really looks at and pools and looks for high-quality studies that are related in order to try to draw conclusions about all of the data across the board. So it’s a really interesting way to kind of see what is the overall trending in the data. And so a lot of people are using collagen, because they’ve heard again, it’s going to build muscle. It can be good for recovery, but then it begs the question like what kind of recovery are we talking about.

Are we talking about the tendon ligament? Are we talking about muscle? Are we talking about the inflammatory part of recovery? You know, are we talking about the muscle protein synthesis part of recovery, and so this is where things get a little bit muddy. And so here’s what the meta-analysis and systematic review kind of concluded the evidence of collagen improving things like joint pain is actually quite strong. And they looked at doses somewhere between five and 15 grams a day.

However, they also said further research is needed to understand the adapt the exact mechanisms for what’s going on. So in other words, we’re not quite clear yet on exactly how collagen is helping out here based on the studies that we currently have. But it appears that if you’re taking collagen for the joint pain issue or joint support, that has some strong evidence behind that use when they looked at changes in body composition and strength, with a dose of 15 grams of collagen per day, added alongside resistance training.

They did not see results that were as prominent in young recreationally active participants, as they did see in there was one study that looked at elder li men with sarcopenia as a kind of that clinical muscle loss. And I think the average mean age of these men was like 72 years old. So we don’t have a lot of research in terms of things like strength training, and muscle gain. However, it’s possible that I would, I’m just going off on a limb here, and my colleague, Jamie, my friend, colleague, Jamie Scott, who many of you have heard on this podcast before, was talking about this with me in our chat messages back and forth.

And you know, we’re kind of postulating, like what might be going on here, if they did see a little bit of, you know, actual muscle mass increased fat-free mass increase. And we, you know, we’re throwing out the idea here that perhaps there’s just an amino acid deficit in these folks. And while collagen is not a complete protein, in terms of it’s missing one of the essential amino acids, and is low in leucine, perhaps some of the other amino acids present, were supportive in some way.

So I don’t know if further research is necessary there. They also looked at exercise, and vitamin C taken with collagen to sort of aid in more collagen synthesis. So what they found was across the literature, 15 grams per day of collagen was more effective than five in elevating collagen synthesis. And then they said if you’re going to be taking collagen, prior to exercise to somehow impact collagen synthesis and be somewhat supportive to like ligament, tendon joints, that you would want to take it prior with vitamin C.

And then lastly, they said muscle recovery had a modest but significant improvement with collagen, again, are we looking at things like inflammation being reduced and those sorts of things? So the conclusion there was, like, more research is necessary. So I would say, you know, it can be helpful to add collagen to whatever other high quality, right, either plant-based or whey protein, for example, that you are taking, but I would caution against just taking it on its own thinking it’s going to help you with muscle protein synthesis, we just don’t have a strong enough body of research to support that claim at this time.

And we do know that things like you know, a plant-based protein with a complete set of amino acids and a high enough leucine content, or something like whey protein which ticks those boxes, is highly effective, or just whole food sources. Right. So whole food sources, particularly, you know, it’s going to be easy to get those things from animal easier to get those things from animal foods, although some plant foods can be, can be great standards.

So I would say you know, if we’re looking at collagen, overall, it could be helpful to add in addition to but not instead of. So if you’re going to like to do 6 am CrossFit and think coffee with collagen is going to power your workout? Well, first of all,, there’s no carbohydrate in there, unless you’re adding it in somehow. But if it’s just like straight-up coffee with collagen, in it, we’re we don’t have enough carbohydrate in there to even like support the session.

So I would probably recommend that that be added. And then, you know, if you do want to take a little bit of protein pre, again, like looking for something that’s going to have those boxes ticked in terms of the leucine content, like a complete set of essential amino acids. And that way, you’re giving your body a little bit to kind of begin that process of muscle protein synthesis.

So if you’re going to take it pre, you know, add an addition to like, have your coffee with collagen, if that’s really your jam, but then add something else on the side that supports those other things. And then if you’re thinking, Oh, okay, just got done with a hard session of lifting, CrossFit, whatever it is BJJ, you went running didn’t really hard run something of that nature. And thinking, Oh, just have a banana and then like collagen afterward, again, where there are the essential amino acids in terms of complete a complete set, they’re not there.

And the leucine content is really, really low. So you’re not really going to trigger muscle protein synthesis to happen. And if there is one time you want muscle protein synthesis to happen, it is after you’re done training, right? So that’s just what I would say on collagen here is it you know, the worst thing in the world now, if you you know, it is highly enriched and other amino acids that can be supportive.

You know, some people if they’re just really struggling with our protein intake, you know, it could be additive to like total daily protein, but I tend to not have people rely on it and just you add it as a supplement, it’s supplemental to all the other things that you are doing. So just to kind of keep that in mind. Alright, the last thing I wanted to talk about is how to select a brand what to look for in rebrand of protein powder.

I said again, earlier in the show, I’ve been partnered with Legion for a long time, I have a 20% off code, you can absolutely check that out if you want to order from them and try it. That’s awesome, it’d be really helpful and support the show. That code is stuff for 20% off your first order, and double points after that. But if you’re like, Nah, that’s, that’s cool, or I can’t get it where I’m at, I want to make sure that you know where you know what to look for when you go out and look for supplements.

So you want to look for something that’s third-party tested. And that should be reported on that third-party testing website or available somewhere else. So for example, the lab door. And so what they’re going to do is test the supplement to kind of look at two things. Number one is what they say that’s in the supplement on the label actually in it. And then is there anything that should not be in that supplement, for example, heavy metals, or something of that nature?

Is there anything that shouldn’t be in there that they found, so you can definitely check that out to look for third-party testing third-party results being reported? And again, the lab door is a great place to look there. The second thing you want to look for is transparency and labeling. This means that the company discloses all the ingredients on the label, not just the things like what sweetener they’re using, or does it have any gums or binders in it.

We oftentimes see those listed, but what about the active ingredients? What exactly are they in the blend, and how much of each one? So that way, you’re assured that you’re getting a clinically effective dose of what it says is on the label. And so we want to steer clear of things that are proprietary labeling. So if you see a proprietary blend, that means that the manufacturer does not have to disclose exactly how much of those things are in the blend, usually it will list the ingredients, but it won’t tell you how much of each one.

And that to me means that you have no idea if you’re actually getting enough of that ingredient to cause the effect that they claim. So for example, a lot of pre-workout powders will have a blend of things like beta-alanine and other ingredients. And we know that there is a kind of clinically effective dose range for beta-alanine. But oftentimes, you’ll see it’s listed on the label under the proprietary blend, and they don’t actually tell you how much Beta Alanine you’re getting in the mixture.

So you might not be getting kind of a clinically effective dose of that thing. So those are the things that you really want to look for when you’re considering a protein powder. All right, we kind of talked about what are some of the things that people say on social media. And how do you wade through that, you know, how do you make a decision about whether it’s right for you?

We also talked about things like the amino acids that are present in protein powders, and what we really want to be looking for there, especially on the label, so we know that we were able to capitalize on muscle protein synthesis, by getting that nutritional support. We also talked about the difference between whey or other protein isolates, concentrates, and hydrolyzed versions of those, and what they potentially mean for things like digestion, and purity.

And then we finished off by talking about collagen, what are some of the pros and cons and some of the current research about that, as well as what to look for in a protein powder when you’re out shopping, whether it’s on the internet, or in the store so you can be assured that you’re getting high-quality supplements that actually contain what they say they are going to contain. Again, if you want to enjoy 20% off your first order from Legion you can check out they have plant protein, they have whey protein, they have casein as well, I really liked their creatine which is in their recharge product, you can check out my code stuff for 20% off your first order.

And then you can also get subsequent double points on reorders. Check it out, you know that I would not recommend something that I didn’t personally like and use. And I’ve been working with Legion now for a couple of years. Great company. And I really love what they have on offer. So go check that out. And if not, that’s cool, too. Just use the information here provided in this episode to go out and make the best choice for you.

Alright, that’s a wrap on this episode of the fuel your string podcast. Definitely make sure you’re subscribed here on YouTube or on your favorite podcast platform. Ring the bell here on YouTube for more notifications and in the comments. Let me know where should I hang my neon sign. I would love your feedback on this one as well. Make sure you share this episode if you found it useful. And that really means a lot. I do appreciate it so very much. Thanks so much for being with me on the show today. And until next time, stay strong.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau, bs, ma, cissn!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sarcasm.


Build muscle, strength & power AND take all the guesswork out of your workout with this 3x weekly written-for-you dumbbell strength program.


Strength Nutrition Unlocked

For athletic women 40+ who want to get stronger, build muscle, boost energy, and perform better. Implement evidence-backed strategies to fuel, train, and recover smarter with the support & accountability you need.

Get free dumbbell workouts