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Fueling Your Performance: Protein Powder Picks from a Sport's Dietitian

What to look for:

  • Quality of ingredients

    • Avoid products that are loaded with artificial sweeteners to help prevent a tummy ache! 

  • Third party testing

  • Price you are willing to pay

Why is whey #1?

  • Has the highest concentration of amino acids necessary for muscle protein synthesis, including leucine

  • Rapidly digested and absorbed (much faster than casein!) which is ideal for muscle protein synthesis post-exercise

  • But does contain significant lactose

  • "Does the form of whey matter?"

  • Whey protein concentrates contain ~35-80% protein

  • Whey protein isolates are up to 92% protein

"I keep seeing milk protein isolate and I am confused. Is that the same as whey protein isolate?" Trust me, the various milk proteins make me dizzy, too! 

Milk protein Isolate: 

  • Contains at least 90% of protein

  • Is different from whey protein isolate in that it is produced from skim milk 

  • Contains a blend of both whey and casein

  • May be a good option for individuals with lactose intolerance due to the lower whey content

  • Because it contains casein, the slowest digesting milk protein, it may be a good option for a bedtime snack

Does everyone need protein powder? 

NO! But:

  • It is convenient when lacking time or resources to prepare food

  • Can help you stay consistent in meeting your protein needs throughout the day

  • May be more palatable if not hungry or nauseous (ie. upon waking up in the morning or after a tough workout)


What is third-party testing and why does it matter?

  • Many nutritional/dietary supplements are contaminated with banned substances

  • Nutritional/dietary supplements, including vitamins and minerals, are not well-regulated and may cause a positive drug test.

  • NSF Certified for Sport and Informed Sport are reputable third-party testing organizations that ensure their products do not contain up to 280 substances banned by major athletic organizations 

Some of my recommendations:

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O’Kennedy, B. T. (2009). 19—Dairy ingredients in non-dairy food systems. In M. Corredig (Ed.), Dairy-Derived Ingredients (pp. 482–506). Woodhead Publishing.

Stark, M., Lukaszuk, J., Prawitz, A., & Salacinski, A. (2012). Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 54.

Burke, L., Deakin, V., & Minehan, M. (2021). Clinical Sports Nutrition (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education Australia.

Sports Nutrition: A Handbook for Professionals, Sixth Edition

Need a sports dietitian? Reach out to me today:


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