The market with dietary supplements is booming: Germans spend billions on supplements. The classic: protein powder. Protein is essential for muscle building and a good ally in the fight against excess kilos. Normally, it is no problem to cover the daily protein requirement with food. However, athletes in particular benefit from a higher dosage – and this can be ideally implemented in powder form. We answer the most important questions about protein powder.

What is protein powder and why do I need it?

Protein powder is one of the so-called food supplements (also supplements) and is used in particular to support in sports or during a diet.

In simple terms, protein powders consist of proteins of animal or vegetable origin. As the name suggests, they have a powdery state.

They are then mixed in water, cow’s milk or plant milk to form a protein shake. Depending on the type and taste of the protein powder, it may contain other additives such as sweeteners, colorants or preservatives in addition to proteins.

Although proteins through their numerous functions in your body at first glance for almost any goal seem useful, there are two main areas of application:andnbsp;Muscle building and weight loss.

Fast muscle building thanks to protein shakes?

The “bad” news first: Taking protein powder alone will not make your muscles grow, no matter how many protein shakes you consume. In combination with an appropriate muscle building training, protein powder will help you on the way to a respectable muscles.

Because muscles consist of proteins. In order to build new muscle fibers, you need to provide your body with an appropriate basis – and protein powder delivers protein in its (almost) purest form.

But proteins are not only essential for building new muscles, but also for the maintenance and regeneration of your muscles.

When training with heavy weights, smallest injuries occur in your muscle fibers and cells. To repair these, you need protein. But that doesn’t mean you should start consuming tons of protein shakes right away, because a lot doesn’t automatically bring a lot: For optimal muscle-building results, you should consume 0.8 to 1.2 grams (for beginners in strength training) to a maximum of 2 grams (for professionals) of protein per kilogram of body weight daily. But don’t forget that natural foods also contain proteins, like fish, meat and eggs. 

Lose weight with protein shakes – is that possible?

The second application of protein shakes is losing weight. Again, just drinking protein shakes won’t make the pounds fall off. Fat is only broken down when you reach a negative calorie balance, i.e. consume more calories than you take in. 

But protein powder can definitely support you on the way to your desired weight.

This is mainly due to the fact that protein saturates for a long time. In addition, a protein shake comes with comparatively few calories:andnbsp;An average shake of about 30 grams of protein powder, has – dissolved in water – about 110 to 130 calories.

Another advantage of the protein-rich liquid meal: it stabilizes your blood sugar level. In contrast to carbohydrate-rich foods, your body hardly releases any insulin after eating protein-rich meals. Perfect for weight loss, because the hormone blocks fat breakdown, causing your blood sugar to ride a roller coaster and triggering cravings.

Don’t forget: Protein boosts your metabolism and also keeps you from the infamous yo-yo effect.

If you want to lose weight and are in a calorie deficit, your body will fall back on its existing protein sources and break down valuable muscle. Muscles are the fat killer par excellence, without them your basal metabolic rate drops. However, if you also consume sufficient protein during a diet phase, you can reduce muscle loss.

In general, the following applies to those who want to lose weight: 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day are ideal. Of course, you should not only cover your needs with supplements, but above all eat protein-rich food. Once a day, for example to bridge the times between the main meals, or as a meal replacement, a shake is allowed. It’s best to additionally pimp your protein shake with these natural extracts.

Which protein powder is the best? 7 tips

To find the protein powder that suits you best, it’s worth taking the time to look more closely. Here come our tips for buying from the optimal protein powder:

  1. Rule of thumb: The shorter the ingredient list, the better.  
  2. Isolate: Choose a high-quality isolate without hormones or unnecessary additives. 
  3. Solubility: Make sure the powder dissolves well in liquid and that no lumps are left behind.  
  4. Nutritional values: A high protein content or. Amino acid content, preferably over 90 percent, as well as a low carbohydrate and fat content are important.
  5. Calories: If you want to lose weight, you should also compare the calorie information. 
  6. Price: Rather reach for products of well-known manufacturers who cannot afford to risk their good reputation. Here you can usually assume that control and quality of the products is okay.  
  7. Taste test: Often retailers offer small samples. If you do not like the protein shake, leave it alone, there are enough other varieties and tastes. 

By the way: If you choose a neutral, unflavored protein powder, you automatically eliminate artificial flavors, which are not necessary for function. It is also super suitable for baking protein pancakes. 

The current protein powders in comparison 

The protein powder market is extremely large and therefore very confusing. As a small orientation, we compare the current bestsellers among the shakes (including the cheapest provider, where you can buy the product). Whether you should rather choose isolate, concentrate or multi-component powder, you can find out below the table. 

What types of protein powder are there?

At the latest when you take a closer look at our comparison table, you will notice how opaque the protein jungle is. To help you find the right protein powder for your goals, we present the most common powders below and explain their advantages and disadvantages. 

1. Whey protein powder

Behind the term Whey protein is nothing more than whey protein (Engl. whey = whey).  The classic among the protein shakes has a high biological value, which means that your body can produce a lot of endogenous protein from the ingested protein. Whey protein is quickly transported into the bloodstream and can be used by your body directly as a building block for new tissue or to repair damaged muscle structures. This is why a whey shake is a good choice immediately after a workout, as it is important to provide your body with nutrients after a hard workout. It also quickly provides your body with much-needed amino acids in the morning after an overnight fast. 

  • Advantages of Whey: Generally more soluble than other protein powders and especially quick to digest. 
  • Disadvantages of Whey: Acne and digestive problems are possible.

2. Whey as isolate and concentrate

Whey is still distinguished – due to the production – between Whey isolate and concentrate. Generally, isolate is considered to be a very high-quality protein powder, but this also has its price. A special production process increases the protein content in the protein powder by up to 90 percent, while the fat and carbohydrate content is reduced to about 1 percent. The result: the lactose content is minimal, which makes isolate interesting for many lactose-intolerant athletes.

Concentrate contains comparatively high levels of lactose and should therefore not be consumed by sensitive people. The fat content of concentrate is relatively high at around 5 percent, while the protein content can range widely between 29 and 80 percent. By the way: taste and consistency are not affected by whether it is an isolate or a concentrate.

3. Casein protein powder

Casein is the milk protein, i.e. the protein portion of cow’s milk that does not end up in whey. It contains a relatively high proportion of essential amino acids and thus serves your body as a high-quality building material for cell construction. The absorption of casein in the gastrointestinal system is slow and constant, as the amino acids it contains reduce the rate of absorption. It protects your hard-earned muscle mass from degradation during a calorie deficit (i.e. when losing weight) and protects you from annoying cravings.

Good for you, because it provides your body with starting material for building and repairing damaged tissue for up to 8 hours. Since casein keeps you full for a particularly long time, it makes sense to consume it in the evening. Its nickname therefore: “night protein.

  • Advantage of casein protein: Reduces muscle loss, especially during dieting and at night, provides long-lasting satiety. 
  • Disadvantages of casein protein: Promotes muscle growth delayed and is usually less soluble than Whey. It is less digestible for many athletes due to its relatively high content of lactose.

4. Multicomponent protein

Here the name says it all: Several different types of protein powder are combined here to combine as many advantages as possible. The basis is usually Whey and casein. This provides your body with short, medium and long term protein for new tissue and repair, so in principle you can take this protein at any point in time. However, the amino acids from the protein reach the muscle cells particularly well directly after training, as your muscles are then still well supplied with blood.

  • Advantages of multicomponent protein: Combines the advantages of different protein powders and can generally be consumed at any time. 
  • Disadvantages of multicomponent protein: May not meet the requirements of one type as effectively.

5. Egg Protein

Egg protein – or also called egg protein – is one of the highest-quality proteins. It is derived from egg white and contains virtually no fat or carbohydrates, but instead contains an ideal composition of amino acids, namely those of egg white. It saturates for a long time and can therefore – similar to casein – be taken in the evening before sleeping or in diet phases. Due to its excellent amino acid balance, Egg protein is also suitable for consumption after training.

  • Advantages of egg protein: Ideal composition of amino acids, lactose-free. 
  • Disadvantages of egg protein: Generally poorly soluble, slightly bitter taste by nature.

6. Vegan protein powders

Meanwhile, there is a whole range of vegan protein powders. Unfortunately, these can often be recognized by their taste and consistency: slightly floury, often poorly soluble and usually not comparable in taste with protein shakes of animal origin. The most common vegan protein powder is soy protein, which, along with rice protein, is the front-runner in terms of protein content at around 80 percent. In contrast to most other plants, soy protein offers an almost complete amino acid profile and is suitable for taking directly after training. You can prepare other vegan protein shakes from rice protein (over 80 percent protein), hemp protein (about 50 percent protein) or pea protein (about 80 percent protein).

  • Advantages of soy protein: High content of valuable amino acids, also suitable in case of lactose intolerance or renunciation of animal products
  • Disadvantages of soy protein: Soy is a potential allergen and can lead to allergic reactions or cross-allergies, often taste that takes getting used to.

How much protein powder may it be a day?

Your basic requirement of 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight should be covered by natural foods. Anything in excess of this can be supplemented with protein shakes with a clear conscience. However, the proportion of supplements in your diet should be as low as possible

Protein shakes are food supplements, not food substitutes! So keep it to one or two servings (1 serving = 30 grams of protein powder) a day, even on non-training days. However, it is important to drink enough fluids – about 3 liters a day, preferably water.

When should I take protein powder?

The most important thing is that you take the protein powder during your workout, it doesn’t matter if you drink it before or after. You can choose, because from a nutritional point of view it is only important that you drink the shake shortly before or directly after the workout. The reason: The body cannot store protein for a long time. Some athletes get stomach ache when they take such a protein drink before the workout. It is more digestible afterwards – preferably before showering. In general, however, the time of day does not matter. The important thing is that you provide your body with enough protein at any time of the day. 

Is too much protein powder harmful for me?

Yes. Normally proteins, or protein powders, do not cause any physical damage. But there are exceptions, for example if you suffer from liver or kidney damage. Diplom-Ökotrophologe Uwe Schröder of the Institute of Sports Nutrition e.V. in bath Nauheim gives in addition in principle to consider that it can come on a long-term basis to a body overacidification by proteins. “Anyone who consumes high doses of protein powder should therefore drink at least 2.5 liters per day,” advises the expert.

In addition, protein also leads to increased urinary excretion of calcium and phosphate.

Therefore, make sure you get enough calcium, for example in the form of dairy products, green vegetables or whole grains, to counteract reduced bone density. As long as you do not have any pre-existing conditions and do not overdo it with the protein shakes, you can (continue to) consume protein powder.

But watch out for possible intolerance reactions. “Proteins are the main cause of allergies,” warns Schröder. The human immune system sometimes views dietary proteins as foreign invaders and attacks them exactly as if they were proteins from disease-causing bacteria. Allergic reactions range from swelling of the mucous membranes in the mouth and throat to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, asthma, skin eczema, and joint disease.

Around five to ten percent of all people in Germany suffer from such an intolerance. Common triggers are milk, eggs, fish, nuts, stone fruits, grains, celery and soy. If you are concerned about a food allergy, consult your family doctor or an allergist.

Prepare protein shake with milk or water?

Whether you mix your powder with water or milk depends on your individual fitness goals. If you use protein shakes especially for muscle building and drink your shake after training, you should prepare it with water. The fat in milk slows down the absorption of proteins, so it takes longer for the amino acids to reach the muscle cells when prepared with milk. Even if you want to lose weight, water is of course the better (because calorie-free) choice.

The disadvantage: a protein shake with water is less creamy and the taste is not as “round” as a shake with milk. If you decide to prepare it with water, you should use less liquid. This way the taste will be more intense.

If you drink your protein shake to stay full as long as possible, to bridge the time between meals or to provide your body with proteins at night, we advise you to prepare it with milk. The shake satiates so long-lasting and taste and consistency have here quite clearly the nose in front. Not to forget: Milk itself already brings some valuable nutrients, including additional protein. 

Recipes with protein powder

Good news for all those who find shakes too monotonous in the long run: Protein powder can also be used as an ingredient in the kitchen. This is especially interesting for low-carb fans, because often (part of) flour can be replaced by protein powder. The classic here would be protein pancakes.

Our all-round recipe for sweet protein pancakes: 

  • 4 egg whites
  • 30 g vanilla-whey 
  • 50 g low-fat quark
  • Oil for frying

Whisk everything by hand or with a mixer. Then fry the dough in a little oil in a pan.

You can also replace flour with protein powder in many bread, cookie or cake recipes. But be careful, not in all recipes you can completely omit the flour, because it contains the gluten protein, which binds the dough and holds it together. Protein powder does not have this property. However, replacing a part of it usually works without problems.

By the way, you save carbohydrates, stay full longer due to the higher protein content and can often even omit the sugar – after all, protein powder with flavor is already sweet anyway. If you prefer to prepare savory dishes, for example cheese-ham waffles, you should therefore choose a tasteless protein powder.

Advantages and disadvantages of protein powder

Advantages of protein powder

  • Protein powder is convenient: It is easy to transport, ready in a few seconds from just two ingredients (powder + milk or water) and you don’t have to do much work. water) and you do not have to do a lot of shopping or clean the kitchen. 
  • Shakes saturate for a long time: Protein shakes are not heavy in the stomach, but they still saturate well, with a comparatively low calorie content (a serving of about 30 grams has about 110 to 130 calories). 
  • Good amino acid profile: Protein powders usually contain all the essential (vital) amino acids. This is not self-evident, because out of a total of 20 amino acids, you must take in these 8 through food, since the body can not produce them itself. 
  • Protein in its purest form: Protein powder is a high-quality protein source and provides you with protein in its purest form. That is: almost without admixture of carbohydrates and fats. Also undesirable accompanying substances such as cholesterol or purines, are not included. 
  • Cover your protein needs easily: Protein shakes help all those who cannot or can only with difficulty cover their protein requirements through conventional nutrition, for example during a diet, a high sports workload or in stress situations.

Disadvantages of protein powder

  • Many additives: Despite all the advantages, it is not advisable to always immediately reach for protein shakes. In fact, many protein powders contain a whole host of additives. Especially for athletes with a sensitive stomach, this can lead to bloating, stomach pain and cramps or digestive problems. 
  • High allergy potential: Proteins are also considered the main cause of allergies. The human immune system sometimes views dietary proteins as foreign invaders and attacks them as if they were proteins from disease-causing bacteria.
  • Expensive protein source: If you compare protein powders with natural protein sources such as low-fat quark, the latter comes off significantly better in terms of price-performance ratio.

Conclusion: How useful are protein shakes?

This question divides the minds – some swear by it, the others think protein shakes are overpriced nonsense. Who is right? Well, in principle both.

Fact is: No one has to reach for protein from a can. With a balanced, protein-emphasized diet, even an increased protein requirement can be easily met with natural foods. 

Nevertheless, it is worth supplementing your diet with protein powder. The products provide your body with protein in its purest form within a very short time, without overloading your calorie account. In addition, they usually provide all the essential amino acids that your body cannot produce itself. Protein shakes are therefore particularly useful after an intense workout in the area of strength or endurance.