Skip to Main Content
View from above female's hands holding open container of chocolate protein powder on white table.

Protein Powder: Do's and Don'ts

Protein powder supplements are used for a variety of reasons – from wanting to increase muscle mass to meal replacements, most retailers have jumped on the protein powder bandwagon. Whether it's whey, hemp or pea protein – marketing strategies make you feel like you need these products in your life.

So, how do you know if a protein powder is a good addition to your daily food routine? Let’s look at the details.

Do Know What Protein You Are Buying

Research is an essential step that allows people the opportunity to know the ingredients and the company making the product. It is best to find a supplement company that has quality and safety standards in place, plus does batch testing of their product to ensure potency. The best way to get this information is to actually checkout the company’s website or even call them directly to ask your questions.  You'll be surprised at how many plant and animal sources of protein powders are out there!

Don’t Be Fooled By Marketing, Buzzwords or Celebrities

When a protein supplement is touted for weight loss or improved athletic ability, marketing zeroes into hire a beautiful celebrity or athlete to promote the product.  Remember these people are being paid and may not even be using the product.  Promotions that seem too good to be true, likely are just that.

Do Know How Much Protein Powder You Need

Estimating protein needs is fairly simple. The average healthy person needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.  That means an adult woman who weighs 150 pound (68 kg), needs about 54 grams of protein.  People trying to increase muscle mass, who have or need cancer care, or are healing a wound might need extra protein. Whereas those with kidney disease, likely need less. Please talk with your healthcare provider regarding your protein needs. If you do not have a health care provider, CHI Health's Providers would be happy to help answer any of your questions.

Don’t Try To Get Your Protein Powder All at Once

There is currently no research supporting high-protein supplement doses for the average adult exerciser. What college and pro athletes ingest is carefully calculated by sports dietitians, and adjusted to their athletic regimen. The average person should spread out protein throughout the day to maximize absorption, think meals and snacks. In other words, you need to find the right regimen for your kind of activity level. For example, if you are an exerciser, having a protein snack following a workout, may be beneficial.

Do Try Food First, Before Protein Powder

Most people are surprised when they look at a food list and realize meeting protein needs through food can be easy when planned for. In fact, 1 cup of low-fat Greek yogurt is 15 grams, 3 oz of lean chicken breast is about 21 grams and ½ cup of black beans is 7 grams of protein. Whereas, eating a whole food protein source may provide additional benefits, like omega 3 fatty acids from fish, calcium, or cottage cheese.

Don’t Focus Strictly on Meat                

There are a variety of protein-rich plant foods that in addition to protein, provide fiber, magnesium and other beneficial nutrients.

You can find these kinds of benefits in foods like:

  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Nut butters

Eating a variety of plant foods is important to obtain all the essential amino acids that are present in meat.  Vegetarian diets can provide 100 percent of protein needs, but require planning to ensure adequacy.

If you are considering using a protein supplement, please remember to have realistic expectations and know why you are you using the product. By finding the best diet for you, it'll be easier to become a smart shopper and always choose whole foods first!

Reach out to our Registered Dietitians for more info!

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE, IFNCP™

Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist and Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. She is the diabetes education program coordinator at CHI Health and sees patients at the Millard Clinic. She works with patients to identify root causes to health conditions and make changes to improve overall health. Ellen’s passion is to help others develop lifestyle habits that allow them to feel their best.

Related Articles

Helpful Ways to Keep Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

FEB 06, 2024

Keeping new year's resolutions can be difficult. Turning your resolution into small goals and planning for success are two tips to help you achieve your goals.

Read More

Try "Nutrient-Dense" for the New Year

JAN 01, 2024

The closer a food is from being hand picked, the more nutrient-density it has. Eating a variety of these types of foods helps fuel our body with macronutrients and micronutrients.

Read More

Your Guide to Healthy Holiday Eating

NOV 29, 2023

Consider some of these suggestions to treat yourself this holiday season without feeling like you have to also bring along your stretchy pants.

Read More