Every man should have at least one jug of powder protein. The nutritionists out there may disagree with us, making the argument that powder proteins aren’t natural or necessary and that we can attain all the protein we need from natural foods. We wouldn’t disagree. The truth is, however, that we don’t.

Here’s why: We eat too infrequently, we make poor food quality choices and we generally eat the wrong nutrients in the wrong quantities at the wrong times. Having powder protein can help supplement your diet by providing a quick and easy quality protein source.

Powder protein can generally be broken down into three types: whey, whey/casein blend and whey/simple carbohydrate blend. These protein choices each have their advantages. After we state these advantages we’re going to get into which are the best powder proteins out there:

Whey:

• Relatively inexpensive

• Increases training-related fat loss if consumed immediately before or after training

• Increases protein synthesis (building) if taken immediately before or after training

• Rapidly digested and absorbed and, therefore, a quick source of protein

Whey/casein blend:

• Provides rapidly digested and absorbed (whey) and more slowly digested and absorbed (casein) protein sources, creating a time-release delivery of quality protein

• Superior to whey protein regarding increases in training-related fat loss when consumed immediately before or after training

• Better option for “snacks” or additional meals (meal can be made somewhat complete by adding a fruit/vegetable and some nuts)

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Whey/simple carb blend:

• Whey protein and simple carbohydrates are the most rapidly digested and absorbed form of protein and carbs, respectively

• Protein taken in conjunction with carbohydrates leads to substantially greater increases in protein synthesis compared to taking protein alone

• The addition of carbohydrates improves delivery of protein to the muscle and helps replenish depleted glycogen

• Best option for men that are trying to gain muscle mass and/or doing high intensity conditioning.

With all that said, there are terrible quality powder proteins with great marketing campaigns. In the grand scheme of things, most people choose their protein based on the effectiveness of the marketing, not the product itself. Below are five of the best powder proteins of high quality from reputable, results-driven companies.

Met-Rx 100% Natural Whey

One of the major problems with supplements is that they aren’t regulated. Quite simply, this means that your supplements may not contain what the wrapper says they do. Research investigating the purity of supplements elucidated that as many as 15% to 20% of supplements have traces of some anabolics and/or prohormones (sufficient to make you fail a drug test). That’s a scary statistics. In general, the FDA retrospectively examines supplements after a certain complaint or suspicion level is reached, meaning it’s pretty easy for “tainted” supplements to pass under the radar.

Met-Rx powder proteins, however, are among a limited few that are NCAA compliant, meaning they hold themselves to high standards regarding the purity of the ingredients. One-hundred percent natural whey is a quality whey protein source, offering 23g per serving with 5g of BCAAs to help maximize the effectiveness of this supplement as a post-workout option.

CytoSport Cyto Gainer

CytoSport is another company with a pretty good reputation. Cyto Gainer is a high calorie (570 per serving) powder protein option. With 54 grams of protein and 75 grams of carbohydrates (including 4 grams of fiber), it’s well-suited for lean men who are hardgainers and need to get the extra calories in wherever they can.

Cyto Gainer includes a mix of rapidly digested protein, rapid and slowly digested carbohydrates, and a mix of vitamins and minerals, making it a great post-training supplement or near-breakfast meal replacement/supplement option.

CytoSport Muscle Milk

One of the most important qualities of a powder protein, and one that we haven’t mentioned up to this point, is the taste. When it comes to taste, CytoSport is known for having supplements that taste more like dessert than health food. Muscle Milk is no exception. It includes a whey and casein protein blend, which provides a quality mix of rapidly and more slowly digested/absorbed proteins. Muscle Milk also has 5 grams of fiber, which is a great addition for men that consume insufficient (less than 30 grams per day, which is almost all men) fiber in their diet.

Biotest Surge Recovery

Biotest has a reputation of transformation. The company’s high-quality powder protein supplements are often the “man behind the mirror” for men that train their way from scrawny to brawny. While marketed as a recovery supplement, Surge Recovery is one of the best muscle-building supplement options out there. If your stomach can permit it, one of the best options for taking this supplement is to consume half a serving immediately before you start training and half a serving immediately after. About mid-way through your training you’ll start to notice an energy boost, as the rapidly digested whey protein and simple carbohydrate enter the blood stream and are delivered to your muscles. Surge Recovery’s ingredients are optimal for facilitating recovery from brutal high-intensity training sessions and for maximizing muscle growth.

Biotest Low-Carb Metabolic Drive

If we could only pick one powder protein that we think every man should own, it’s this one. The flavor, especially chocolate, is second-to-none and makes for a great additional protein source in meals like oatmeal, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and smoothies (all of which could be combined with peanut butter to make your meal taste like Reese’s.)

Because Low-Carb Metabolic Drive includes a combination of whey and casein protein, and because it’s low in carbohydrates (by name), it’s the perfect option as part of an additional or supplemental meal for anytime of the day (high-carb meals should be avoided late in your day). It also boasts a quality amino acid profile, conducive to replenishing lost nutrients during training. Low-Carb Metabolic Drive can be taken anytime throughout the day as part of a supplemental meal, and before or after training to help facilitate fat loss, recovery and muscle building. It’s a great place to start for people that don’t want to diversify their protein powder portfolio.

Protein Rotation and Vegan Options

Regardless of your protein supplement of choice, it’s important to rotate both the type and the brand of protein you consume. Your body will eventually adapt to anything you take in and extended consumption of the same products can lead to a form of food allergy, with symptoms that range from irritation of your digestive system to stuffy noses. If you’re lactose intolerant or morally against milk-based proteins, TrueProtein.com offers a variety of non-milk-based proteins (e.g., soy, bean, rice, etc.) for you to choose from. Rotate your proteins among high-quality options and prime yourself for long-term success.