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If you want to gain muscle, you need to eat protein.
It’s as simple as that.
In order to gain weight, you should take in up to 1.6 grams of protein for every kilogram of lean body mass.
I know I sometimes have trouble consuming that much.
You can work out all day long, but if you’re not taking in enough protein, you won’t gain weight.
Why Take Protein Powder to Gain Weight?
“This is a fitness website,” I hear you say, “and most people want to lose weight. Why would you tell us to gain weight?”
That’s an easy question to answer:
Fitness isn’t automatically about losing pounds.
There are plenty of people who would prefer to see the numbers on the scale increase.
Strength = muscles = weight.
Also, muscle is more dense than fat.
Every pound of muscle also consumes calories.
So even if you want to lose fat, sometimes you gain weight while becoming healthier.
Also, some people are underweight.
Much like a hungry skeleton, their stomachs fill up before they consume enough protein to bulk up!
I’ve been there myself.
Protein powders are excellent for feeding hungry skeletons.
That’s because protein powders are easy to consume.
You don’t fill up on them the same way you do with steak.
They’re also a lot more convenient than chowing down on some beef.
Heck, you can even take your protein shake to class with you!
Plus, they’re a good choice to supplement your diet with protein.
That holds true for people who want to lose weight as well.
There are basically three types of protein powder out there, whey protein, animal protein, and plant protein.
All have their advantages and disadvantages.
Let’s start with whey protein.
The Best Protein Powders for Muscle Gain
|Powder||Protein per Serving||Servings per Pound||Rating||Price|
|Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard||24g||14||4.4||$$|
|Quest Nutrition Protein Powder||23g||14.5||4.3||$$$|
|Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder||25g||14.67||4.0||$|
|Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Powder||22.25g||20||3.9||$$$$$|
|Great Lakes Collagen Hydrolysate||11g||38||4.3||$$$$|
|Nature's Plus SPIRU-TEIN||14g||13.33||4.1||$$|
|Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder||21g||10||4.0||$|
If you remember your nursery rhymes, you probably remember that whey occurs alongside curds.
Typically, whey is a by-product of cheese production.
It also turns out to be very effective as a protein source for muscles!
Whey is easy to absorb.
It can occur as either whey protein isolate or whey protein concentrate.
Whey protein concentrate is dried whey, so it still has some fat, cholesterol, and lactose.
The isolated form has had most of those removed, so whey protein isolate is about 90% whey protein.
The only real problem with whey protein is that it comes from cow dairy. Vegans and people with milk allergies should stay away!
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Protein Powder
Optimum Nutrition took a bold leap when they named their brand of workout supplements Gold Standard.
It seems to have worked out for them.
Gold Standard whey protein is one of the best-selling protein powders in the world, and for good reason.
It’s a blend of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate.
There are also other ingredients to make it a better tasting protein shake.
If you like whey protein, there’s probably a Gold Standard flavor for you!
There are your old standbys such as chocolate and vanilla.
Like bananas, coffee, or mocha cappuccinos? Those are flavors, too!
There are even silly ones such as vanilla ice cream and extreme milk chocolate (which is actually my favorite).
I’m not sure how milk chocolate can be extreme, but there you go!
It’s available in 1, 2, 3.3, and 5 pound containers, depending on the flavor.
Each scoop of powder dumped into 6-8 ounces of water gives you 24 grams of whey protein.
Each serving also has 3 grams of carbs, 2 of which are from sugar. So, it’s reasonably low-carb, which can help you hit your macros.
There’s also only 1.5 grams of fat per serving.
However, if you want to maximize weight-gain with a protein powder, there’s also Serious Mass by Optimum Nutrition.
Each serving contains 50 grams of protein, 250 grams of carbohydrates, and a whopping 1,250 calories!
Quest Nutrition Protein Powder
Another low-carb choice is the protein powder by Quest Nutrition.
Each scoop has 25 grams of protein and 4 carbs, less than 1 of which is sugar. Instead, it has a little bit of fiber.
Also, unlike the Gold Standard whey protein, it contains zero soy!
It also has zero fat, so overall, it’s good for gaining lean muscle mass even while watching your calorie intake.
That doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. There are 9 flavors, all of which are decadent.
Quest protein isn’t just whey protein isolate, it also contains micellar casein and milk protein isolate.
Some people prefer the fact that there are a few different types of protein. In fact, it may be more filling because of this!
But the real reason I love Quest protein is because you can do more than just drink a protein shake.
Quest Nutrition also puts out protein bars, protein chips, and even protein cookies!
The cookies and cream protein bars are some of the best-tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth.
They’re so delicious you’ll be able to put on the weight you want with little trouble.
Isopure Zero/Low Carb Protein Powder
Yeah, that’s nice and all, but what if you want JUST whey protein?
No mucking about with flavors, no silly protein bars, nothing banana-flavored.
Here’s where Isopure steps in.
Let me read out the ingredient list of their unflavored protein powder in full:
- Whey protein isolate
- Soy lecithin.
I’m sure they wanted to get rid of the lecithin too, but that’s necessary to get the whey to dissolve in water.
One scoop of this stuff is pure protein, nothing more.
Although, you can get Isopure’s protein powder in several different flavors.
And what odd flavors they are! Alpine punch, mango peach, toasted coconut…
…oh, there is a banana cream flavor, my bad. (They also have regular flavors like chocolate)
Anyway, their flavored options have a bonus the other whey proteins do not provide.
They contain a vitamin and mineral blend.
Your body relies on those to get protein where it needs to go, so why not supply it with protein, vitamins, and minerals, all at once?
Not everyone can consume whey protein.
There aren’t too many animal sources of protein that don’t include milk, but here are a couple of good ones.
As another bonus, both of these protein powders are easier to digest than whey protein!
They are also paleo-friendly and less prone to triggering an allergic response.
Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Powder
If you take, say, chicken bones, and simmer them in water for a long time, proteins leach out of the bone into the water.
Eventually, the bone will turn into rubber.
Do this a lot to get bone broth.
Evaporate the water and you get bone broth protein powder.
But that’s a lot of work and man, can it make your dorm room smelly!
Thankfully, you can buy bone broth protein powder already-made.
It’s available in chocolate, vanilla, and banana creme flavors. You can also buy it unflavored.
Each scoop gives 20 grams of protein along with 1 gram of fat and 2 grams of carbs.
Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate
Don’t be scared off by the fancy word “hydrolysate.”
It just means that the collagen has been cut by water.
Well, it’s made from gelatin. Gelatin is made from stuff like skin, joints, etc.
That sounds yucky, but it’s a great source of protein.
Especially once the water has cut through it since this means that the collagen will dissolve in hot and cold liquids.
Normal gelatin is trickier to dissolve.
Also, the protein in collagen is good for the parts of you similar to what it’s made from.
But what does skin, joints, etc have to do with increasing muscle mass?
Your body can only synthesize protein at a certain rate.
The more support it has with non-muscle stuff, the better it can focus on growing your muscles!
Plus, this stuff is nearly flavorless.
You can hide it anywhere and supplement your protein intake.
Even a glass of water!
Or, perhaps, one of the other protein powders!
Collagen hydrolysate can turn every cup of soup, bowl of oatmeal, and shot of espresso into a hidden protein shake.
Not everyone can, or should, get their protein from animal sources.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to languish without a good protein powder!
Your body can use protein from plants almost as well as it can use protein from animals.
Plus, plant-based protein powders tend to include other nutrients, as well!
The biggest problem with them is that they are often not as smooth-tasting as whey protein.
Plus, they often contain more carbohydrates. But that serves our purpose here well, don’t you think?
Nature’s Plus SPIRU-TEIN
SPIRU-TEIN shakes are more than just protein powders.
They are a tasty healthy shake!
Each scoop provides 14 grams of protein, zero fat, 1 gram of fiber, and 10 net carbs.
An unsweetened version is also available.
There’s more than just those ingredients. You also get 100% of the daily value for lots of different vitamins and minerals!
That’s why they call it a “high protein energy meal.”
The protein blend uses rice, pea, and soy proteins. There’s also spirulina, a blue-green algae known to be rich in nutrients (apparently, it has more protein than any other food source).
Orgain Organic Protein
The plant-based protein powder by Orgain is the only protein powder on this list which does not come in banana flavor.
It’s dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, and GMO-free. It’s also vegan and organic, if you couldn’t tell by the name.
Another oddity is that they recommend using two scoops for each serving.
That’ll get you 21 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fat, 5 grams of dietary fiber, and 3 net carbs.
The protein comes from brown rice, chia seeds, hemp, and peas.
Unlike more “pure” protein powders, you can use this one as a meal-replacement. Or as an additional meal!
Whether you want to lose fat or gain muscle, protein will help with both.
Especially so if you find yourself underweight and need to gain lean mass quickly!
Take a protein powder shake after your workout, and perhaps at other times of the day, to synthesize as much muscle as possible!
However, don’t forget to get protein from real food as well.
Why not bake an egg with an avocado?
Eggs (not bananas!) are sort of like nature’s protein supplement anyway!