Athletes looking to boost performance may think that adding a little protein to their sports drink may help give them an edge.
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There are two distinct categories of protein powders, "standard" protein powders and "women's" protein powder. If you've come to this article via search engine, chances are that you're performing your due diligence on protein powders for women. The primary aim of this article is to explain what a protein powder is, the differences between standard protein powders and women's protein powders, and what the best choice for protein powder is for you.
Is Protein Powder Safe for Women?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of "which" particular protein powders are most suitable for females to consume, let's define exactly what a protein powder is. There is a lot of confusion on the topic as it is a very common misconception that protein powder will necessarily bulk you up. Hence, many women shy away from protein powder for this very reason.
Protein powder does not bulk you up by any means. It is a dietary supplement comprised primarily of proteins. These proteins are derived from food sources. Essentially what happens is that a food is put through a series of processes whereby the proteins are extracted and manufactured into a powder form. Then some flavours (and possibly other ingredients such as vitamins, colours, minerals etc.) are added to the mix. In this sense, the protein consumed within a protein shake is no different to that found in wholefood (just more processed). So just as with food, over-consumption of protein powder will lead to weight gain.
Protein powder should never replace a whole-food based diet, rather it should supplement a whole-food diet. Protein powder can be a useful supplement for:
- Convenience (as it's much easier to use a protein shake rather than carry around a cooked chicken!)
- Encouraging recovery after exercise (so your body has nutrients available to repair damaged cells and boost the immune system)
- Weight Loss (as a serve of protein powder can be very low in calories)
- Toning (toning is the combination of fat reduction and some muscle gain for shape; protein powder can assist in both areas)
- Muscle Gain (consumed in conjunction with a high calorie diet and an appropriate exercise routine, a protein powder can assist in muscle development)
How protein powder assists in these goals is outside of the scope of this article, however you are encouraged to browse around this website as there are hundreds of other articles that delve deeper into protein and it's functions within the human body.
Because your typical protein powder is food derived, it is safe to consume. There are protein powders available with and without artificial sweeteners. Particularly if you are following an exercise regime, a protein powder can be a very useful tool within your arsenal.
Women's Protein Powder Supplements - What Makes them Different?
If you considering the typical marketing of the two main categories of protein powders:
- The typical protein powder is marketed to a male audience with a desire to gain muscle and "bulk up".
- Women's protein powder is marketed toward a female audience for weight loss and toning.
Here's the secret that many of the female protein powder manufacturers do not want you to know - there is no protein more suited to women. Though the marketing may imply otherwise, ultimately the colour of the protein powder bears no resemblance to the effectiveness of the protein product itself.
The main difference between male to female protein requirements the quantity of serving, not the type of protein. Consider within nature - there is no particular food source of protein that only women should consume. Since protein powders are food derived, how can they possibly be an exception to the rule? Women's protein powders commonly include "soy" proteins, or other inferior vegetable based proteins (relative to milk/whey/casein and egg based proteins). The quality of these proteins is extremely poor and very cheap to manufacture too.
Almost all brands carry a "Standard" protein powder which is commonly marketed to the male bodybuilder. Thus, there is a lot of competition on the market and prices are kept relatively low. In contrast to this, womens protein powder is perceived as a niche market. Consequently these brands are more expensive per serve, made with inferior ingredients and often come in smaller sized tubs. It is common for female protein powders to be sold in 0.5kg and 1kg tubs. Meanwhile your typical protein powder will often come in 1kg, 2.3kg or 4.5kg tubs.
So if you are seeking value for money and product quality, you are generally better off going for a standard protein powder rather than a women's specific protein powder supplement under ordinary circumstances. You will almost always obtain a superior quality product at a much more reasonable price. If you are interested in seeing the high value products that we stock within our store, please visit the protein powders area.
If you are looking for a whey protein powder without the artificial sweeteners, then you've probably come across Australia's two major natural products:
Both of these products are big sellers within our supplement store and I have had the pleasure of trying them both. As a result, I felt it appropriate to compose a comparison article on the two very similar products.
Both Optimum and Dymatize are big (BIG) international companies renowned for high quality products. Although both products may seem similar at first glance being free from artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame potassium, the two products cater to two very different markets within the health and fitness industry.
Let's take a closer look at how each product performs in various categories!
Natural Protein Powder Price
Why not begin with product price? Optimum is a more expensive brand internationally. They have a very good reputation for high quality products and their natural whey protein powder is no exception. On the other hand, whilst Dymatize also has products of an exceptionally high standard, they cater for customers at a lower price point. Consequently, the Dymatize Natural Elite Whey is about $13 cheaper than the Optimum Natural Whey in our supplement store at the time of writing.
If you have consumed a variety of protein powders, you'll be well aware that price isn't everything. Price is not always a reliable indicator of how well the product suits you and your goals.
The Size of the Natural Whey Tubs
Although these tubs are typically marketed as 5lbs tubs, supplement companies will often adjust the tub volume slightly to attract more business. This is the case here as the Optimum Natural Whey is 5.11lbs (2,324g), being 2.5% larger than the Dymatize Natural Whey at 5lbs (2,268g). Admittedly, not a significant difference as the cost per gram equals 0.0387 and 0.0338 cents/gram respectively. Optimum is still more expensive gram for gram.
Moving onto serving sizes, the Optimum Natural Protein contains 74 serves (31.4g each) and the Dymatize Natural Protein contains 68 serves (33.35g each). This equates to $1.22 and $1.13 per serve respectively. Again, Dymatize being cheaper in this regard.
The Nutritional Composition of Each Natural Protein Powder
Let's look at each individually, starting with the Optimum Natural Whey:
- Serving size: 31.4g
- Energy: 130 cal
- Fat: 1.5g
- Carbohydrate: 5g
- Protein: 24g
And the Dymatize Natural Whey:
- Serving size: 33.35g
- Energy: 125 cal
- Fat: 2g
- Carbohydrate: 4g
- Protein: 24g
Let's manipulate the Optimum Natural Whey Serving size to 33.35 so we can compare these figures head to head:
- Serving size: 33.35g
- Energy: 138 cal
- Fat: 1.6g
- Carbohydrate: 5.3g
- Protein: 25.5g
Based on this data we can conclude that:
- The Optimum has significantly more calories based on weight
- The Dymatize is slightly higher in fat
- The Optimum is higher in carbohydrate
- The Optimum is higher in protein
If we consider current pricing, the Optimum equates to 5.1c/gram of protein, while the Dymatize Natural Whey comes to 4.7c/gram of protein.
The reason why the Optimum Natural Whey contains more carbohydrate is because it contains both fructose (fruit sugar) and stevia (a natural sweetener). Meanwhile the Dymatize Whey contains no sugar and stevia as the sweetener.
Both protein powders contain digestive enzymes including Lactase.
The proteins contained within each product are similar in nature:
- Optimum Natural Whey contains (in order) whey protein isolate (both cross flow ultra filtration and ion-exchange), cross flow ultra filtration whey protein concentrate, whey peptides
- Dymatize Natural Elite Whey contains (in order) ion-exchange whey protein isolates, cross flow ultra filtration whey protein concentrate, whey peptides
Ion-exchange proteins can have a lower bio-availability as compared to other whey proteins. Consequently they are generally regarded as less desirable proteins.
How the Natural Protein Powders Taste & Mix
When I first tried natural protein powders, I wasn't sure what to expect. Actually, I was expecting a bitter and somewhat unpleasant taste. Well, I was very surprised upon trying both of these products.
The Dymatize Natural Elite Whey was the first natural protein powder that I had ever tasted. Initially, it tasted quite different due to the presence of stevia (of which I had never knowingly tasted before). While it is sweet, it isn't quite like sugar and has a distinct taste to it. Initially it was nice and then the taste grew on me. My favourite of the three flavours (chocolate, vanilla, berry) would have to be the chocolate.
Meanwhile the Optimum Natural Whey did not take any time to become accustomed to. The first taste of this product and I was hooked! It tastes fantastic. The reason why is because they have utilised fructose as a sweetening agent which replaces the more distinct stevia taste that you obtain with the Dymatize product. I was particularly impressed with the vanilla in the Optimum Natural Whey range, it is a particularly good flavour.
Both brands mixed into milk and water exceptionally well using a spoon and shaker bottle. The Dymatize tends to mix better than the Optimum.
Conclusion of the Natural Proteins
There is no doubt in my mind that both of these products are excellent. As mentioned within the introduction, both products do have their place in the market. Here are my conclusions as to the benefits of both products:
Optimum 100% Natural Whey Protein Powder Benefits:
- More better quality whey protein isolates (as not all WPI's are ion-exchange derived)
- Better taste
Dymatize Elite Natural Whey Protein Powder Benefits:
- More cost effective
- No fructose sugar added
- Mixes more easily
If you are considering purchasing either of these exceptional products, please be sure to visit our supplement store where we offer them for the best value within Australia! The links to each product are below: