More and more people are buying protein supplements these days and the popularity of protein as a macronutrient has certainly increased tremendously. But to some these protein supplements can certainly seem a bit expensive and unnecessary. How good value for money are protein supplements and do you need them?
Are Protein Supplements Good Value?
Whether or not you take protein supplements I think should depend on whether you’re meeting your protein requirements. If you struggle to consume enough protein, whether that’s because you don’t eat meat or simply don’t eat enough food high in protein, then I think protein supplements are a good way to hit your protein requirements.
I like to advise people to aim for a minimum of 1g per kg of body weight but to aim for 2g per kg of body weight, especially for athletes or those trying to lose body fat. However, if I had to choose between having a scoop of whey protein or some meat/protein-rich plant foods to hit 20g protein, I would choose the whole food source.
The other reason to take protein supplements would simply be for their convenience. It’s a lot easier to eat a protein bar or two immediately after a workout than to munch on three or four hard-boiled eggs. Consuming foods rich in protein are likely to be important for those who are training for an event, sport or to improve their fitness and 20g of protein post-workout has been shown to help improve muscle protein synthesis.
Different Protein Supplements
There are various protein supplements out there on the market that you can buy, the latter being:
- Animal protein shakes (whey and casein)
- Vegan protein shakes (pea)
- Protein bars
- Protein brownies
- Protein yoghurt
- Protein water (yes this exists, you can roll your eyes now)
- Protein smoothies
The protein supplement market is growing so much that the range of products is enormous. There’s so much variety I’d even call it ridiculous. Protein chocolate even exists.
Best Protein Supplements For Good Value
Protein supplements can seem expensive. Protein bars (including vegan ones) tend to sell for around £2.50 each and sometimes a 1kg tub of whey protein sells for £20. Vegan protein powders such as pea, hemp and soy protein tend to be slightly more expensive.
If you’re going for a product which gives you the best value for money, I suggest looking for offers online for a large bag of whey protein powder. I managed to get a 5kg bag on offer from MyProtein which I calculated to cost me somewhere between 20p and 25p per scoop of whey protein.
I’d skip out on buying BCAAs if you’re considering them since whey protein contains BCAAs and it’s cheaper. I also feel like the evidence for BCAAs being more beneficial than whey protein is rather limited and largely unproven.
When it comes to whey protein you can buy standard whey protein or whey protein isolate. Whey protein is around 80% protein by weight whereas whey protein isolate has undergone further processing and is 90% or higher protein by weight. What makes up the rest of the powder is fat and carbohydrate albeit in minimal amounts. I don’t think the extra cost of isolate is worth it for the extra amount of protein, so I’d stick to the standard whey protein.
If you’re vegetarian, vegan or plant-based then pea protein is probably the most effective plant protein at stimulating muscle protein synthesis so I suggest going for that if you’re looking for an alternative to whey. The proteins are less bioavailable than whey, but they’ll get the job done.
These bars are definitely tasty but also come with carbohydrates and fat. If you feel like consuming these macronutrients in addition to protein, go right ahead, although consuming protein bars on a regular basis can be a bit expensive, especially if consuming two after each workout. I recommend looking around online for offers and buying them in bulk. If you feel the need to start consuming more than one bar a day on a regular basis, then you should probably go for other supplements or try to switch to whole foods rich in protein in order to keep your wallet a bit heavier.
For the best value deals, try looking around the clearance page of multiple sites that sell protein bars if you can’t resist them.
A yoghurt richer in protein than Greek yoghurt is becoming more prominent in supermarket shelves and it’s called skyr (pronounced skee-er). It consists of almost solely protein, a couple of grams of sugar and minimal fat. You can buy small 150g pots for a cheap price or buy larger pots for even better value. If you like your yoghurt, these are definitely worth considering. 100g skyr contains about 11g protein, 4g sugar and 60 calories. I saw 500g tubs at the normal price for £1 at Tesco which is great value!
Foods like protein water (is that even food) are also fine to buy, but it’s hard to get these for as good value than the other products. This is likely because it’s such a niche product. I’d stick away from protein water since you may as well eat some real food.
As for protein milkshakes, they’re certainly tempting when you spot them, but they’re also a bit expensive too unless you’ve bought them online whilst they were on offer. These will probably stay that way unless you only consume them at home or have a portable cooler you can bring with you so that the milkshake is still pleasant cold to drink after a workout.
That’s all from me for today, I generally tend to stick to just protein shakes and protein bars. Did you find this post useful? If so, I’d appreciate if you could share it with others!