Protein powder

What is protein powder?

As the name suggests, protein powder is an easy and convenient source of high-quality protein.

There are three common types – whey, soy and casein. But egg, pea and hemp protein powders are also available.

Unless you have a good reason not to use it, whey protein powder, which comes from cows’ milk, has been shown to be the most effective at stimulating muscle protein synthesis. It’s soluble in water and is a complete protein ie it contains all nine of the amino acids you need in your diet. However, if you’re a vegan, soy protein powder is the one to choose. It’s not as soluble in water and some people think it has an unpleasant taste, so it’s best to combine it with other strongly flavoured ingredients.

Most people get enough protein in their diet by eating chicken, fish, meat or dairy products, but there are times when a supplement like this is useful:

  • For growing teenagers.
  • When you start a gym programme and want to build muscle.
  • When you up your exercise levels to train for a more challenging event such as a half marathon.
  • If you’re a vegan or vegetarian.
  • When you’re recovering from injury.

It’s important to note that you don’t need much protein powder. If you eat too much your body will have to break it down, which can be hard on your liver and kidneys, so always read the label. More is not necessarily better.


Protein powder is commonly added to shakes or smoothies. However, it can also be stirred into your breakfast porridge or included in recipes for pancakes, flapjacks, cookies and, of course, energy balls.