How to Choose a Protein Shake


You may be aware that there are lots of different flavours of protein shakes, but did you know that there are also lots of different types? Some aim to repair muscles, while others target weight loss. With so many brands on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start. Let’s consider the different types of protein shakes available and some of the factors that will help you to choose the most suitable for you.

Milk protein

Milk-based protein or casein is sourced from dairy and so would not be suitable for vegans or someone who is lactose intolerant. This type of protein is slow-acting and is steadily released into your body, so it is not a good choice for a post-workout energy hit. However, it is suitable for people who have to wait a long time between meals and for those people who want to focus on the repair and growth of their muscles.

Egg protein

Egg-based protein is a great option for those who want to focus on building muscle. It is high in biological value and has a rich amino acid content but a low carb content since it is derived from fat-free egg whites. However, this type of protein tends to be very expensive and doesn’t absorb as quickly as whey.

Soy protein

Derived from soybeans, soy protein is great for vegans and vegetarians as it is plant-based. However, its amino acid profile is not easy for us to utilise, making it of poor biological value. This is probably one of the worst types of protein for shakes, and so those who are lactose intolerant, vegan or vegetarian should try an alternative if possible.

Rice protein

Rice protein is a plant-based protein that is extracted from brown rice. WIth high bioavailability and being easy to digest, it can be used to build lean muscle or for weight management. It does not have a complete amino acid profile but could easily be blended with pea protein.

Pea protein

Usually derived from yellow peas, pea protein is one of the few plant-based proteins which contains all of the amino acids needed to synthesise protein in our bodies. As well as supporting fat loss, pea protein promotes the development of lean body mass, the production of hormones, and the regeneration of bone. This type of protein is an excellent choice if you are lactose intolerant, vegan or vegetarian, as it is easily digested, has high bioavailability and provides a full protein profile.

Collagen protein

Collagen protein is usually sourced from meat like beef or chicken, so it is not suitable for those on a plant-based diet. However, since we produce less collagen as we age, leading to wrinkles and saggy skin, this type of protein is good for the complexion, hair and nail growth, as well as the building of muscle.

Whey protein

Whey is sourced from milk and is the liquid leftover after the cheesemaking process. Whey can undergo different levels of refinement, and so it is available in three different forms: concentrate, hydrolysed and isolate. All three types provide a complete amino acid profile and are best taken immediately after a workout to maximise the anabolic window for repair.


Whey concentrate is considered the most common form of whey protein as it undergoes less processing and is relatively cheap. It is slower to digest and contains some carbs from lactose, making it better for people who want to use their protein shake as a meal replacement rather than an energy boost.


Hydrolysed whey contains less fat but also less protein so that it can be more easily absorbed. Although amino acids get released more quickly, making it good for the synthesis of muscle protein, this type of protein provides less bioavailability.


Clear whey isolate is highly refined, giving it a high protein profile with low fat and calorie content. It is easily digested as it contains almost no lactose but does tend to be the more expensive type of whey protein. Providing a format that is similar to the muscle itself, whey isolate can be easily converted, making it suitable for bulking.

Blended proteins

A protein powder with a blend of proteins and nutrients is a great way to go if you are looking for a variety of amino acids as well as the ability to build muscle. Alternatively, you could use different protein shakes at different times of the day. For example, you could use clear whey protein immediately after a workout and then collagen protein before bed to reap the benefits provided for the skin.

Final thoughts

We need protein for many bodily functions, from maintaining a healthy immune system to the repair and growth of tissue and cells. If you are using protein shakes to add lean mass, improve muscle recovery, or satiate your appetite, then there is a whole array of flavours and types of powders available.

When choosing a protein powder, you need to take into consideration affordability, your dietary preference, nutritional value, the amino acid profile and the results you aim to achieve.

In terms of affordability, clear whey protein is one of the best options in terms of amino acid profile and biological value. For those individuals who are on a plant-based diet or are lactose intolerant, then a pea-based protein shake is a great option in terms of amino acid profile and bioavailability.

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