When most of us hear the phrase “protein powder” we think of a muscle-bound body builder swigging back a thick shake while checking out his biceps in the mirror.
Don’t disregard it, though. Protein powder could be an excellent source of calories and protein in a SHTF world.
- Protein powder requires no refrigeration even after opening.
- Protein powder requires no further preparation than putting it in a jar with liquid and shaking it.
- Protein powder can take the place of meals if necessary.
- Protein powder comes in many tasty flavors.
- Protein powder is easily portable in Ziploc bags for a bug-out scenario.
Before you go to the bodybuilding store or supplement aisle to purchase your stash of protein powder, there are a few things to learn about the different types so that you can make the best decision for your family’s needs.
Which source of protein?
The most common protein source for powders is “whey protein”. Whey protein is derived from milk. Whey protein concentrate contains some lactose and fats, whereas whey protein isolate is nearly pure protein. People with mild lactose intolerance can generally tolerate the protein isolate.
Another source of protein derived from milk is “casein protein.” Casein moves slowly through the digestive tract and can help you feel full longer. The protein is easily digested by most but this will definitely cause problems for those who deal with any degree of lactose intolerance.
Next we have “egg white protein”. This is an excellent source of pure protein but these powders are far more expensive. The body processes egg white protein with nearly 100% efficiency. Remember that eggs are a very common allergen – be careful when sharing this product with others.
Finally, there is an array of “vegetarian proteins”. Hemp, pea, soy and rice proteins are the most common. These are generally higher in fiber (the others have almost no fiber) but the protein is not as bioavailable (easily processed and used by the body) as the protein in the other options. The vegetarian powders are generally very expensive, have a lower protein count per scoop and, in my opinion, taste horrible.
Which type of powder?
When you get to the supplement aisle, you will want to do some label-reading. Body-builders generally have the goal of weight gain or fat loss. Weight gain powders contain high levels of carbohydrates and calories. Pure protein powders are used to aid in the loss of fat while maintaining muscle mass, and will have a low carbohydrate and fat count.
First of all, look for a powder with ingredients that you can actually pronounce. Steer away from artificial sugars like aspartame, Sucralose, and saccharine. Those are just another name for poison – we are looking for REAL nutrients!
You also want to avoid processed sugars such as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup (not as healthy as it sounds) and all those other “ose-es”. Cane sugar, honey, agave and stevia are good natural sweeteners, some of which add some healthy carbohydrates.
When you read the label you are looking for at least 24 grams of protein per serving. The grams of fat depend on your personal goals. Because I use these powders all the time as a fitness supplement, I look for low fat versions. However if you are only storing these powders as a SHTF food, the high fat version may be what you are looking for. If the carbohydrates are very low – less than 3 grams per serving – carefully read over the ingredients to make sure the product does not contain artificial sweeteners. If the carbs are high, you are checking for the “ose-es” – processed sugars.