Why Protein is Important
Protein is essential for building all tissues in the body, including muscles, which function as a metabolic organ. More muscle often correlates with a longer, healthier life and ensuring you eat enough protein becomes more and more important as we age.
Choosing Protein Powders in Australia
The best protein powders typically contain a single ingredient: the protein itself. However, some high-quality, trusted brands like Nuzest Clean Lean Protein, Designs for Health Collagen, and Professional Whey may include natural flavours and sweeteners without compromising quality. While single ingredients are still preferred, these additions may be acceptable in reputable products. However, you do want to look out for added sugars and emulsifiers:
Common Sugars and Additives to Look Out For
- Sucralose: An artificial sweetener that may have an aftertaste.
- Dextrose: A simple sugar often used as a sweetener.
- Maltodextrin: A processed sugar that can affect blood sugar levels.
- Aspartame: Another artificial sweetener that some people prefer to avoid.
When choosing a protein powder, read the ingredient list carefully and be aware of these common sugars and additives, especially if you’re aiming for a more natural product.
Stevia and Thaumatin are considered natural sugars and are very sweet so are needed in very small quantities. They are a better choice than sugars and artificial sweeteners, but I recommend avoiding unnecessary ingredients like this as much as possible.
Emulsifiers in Protein Powders: Soy and Sunflower Lecithin
Some protein powders contain emulsifiers like soy or sunflower lecithin to improve texture and mixability. While soy lecithin and sunflower lecithin are generally considered ‘safe’, they don’t contribute to the nutritional value of the protein and we need more research to confirm their safety, particularly in people with gut issues like IBS and IBD. For sensitive individuals, I would therefore suggest a conservative approach and choose a protein powder that doesn’t contain emulsifiers over a protein powder that does:
- Soy Lecithin: Common but may be an issue for those with soy allergies or GMO concerns.
- Sunflower Lecithin: A non-allergenic, often non-GMO option.
Types of Protein Powders
|Protein Type||Description||Best Suited For||Australian Brands|
|Whey Protein||Derived from milk, complete amino acid profile.||General use, not if lactose intolerant |
Best for muscle growth as contains a a complete amino acid profile, including higher levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
|Plant-Based||Options like pea, rice, hemp, suitable for vegetarians/vegans.||Vegetarians, Vegans |
May be lower in certain amino acids like methionine.
|Nuzest Clean Lean Protein|
|Collagen Protein||Supports joint, skin health, and may help rebuild the gut.||Joint & Skin Health, Gut Support||Designs for Health Collagen|
|Casein Protein||Slow-digesting, derived from milk.||Overnight Recovery||Muscle Nation|
Whey Isolates vs. Concentrates: What to Choose?
For whey protein powders, I recommend powders sourced from grass-fed cows.
- Whey Isolates: Higher protein content, less fat and lactose. Ideal for individuals seeking a fast acting protein before or after workouts, or with lactose sensitivity (although it still contains 1-2% lactose)
- Whey Concentrates: More fats and lactose, often more affordable and flavourful. Suitable for those without lactose issues. For clients looking to support their health, I recommend a whey concentrate over a whey isolate.
Best Australian Protein Powders – Our Recommendations
Coles Unflavoured Pea Protein (an economical option without additives, although it will be manufactured from lower quality raw ingredients than the NuZest products. Arguably, a better choice than the other protein powders in the supermarket supplements aisle that contain additional additives)
Choosing the right protein powder involves understanding your individual needs and health goals. Quality choices from trusted Australian brands offer options that align with different preferences and dietary requirements. While single-ingredient protein powders are preferred, reputable brands with natural additions may still meet high standards. Be mindful of common sugars and additives, and consult with a healthcare provider for personalized recommendations.