The Fit Girl's Guide to Protein

Your all-in-one handbook to the star muscle builder in your kitchen.

Steak Cobb Salad

Essential Powders

We know you can’t always get all the protein you need or want through whole foods alone. When you’re on the go or just in a rush, protein powders are an easy way to ensure you’re getting enough of the nutrient. But quality protein powders can come in many forms, all with their own unique benefits, from how quickly they can be absorbed to the type of aminos they provide. Below, a look at some of the most popular options, and how to use them.

1. Whey
Why use it: Ideal for promoting muscle synthesis, it’s also quickly absorbed (just 20–30 minutes) and delivers amino acids straight to the bloodstream, making it a perfect post-workout recovery drink. Whey is loaded with high levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are responsible for muscle synthesis, and it raises insulin levels to get energy to the muscles quickly for repair.
Try this: Isoflex Whey Protein Isolate from Allmax has 0 grams of sugar or fat but contains 27 grams of fast-absorbing protein per serving. (

2. Casein
Why use it: A slower-digesting protein (it can take up to seven hours to break down), casein provides a constant supply of aminos to the muscles for strength and growth. One unique benefit of casein is that it has the highest levels of glutamine of any protein powder. This amino can be depleted when the body is under stress either from a hard workout or an illness. Having a casein shake a night can also help you wake up feeling energized. A great way to achieve maximum benefits is to combine a whey/casein shake right after your workout. A University of Texas Medical Branch study found that trained bodybuilders who consumed whey and casein together gained more lean muscle mass in eight weeks of training than those who consumed only whey.
Try this: Optimum Nutrition (ON) Gold Standard 100% Casein contains 24 grams of anti-catabolic micellar casein per scoop. (

3. Egg
Why use it: An extremely high-quality protein, it’s also the most easily absorbed by your body. Egg powders contain 40 different types of proteins. Research has shown that it stimulates muscle growth in the same manner as whey and casein.
Try this: GNC Pro Performance 100% Egg Protein is highly digestible, quick-absorbing, lactose-free, and features 25 grams of protein per serving. (

4. Beef
Why use it: For those who are lactose-intolerant, beef is an excellent option, since it contains all of the required amino acids along with creatine and B vitamins. Think of it as lean steak, without the fat and cholesterol.
Try this: MHP’s Paleo Protein Beef and Egg White Protein delivers 20 grams of the nutrient per serving. (

5. Soy
Why use it: Soy has been shown to be as effective in muscle synthesis as whey, plus it also contains many antioxidants. Soy has gotten a bad rap because of its phytoestrogen isoflavones that are similar to the female hormone estrogen (some cite concerns that raising estrogen levels may be linked to certain cancers). Although research is not conclusive, some women might want to use it in moderation.
Try this: Six Star Soy Protein is lactose-, cholesterol-, and sugar-free with a complete spectrum of amino acids. (

6. Brown Rice
Why use it: We tend to think of rice as a carb-heavy option, but when you separate the carbs and protein during the manufacturing process, you’ll get a powder that’s 70% protein. It’s also extremely high in arginine, an amino that aids in recovery and delivers precious nutrients to muscles.
Try this: About Time VE 2lb Natural Vegan Protein features 24 grams of plant-based protein from peas, pumpkins, and brown rice. (

7. Pea
Why use it: Packed with protein, glutamine, and BCAAs, pea protein is also high in arginine (three times the amount found in whey). Arginine stimulates blood flow by dilating blood vessels, allowing nutrients to be delivered to the muscles more quickly for a bigger pump during workouts and faster recovery afterward.
Try this: Now Sports Pea Protein Powder has 24 grams of pure, non-GMO ­vegetable protein per serving. (

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