Should You Use Protein Powder? The Types Of Protein, Best Powders For Your Goals, & Benefits And Risks

Written by:

Julien Raby

Last updated:

Different types of food protein with some weights on the floor

With protein supplements taking over the market, it’s raised lots of questions including what is protein and why do I need it. On the same note, there’s been an increase in research done (even though it’s still very limited) on protein supplements and how they actually can affect the body

In this article we’re going to go over the types of protein, why you need or don’t need protein supplements, the top healthy foods that have natural protein, the benefits and risks of protein powder, and our top recommended protein powders based on your workout goals. Get reading to learn it all!

What Exactly is Protein?

A protein is a macronutrient that gives the body energy and is a central part of building muscle mass

When we say, “protein builds muscles,” we really mean is the body breaks down protein into amino acids (the building blocks of protein), and then those acids are synthesized into muscle since we can’t store amino acids. 80% of muscle is made of amino acids and is responsible for a variety of bodily processes. The nine amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

Protein itself is found in nearly every body part including muscle, bone, skin, and hair. It makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions and the hemoglobin that carries oxygen in your blood. 

Our Top Pick
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

Based on our testing, this is the best creatine for most people. It has the perfect dosage of creatine monohydrate per serving, which has been proven to increase muscle mass.

  • Promote strength and muscle gains
  • Tested for purity and safety
  • Free from artificial colors
See on Amazon See on Transparent Labs

The 8 types of protein:

We won’t go into the entire protein structure, but there are a few types of protein you should be aware of:

  • Hormonal Protein
  • Enzymatic Protein 
  • Structural Protein 
  • Defensive Protein
  • Storage Protein
  • Transport Protein
  • Receptor Protein
  • Contractile Protein

The top two you’ll hear about are enzymatic proteins that accelerate metabolic processes in your cells, including liver functions, stomach digestion, blood clotting, and converting glycogen to glucose.

The second is structural proteins which are necessary components of your body. They include collagen, keratin, and elastin. Collagen forms the connective framework of your muscles, bones, tendons, skin, and cartilage. 

Why Do You Need Protein?

It helps build.

Protein is a very important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. In fact, your hair and nails are comprised mostly of protein.

It repairs.

Your body uses protein to help build and repair tissue.

It provides oxygen.

Red blood cells contain a protein compound that carries oxygen to body tissues throughout to help oxygenate everything as well as control the maintenance of body tissues. 


About half the dietary protein that you consume each day goes into making enzymes, which aids in digesting foods and making new cells and body chemicals to help the body function.


Protein plays an important role in hormone regulation, especially during the transformation and development of cells during puberty.

So What About Protein Supplements For Working Out?

There aren’t many studies that have investigated the effects of prolonged protein supplementation on endurance exercise performance. The International Society of Sports Nutrition found that protein supplementation in the presence of adequate carbohydrate intake does not appear to improve endurance performance, but instead may reduce markers of muscle damage and feelings of soreness.

And many could suggest that individuals who engage in high-intensity resistance training could possibly benefit from increased protein consumption to optimize muscle protein synthesis required for muscle recovery and growth, but research so far has been inconclusive.

Meaning, as of now, protein supplementation for strength enhancement is not a proven benefit. The extent to which protein supplementation may aid resistance athletes is highly reliant on a long list of factors, including intensity, duration of the training, individual age, dietary energy intake, and quality of protein consumed.

Protein In The Gym World:

Workout supplements like pre-workout or protein are sold in a variety of forms from pills to powders and ready-to-drink shakes and the global market size is estimated to reach $13.98 billion in 2020 and almost double in size to $23.77 billion by 2027.

This means they’re going even more popular by the day, but with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to sort through them. Whether you are looking for plant protein sources, simple quality proteins, or whey proteins, the choices are really endless and forever growing, but which do you pick? Let us help.

The Top 3 Protein Powders For You:

As we mentioned above, so far studies have shown that taking extra protein supplements may or may not help improve physical endurance, but they may instead help increase muscle size, help repair muscles, and assist with muscle soreness. If protein powder is something you want to continue or give a first try then here are our recommendations for your workout goals:

For Body Builders:

Our Top Pick
Transparent Labs Creatine HMB

Based on our testing, this is the best creatine for most people. It has the perfect dosage of creatine monohydrate per serving, which has been proven to increase muscle mass.

  • Promote strength and muscle gains
  • Tested for purity and safety
  • Free from artificial colors
See on Amazon See on Transparent Labs

Whey Protein Isolate by Transparent Labs is an extremely clean and overall fantastic protein powder made from 100% grass-fed, hormone-free, American cows that’s great for after-workout recovery. There is no artificial anything inside and at 28 grams of protein per scoop, it’s certainly a must-buy!

For Women:

Swolverwine’s Plant Protein Powder not only tastes amazing for helping build lean muscle mass and is very easy to digest. It also has lots of micronutrients including minerals and antioxidants phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, selenium, zinc, and copper.

For Runners:

Your Super Skinny Protein Powder is one of the best options for runners because it is very clean with zero junk fillers. It might only have 9 grams per scoop, but at only 50 calories it is a great choice for people who need a lighter protein supplement. 

The Risks Of Protein Powder: 

A nonprofit group called the Clean Label Project released a report about toxins in protein powders. Researchers screened 134 products for 130 types of toxins looking for anything potentially toxic since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not review workout supplements for safety or effectiveness before they are sold to consumers. 

The Clean Label Project discovered that many protein powders contained heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA, which is used to make plastic), pesticides, or other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions. Some toxins were present in significant quantities. For example, one protein powder contained 25 times the allowed limit of BPA.

Some protein powders have added sugars too (as much as 23 grams per scoop). There are even some protein powders that have more than 1,200 calories per scoop. Depending on your goals, things like this can cause weight gain and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 24 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men. 

The Best Healthy Foods With Natural Protein:

You might love the idea of just going out to buy a huge container of protein powder and call it a day, but replacing meals with protein powders can hinder you as much as they might help you. It’s also very important to find natural proteins derived from plant and animal proteins to consume in your daily life.

Here’s a list of our top animal and plant proteins: 


Chicken has 21 grams of protein in 3 ounces, and it is an excellent source of lean protein.


There are 6 grams of protein in one egg, and eggs have a complete amino acid profile and contain healthy omega-3 fats, B vitamins, selenium, Vitamin D, and choline, so they’re very good for you.

Hemp Seeds

There are 10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons.


There are 22 grams of protein in a 3-ounce cooked fillet.


A serving of beans or lentils contains about 7-8 grams per half cup.

How Much Protein Do I Need?

The National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day or just over 7 grams for every 20 pounds of body weight.

For a 140-pound person, that means you need about 50 grams of protein each day.

For a 200-pound person, that means you need about 70 grams of protein each day.

It’s also recommended to space out your meals and consume 20-30g protein per meal over the course of multiple meals instead of eating 40-50g protein meals in fewer sittings. It just makes it easier for the body to digest, especially if you’re using a lot of alternative proteins or animal proteins. 

So What If I’m Vegan Or Lactose Intolerant?

Lucky for you, if you’re vegan, have allergies, or just trying to stay away from certain common ingredients, you’re not going to be left out. You can increase your plant protein intake with brands like Orgain or KOS.

These vegan protein supplements are more than sufficient protein alternatives and are even recommended over other varieties of proteins powders due to the fact they are often easier to digest and have additional amino acids to fuel the body with energy.

About Julien Raby

My name is Julien Raby and I’m one of the owner of BoxLife. Here’s my background on LinkedIn if you want more info. I’ve been active pretty much my whole life and I discovered Crossfit about 7 years ago. I want to help you improve your Crossfit performances by giving tips on specific movements, workouts and equipment. You have a question? Get in touch!