I know that it is always better to eat whole foods...that is a major premise of Paleo and I agree with it. However, with a desire/need to gain weight and muscle, a hard gainer, and a job that requires unscheduled hours (S.W.A.T. call outs, for one) can someone recommend a good 'bang for the buck' protein or whey powder to use in an emergency?
Wobur, I have numerous friends who compete in natural bodybuilding, so I'll pass along some of their favorites:
Of the bigger companies: Optimum Nutrition, Scivation, and Myofusion are very well-regarded.
A smaller company called Phenom Labs has a product called Wicked Whey, which I have tried--very tasty.
Be warned that no protein powder I have seen (and I've seen quite a few) are perfectly strict paleo. Some have carb sources like oat flour, many have dextrose, maltodextrin, or sucralose.
I still take protein powder every day, and regard it as an exception I'm willing to live with. (Btw, I use an egg white protein powder because I've developed an adult dairy allergy that precludes whey.)
10g BCAA/EAA or 20g of whey (any will do) to maximize muscle protein synthesis before and after workout.
Rest of the day you should eat your food, not drink it.
I have an egg based protein shake mix that I combine with coconut milk and water. Since dairy may be on the no list for some paleo practitioners this might be a good option. You should be able to find it at GNC.
Gold Standard 100% Egg (rich chocolate flavor) Optimal Nutrition brand
Ingredients: Egg Albumen, Cocoa, Artificial Flavor, Lecithin, Sucralose, Aminogen (some proprietary blend of digestive enzymes or something)
Nutrition facts: 32.5 gram serving: Cals: 120 Fat: 1g Cholesterol: 5mg Sodium: 420mg Carb: 4g Fiber: 1g Protein: 24g
In my opinion any highly processed protein supplement based on animal proteins (including egg) is not something i want to put in my body. For my money, the best paleo-friendly protein supplements come from the raw/vegan community. they're alkaline-forming, and most of them are organic and made from whole or minimally processed foods. One of my favorites is called Thor's Raw Power:
it's made from raw hemp and raw brazil nut protein (enzymatically active, although any raw, unsprouted nuts and seeds are going to have the usual phytate and enzyme inhibitor issues) along with maca, goji berry powder and mesquite powder. It's minimally processed, very easy to digest, and the synergistic effect of the protein along with the superfoods has to be felt to be believed. the finished product is only about 38% protein by weight (on account of dilution from the superfoods), but the antioxidant nutrition from the goji berry and brazil nuts (high in selenium) along with the metabolic stimulation of the maca and the high fiber of the hemp are well worth it. FYI the same website also sells the hemp protein powder and brazil protein powder by themselves. also, Trader Joes sells a fantastic organic hemp protein powder (get the vanilla - avoid the chocolate!) if you're looking for an inexpensive option.
if you're looking for options outside of the realm of nuts and seeds you can't do better than spirulina and chlorella. each is about 60% protein by weight, and both are absolute nutritional powerhouses. if you prefer pills there are some great options at the raw power website, such as:
if you don't mind the flavor, a company called HealthForce Nutritionals sells (in my opinion) the highest quality spirulina and chlorella powders available, but you need to mix them with water or juice and drink them. personally i enjoy the flavor, and ever since my body learned to appreciate the nutrition and energy boost i get from them i actually have cravings for them (by the way HealthForce does make chlorelly tablets, but not spirulina). check out their website, they're an awesome company, and the quality of both their sourcing and processing methods is unequaled by any other supplement company i've ever encountered.
every single product the company makes is the best in its class and is absolutely worth taking (if you can afford it). i highly recommend poking around their website and learning what makes their supplements unique (and why i say they're the highest quality available). they make an outstanding protein powder called Warrior Food which, while not strictly paleo (it has sprouted organic brown rice protein in adition to hemp protein), is by far the easiest digesting protein powder i've ever tried. it has digestive enzymes added, along with nopal cactus (excellent stuff, naturally slows nutrient absorption and prolongs high levels of proteins in the bloodstream, also excellent for moderating blood glucose spikes) and phycocyanin for kidney support (extracted from klamath blue-green algae). also, this is just my subjective opinion, but for me personally i've found that it's the best vegan protein supplement for building muscle tissue. it's also an extraordinary 70% protein by weight, and depending on where you buy the stuff it can be had for as little as 7 cents/gram of protein. quite a bargain if you ask me.
a little bit about me: i'm 32 years old, white male, diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 28. i was vegeterian for 16 years, vegan for 7 of those years, and raw/vegan for 2. i always took my health very seriously, and i've been a supplement fanatic for about a decade. however, a little over a year ago i started eating fish and seafood again in an effort to reduce my carbohydrate intake, which helped a lot, but recently i eliminated beans, grains, legumes and dairy and began consuming a limited amount of eggs and organic, grass-fed beef. i still get about two thirds of my protein from vegeterian sources (hemp, spriulina, chlorella, soaked and sprouted almonds/brazil nuts/pumpkin seeds/chia seeds etc.), but i've never felt better (or digested better) in my entire life. i support the paleo movement 100%, and i also believe firmly that the high quantities of grains, beans and legumes that sustained my existence for over a decade contributed significantly, if not solely, to the autoimmune response that caused my diabetes.
True Protein lets you make your own custom blend, so you could get all protein, or with low carb sweeteners, or whatever floats your boat, they do offer waxy maize starch, oatmeal starch, brown rice starch and potatoe starch if you are active enough to warrant the carb+protein Pre/peri/post mix, otherwise, just put together what works for you and sticks the closest to whatever paleo guideline you are strict on.
Hmm...well, if you're a hardgainer, and want to gain some mass, and are going to do some form of dairy with protein powder, might as well dive in, eh?
GOMAD! It works :-)
I really like Optimum Nutrition's 100% Whey Gold Standard (http://www.wheygoldstandard.com/). Started using it before I went paleo/primal. But it tastes great and doesn't have too bad of an ingredient list, though it is by no means perfect.
Another option, one that I have not personally tried, is BiPro (http://www.biprousa.com/bipro.html). Supposedly it has no filler, additives, or unwanted sweeteners, but I've never seen the ingredients list, so I can neither confirm nor deny that claim.
This is the best I found. Its completely gluten, soy, and corn free. Tastes OK. Doesn't dissolve as well as GNC brand I used to use, but does not clump. The only sweetener in it is a little bit of stevia. As far as I have found, it is the cleanest power.
Mark Sisson has two good articles on whey protein and alternatives to whey. I had ordered Mercola's Pro-Optimal Whey before I had read there that paying extra $$ for whey from grass-fed cows was pretty much a waste; the fat that would have contained any of the beneficial nutrients is pretty much extracted as part of the processing.
And like you, I know it's better to eat whole foods. But for now, a quick shake in the AM works for me to get the protein in and get to work on time. I do add some fat to my shake which may help with whey's potential insulin response. Certainly lasts me til lunch, so it seems to be okay on that front.
One of my measures is whether a powder has ever caused me any sign or trace of upset stomach. This is one of my checks against unreal food.
I happen to use NOW 100% whey protein isolate, unflavored.
I make it with warm water so that i can drop in some ghee or coconut oil for some good fats.
Hey, it tastes good warm, and that a very good sign of lack o' junk for me.
I once ate EAS's vanilla powder, and that stuff was VILE warm, and that was years ago before Paleo boosted my sense of taste and smell.