If you walked into a nutrition and supplement store, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of protein products staring at you from the shelves. Forearm-sized protein bars, soy isolate, BCAAs, casein, whey, collagen… how is one to know which protein to pick among the seemingly endless choices?

Whether you’re paleo, keto, vegan, carnivore, or anything in between, there are a few important factors to consider when choosing a protein powder or supplement:

  • Bioavailability: If performance and recovery is your goal, then you’ll want to pick a supplement with a full amino acid profile, which is required for protein synthesis. This is especially important when choosing vegan proteins, as most plant isolates have incomplete amino acid profiles. To get around this issue, plant-based eaters should consider combining proteins with different amino acid profiles to get a full spectrum.
  • Ingredient quality: Just like all food and supplements, sourcing is key. Look for protein powders with pure, clean ingredients without added fillers, binders, and sugars. When choosing animal protein, look for organic or grass-fed sources to avoid the added hormones and antibiotics that tend to be used with conventionally-raised animals.
  • Intolerances and allergens: Food intolerances or allergies are another factor to consider when choosing a protein powder. Some individuals are sensitive to dairy, grains, nuts, eggs, or other proteins, which can affect what supplemental protein is best.

With those qualities in mind, you’re about to learn about the most popular protein supplements so you can decide which one is best for your body.

Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)

EAAs are a group of nine amino acids – histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine – that are considered essential because they must be obtained through dietary sources.

Pea Protein Isolate

Pea protein (unlike peas or legumes themselves) contains low levels of gut-irritating lectins and phytic acid while delivering a complete protein profile when it is extracted through a highly effective hydrolysis process. It’s particularly high in lysine, arginine, branched-chain amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.