Here'sl find a point-by-point guide on exactly how to pick the ideal protein source—based on your individual needs and preferences—to help you reach your goals sooner.
Who: The envy of millions: No matter what he eats, he's still lean as can be. But he could use a bit more bulk.
Why: "Quite honestly, 99% of the 'hardgainers' I work with don't meet the daily caloric requirements to begin with," says Jon Chipko, CSCS, founder of BodyGoals in New Jersey. "So getting that caloric intake up to par is the first priority."
When: Broken up as snacks consumed over the course of the day. "One way of getting the appropriate amount of protein in the diet is eating healthy snacks throughout the day," says Christine Evans, a nutritionist with NatureMade. Foods such as cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, hard-boiled eggs and protein shakes are very easy to make quickly or bring with you for a snack on the go.
How Much: Eat about 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. To reach this level, have a snack of an egg or a serving of dairy twice a day, or drink a protein shake twice a day in addition to your three healthy, protein-filled meals. "Clinical research has shown there's little benefit to consuming more protein than this a day," Evans says.
The Lactose Intolerant
Who: An individual who cannot properly digest foods from our friend Ms. Cow.
What: A pure whey protein isolate (not concentrate) with less than 0.1 gram of lactose per tablespoon.
Why: Several of our experts agreed that whey protein isolate is the ideal choice for lactose-intolerant folks because it replaces both the protein and calcium they're not getting from dairy. "This type of isolate typically yields more than 94 grams of protein per 100 grams of whey," notes Chipko. "And it's virtually free of fat and carbohydrates." Evans adds that it's easy on the stomach. "Research has shown that most people with lactose intolerance have no trouble taking this very small amount of lactose."
When: As a snack or meal replacement, once or twice a day.
How Much: Just enough to bring your total protein intake to around 1 gram per pound of bodyweight daily. If you get more protein from meat on a given day, make up the remainder with a protein shake.