The Protein Powder Handbook

Take your gains to a whole new level.

The Protein Powder Handbook

Knowing the ins and outs of protein powders can help you take your gains to a whole new level. Here’s everything you need to know about how to make that happen.

We've long recommended that you consume the majority of your daily protein intake from lean whole-food sources, such as beef, poultry, seafood, pork, eggs and dairy. But there are certain times of the day when protein powder provides clear benefits over whole food.

Not that long ago, few options were available as far as types of protein powders to choose from. The limited choices mainly included milk-based protein powders, such as whey protein or egg white protein, long considered the gold standards of protein powders. And although these two forms are still top notch, there is now a plethora of other options that have benefits that whey or egg protein can’t provide.

So which are the best for you and your specific goals? It’s all here — the protein powders available to you, the technology that manufacturers are using to create them, and the best way to optimize the results you experience with them.


Milk has been a popular “food” for athletes and others interested in building muscle size and strength for centuries. Milk is a rich source of two of the most beneficial proteins you can get — whey and casein.

A cup of whole milk provides 8 grams of protein, 8 g of fat and 11 g of carbs (lactose or milk sugar). The remainder is mostly water. The protein is about 80% casein and 20% whey. Since casein makes up the majority of this protein, it mainly provides benefits similar to casein along with some of the benefits of whey.

Within milk protein are specific protein fractions that provide numerous health, performance and physique benefits. These include: beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide and immunoglobulins — fractions of whey that strengthen the immune system. Protein manufacturers have figured out that by removing the water, fat and carbs from milk, the result is not only a concentrated protein source that is then dried and powdered, but also a more effective way of extracting the multitude of benefits of milk proteins, without imparting all the added calories from the carbs and fat.



Filtration of whole milk removes much of the carbs and fat. It is often concentrated by a process known as ultrafiltration, creating a protein content of about 80%.


Further processing of the concentrate yields milk protein isolate, which provides greater than 85% protein. Most of the fat and carbs are eliminated, but both the casein and whey proteins are largely unaffected.


WHAT: The protein derived from cow’s milk after removing the water and the majority of the carbs and fat.

WHY: Milk proteins provide a large amount of casein (80%) and some whey (20%), so they offer benefits of both casein and whey.

WHEN: After workouts, between meals and before bed.

KINDS: Milk protein concentrate, milk protein isolate.


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