There are literally thousands of different supplements on the market these days. Some have benefits for building muscle, some for weight loss, some for strength and performance, and some just for overall health in general.
However, there’s only a handful of supplements that are equally beneficial for ALL of these goals. And as it turns out, protein supplements like protein shakes, protein powder and protein bars are definitely at the top of that list.
Here now is a complete guide that will answer all of the questions you have about these products and help you figure out which are best for you.
Why Are Protein Supplements So Important?
As you can probably guess, protein shakes, powder and bars are supplements whose primary ingredient is protein. What makes these products so popular among people looking to build muscle, lose fat or improve their body or health is that, after calories, protein is the most important part of our diet.
As my article about the High Protein Diet explains in detail, protein plays many significant roles no matter who you are or what your specific goal is. For example…
- It’s a muscle building necessity. Protein is the building block of muscle, which means consuming a sufficient amount on a daily basis is an absolute requirement for building ANY amount of muscle.
- It’s a muscle-preserver. Some people might say they want to lose weight, but in reality what they want to lose is fat, not muscle. Well, research shows that a sufficient daily protein intake plays the largest role in allowing us to maintain lean muscle tissue while body fat is lost.
- It helps keep us full and satisfied. Research also shows that protein is much more filling than carbs or fat, which means eating enough of it each day is key in controlling our hunger and preventing us from overeating.
- It’s crucial for human health and function. It certainly has plenty of body-improving benefits, but protein’s main role in the human body is just keeping us alive and functioning properly. It’s literally a requirement to sustain life.
For all of these reasons and more, protein is an extremely important and required part of our diet, and supplements like protein shakes, powder and bars are the perfect way to ensure we always eat as much as we need to every single day.
Food vs Supplements: Which Is Best?
Now, the thing people usually wonder next is: “Are these supplements better than foods? Can’t I get enough protein each day by just eating regular foods?”
Well, while supplement companies will always make all sorts of bullshit claims to sell their shakes and powder, the truth is that there’s nothing magical about these products that makes them better than normal high protein foods.
However, what often makes protein shakes, powder and bars more ideal for people is that they are just a whole lot more convenient than regular foods are.
Instead of having to shop for ingredients, prepare, clean, and cook foods all day long (every single day of the year), you just need to unwrap a bar, or take a scoop of protein powder, or drink a shake. Simple as that.
And that’s what truly makes these protein supplements so useful… they are the quickest, easiest and most convenient way of getting the protein we need to get the results we want. The fact that they also happen to taste amazing certainly helps, too.
So, while most of our daily protein intake should come from normal high quality foods like chicken, fish, meat and eggs, protein shakes, powder and bars are the perfect way to ensure we never have a problem reaching our ideal total each day.
That’s why I’ve personally used these supplements for years and recommend most people do, too.
What Are The Best Protein Shakes, Powder & Bars?
As for which protein supplements are best, that’s mostly a combination of 4 important factors:
- Quality. Does the supplement actually contain the correct amounts of protein it claims? Does it contain any additional things it shouldn’t? Only independent lab testing can show this, and I’ve seen some results.
- Taste. This is mostly a matter of personal preference, but over the last 10 years I’ve tried quite a few different protein shakes and bars. Some seriously taste absolutely fantastic. But on the other hand, others taste like total crap.
- Price. This is also a matter of preference, but I personally prefer to pay for the high levels of quality and taste I just described while at the same time avoiding overpaying for the useless junk many protein supplements often include to bump up their price and make more money.
- Type. All protein shakes are not the same. There’s whey protein powder, casein, and various blends that contain a mix of both. Each type has a different use. Specifically, whey protein powder is fine any time of the day, especially during your post workout meal. Casein is fine any other time of the day, especially in your last meal before bed.
Now, based on these 4 factors, here are the shakes, powder and bars that I use and recommend…
The Best Whey Protein Powder & Shakes
For whey protein powder, I personally use and highly recommend: Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Whey
Optimum Nutrition is as high quality as it gets, it mixes within seconds with just a spoon (or a shaker bottle), and all of the flavors I’ve tried honestly taste like you’re drinking candy. It’s by far the best tasting whey powder I’ve ever had.
And I’m not alone on that opinion. Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Whey is usually the #1 selling whey protein powder on every supplement website I’ve seen. I always use it in my post workout shakes, and I also use it whenever I need a quick and easy protein source during the day.
The Best Protein Bars
I honestly don’t eat bars as often as I drink shakes, but whenever I do, I love: Quest Protein Bars
They seriously taste like a high protein candy bar. So, if you’d prefer a bar instead of a powder (or would like to use both at different times, which is fine), this is definitely the best tasting one I’ve found.
Summing It All Up
So, if you’re looking for a supplement that is completely safe and scientifically proven to help with building muscle, losing fat, and improving workout recovery and performance, then protein shakes, powder and bars are definitely supplements I’d recommend.