Best Protein Powders (and will they turn me into a superhero?)

January 2023

Aerial | Conditioning | Wellbeing | All

Do protein powders have superhero powers? FF Trainer and PT Olivia Barrowclough explains more.

Well, if you are an aerialist, at any stage of your aerial journey, then you are already on your way to being a superhero. So that's good to know. Will the use of protein powders in your diet help you shoot up the silks faster? Well, you still have to put in the hard work yourself, but your body might appreciate the help. Flying Fantastic Trainer and PT Olivia Barrowclough helps demystify protein powders by explaining what they do, why you might find them helpful, and a few brands that we know are used and loved in the studio.  

Protein Powder 
Protein shakes are a very popular group of supplements. Generally people who exercise and want to gain strength need to consume more protein than those who don't. It's well deserved after a 75mins aerial class! Some students use protein shakes as a handy way to consume more protein without having to change your diet too much. We love convenience! 

Arguably the most common form of protein shakes is made from whey. Whey protein is a by-product of the cheese manufacturing process - think curds and whey. Whey has a very high concentration of the branched chain amino acids and so has a good affinity with muscle strengthening. However, the quality of whey protein varies from bag to bag and there are even different types of whey. Here are the 3 main ones to look out for: 

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
This is the purest form of whey protein available and by weight contains 90-95% protein. It contains only trace amounts of carbs and fats so is suitable if you're looking to gain lean mass. It is also fast and easily digestible so it is well suitable for post exercise consumption. 

Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)
This is less pure than WPI and by weight provides anywhere between 25-85% depending on the quality of the product in question. WPC also contains more carbs and slightly more fat when compared to WPI, this reduction in purity is usually reflected in the price. If you are going to use WPC make sure you seek out products with at least 80% protein by weight. 

Hydrolysed Whey Protein (HWP)
Quick science lesson here if that helps; protein is made up of chains of amino acids (polypeptides), the longer the chain the longer the protein takes to digest. In HWP the longer chains have been broken down into shorter chains (oligopeptides) which are rapidly digested and therefore provide a very quick supply of amino acids to your muscles, (meaning a quicker recovery from that evil straddle.) HWP is more expensive than the other two types and best kept for immediate post exercise. It is also the protein least likely to cause digestive upsets. 

SO overall, protein shakes are useful if you are looking to increase your protein intake but some things to note when choosing which to take;  

  * Choose products with no added sugar, sweeteners or artificial flavours 
  * Look for cold-processed protein powders manufactured below 50 degrees, as high temperatures can damage the protein making it less digestible. 
  * Mix whey protein with full fat milk or almond/peanut butter to enhance protein metabolism
  * Don't overload on the protein - any excess protein consumed, beyond what is needed by the body may actually end up stored as fat. 
  * Remember that protein shakes are a good way to add extra protein into your diet but shouldn't be used as a replacement for a healthy diet. 

We have a few favorites in the studio.  

Pulsin Whey Protein
This one is from a nice health food brand; it uses Whey Isolate so is 87% protein and has a small list of just 5 ingredients.
or available on amazon 

Form Superblend Protein
This is a vegan option, its primary source of protein is Pea Protein Isolate and it has added vitamins such as B12 which is good for cognitive function and fatigue. They've also added spirulina powder which helps with digestion. 
also available on amazon 

Bulk Pure Whey Protein Isolate
This is from a very environmentally concious company called Bulk. We like the fact tat all their packaging is biodegradable. Again its a Pure Whey Protein Isolate and if you choose the unflavoured version there are just two ingredients and no added sugar or sweeteners.
or if you want an amazon link 

Collagen Powders
These are also good options for protein. And Marine Collagen in particular is fantastic- it has the same amount of protein per gram as most protein powders, plus its good for your gut and can help reduce bloating because the collagen peptides have been found to prevent the breakdown of the intestinal lining. And on top of that it's the foundation of bones so it can help your bones heal faster and improve the quality of your skin and nails.

Chuckling Goat Pure Fish Collagen  
This one is super pure; the only ingredient being fish collagen, no added anything else! And you can dissolve it in your tea.

Holland and Barrett
Again, very pure. This one has just two ingredients; fish collagen and vitamin c. 
or from amazon 

So there you have it, an insight into the world of protein powders. Let us know if you have any favs you'd like to share with the aerial world!