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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Protein Powders

Adding a quality protein powder to your nutrition plan is a great way to support your training and reach your goals sooner, but if you’re not sure what to look for, it can be difficult to spot a good protein powder when you see it.

If you want to know how to avoid those less-than-effective protein powders and go straight to the good stuff, this guide will fill you in on everything you need to know to find the best protein powders.

The low-down on protein

Protein is the structural base for your entire body. Your muscles, skin, hair, organs, blood, enzymes and even your bones are made predominantly from protein. In fact, after water, protein forms the largest component of your body (approximately 15% by weight).

Consisting of complex chains of compounds called amino acids, human proteins commonly comprise 20 amino acids—the combination and order of these amino acids determines the characteristics of particular proteins such as muscle, skin or hair.

The amino acids which are present in proteins found in the human body include both ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ amino acids. Given the right conditions our bodies can produce non-essential amino acids, however, essential amino acids cannot be produced by your body and can only be sourced through diet.

How protein supports your health

The protein that our bodies are made from is continually breaking down due to wear and tear, ageing and a range of other processes and needs to be replenished regularly to be able to repair broken protein structures and function properly.

While the average person may be able to get by with a moderate protein intake, those following an intense training regime inflict significantly more damage to the muscle’s protein structure and will require a higher protein intake to sustain muscle repair and growth.

Some proteins are better than others

Protein can be found in a wide variety of foods. Meats, eggs, nuts, fish and chicken are all excellent sources of protein. However if you’re wanting to fuel your body optimally to help you reach your goals sooner, keep in mind that food protein sources can also contain a high proportion of fat and carbohydrates which can slow digestion and affect your health.

Some forms of protein are also more effective for human consumption than others. One of the scales that can be used to measure this level of effectiveness is Biological Value (BV), which is calculated by measuring the intake of protein in relation to the level of nitrogen uptake and excretion.

The following table provides a breakdown of the BV for some common food protein sources:

Food Protein Source

Biological Value (BV) Rating

Whey Protein


Eggs (whole)


Eggs (whites)






Lean Beef


Cow's Milk


Brown Rice


White Rice






Whole Wheat


Soy beans


Whey protein is considered to have the highest BV rating, which is why it’s one of the most common ingredients found in protein powders.

Proteins with a high BV rating also tend to include a good balance between essential and non-essential amino acids, while proteins with a lower BV rating (such as many of the vegetable proteins) tend to lack one or more amino acids.

Common types of protein found in protein powders

The most common types of protein you’ll find in commercial protein powders include:

  • Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)
  • Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)
  • Casein, and

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

Derived from milk, Whey Protein Isolates are a highly-purified form of whey protein which has an amino acid profile that is almost ideal for building human muscle.

Containing around 95% protein with very little other macronutrients, WPI can be digested and absorbed very quickly, deeming it a ‘fast acting’ protein which is ideal for trainers with a normal metabolism to take during the day and after training.

WPI can also be hydrolysed—a process which breaks many of the chemical bonds that link amino acids and peptide chains together, allowing the protein to be absorbed almost immediately making it extremely fast-acting and ideal for consumption straight after training.

Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)

A less pure version of WPI, Whey Protein Concentrate also has an excellent amino acid profile but only contains around 70% protein, along with various fats and carbohydrates. The addition of fats, lactose and carbohydrates slows digestion, making it an ideal medium-acting protein source which is great for trainers with a very fast metabolism.

Casein/Calcium Caseinate

Like whey, casein is also derived from milk. While the amino acid profile of casein protein isn’t as well-suited to building muscle as whey is, it’s still a good quality, slow-release protein which contains enough essential and non-essential amino acids to meet your nutritional needs.

Casein is also known as a pleiotropic protein. As it’s digested, a large volume of small peptides are released which provide multiple health, tissue repairing and muscle growth benefits.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is entirely plant-based making it an ideal option for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan.

While the protein contained in soybeans has a relatively low BV, when the soy protein is purified and provided in its 'isolate' form, it has a very respectable BV. A rich source of calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and magnesium, soy protein is also believed to offer various other health benefits including lowering cholesterol, reducing heart disease and stabilising hormone levels.

What is the best protein powder?

While each type of protein provides valuable benefits, whey proteins are the most effective at repairing tissue and building muscle. However, there’s also a range of other factors that determine how good a protein powder is.

Here are some things you’ll only find in the best protein powder:

  • Microfiltration - Whey purified using a microfiltration process ensures the final product contains higher levels of active proteins with less impurities.
  • Combination of proteins - Uses a combination of proteins to provide long-lasting, sustained release.
  • Protein sourced from grass-fed cows - Grass-fed cows tend to enjoy better health and produce higher quality milk which is more palatable than cows which are fed a grain-based diet.
  • Contains only a few ingredients - Lists WPC or WPI as one of the first ingredients on the label, without including excessive fillers and additives.
  • Free from sugar, dextrose and artificial sweeteners, colours and flavours - These ingredients are generally bad for your health.
  • Free from non-fat milk solids or skim milk powder - These often contain a high quantity of lactose.
  • Instantised - Instantised protein powders mix instantly without clumping to provide a smooth and creamy shake without any grittiness.
  • Place of manufacture - Produced in a country that has high manufacturing standards and quality accreditation.

How Max’s protein powders stack-up

You know you’ll get a quality protein powder when you choose Max’s because:

  • our proteins are produced using state of the art purification technology, including osmosis pre-treatment and cross flow microfiltration and ultrafiltration
  • our proteins use high-grade instantised whey sourced exclusively from grass-fed cows
  • our products are specially formulated to include the optimal combination of protein and other nutrients, and
  • we produce all our products right here in Australia.

Want to know more? Find out more about us or take a closer look at our premium protein powder range.

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