Personalized Protein Powder Is Now a Thing
These new products let you ditch the overwhelming protein powder aisle and find a protein powder tailored to your body, lifestyle, and goals.
It goes without saying, there are like a zillion protein powders on the market these days. Luckily, finding the perfect protein powder just got easier. You can now create your own protein powder blend based on your dietary preferences, workout schedule, and fitness goals.
Say you're a vegan who's lifting weights to build muscle-you'll get a combo of plant protein to fuel you. Training for a half marathon? Your mix may contain maltodextrin (a complex carbohydrate) to help boost endurance. Trying to lose weight? Your mix might have whey protein. (After all, it might be the best protein powder for weight loss.)
Through brands like You can customize your ideal powder with iFit Nourish ($79 per month), which lets you try your blend for a $5 shipping fee, or Gainful ($49), which has a dietitian on staff to answer questions.
When you go to either of the websites, you'll fill out a questionnaire about your weight, dietary restrictions and preferences, goals, how many times you exercise per week, what type of exercise you do, etc. You even get to pick a flavor. They'll tabulate a recipe for you, providing you with a customized nutrition label and a fact sheet about your blend. Don't love what it spits out? No worries-you can tweak specific ingredients until you get a blend that fits you.
Then there's care/of-the personalized vitamin company that just launched protein powders and boosters (think maca for energy and creatine to build lean muscle mass) that are determined based on an interactive quiz about your diet preferences, lifestyle habits, and fitness goals. From there, care/of will use an algorithm to spit out your customized combination based on scientific research.
So, while the protein powders themselves are not technically customized beyond whey or plant-based (you can also choose chocolate, vanilla, or unflavored) the separate health-boosting add-ins (that can be mixed with your protein powder or added to another liquid) are what make this process customized for your needs-and way less overwhelming than walking down the protein powder aisle at your local health food store. Plus, the powders, which can be delivered to you monthly (tubs are $28 per month and boost packets are $7, though you can also try a $10 sample kit), also come with your name on the tub for an added personalized touch. (FYI, the brand also makes powdered vitamins that are basically nutrition Pixy Stix.)
Is personalized protein worth it, though?
For starters, know that protein powder, in general, isn't *necessary* for a healthy diet: "Everyone needs protein-it's an essential nutrient," says Liz Applegate, Ph.D., the director of sports nutrition at the University of California, Davis; however, you can get all the protein you need through whole food sources.
"I often advocate for whole-food sources of protein," says registered dietitian Yaffi Lvova, R.D., of Baby Bloom Nutrition. But if you're short on the nutrient for the day, Applegate points out that protein powders can be used for a quick breakfast or as an easy additive to your post-workout smoothie. (Plus, some blends like iFit's Nourish contain fruit and vegetable powders that can help you get extra micronutrients and fiber, too.)
If you do want to invest in a protein powder, these customized blends can "take the puzzle out of deciding, 'which one do I select for myself?'" says Applegate. It's always a great idea to consult a nutritionist if you can, says LesLee K. Funderburk, Ph.D., R.D., an assistant professor of family and consumer sciences at Baylor University. But if you can't make that happen, the nutrition teams behind these companies make this a more convenient way to get a nutritionist-approved supplement recommendation that's certainly more personal than grabbing any tub off the shelf. (Some services-like Gainful-even let you chat with a dietitian for free after you've received your product.)
So while personalized protein isn't necessary for your diet, it can be a step up from your run-of-the-mill brand. (Especially when a lot of protein powders are contaminated-yikes.) Not ready for the bespoke protein personalized life? Try one of these instead: Best Protein Powders for Women, According to Nutritionists.