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Which protein supplement is right for you?

Protein selectionTable of Contents

There are many different protein supplements on the market. Vegetable or animal, concentrates, isolates, hydrolysates. Complete or extra rich in [fill in your amino acid]. But which one do you need? In this article we will help you find the answer. You will get a list of points to look out for. And, of course, some of our recommendations.

The value of a protein supplement

Adding more protein

The best source of protein is food, whether animal or vegetable. It's trickier if you just want to take extra protein, because food also contains other nutrients. Supplements are first and foremost a supplement to your diet. You take a protein supplement if you want to take extra protein, without all the other ingredients you have in food.

Getting all the essential amino acids

Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids. The body uses 20 different amino acids, 8 of which (or 9, depending on how you count) you cannot make yourself. These are called essential amino acids and, like vitamins, must be obtained from the diet.

Proteins from different sources contain different amino acids. We call this the amino acid profile. More variety in protein sources is the best strategy for getting enough of all the amino acids. If you avoid animal products or dairy, pay extra attention to the amino acid composition of your protein. A supplement can also help ensure you get enough of the essential amino acids.

Graph essential amino acids

This chart shows the essential amino acid composition in mg per 10 grams of protein. We have chosen Puhdistamo Organic Whey, NoordCode Pure Plant Protein and NoordCode Pure Collagen as representative examples per category. You can see that the whey and plant protein powders contain more essential amino acids than the collagen hydrolysate. So for your essential amino acids, you have good choices in whey or plant-based protein.

Muscle support and growth

Athletes have been using protein supplements for a long time. Your muscles need more protein after training for growth and recovery. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are especially useful for muscles after training. These are the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs support the production of protein in muscles.

Graph BCAAs

This graph shows the BCAAs in mg per 10 grams of protein. Again, whey and plant protein score well. You can also get BCAAs as a separate supplement, if you only want to supplement these amino acids.

Muscle preservation

Muscle function and strength decrease with age. Your muscle mass also decreases and is harder to maintain. You can slow down these decreases by eating more protein. Combine this with training and exercise to maintain your mobility for longer. Protein recommended for sport is also suitable for muscle maintenance.

Support skin and joints

The body makes less collagen the older you are. Collagen is an important connective tissue protein in, among others, the skin, bones, joints and blood vessels. There it provides structure, strength and elasticity. You can supply important amino acids in collagen, so that your body does not lack anything to make it.

Pay particular attention to the content of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline. In fact, 50% of collagen consists of these three (non-essential) amino acids. It is not surprising that a collagen supplement contains the highest content of these amino acids. Bone broth is a good dietary option, but you often don't know its amino acid composition.

Graph Glycine Proline

Supplementation of specific amino acids

Amino acids are more than just building blocks for body protein and muscle. They are also used, for example, to make signalling substances or as fuel. An amino acid supplement is more targeted if you want to take a specific amino acid. We have them in our shop too, of course, if you search by your goal.

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Points to consider when choosing your protein

Your supplementation objective mainly determines what to look for. In addition, there are a few points of interest that help to refine it further.

Complete protein

A complete protein contains all the essential amino acids. Animal protein is often complete, but for plant protein this is not always the case. This doesn't have to be a problem if you combine several sources of protein to make up for the deficiencies in each. Sometimes, this is already done for you in a composite protein supplement.

You still need to make sure that all the essential amino acids are present in the right quantities. It won't help you much if the content is much lower than your requirements.

Protein content: isolate and concentrate

You will often see the labels isolate and concentrate in your protein supplement search. Concentrate often means that the supplement consists of 70% or more protein by weight. With isolate, you get 90% or more protein. Also pay attention to the part which is not protein. This is often carbohydrates, fibre or fat. See if that fits in with your nutritional goals.

Digestibility, bioavailability and hydrolysate

A high protein content in your protein powder does not necessarily mean that you will get as much protein. You first have to digest the protein into amino acids, absorb it and use it. This is summarised in the term bioavailability. The less processed the protein is, the slower the digestion will be. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing; it depends on your goal.

Hydrolysate is a protein processing in which the protein is 'pre-digested'. Large proteins are broken down into smaller pieces (peptides) which are easier to digest and absorb. You will find this with collagen and whey protein, among others. After this processing, the protein is more digestible and more bioavailable.

Pay attention to where the protein comes from

Your choice will be easy if you prefer to eat plant-based foods. If you have no preference, you can still pay attention. Perhaps just for the sake of price, but also in consideration of your sensitivity to substances in addition to the protein.

Plant protein can contain harmful substances. It often comes from cereals or legumes. Plants like to make these parts unattractive to eat. They put in so-called anti-nutrients that inhibit digestion or absorption of nutrients. Cereals often contain gluten and soya contains phyto-estrogens that can affect your hormones.

Plant-based protein supplements are not necessarily difficult to absorb. Anti-nutrients can be removed during the production of the protein powder. It is also possible to use parts of the plant which do not contain any anti-nutrients. If you check for this, you might as well take a plant-based protein supplement.

Allergens and personal sensitivity

It goes without saying that you should look out for ingredients you are sensitive or allergic to. If you are lactose intolerant, it is better not to take whey or milk protein. Protein supplements are never 100% pure protein. You can also check the factory and whether the protein has been tested allergen-free.

How you want to use the protein

You can incorporate protein powders into your diet in many different ways. Popular ways are for example:

  • Protein shake: mix the protein powder with water or (vegetable) milk
  • Baking ingredient: you can often use protein powder instead of flour, provided the powder is heat resistant
  • Addition to hot recipes: such as soups, stews or sauces
  • Addition to cold recipes: such as smoothies, dressings or yoghurts

Some protein powders are flavoured. This can be convenient if you are making a shake or using it in sweet dishes. For addition to savoury dishes, it is best to use a natural protein powder.

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Our protein supplements in the spotlight

You have already seen our proteins in the amino acid comparisons. Here we list some additional advantages of each protein. It goes without saying that we only include the best products in our range, which are also truly functional and healthy. Or visit the proteins directly in the LiveHelfi webshop.

Puhdistamo Whey

Milk from grass-fed cows

Whey is milk protein that remains dissolved in water after adding rennet, as is done in cheese production. Many (cheap) whey proteins are a by-product of cheese production. In contrast, Puhdistamo uses fresh milk from grazing cows in Germany to make their whey isolate.

Natural, pure whey protein isolate

Puhdistamo whey protein is pure whey protein. No additives, no taste, no pollutants. 80% of the dry weight is real protein.

NoordCode Plant Protein

Vegetable complete protein with MCTs

NoordCode Pure Plant Protein is a combination of pea, rice and hemp seed protein. It has a complete, balanced profile of essential amino acids. Pure Plant Protein is formulated to be highly absorbable and digestible.

This protein powder is supplemented with MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). These short fats are quickly absorbed and used directly as an energy source. NoordCode has combined the protein and the MCTs so that you can easily make shakes with them.

Allergen-free vanilla-flavoured protein

Pure Plant Protein is made in an allergen-free environment and has a light vanilla flavour. 60% of a serving consists of protein.

NoordCode Pure Collagen

Collagen hydrolysate from European grass-fed cows

NoordCode Pure Collagen is derived from the skin, tendons, bones and cartilage of grass-fed, French cows. It is enzymatically processed to minimise damage to the amino acids. As a hydrolysate, it dissolves quickly in cold and hot drinks and is easily digested.

Natural collagen hydrolysate

Collagen itself has hardly any taste or smell. Therefore it can easily be added to any drink or dish. Pure Collagen consists of 90% protein.

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Good luck with your choice!

Does one of our high quality protein supplements appeal to you? Then go to the LiveHelfi webshop for more information or to order directly.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter. We regularly share tips on how to use protein supplements and recipes with protein powder.


When choosing a protein supplement, consider the following

  • What you want to take it for (more protein in food / sport / muscles / skin & joints)
  • How you want to use it (shake / in drinks / in sweet dishes / in savoury dishes)
  • How digestible the protein is
  • What else it contains besides protein
  • Whey Protein
    • Good overall choice
    • Contains all essential amino acids
    • Rich in BCAAs
    • Good absorption
    • Less suitable if you are sensitive to milk
  • Vegetable protein
    • Good general choice
    • Pay attention to the amino acid profile
    • Check origin and allergens
  • Collagen protein
    • Good choice for skin & joint support
    • Some essential amino acids are missing

Further reading

[1] Found My Fitness article about collagen
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