The bodybuilders of Muscle Beach were the poster children for protein powder when the supplement first hit the market in the 1950s. Today, protein powder supplements have come a long way from those sandy shores.
There is a protein powder to fit every lifestyle. From plant-based pea protein powder to classic whey protein powder, you’re just as likely to find protein powder inside a soccer mom’s green smoothie as you are at CrossFit.
Of the many health trends that have come and gone, protein powder stands the test of time. Especially since supplement brands have taken protein powder from borderline-gross chalky powder to delicious with the help of better ingredient sourcing and top-of-the-line manufacturing.
In this article, we'll take a close look at the different types of ingredients that are used in protein powder and how they're sourced and manufactured. You'll also learn about the different processes used in modern production facilities to ensure quality, purity, and taste.
What Is Protein Powder?
Protein powder is a concentrated form of protein derived from animal or vegan sources. It contains more essential amino acids than regular food sources like chicken, beef, or other types of meat, meaning protein powder can help you reach your health and fitness goals by providing your body with the necessary nutrients conveniently.
What Are The Benefits Of Protein Powder?
Protein powder is a popular product in the health and fitness space because it provides an easy way to get high-quality protein into your body quickly. High-quality proteins are amino acids that our bodies use to build muscle and repair tissue—essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Protein powder is known for its ability to promote muscle growth, help with weight loss, reduce hunger cravings, provide essential minerals and vitamins that can help your skin look and feel good, and provide you with sustained energy throughout the day.
Is Protein Powder Still Popular In 2023?
Protein powder is a hot commodity, and its popularity is growing. According to a market report by Grand View Research, the global protein powder market was valued at $5.83 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to $10.8 billion by 2030.
Millions of people are now using protein powder for everything from weight loss to muscle building, and it's becoming more than a popular staple in gym-goers' diets. Here’s why the protein supplement market is hot in 2023:
Protein powders are convenient because they can be mixed in seconds, providing a quick and easy way to get nutrients when you're on the go or don't have time to sit down for a full meal. They also come in various flavors and are relatively inexpensive, making them accessible to people with tight budgets.
Protein powder can be used beyond post-workout shakes. You can add it to smoothies, pancakes, or even baked goods for an added protein boost. It often gives food and drinks a sweet flavor without compromising nutritional value because companies sell flavored varieties of protein powder. The versatility makes it easy for you to use the same product in multiple ways throughout your day-to-day meal plan.
Weight Loss Benefits
Finally, if you are trying to lose weight, protein powder can be incredibly helpful. Studies show that adding more protein into your diet can help reduce calorie intake and boost metabolism—factors that contribute significantly towards weight loss goals.
Most Popular Types Protein Powders
Protein powder is manufactured using various ingredients. Still, it's important to know the most popular ones and which are best for your needs. Here are some of the most popular ingredients for protein powder:
Whey protein comes from dairy and is one of the most popular forms of protein used in many protein powders. It helps build muscle, provides essential nutrients, and is a great option for vegetarians since it's low in lactose and cholesterol.
Casein is a dairy protein that makes up about 80% of the protein found in most protein powders. It slows digestion and can help build muscle, which is why it's best taken with meals or at night when your body needs slower absorption of proteins to help build muscle overnight.
Soy Protein Isolate
Soy-based proteins are becoming more popular as plant-based options that provide a premium source of amino acids to assist with muscle growth, recovery, and improved performance. Soy also benefits metabolic health by slowing down digestion, reducing appetite, and keeping you feeling full for longer.
Pea Protein Isolate
Pea protein isolate is made from yellow peas, and it is one of the healthiest forms of vegetable-based proteins available today. It contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs, making it an ideal option for those who want to avoid animal products altogether.
Protein Isolate vs. Concentrate: Which is Better?
When it comes to protein isolate vs. concentrate, generally speaking, isolate is considered to be the "purest" form of protein.
This is because it has been refined and processed so that it retains close to its original form of amino acids. Moreover, isolates are considered to have a higher bioavailability than concentrates—meaning that more of it can be absorbed and used by your body when consumed.
If you follow a low-fat or low-carb diet, you may want to choose a concentrate. Concentrated protein powders have fewer added ingredients and provide more energy than isolate.
Here are the key differences between protein isolate and concentrate:
Protein isolate typically contains 90-95% pure protein, while protein concentrate typically contains 6–8% fat and carbohydrates.
Isolates are more refined—they are stripped to their basic components through additional filtration processes before packaging, which means they tend to taste better.
Concentrates tend to have more "whole food" components like fibers and essential fats still intact, which can provide additional health benefits.
Powder Supplements Manufacturing Process
Manufacturing protein powder is methodical and exacting. There are several stages that it must go through to make a high-quality product. Here are the basics of what's involved:
You'll need a reliable source for your raw ingredients, whether it's whey isolate, pea isolate, non-GMO sunflower lecithin, or stevia leaf extract—whatever base ingredients you choose. Make sure your source meets all quality standards.
The base ingredients are then ground to the proper consistency and mixed in with the other ingredients according to the chosen recipe. The mixing process goes on with machines like fluid bed processors and ribbon blenders.
Depending on the recipe, additional processing may be required pre or post-mixing, such as ultrafiltration of whey protein isolates and reconstitution of oils or lecithin for mixability improvement. Weighing and adding flavorings are also done at this stage as per recipes.
The finished protein powder is then packaged into single-serving sachets, tins, or plastic containers depending on customer needs—this often requires a separate line of blister packing machines and sealing machines. Inspections are carried out throughout the process to ensure that only high-quality products make it to market.
Is It Challenging To Develop A Protein Supplement?
Anyone looking to develop a protein supplement needs to know the potential pitfalls on the road ahead. The first challenge is matching customer demands for various flavors, textures, and strengths. If you're not up-to-date with customer preferences, you could end up with a product that's not in demand.
Another challenge is meeting food safety standards and regulatory compliance. All final products must be tested for the accuracy of label claims before they can be sold to customers.
Furthermore, the ingredients need to be readily available for ongoing formulation. This includes raw materials like proteins, sweeteners, thickeners, and flavors—all of which must meet legal constraints and customer expectations.
There is a lot that goes into the manufacturing of protein powder. The process is complex and requires close attention to detail to make sure the final product is high-quality and safe for consumers. From the selection of ingredients to packaging and labeling, there are several steps required to create a product that meets all industry standards.
Looking for a dietary supplement partner who deeply understands these must-know insights? With two decades of industry experience, BevNutra Solutions brings product concepts to life by collaborating with you at every step. Book your complimentary protein powder development consultation.