Long gone are the days when the only thing we did with protein powder was add it to smoothies. It can be incorporated into our diets so easily and in many different ways to help us reach our protein goals. 

Protein powders are powdered forms of protein derived from either plant (hemp, rice, soy, pea) or animal (eggs, dairy) based sources. Different brands contain varying amounts of calories, macro and micronutrients so it is important to choose one that has a nutritional profile in line with your individual goals. 

Types of protein powders:

  • Whey protein 

Whey protein is a fast-digesting protein that is easily absorbed. It contains higher amounts of branched chain amino acids compared to casein protein and is ideally taken pre- or post-workout. Whey isolate is higher in protein compared to whey concentrate. It is also lower in both carbohydrates and fats. Whey protein hydrolysate is a concentrate or isolate where some of the amino acids have been broken down making them more readily absorbed. The pre-digestion of the hydrolysate makes the proteins more rapidly absorbed. Whey protein hydrolysate is generally the most expensive form of protein powder on the market. 

  • Casein protein

Like whey protein, casein is also derived from dairy. Once exposed to our stomach acids, casein forms curds. These curds lengthen the process of digestion slowing the release of amino acids. This is why many people consume casein protein before bed as is its then slowly digested and absorbed throughout the night. 

  • Pea protein 

Pea protein is extracted from yellow peas. It contains all 9 essential amino acids and contains a better balance of amino acids in comparison to most other plant-based options. It is important to check the labels when choosing a brand of pea protein as they differ significantly in the amount of protein per serving. 

For example:

Phyto pro pea protein – 18g protein per serving

Health connection pea protein – 8g per serving

Ways to add protein powder to everyday recipes:

Overnight Oats
185kcal - 17g protein - 20g carbohydrates - 4.5g fat
  • 1/3 cup raw oats
  • ½ serving protein powder
  • ½ tbsp chia seeds 
  • 1 tsp sweetener
  • 2/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1 tbsp fresh blueberries

Mix all ingredients and place in the fridge to set overnight. 

Carrot Cake Flapjacks

417kcal – 40g protein – 48g carbohydrates – 5.6g fat (including toppings)


  • 40g oat flour
  • 20g protein powder 
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 medium grated carrot
  • 40g fat free cottage cheese
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon


Combine all ingredients and allow to sit for 5 minutes to thicken. Cook on a pan on medium heat. Top with 60g fat-free plain yoghurt, cinnamon and maple syrup 

Protein Bars
100 kcal – 8g protein – 6g carbohydrates – 5g fat (per square)
  • 80g protein powder
  • 50g nut butter
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 30g maple syrup
  • 30ml almond milk
  • 1 handful pistachios
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp goji berries 

Mix the protein powder, nut butter, cocoa powder, maple syrup and almond milk until combined. Add the pistachios, coconut and goji berries. Mix and knead the dough until smooth. Press into a dish and freeze for an hour. Once set, slice into 8 squares and store in the freezer. 

Protein Fluff
161kcal – 24g protein – 3.9g carbohydrates – 4.3g fat
  • 1 serving protein powder
  • 200ml unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 3 blocks of ice

Blend until creamy and enjoy. 

Written by: Nicole Keeling – Registered Dietitian, @cape.townfoods

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