Some say whey protein supplements are one of the most inexpensive ways to get extra protein in your diet. If that’s the case, it would be smart to keep a steady supply of protein powder in your house if you’re following a high protein diet.
I’ve been fasting intermittently (fasting once or twice a week) for more than six years now, so I do sometimes think a little extra protein could be good for me. If I can find an inexpensive and convenient way to get extra protein, I’m interested.
So I decided to do some research on my own.
First I checked the price of high-end protein powders. I chose BlueStar Protein Powder, purchasing a five-pound tub for $90 online.
I read the label and learned that I was getting 2,000 grams of protein for $90. (Remember that not everything contained in protein powder is actually protein.)
Next, I calculated the price per serving. Assuming I only use one 30-gram serving per day, the cost per day came to $1.50.
Next I went to my local Wal-Mart and found 6 Star Whey Protein (from the makers of MuscleTech) at $40 for a four-pound container.
This brand gave me 1,210 grams of protein for $40. The cost per serving came to about $1 per day.
So it would seem that an acceptable price range for 30 grams of protein from protein powder is between $1 and $1.50.
Next, I checked GroceryGateway.com to find out the prices of other protein sources. (These prices apply to the Ontario, Canada, area. Prices may be different in your area, but comparisons should be similar.)
Liberty Greek Vanilla Yogurt 0%, 500 grams for $4.99
With this item, you get 43 grams of protein for $4.99. So 30 grams of protein from Greek Yogurt costs $3.48 – a pretty pricey protein source.
Skim Milk, 4 Liters for $5.29
The price of milk ranges greatly, depending on whether you want organic milk or regular milk. I chose the least expensive milk I could find. Four liters of milk contain 144 grams of protein, so you get 144 grams of protein for $5.29 – which translates to 30 grams for $1.10. That’s a good price.
Large Eggs, 1 dozen for $2.39
A dozen eggs contains 72 grams of protein for $2.39, or 30 grams for about $0.99. That’s the best price yet.
Maple Leaf Prime Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, 1 kilogram for $20
According to the USDA food database, you’ll get 210 grams of protein in 1 kilogram of chicken, at a cost of $20. For 30 grams of protein, the cost is $2.85. At a local grocery store, I found 1 kilogram of boneless skinless chicken breasts for $8.80. That breaks down to a cost of $1.25 for 30 grams of protein from chicken. This is more expensive than I would have thought it would be.
Now let’s look at beef.
The price of been can range anywhere from $11 per kilogram all the way up to $28 per kilogram at local grocery stores. Local butchers would charge more. To be fair, I chose a lower priced cut, but not a tough cut.
Certified Angus Eye of Round Steak, $15 per kilogram
The USDA food database says you’ll get 293 grams of protein in an eye of round steak – at a cost of $15 per kilogram. This translates to about $1.53 for 30 grams of protein.
I was surprised at how close the price ranges were in various sources of protein. Protein powders seem to fall within the same price range as protein sources we find in everyday foods. The average price tends to be about $1 to $1.50 per 30 grams.
Finally, I priced some of the “cheaper versions” of protein powder.
Nestle Carnation Instant Milk Powder
This can be purchased at a price of $7.99 for 500 grams. Contained in those 500 grams are 160 grams of protein. You’re paying $1.50 for 30 grams of protein.
Based on my analysis, it does appear that protein powder is an economical way to get protein in your diet – but it’s really no more economical than purchasing traditional protein foods.
The biggest benefit to protein powders seems to be in what you’re NOT paying for, which are things such as extra carbs, fats and calories. Milk, eggs, chicken, and beef all contain much more than just protein. In order to get 30 grams of protein from beef, you’ll also have to consume a considerable amount of fat. To get 30 grams of protein from milk or yogurt, you’ll also consume carbs and fat. If you’re attempting to maintain a low body fat level, this may not be the best option for you.
You should also consider the amount of time you’ll need to spend preparing foods like beef, chicken or eggs before you can consume them.
While protein powder costs about the same amount as traditional protein sources, it has advantages in two critical categories:
– Protein powder requires no preparation time. Cooking is not required.
– Protein powders are nearly 100 percent protein. They don’t contain fat, carbs or calories.
Protein is expensive in any form. While adding an extra 30 grams a day to your diet may only cost you about $1, there is no reason to spend $10 on an extra 100 grams of protein if it isn’t going to help you reach your goals.