Why Is Protein Powder So Expensive? [Costs, Savings, Plus Alternatives]

Professional athletes and weight loss experts rave about the benefits of protein powder. It keeps you full and gives you a quick source of fuel to get you through any workout. Unfortunately, this supplement ranges from $0.60 to $1.32 per ounce.

This means that one five pound tub can cost you over $100! Why is protein powder so expensive? We have the scoop!

Premium ingredients, convenience and the promise of a better sports performance are the main factors that drive up the price of protein powder, making it an expensive investment for athletes. Additionally, specialty packaging that lengthens the longevity of the product, which also plays a role in the price. Lastly, those looking to lose a few pounds love the filling attributes that a high protein diet can bring to users.

This helps to curb cravings and expedite weight loss goals. 

 

Protein Source

Grams Of Protein Per Serving Presence of BCAAs, Creatine and Omega 3/6

Cost

Protein Powder (1 scoop)

20-25 grams Yes $0.60 – $1.32

Greek Yogurt (1 Container)

17 grams Yes $0.56 – $1.19

Tuna Fish (1 can)

27 grams Yes $0.82 – $1.50
Walnuts (1 cup) 12 grams Yes

$2.20 – $2.70

Eggs (3 hard boiled) 18 grams Yes

$0.11 – $1.12

The Importance Of Protein

Protein is one of your body’s key building blocks. It helps to maintain your muscular and skeletal health and it serves as a long lasting energy source. In other words, eating protein will keep you full for longer. The Atkins Diet is extremely popular and effective for this reason. 

According to Harvard University health experts, “the amount [of protein] thought to be adequate for most healthy people, called the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), is set at 0.8 grams per kilogram. For someone who weighs 150 pounds, this translates to roughly 55 grams of protein; a 200-pound person requires about 70 grams of protein.” 

However, athletes need much more than the average person. That is because not only are they trying to build muscle mass, but in resistance based workouts they tend to damage their muscle fibers. Protein is made of amino acids that are crucial in repairing these types of tears.

Thus, “the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on training.”

What this equates to is 82 to 136 grams of protein for a 150 pound person and 109 to 182 grams for a 200 pound individual. While doctors recommend getting most of your protein from food, this can become quite difficult when the levels need to be that high. This is where supplements can come in handy! Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder, Double Rich Chocolate, 5 Pound (Packaging May Vary)

Top Five Factors For The Expensive Cost Of Protein Powder

1. Protein Powder Ingredients 

Protein Sources

When looking to burn fat and build muscle, a higher amount of protein is required. “Protein powders are powdered forms of protein that come from plants (soybeans, peas, rice, potatoes, or hemp), eggs, or milk (casein or whey protein). The powders may include other ingredients such as added sugars, artificial flavoring, thickeners, vitamins, and minerals.

The amount of protein per scoop can vary from 10 to 30 grams.” Whether you consume protein powder before or after a workout, this supplement will improve energy levels and help with post-workout recovery. 

Additionally, protein powders that are all-natural will cost consumers more because they avoid the use of artificial sweeteners, food colorings and other unhealthy ingredients. It is important to look at the protein powder label and compare it to others to make sure that what you are consuming is safe. Why? The FDA does not conduct tests on protein powders.

While some companies charge extra for private testing, there are no government regulations on protein powders. This means that sometimes it isn’t worth buying the cheap protein powders to save a few bucks.

Added Nutrients That Enhance Performance

Furthermore, this protein packed drink mix does not just provide long lasting energy. “The primary function of the protein consumed in the diet is to build and repair cells, including the muscle cells damaged when exercising to the point of momentary fatigue.” This is why manufacturers also include key ingredients in their products to enhance your body’s ability to endure and recuperate from strenuous exercise. 

Both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are found in protein powder for this reason. These have been shown to improve recovery times after rigorous exercise. Moreover, creatine is also a part of the ingredients list. 

Research has found that “there is substantial evidence to indicate that creatine supplementation during resistance training is more effective at increasing muscle strength and weightlifting performance than resistance training alone, although the response is highly variable.” 

Additionally, leucine, isoleucine and valine are branched-chain amino acids, otherwise known as BCAAs, that are a part of the recipe. These essential compounds regulate metabolism, improve lean muscle mass, lessen fatigue and enhance performance. This is another beneficial part of protein powder. Unfortunately though, all of these elements make the price of protein powder expensive. Evlution Nutrition L-Leucine2000, 2000mg of Pure L-Leucine in Each Serving, Protein Synthesis & Recovery, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Unflavored Powder (100 Servings)

2. The Promise Of Results

Science says that more protein means a better overall performance in athletic ventures. Moreover, research suggests that whey protein supplementation supports the “preservation of lean mass during longer-term weight loss interventions”. This ‘guarantee’ of results also comes at a cost. This can expedite weight loss goals by curbing cravings and allowing for a more productive workout. 

Unfortunately, what many people do not realize is that without a proper diet and specific exercise regimens, this powder can actually have the reverse effect. Thus, the expensive price tag of protein powder is only worth it if you are willing to put in the work at the gym and the dinner table! Dymatize ISO100 Hydrolyzed Protein Powder, 100% Whey Isolate Protein, 25g of Protein, 5.5g BCAAs, Gluten Free, Fast Absorbing, Easy Digesting, Fruity Pebbles, 5 Pound

3. Convenience

One eight ounce serving of filet mignon contains 59 grams of protein. A chicken breast of the same weight surpasses this at a whopping 70 grams! However, hectic work schedules and life in general seem to get the better of us a good bit of the time. Cooking takes time and effort.  Thus, the ability to make a high protein meal in seconds has its benefits.

Billions of dollars are spent on sports performance products each year. In fact, trend analysis of the United States protein purchases shows that “sports drinks, sports protein powder and energy bars dominate the product category analysis. These products, however, often have a higher price per gram compared to other protein sources, signifying that Americans do not mind paying for this convenience.

This may be a reflection of the strong presence of sports users in the market, as well as reflecting the on-the-go takeaway culture in American consumerism. Analysts expect this trend to continue and result in large gains in the sports protein powders market in the United States.” Three Jerks Filet Mignon Beef Jerky - Premium Natural Gourmet - 5 Bags of 2oz - Variety

4. Production Costs

Cornell University conducted research that found the cost of making whey protein from cheddar cheese cost anywhere between 7.9 cents to 25.9 cents per pound. Mind you, there are a lot of additives in your protein powder that add to the cost, but this is quite the upcharge from the $10 to $20 per pound that the companies expect you to pay. 

However, just like any other food source, there is a cost to preparing, packaging and advertising products for sale as well as the labor to conduct these production activities. Moreover, companies like Arbonne sell their protein powder in convenient resealable bags to ensure the longevity of the product. In case you didn’t know, this type of packing is exceptionally more expensive. Arbonne Chocolate Protein Shake, 2 pounds 12.4 ounces

5. Specialty Health Products

Present day trends imply that cleaner eating is better. Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and plant based products are the current health craze and they come at a cost. Moreover, products that are filled with crucial vitamins and minerals are more expensive. Just like the coveted superfoods, protein powder is more expensive than other items at the supermarket. Muscle Milk Genuine Protein Powder, Vanilla Crème, 32g Protein, 2.47 Pound, 16 Servings

Protein Powder Savings

Protein powder is expensive. Thankfully, there are a handful of companies that have subscription plans to help you save on this pricey purchase. Additionally, look for sales and coupons and purchase products online. Many times the stores charge a premium and if you buy the products straight from the manufacturer, it lessens the cost. 

Also, once you find the kind of protein powder that suits your needs, buy it in bulk! This decreases the overall cost that you spend and protein powder can last up to two years. Just make sure to store it in a pantry or cupboard at room temperature. 

Protein Powder Alternatives

It is important to remember that protein is considered a supplement, not a replacement. Just like vitamins, the goal is to receive the majority of what you need from food sources. Protein powder should just serve as a way to compensate for the amount that you miss in your regular diet.

Therefore, look for food options that are high in protein, BCAAs, creatine and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. It may surprise you how easily you can get these nutrients naturally! For example, greek yogurt is just as easy to grab on the go! It also has an impressive 17 grams of protein per container. 

In addition, canned tuna fish is another simple meal that contains 27 grams of protein. Other fast protein packed snacks include walnuts and hard boiled eggs. Additionally, all four of these foods contain those added compounds that you find in your protein powder.

Lastly, remember to take your daily vitamins and fish oil supplements! This is an easy step. It is also one that you should be doing whether or not you have fitness or weight loss goals.

Easiyo 252102 Greek Style Yogurt Base and Culture, 6-Ounce

Final Thoughts

Industry trends indicate that”the whey protein market [is] set to grow to 18.56 billion U.S. dollars in value by 2028.” This means that the prices of this performance enhancer will not be going down anytime soon. Where there is a demand, the supply and the prices will climb.

However, for those who require the extra protein in their diet, investing in a quality protein powder can be extremely beneficial and worth the added cost. 

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