Photo Credit: http://skinnyms.com
There are about 1 billion* protein powders available for sale in this world, and I’ve tried about 1 million* of them.
That means there are a lot that I haven’t tried yet, and many that I never plan to. That said, I have made quite the exploration into this territory, and I want to share my favorite findings with you.
A quick word, however. Remember that if you consume more protein than your body needs the excess will be stored as fat, just as with any other food group. Pay attention to your overall intake – if you’re getting enough through your whole food sources (meat, eggs, and protein-rich plant sources), that’s optimal. Of course, a protein shake or smoothie every once in awhile on the run is a nice option to have.
*These numbers might possibly be exaggerated. But barely.
My favorites…in order.
1. My top two choices are
- Both are creamy, delicious and reasonably priced. They are free of artificial sweeteners, soy, gluten, dairy, added sugar, and ingredients that I cannot pronounce.
- Note that the Jay Robb version is egg-based protein, and the PlantFusion is plant-based.
- PlantFusion flavors include chocolate, vanilla, cookies and cream and more. These are good on their own, so they’re great for travel. For Jay Robb, I stick to vanilla and I will usually add blueberries or cherries.
- For both, I almost always add a handful of greens, ice, gelatin or collagen and some other yummy and healthy stuff. If you want my basic recipe, you can get that here.
2. My former fave, this is still a nice, “clean” option. It’s good on its own, or with the ingredients mentioned above
3. This is a “plain” option: Garden of Life RAW Organic Protein Powder. It’s unflavored, and I use it when I am making a green smoothie and need a little extra protein. For example, I will make a green juice (get the details here), and then blend it with 1/2 a banana and/or a scoop of this protein powder.
Wait a minute! None of these are WHEY protein!
That’s right. I’ve dabbled way into whey (sorry), and had mixed results. I’ve tried everything from Shakelology (delicious, expensive and reportedly high in heavy metals), Isagenix (not delicious IMHO, very expensive, and made me swell up like a pregnant lady), to the protein powders that are “clean” and commercially available from places like Whole Foods (versus, for example, those sold at GNC). In short, many whey protein powders are full of ingredients I don’t want, and almost all made me react (it was the casein/whey/dairy protein, I believe). That doesn’t mean you will have the same reaction, of course.
If you’re in favor of whey protein powders, and they don’t make you feel like you just swallowed a helium balloon, then be sure to find one that will serve your wellness goals, and not detract from them. Check out this summary provided from The People’s Chemist:
4 Things to Avoid in Whey Protein Powders
Sadly, the FDA has little regulation on how whey is processed or what can be added to it. Therefore, what should be healthy, is actually a product that seriously undermines your health. Here are four things to avoid in bad protein powders:
- Denatured and Hydrolyzed Protein
- When whey protein undergoes denaturation or hydrolyzation, it loses the proper dimensions intended by nature. Proteins only work if they keep their three dimensional shape. That’s because, like a key for a lock, they work by triggering select receptors. Adding to the negative outcome, these processing methods give rise to toxic levels of free aspartic acid and glutamic acid (MSG). Both have toxicity profiles that make party drugs look like health foods.
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Artificial sweeteners screw up your metabolism and drastically increase your risk of cancer. A recent study review published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine noted that the rise in the percentage of obese Americans coincides with an increase in the widespread use of non-caloric artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose (Splenda).
- A 2012 mega-analysis of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) and the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) looked at epidemiological data from a 22 year period. It found that the artificial sweetener aspartame was a “multi-potential carcinogenic agent,” which significantly increases the risk of many cancers like myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphomas and leukemia.
- Soy Protein
- In the early 1990’s soy products exploded onto the marketplace promising numerous health benefits. Soy protein isolate was feverishly added to meal replacement shakes, bottled fruit drinks, protein bars, soups and sauces, baked goods, meats, breakfast cereals and dietary supplements. It was less expensive than dairy whey and was poised to be the king of protein…That is, until its gender-bending qualities were discovered.
- A growing body of research revealed that soy protein contains plant estrogens such as genistein and daidzein, causing feminizing effects in the male body. A Harvard study published in the journal Human Reproduction also found a strong association between men’s consumption of soy foods and decreased sperm counts. In total, studies show that soy increases inflammation, depletes the body of nutrients and disrupts thyroid function.
- Sugar / Fructose
- Sugar gives rise to the two biggest threats to health: fat gain and insatiable appetite. The minute you consume it, your hormones begin to favor fat storage over fat burning. Simultaneously, it sets off an artificial feeling of hunger hours later. If that’s not bad enough, it’s the leading cause of Type II diabetes and feeds cancer growth. The optimal sweetener for any whey protein is stevia.
I hope this is helpful to you. You don’t have to agree, obviously. Figure out what works for you. I am interested to know which protein powders work for you and why. Tell me in the comments!