Protein powder is a good idea when you are not getting enough protein through your food choices, or if you want an easier, portable source of protein that won’t spoil (i.e. after working out at the gym).
Make sure to check out the ingredients lists of this supplement (as you should be doing with all other foods and supplements) since they can contain a lot of unhealthy ingredients such as:
❋ artificial flavours
❋ hydrolyzed protein
❋ artificial sweeteners
You might find some protein powders are more of a meal replacement containing greens, fibre, vitamins and minerals, additional fats, and/or grains. Protein powder can come a variety of food source, both animal products and plant products.
Protein powders sourced from plants are a great alternative to the animal sourced ones. This type of protein powder works best if you have food sensitivities, inflammation, autoimmune conditions, liver/kidney disease and lactose intolerance.
Brown rice and pea protein are the most hypo-allergenic and a better choice if you have Leaky Gut Syndrome.
The only downside to this type of protein powder is that it doesn’t taste very good and doesn’t blend well in liquids. To help with this issue, manufacturers are using food additive and industrial processing. The problem with this is that it can cause inflammation or digestive problems.
Common Ingredients in Plant-Based Protein Powders
❋ vegetable oils
❋ soy protein/soy derivatives
❋ artificial sweeteners
❋ artificial flavours/colours
❋ xanthan gum
❋ gluten sources
What is whey exactly?
When it comes to cow’s milk, about 20% of it is whey (casein, a type of protein in milk, makes up the rest of the 80%).
During the cheese making process, casein solidifies into curd and settles to the bottom. Whey does not change from liquid form. It is drained off and processed to become whey protein powder. (If you are allergic/sensitive to dairy products, chances are you will also likely react to this form of protein powder. A better idea would be to go with ‘whey isolate’ or plant sourced protein powders.)
When choosing whey protein powders, be sure to look for the following:
❋ no artificial sweeteners
❋ sweetened naturally (NO added sugar)
❋ low in carbohydrates
❋ sourced from grass-fed cows
❋ no pesticides/herbicides
❋ cold processed
❋ choose whey protein concentrate (whey protein isolate only if you are lactose intolerant)
❋ containing medium-chained fatty acids for easier digestion
❋ added enzymes to aid in digestion and absorption
Whey Protein Isolate or Concentrate?
Whey isolate is higher in proteins and lower in carbohydrates, lactose, and fat. It can be more costly because it undergoes additional manufacturing. This form is generally a better choice for those who are lactose-intolerant as it holds little to no lactose.
Whey concentrate contains about 70-80% protein. The remaining 20-30% is lactose, fat, minerals, and moisture. It is less processed than whey isolate and contains more biologically active elements and proteins.
This form of protein is slow-digesting with all essential amino acids and people often take it as a supplement.
Since casein protein is slow-digesting and releases amino acids slowly, it is best to take it outside of the pre- and post-workout windows or before fasting (i.e. before bed).
Hemp Protein Powder
This plant-based protein powder is great for containing all essential amino acids, as well branched-chained amino acids which are necessary for muscle growth and repair. Be sure to choose a powder that contains medium-chain triglycerides sourced naturally, such as coconut oil. This will ease the digestion process. It also contains a balanced ratio of omega-3 and -6.
Since this powder is not as robust as other forms, it a good idea to blend it with a mixture of protein. When shopping for this powder, look for cold-pressed from the whole seed.
Pumpkin Protein Powder
This protein powder holds 18 amino acids, vitamin K, iron, omega-6, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and is high in tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin – the ‘feel-good’ hormone),
If you pair this powder with bananas, apples, or any other healthy type of carbohydrate in a smoothie, it will help the tryptophan get into your brain in a higher measure.
When using with brown rice protein, pea proteins can show the least allergic reactions. Pea protein contains an excellent combination of essential amino acids related for sports performance.
Brown Rice Protein
We know that brown rice is made mostly of carbohydrates. But, did you know it also contains a small amount of protein?
Since this powder is not a complete protein, it is best to mix it with other plant-based proteins like hemp or pea powder.
Brown rice protein is hypo-allergenic and is freely digested. It is another good choice for those with sensitive stomach or allergies to soy and/or dairy. It also helps balance the reactions carbohydrates have on blood sugar and insulin since it’s low on the glycemic index.
It all comes down to choosing the best type of protein powders for you and reading labels (I cannot stress this enough). Check out the 2018 Protein Powder Study for more information at https://www.cleanlabelproject.org/protein-powder/#1519358830209-73b30bc9-449c, where you can also find out the top AND bottom protein powder lists (so you will know which ones to avoid).