Gym supplements are notorious for containing loads of crap that are said to be beneficial for “getting you that pump” or growing your muscles, but in reality, they’re just putting toxins and chemicals into your body.
When it comes to protein powder, however, that is one supplement that can be extremely beneficial for the body. But often times, even something labeled as a ‘clean’ protein powder has unnecessary ingredients that make it quite the opposite.
So when it comes to choosing protein, do you choose whey concentrate, whey isolate, casein, pea protein, egg white protein, a vegan blend? The list goes on as for what’s available. The main factor that should determine the type of protein you choose is how your body responds to it. Some people don’t tolerate whey or casein very well, while others won’t tolerate ingredients in a vegan blend.
Tailor your supplements to YOU.
Of course obtaining protein through minimally processed, whole foods is your best option, but for times when that’s not available, a clean protein powder is a great alternative.
Protein is a crucial macronutrient in the body and functions for:
- Growth and maintenance of tissues
- Biochemical reactions (enzymes)
- Messenger molecules (hormones)
- Provide structure
- Maintain proper pH
- Fluid balance
- Immune health
- Nutrient storage and transport
As evident by all the key functions protein has in the body, it’s a pretty important component of any healthy and balanced diet.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a protein powder.
Less is more
When it comes to packaged and processed foods, less is always more. Make sure you read the nutrition label and you can pronounce every single ingredients (it’s also good if you know what they are, too). If you aren’t sure what it is, you probably should avoid it.
Whey protein isolate or concentrate and casein powder are obvious choices for most people looking to buy a protein powder. But due to lactose content in some, they can cause bloating, flatulence, and gastrointestinal distress. For some, however, whey based powders may be okay. If you do tolerate whey, opt for minimal ingredients, undenatured, and grass-fed if possible.
Watch out for gluten
Gluten is in just about everything from bread and sweets, to sauces and beer. Did you know it may also be in your protein powder? Gluten causes an inflammatory reaction in the body, which can lead to a wide range of health problems including hormonal imbalances, fatigue, and mood swings.
Don’t fall for artificial sweeteners just because the flavour sounds good
Things like sucralose, splenda, aspartamine and other unnatural sweeteners are one of the most common ingredients added to supplements. They can cause a lot of issues in the body including migraines and headaches, weight gain, and gastric distress, so it’s best to avoid them wherever possible.
Avoid soy protein
Due to high amounts of genetic modification, soy protein (and non-organic soy products in general) should be avoided. Studies have shown soy to also have effects on hormonal balance due to phytoestrogens.
Ditch the fillers
Ever wonder why some protein powders are significantly cheaper than others? If you look at the ingredient list, they’re probably loaded with many things you can’t pronounce, largely which are fillers used to ‘bulk up’ the supplement. These can cause gastric distress and lead to possible digestive issues if consumed frequently.
Seems like quite a list of things you should watch out for when looking for a protein powder, doesn’t it? But to take some of the work out, we’ve picked three great ones that aren’t loaded with crap.
Pink Sun organic whey protein powder is certified organic and derived from grass-fed cows, containing all of the essential branched chain amino acids and immunoglobulins necessary to assist in glutathione production. It’s produced through cold processed ultrafiltration to retain the maximum amount of nutrients. Easy to mix, it’s a great addition to a morning smoothie!
- Certified organic
- Derived from grass-fed cows
- Gluten-free, soy-free
- No additives
- No sugar or artificial sweeteners
- Unflavoured (although Punk Sun does carry naturally flavoured alternatives)
- Slightly on the expensive side (but you pay for the quality)
What customers say:
- Simply the best
- Best 100% organic unflavoured whey you can get
- Creamy even when mixed with water
- Digestion is seamless
- Blends easy and is tasteless
Hemp may be one of the more uncommon protein powders out there, but it’s actually a nutritional superfood. Why? Hemp provides a great source of protein; contains high amounts of the amino acid arginine, which produces nitric oxide and contributes to dilation and relaxation of blood vessels (i.e. helps to lower blood pressure); contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that help to boost immune function; and is high in GLA, an essential fatty acid that helps to regulate hormone imbalances and inflammation.
Nutiva makes a high quality organic hemp protein that is a great addition to any diet, whether you follow a plant-based one or not.
- High fibre content
- Contains high amounts of zinc, iron, and magnesium
- Contains all 9 essential amino acids (complete protein)
- Easy to digest
- Certified organic, non-GMO
- No artificial sweeteners
- Not the best tasting vegan protein available
What customers say:
- Mixes great with water
- Smooth texture
- Doesn’t cause bloating
- One of the best hemp proteins around
- Good boost of energy
- Great product — highly recommend
We don’t normally think of an algae as a ‘protein powder,’ but spirulina is actually a great source of highly bioavailable protein. Nutri Superfoods produces a high quality, organic spirulina powder that supplies the body with an abundance of nutrients — phosphorous, calcium, iron, B12, B3, and omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids. Don’t let the rich green colour fool you— it’s a great way to improve circulation, increase energy levels, help reduce weight, aid digestion, and improve mood and brain function.
- Certified organic
- No fillers, additives, chemicals, or preservatives
- 65% protein content
- Contains essential amino acids (omega 3 and 6)
- Rich in chlorophyll
- Slightly unusual taste (earthy)
What customers say:
- One of the best and most potent products
- Great in smoothies
- Tastes lovely
- Decent price
- Great to boost protein intake
Whether it’s hemp, whey, spirulina, or a mixed vegan protein, there are many options available for protein powders that aren’t laden with artificial sweeteners, fillers, additives, and chemicals. If you’re looking for a great alternative to traditional protein powders, also consider using collagen!
Would you find it useful to get a new set of recipes every week from paleo fans just like yourself? Click subscribe below and join us to receive a free weekly menu (shopping list included!)