8 Protein Powder Ingredients to Avoid

spinach-shakeProtein powders are awesome.  I swear by mine and suck down a green protein drink every day!

People use protein powders for a variety of reasons, including improved athletic performance, healthy meal replacement options, meet necessary daily protein intake levels, and even improved digestion based on what’s in the powder.

Protein is a macronutrient, meaning the body needs large amounts of it (hence, “macro”). Protein helps to balance hormones; supports digestive health; is an extremely important component for building bones, muscles, skin, blood, and cartilage; boosts the immune system; curbs appetite; assists weight loss; and supports injury and illness recovery.

A quality protein drink should be made from whole food ingredients.  By including a quality protein drink in your daily regimen, you thereby help your body to achieve the optimal protein intake necessary for the aforementioned benefits.

Not all protein powders are created equal, so please read the label!  This can’t be overstated.    Here’s what you don’t want to find on the label:

1.  Gluten

Gluten has been a hot topic in recent years.  To people with sensitivities to it, it can  cause inflammation, hormonal imbalances, head aches, fatigue, skin conditions, and even mood swings.

2.  Dextrose

This is derived from starches.  It is used as an added sugar in many packaged and processed foods sweetened by the manufacturer.  The glycemic index is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100.   It is based on how quickly and how much the carb raises blood sugar levels after eating.  Dextrose can increase glycemic load and can contribute to fat storage.

3.  Glucose

You might also know this by the name of “sugar”.  It is a simple sugar and a component of carbohydrates.  Again, it can raise glycemic load and contribute to fat storage.

4.  Artificial Sweeteners

While we’re talking about sugar, let’s add artificial sweeteners to the conversation!  My kids have heard me say this is “poison” over and over.  You might see the sweeteners under the following names in the chart below.  Several negative side effects can include headaches, migraines, gastric distress, depression, and weight gain.

Artificial sweeteners Sugar alcohols Novel sweeteners Natural sweeteners
Acesulfame potassium (Sunett, Sweet One) Erythritol Stevia extracts (Pure Via, Truvia) Agave nectar
Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) Hydrogenated starch hydrolysate Tagatose (Naturlose) Date sugar
Neotame Isomalt Trehalose Fruit juice concentrate
Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low) Lactitol Honey
Sucralose (Splenda) Maltitol Maple syrup
Mannitol Molasses


Chart reference:  http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/artificial-sweeteners/art-20046936

5.  Soy

Soy protein contains phyto-estrogen, which is known to cause hormonal disturbances.  With high breast cancer risk in my family, I just steer clear of it!  Also, most soy proteins are derived from GMO sources (genetically modified organisms) with high pesticide use.  All around, it’s best to go soy-free.

6.  Casein

There are many powders on the market with casein or WPC (whey protein concentrate).  As discussed before, casein is high in lactose.  Many people who are lactose intolerant know to look for this, but for the average person, you should be aware that it can cause bloating, gas, and general gastrointestinal distress.

7.  Milk Powders or Milk Solids

In lesser quality protein powders, these skim milk powders and milk solids are added as a cheap bulking agent.  Again, they are high in lactose sugars as mentioned in casein above (with all the same potential side effects). The protein is not absorbed well by the body, so your body does not get the full protein capabilities.

8.  Vegetable Oils

Some protein powders have these oils added because they add richness to the mix.  These are high in trans fats, which are the fats that raise bad cholesterol levels.  Say no to vegetable oils!


Stay tuned for my next post and I’ll tell you what I LOOK FOR in a protein powder, and the one that I use…




Salad…with goat cheese



Sorry to gear this toward carnivores, but I’m talking about goat cheese in this post!  Don’t tune out though, because a dairy-loving friend could benefit from this!

Did you know that goat milk is largely consumed in the rest of the world?  That’s strange for us here in the U.S., but it’s a reality elsewhere!  It’s a great alternative to cow’s milk if you have issues with dairy.

I don’t care for goat milk, but I LOVE goat cheese!  It has a pungent flavor which actually compliments salads.   Sometimes I’ll take a goat cheese log, drizzle honey over it, sprinkle it with sesame seeds, and voila – it’s a “dip” for veggies or gluten-free crackers.  My kids actually love this.

Here’s what my salad looked like tonight … spinach, baby greens, radicchio, onions, tomatoes, walnuts, blueberries, and chunks of goat cheese.  It was awesome!

If you’re wondering if there really are benefits to goat milk, well yes, there are!  Let me count thy ways!

  1. Goat milk is much lower in milk sugars (lactose) than cow’s milk.  Many people who say they are lactose intolerant actually don’t have trouble digesting goat milk.  The fat globules in goat milk are smaller than in cow’s milk, making it more easily digestible.
  2. Goat milk only contains A2 casein, which makes it the closest in regards to protein to human breast milk.  It also has no inflammatory effects.  Most people with an intolerance to cow’s milk are simply allergic to a protein it contains, A1 casein.  This allergy makes them unable to digest it.  Cow’s milk actually contains more than 20 different allergens which cause allergic reactions.  And since this protein can be highly inflammatory for people, it can contribute to gastrointestinal health issues.  Don’t underestimate the dangers of inflammation on the body!
  3. Goat milk has a better bioavailability of minerals and nutrients, meaning the nutrients are more easily digested and used by the body.
  4. Goat milk is high in calcium (win) but low in cholesterol (win)!  There’s actually about 28 percent daily recommended value of calcium in cow’s milk, but about 33 percent goat milk!

Go ahead, enjoy that cheese!