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