Top 5 Tips on How to choose the healthiest protein powder
When it comes to convenience, nothing beats a scoop or two of protein powder blended with some fruit and water for a quick and healthy meal or snack. They seem to be a godsend for athletes, dieters, or just about anyone who doesn’t have the time to cook. However, is it really a good idea to rely on these hyped-up products on a regular basis? To be sure, they make compelling claims, many citing high ORAC values (a measure of antioxidant capacity), probiotics, and even hypoallergenicity. But is it really just all good stuff in there, or does something you don’t want get added to protein powders in the processing?
Being a nutritionist, I have scanned the protein powder section of our health food store and come up with a few things you should look for if you think you could use a quick protein fix every now and then.
This is the number one criteria because, well, if it’s doesn’t taste good, you won’t drink it! If you’re adding fruits like bananas and berries to your shake, save yourself some grams of sugar or artificial flavours and get a plain neutral-tasting powder. However if you prefer to just add water or some type of milk, go for a product that has fruity flavour from natural fruit extracts. Some companies will ship you free samples if you request them on their website, or you can buy single-serve packets instead of investing in the whole canister if you’re not sure about the taste. Which brings us to the next important criteria…
When you get into protein powders that tout muscle-building potential or other body-altering claims, it’s easy to spend upwards of $50 or $60. Think about how often you want to be using the product, do the math, and keep in mind that three eggs offers about 20 grams of protein for roughly 45 cents.
3.) Nutrition Facts
What does the Nutrition Facts Panel say? Are you getting straight protein or are you mistakenly looking at a meal replacement that has carbs and fat as well. Is there sugar in it? Also, how much protein is in one serving? And do you really need 30 grams of supplemental protein on top of what you’re getting from food? It’s always a good idea to check with a registered nutritionist before embarking on supplementation. Excessive protein intake can be harmful to people in a pre-diabetic state, a condition that is silent until officially diagnosed through blood work.
4.) Quality Ingredients
This is big one, and there are three main things to consider when looking at the Ingredient List: 1) Is it organic? You don’t want any pesticide residues adding to your toxic load. Non-GMO and organic would even better. 2) Is it plant-based? Legume, hemp and grain-based products are naturally more hypoallergenic, taking care of the finally criteria…3) Is it allergen-free? Milk/casein/lactose, gluten/wheat, soy, eggs and nuts are among the top allergens that people react to without even knowing it. If your protein powder is causing digestive upset, eczema, or even brain fog, it’s not worth it.
5.) Heavy metals
You’ve heard of mercury as a heavy metal we need to be wary of when choosing fish. And who could forget the arsenic scare in brown rice? Protein powders are also at-risk for contamination with neurotoxins like cadmium, arsenic and lead. Consumer Reports did testing on some popular protein powders and found that several brands, including Muscle Milk, Myoplex, Designer Whey and GNC, all had traces of these dangerous elements. Our top five picks are all clear of heavy metals- and contain no refined sugar.
|Taste||Cost||Grams of Protein per /Source||100% Organic||Allergen-free(milk, gluten,soy, eggs, nuts)|
|Vega One||☺☺☺☺||$$$$||15 grams/Pea||no||yes|
|Sun Warrior Raw Vegan||☺☺☺||$$$||16 grams/Sprouted Brown Rice||yes, and non-GMO||yes|
|Swanson Hemp Protein||☺☺||$||16 grams/Hemp Seed||yes, and non-GMO||yes|
|Garden of Life Raw||☺☺☺☺☺||$$||17 grams/Blend of Sprouted grains, legumes and seeds||yes, and non-GMO||yes|
|DIY Ground Pumpkin Seeds||☺☺||$||8 g/Pumpkin Seed||depends||May contain traces of nuts|
I hope that this post has helped you in selecting your choice for protein powders. If you have a favourite protein powder please share in the comments below.
Yours in good health,
DJ- the natural food nut!!!