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Be Picky With Your Protein Powder

By: Maria Viall CHN, CHHP, ROHP

When perusing the supplement aisle at your local health food store, you will find a plethora of protein powder all claiming to the best one on the shelf. Soy, whey, casein, hemp, rice, hydrolyzed, concentrate, isolate and the list goes on. So which one is the best?

Use these easy tips when selecting your protein powder or to evaluate whether or not the one you are using makes the cut.



Keep It Simple
Many companies fill their protein powders with every vitamin, nutrient and enzyme under the sun to make it sound more effective. Not only that, if you look at the ingredient label of many protein powders, you will see a list of chemicals, added sugar and artificial flavors that help make it taste better.

Look for products that have 5 ingredients or less, don’t contain any added sugar in the ingredient list and are free of artificial colors, flavors and chemicals. Also, the proteins source should be the first thing on the list of ingredients.

Plant Based Protein Powders
The same rules apply for plant based protein powders in regards to ingredients and additives. Keep it simple.

Also, look for powders that are Non-GMO certified, as many plant-based protein sources are some of the most common GMO crops.

A note on soy based protein powders. Soy is a common source of protein in many powders, especially for those who are vegetarian or vegan. However, soy is a very difficult protein to digest unless it has been fermented, which most protein powders do not offer. Also, soy in large amounts can have an effect on hormones in both men and women, as it is an estrogenic food and is also one of the top allergens.

Choose Grass-Fed and Organic
Whey protein is probably the most popular form of protein powder around. Sourcing whey for protein powders is a natural one that doesn’t require much processing. It is a by-product of the dairy industry, extracted from milk during the making of cheese. Seems pretty simple.

Unfortunately, many companies manufacture their product using less than natural methods such as heating, using chemicals, artificial growth hormones and aggressive filtering that compromise the quality of the whey and denature the protein. Denatured protein means the protein molecule has been damaged.

In terms of choosing a quality source of protein, it is always best to choose one that is as close to its natural form as possible. This makes it easier for the body to digest and break down with minimal stress or digestive issues. Also, it is easier for the body to recognize food in its most natural form versus food that has been manufactured using various steps and stages in its processing.

Choosing a protein powder sourced from pasture raised, grass-fed animals, without the use of artificial hormones or antibiotics is the most sustainable option.

Look For Concentrates
Even after you may decide to choose a whey protein sustainably made without any artificial hormones, factory farming, additives or sugar, there is a whole other aspect regarding the type of whey protein.

Many fitness experts will suggest supplementing with powders made with whey isolates or hydrolyzed protein due to the higher levels of protein and amino acid availability. The idea is that you get more bang for your protein buck.

However, both protein isolates and hydrolyzed protein undergo a much higher form of processing in order to make the amino acids more readily available. These processes also denature the protein.

Whey concentrates are less processed than either isolates or hydrolyzed protein. Concentrates contain the protein as a whole versus breaking it down by an unnatural manufacturing process.

Be Picky With Protein
With a growing awareness of how our food is farmed, produced and manufactured, we sometimes forget that the same awareness needs to be exercised when choosing supplements. Protein powders are no exception and the above tips can help you make the most sustainable, healthy choice for you and your family.

Bio on Maria Viall:

Maria is a board certified holistic health and nutritional practitioner, certified nutrition practitioner and registered orthomolecular health practitioner with a diploma in Therapeutic Supplementation. Maria believes food should never be confusing, restrictive or high maintenance. Her “Back to Food” method assists you in discovering your true health potential by teaching simple strategies that make eating pleasurable yet effective without the dieting garbage.

Strengthening your digestion, eating with your body’s natural rhythm and learning how to break destructive patterns are the keys to achieving a healthy body image and vibrant life. It is her goal to assist you in reaching that for yourself.

As well as having a private practice, Maria is the nutrition expert on Milwaukee’s The Morning Blend talk show, where she debunks common health myths and show people how eating for health can be pleasurable yet simple. From corporate wellness and lunch n’ learns, to one-on-one and group programs, Maria wants to help you feel good in your skin and great in your body.

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