Protein drinks are all the rage in certain gyms, with body builders, and people looking for an edge on their training and performance. Getting protein, nutrients and energy building blocks from food is always far superior to powders as long as the food is organic and clean, with no preservatives, not highly processed or tampered with in any way.
If you read the labels of many of the protein powders on the market, you may not be able to pronounce all of the ingredients. As a general rule of thumb for anything you ingest, if you can’t say it, don’t eat it. If you don’t recognized the ingredient, neither will your body and digesting it will require more energy to break it down. A natural source of protein is always easier to assimilate and use.
Should you decide to do a protein powder anyway, there are a few ingredients you want to avoid.
SOY A staple in vegetarian and vegan diets, soy is not a healthy food for anyone. The body recognizes soy as a phyto-estrogen or fake estrogen. It is broken down in the body as though it was the hormone estrogen. This is not good for babies in their formula, for women who are already making estrogen or for guys. Hormonal imbalances can create headaches, acne, and cramping. It is also high in phytic acid. This can leach nutrients from your body and cause bloating.
LECITHIN This is a fat essential in the cells of the body. It is used to keep certain ingredients from separating. Side effects can be diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and bloating. (Often you will see soy lecithin…yikes. A double whammy!)
MALTODEXTRIN This is made from corn (a GMO crop) or rice and potato starch. It has a zero sum as far as calories, vitamins, or nutrients go, but it is used as a thickener, to bulk products up and improve texture and appearance.
ACESULFAME POTASSIUM Because every one seems to be on a ‘diet’, anything that sweetens with zero calories is considered the Holy Grail. This sweetener is two hundred times sweeter than sugar and has been labeled as a carcinogenic, though that is disputed by the FDA.
ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS Again, people want to lose weight without doing anything meaningful, lasting or healthy to achieve that goal.. A zero sum sweetener made in the lab? Run the other way. These products excite the nervous system to death and can create headaches, blurry vision, and joint pain to name just a few side effects.
WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATES This is a modified form of whey that is hard to digest. Usually, whey is processed from ultra-pasteurized milk and may be exposed to acid processing. Heat and acid damage the protein and make it insoluble so all these aforementioned ingredients are added to restore flavor and solubility. Some side effects can be bloating, kidney problems and headaches due to dehydration.
If you do opt for a protein powder, how you feel is the best barometer for whether or not it is good for you, something you can tolerate and digest or if you should be opting for a steak and some organic spinach instead.