Save up to 25% on subscriptions
Protein powders have become common place in kitchens and gym bags across the country as we all look for quick, convenient nutrition.
With diets, food allergies and elected restrictions, we are needing to supplement our protein to meet the daily demands of our active lives. Some are using the powders and blends to bulk, cut and get their bodies into athletic form. Others use them for weight and time management with busy schedules. No matter your reasoning, it’s become increasingly important to read the labels and know exactly what you are putting in each and every day. OWYN has worked very hard to give you Only What You Need, and now we want to break down the good, the bad and the ugly in your favorite fitness supplement.
When you take something everyday or even several days a week, it becomes increasingly important to check for high-quality ingredients without fillers, artificial colors, sugars alcohols, allergy-inducing foods and dangerous chemicals. You want to see words you can recognize and foods you love. A protein shake can be a great source of vitamins, minerals and all-around nutrition. Take a look at some of the top ingredients you want to see on your label!
If you are a whey or casein fan, we won’t hold it against you, but the truth is lactose can be causing allergic reactions and bowel sensitivities without you even realizing it. A daily dose of milk-based protein can cause digestive distress including bloating, gas, irregularity, respiratory issues similar to pollen allergies and an increased risk of developing a lactose sensitivity. If you do not experience any of these symptoms, then whey and casein may be a safe option for you. Be sure to check where it is sourced and how it is processed to determine if it may be contaminated. You don’t want your dairy protein to be from cows who were treated with antibiotics or fed GMOs.
To rid yourself of any risk or possible symptoms, choose a whole food, vegan protein. There are many options available, but the right one needs to be a blend of vegetables to give your body the complete amino acid profile. There are nine essential aminos: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Though a few plant foods are said to have them all, the levels of certain amino acids may not be as high as needed for complete nutrition. When choosing a vegan protein, look for blends like pea and pumpkin, brown rice and beans, seeds and whole grains, etc. A combination will give you everything you need on a plate or in a blender. Plant-based proteins also need to be safely sourced. Be sure your protein powder is made from organic plants that are free of GMOs and pesticides.
Many protein supplements have added benefits like omegas-3s, fiber, MCT oil, added superfoods like kale or chia and more. The more nutrition you can pack into your shake, the greater the benefits for your health. Be aware of your fitness goals and the calorie content. Check the sources of the added ingredients and continue to choose only the best for your body. You drink a protein shake for your health, so don’t compromise with inferior ingredients.
This one may come as a shock as vegetarian protein powders have been soy based for years, but the truth is we simply don’t know the long-term effects of this little bean.
Fillers, chemicals, sugars, allergens, fats, unnecessary calories and so much more! We can’t stress this enough. If you drink it every day, things begin to accumulate in your system. Extra calories, fats and sugars can be counteracting all the hours you’ve been spending at the gym and packing on more weight than you want. A few extra pounds may not be a problem, but one Harvard study found lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury in powders along with bisphenol-A or BPA from plastic and numerous pesticides. This is why each OWYN ingredient goes through a rigorous vetting process from source, to production and to your home. For the health of your family and ours, we comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and HACCP (food safety control) certification programs.
You may not be gluten intolerant, but this ingredient can cause inflammation throughout the body when consumed regularly. It has also been linked to hormonal imbalances, fatigue, mood swings, headaches and skin outbreaks. It’s best to be avoided.
These are common fillers in milk-based proteins because they are cheap and bulk up the product. You may do fine with milk, but the processed solids are full of lactose sugars and can cause glucose spikes, loose bowels and gastro discomfort. The protein in milk solids is also difficult to digest and poorly absorbed.
This one may come as a shock as vegetarian protein powders have been soy based for years, but the truth is we simply don’t know the long-term effects of this little bean. We do know it contains phytoestrogens, which is a plant hormone that can possibly mimic estrogen in the body. It is also a goitrogen which has been proven to disrupt the thyroid. The science community is still out on soy’s connection with cancer as it seems to reduce the risk of some and aggravate others. This is one ingredient that needs more time and research before it becomes a daily part of your diet.
You may have read this on your dairy-free milks, powdered supplements and food labels, but do you know what it is? Carrageenan is actually extracted from seaweed, but this is one ingredient that you don’t want to have all the time. It is used for its ability to make foods thick and creamy, like ice creams and yogurt. Unfortunately, studies have shown that regular intake causes intestinal lesions, ulcers, inflammation and even tumors. Better to skip this one if you can.
When shopping for the perfect protein, we look for ‘low sugar,’ ‘sugar free’ and ‘low carb,’ but what are manufacturers putting back in to make our favorite peanut butter chocolate shake taste so darn good? Artificial sweeteners that wreak havoc on our bodies! Read the label closely for sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, dextrose, maltodextrin and glucose, or hidden sugar alcohols like sorbitol and maltitol. It’s better to consume organic sugars like cane sugar, honey, molasses, agave or all-natural stevia.
There are many other things we could find on labels that are not ideal for your health or that of your family, but these are the top ingredients that are regularly added to less than optimal protein supplements. At OWYN, we strive to give you the purest, healthiest RTD and powdered proteins to ensure you truly get the highest quality nutrition available.
Laura Manning, MPH, RDN, CDN The Low FODMAP diet is getting some well-deserved attention these days.