This week's blog comes from a food expert and expert nutritionist, Stephanie (AKA Nutrinoggin, whose motto is more brains, less bull – and we love it!) Stephanie lifts the lid on all those different protein powders and cuts out the crap to get to the bottom of what you really should be looking out for so you can be healthier and happier.
The popularity of protein powder has grown exponentially over the past decade or so, and with the fitness industry bigger than ever it seems there’s one for everyone. With so many to choose from it can quickly become confusing. Throw in a serving of questionable claims and a dollop of misleading marketing, and you could find choosing the right protein for you is a bit of a Russian roulette! Read on to find out why all protein isn’t created equal…
What exactly is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient, which means our bodies need it in high amounts, just like fat and carbohydrate – the two other macronutrients. They’re needed in ‘macro’ amounts because they are the best sources of energy – and we need energy to sustain life!
Aside from providing energy, protein is also needed in the body to produce enzymes and hormones, regulate the immune system and – of course – build muscle tissue!
I’m not a Bubble-butted Bodybuilder – is Protein for me?
We all need a certain amount of protein each and every day – whether you’re catching a wave or sofa-surfing! Rich sources of protein include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, beans and legumes. If you’re following a plant-based diet, it’s harder to get the protein you need from diet alone. What’s more, if you’re active – particularly if you’re into strength training – you may need to supplement your diet with a protein powder.
Eenie Meenie Miny Mo – Which is the Best Protein to Help me Grow?
Protein is sounding pretty good up to now, right - so what’s the need for more variety than Heinz? It’s all about profitability for most manufacturers. Choosing ingredients that are cheaper to source and bulking them out with low-quality additives is unfortunately a common practice in the supplement industry.
But, like most things in life, you get what you pay for. So if your protein is cheap as chips it’s probably doing you as much good as a plate of fries.
Let’s take a look at two of the most commonly produced and lowest priced varieties of protein powder…
- Whey Protein Isolate: Whey is a by-product of the cheese-making industry and so is produced unintentionally en masse, making it one of the cheapest sources of protein. As it contains dairy, whey is not vegan-friendly and also contains lactose, which is a common allergen. The natural flavour of whey can be quite unpleasant, so it is usual to see artificial flavourings and sweeteners added to the powder to give it taste – not the whey forward.
- Soy Protein Powder: Soy is an allergen and is widely known to cause hormonal imbalance, especially in women. What’s more, soy beans are often genetically modified (GMO). GMO foods have been shown to be harmful to our DNA and contribute to the growth of damaged cells, which cause disease.
It seems that choosing a low-cost protein powder may leave you paying the price further down the line!
Ingredients added in Bad Taste
Marketing marvels and business bad-asses may be able to pull the wool (or other cruelty-free vegan material) over our eyes for some things, but when it comes to taste their tongues are tied! The only way to mask the misfortune of a terrible-tasting protein powder is to add other ingredients that improve the flavour – nasty, awful, low-quality ingredients that have about as much nutritional value as a lump of lard, but can be purchased for pennies. Such as…
- Artificial Flavourings: chemical substances which have been manufactured to mimic the flavour of real foods. These are synthesised using inedible sources, which is of course cheaper than extracting natural flavourings.
- Artificial Sweeteners: sugar substitutes used to give a sweet taste, one of the most popular ways to mask a lack of flavour. Their use has been linked to weight gain, metabolic disorders and even increased risk of cancer. Plant-based sweeteners are better, but have also been known to cause gastrointestinal symptoms and hormone signalling interruptions.
- Bulking Agents: not actually there for flavour but to bulk out the product. Many protein powders contain starch to increase the weight of the powder without affecting taste. Not only does this mean you’re getting less protein per gram, but it also increases the carbohydrate content.
The best protein powders will keep these in-gredients out!
Eat, Vive and be Happy!
We hope by now that you feel more confident in choosing a supplement that will do you more good than harm. It really is a minefield out there. Without proper research or investigation, it’s a bit of a gamble when choosing a protein powder – and your health is not something you want to gamble on!
At Vive we believe in simplicity and transparency. We created our sweetener-free vegan protein powders to be as natural and clean as possible.
Our 100% vegan protein powder - contains a blend of brown rice and pea protein – really, that’s all! Have you ever looked at your bank balance and had to do a double-take at how little you have left? This ingredient list can have the same effect!
- Brown rice is a wholefood source of protein which contains a small amount of complex carbohydrates, B-vitamins and fibre.
- Pea protein is minimally processed and extremely hypoallergenic, as close to the wholefood as possible.
We don’t add any artificial or natural sweeteners to our protein. We’d prefer you to take nature’s ingredients and add your own sweetness. Our smooth natural plant-protein is the perfect blank canvas from which to create a macro-masterpiece! Try adding manuka honey, banana, maple syrup or fruit puree to your protein shake to top up the taste and nutrient value.
You’ll find loads of great recipe ideas on our blog. Or for a ready-made flavour phenome-nom try our peanut butter protein powder, with added natural peanut flour for a flavour you’d be nuts not to love!
By using the best and leaving out the rest we can give you a protein powder that is as protein-y as possible! With less than 110 calories per serving, our protein is low in fat and carbohydrate, with no added sugar. It’s 100% vegan and free from gluten, dairy and soy. Most importantly, because we’ve used the best quality ingredients and not much more, each serving contains a mega 20g protein!
This week’s guest blog was written by NutriNoggin – your go-to source for
health and wellbeing information and advice. Founded by nutritionist and
writer Stephanie, her motto is more brains, less bull – and we love it! Find
NutriNoggin on Facebook and Instagram if you want more facts and less fads!