I get a lot of questions about protein shakes and powders. Many of you want to know if I drink them, which brands I recommend, what types of protein are the best, which ones to avoid…etc.
The truth is that most protein powders on the market are filled with highly processed denatured proteins, preservatives, GMOs, and tons of additives. Many are so expensive but also at the same time can be some of the lowest quality ingredients you can buy!
Let me give you an example of a protein powder that I would NEVER buy…
EAS Soy Protein Powder: Soy Protein Isolate, Fructose, Cocoa Powder (Processed with Alkali), Natural & Artificial Flavor, and Soy Lecithin.
This protein powder is not certified organic or non-GMO project verified – so it can contain GMO ingredients. The soy likely comes from “Roundup Ready” soybeans (a GMO) that is engineered to be doused with Monsanto’s herbicide glyphosate. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer deemed glyphosate “probably carcinogenic” – This is definitely not something you should be supplementing your diet with!
Besides being GMO, I avoid soy protein because when soy is isolated to just its protein state it becomes denatured and can cause hormonal disruptions. It also endures an extreme amount of chemical processing to become “isolated” – so it is not what I consider real food.
Here’s another popular one I wouldn’t buy…
IsoPure Zero Carb Protein (Vanilla): Ion Exchange Whey [Milk] Protein Isolate, Microfiltered Whey [Milk] Protein Isolate, Vitamin/Mineral/Amino Acid Blend, (Taurine, Potassium [As Potassium Chloride], Chloride [As Potassium And Sodium Chloride], Calcium [As Dicalcium Phosphate Dihydrate], Phosphorus [As Dicalcium Phosphate Dihydrate], L-Glutamine, Magnesium [As Magnesium Oxide], Vitamin C [As Ascorbic Acid], Vitamin E [As DL-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate], Niacin, Zinc [As Zinc Sulfate Dihydrate], Vitamin A [As Palmitate], Pantothenic Acid [As D-Calcium Pantothenate], Vitamin B6 [As Pyridoxine Hydrochloride], Copper [As Amino Acid Chelate], Manganese [As Manganese Sulfate Dihydrate], Riboflavin, Thiamin [As Thiamin Hydrochloride], Folic Acid, Biotin, Iodide [As Potassium Iodide], Chromium [As Amino Acid Chelate], Vitamin K, Molybdenum [As Amino Acid Chelate], Selenium [As Amino Acid Chelate], Vitamin B12), Soy Lecithin, Natural And Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Sucralose.
This artificially flavored protein powder is made from whey protein that is not certified organic, so it likely comes from cows that were raised on GMOs, growth hormones, antibiotics and other drugs. It also contains the artificial sweetener sucralose (Splenda) which is linked to leukemia. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says sucralose is not safe and should be avoided.
This next protein powder seems pretty clean, but I still wouldn’t buy it…
Vega One Nutritional Shake (French Vanilla): Pea protein, whole flaxseed (micro-milled), organic acacia gum (naturally occurring fiber), hemp protein, SaviSeedTM (sacha inchi) protein, organic gelatinized maca root, organic broccoli, inulin (from chicory root), organic spirulina, organic kale, organic marine algae calcium, fruit & vegetable blend (spinach, broccoli, carrot, beet, tomato, apple, cranberry, orange, blueberry and/or bilberry, strawberry, shiitake mushroom), chlorella vulgaris (cracked whole cell), papaya extract, probiotics (bacillus coagulans [provides 1 billion cfu/serving]), antioxidant fruit blend (grape seed extract, organic pomegranate, açai, mangosteen, organic goji, organic maqui), Contains 2 percent or less of: natural vanilla flavor, natural caramel flavor, stevia extract, citric acid.
This shake is not certified organic, including the first two ingredients, which means that they may have been treated with synthetic pesticides. Roundup herbicide is also used as a desiccant (drying agent) on some non-organic peas and flaxseed crops. Since I try to avoid these chemicals, I choose certified organic foods whenever possible! This powder is also sweetened with stevia extract (instead of whole stevia leaf), which goes through a chemical-laden process.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to review this next shake… (a lot!) and again, this is one that I wouldn’t buy…
Isagenix IsaLean Shake (Strawberry Cream): Exclusive Myo-IsaLean Complex [whey protein concentrate (undenatured), milk protein concentrate (undenatured), low heat nonfat dry milk], isomaltooligosaccharide powder, fructose, sunflower (Helianthus annuus) oil powder, natural strawberry flavors, olive (Olea europaea) oil powder, tapioca maltodextrin, flax (Linum usitatissimum) seed powder, xanthan gum, medium chain triglyceride oil powder, Ionic Alfalfa™ (Medicago sativa) leaf extract, natural flavors, beet juice powder, magnesium oxide, tricalcium phosphate, potassium citrate, enzyme blend [lactase (from Aspergillus oryzae), lipase (from Rhizopus oryzae), cellulase (from Trichoderma longibrachiatum), invertase (from Saccharomyces cerevisiae), protease (from Aspergillus oryzae), amylase (from Bacillus subtilis), bromelain (from Ananas comosus), papain (from Carica papaya), acid stable protease (from Aspergillus niger)], magnesium citrate, sea salt, stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) leaf extract, silicon dioxide, yucca (Yucca schidigera) root powder, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), magnesium stearate, psyllium (Plantago ovata) seed powder, biotin, selenium amino acid chelate, vitamin E succinate, copper amino acid chelate, vitamin A (beta carotene), zinc oxide, manganese amino acid chelate, iodine amino acid chelate, niacinamide, d-calcium pantothenate, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), chromium amino acid chelate, niacin, molybdenum amino acid chelate, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCl), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), riboflavin, Lactobacillus acidophilus, thiamine HCl, folic acid.
This protein powder is not organic! Although Isagenix claims they make every effort not to use GMOs, this shake is not Non-GMO Project Verified or certified organic so there is a chance that some of the ingredients (such as the fructose) are derived from GMOs. While their website states their whey comes from New Zealand cows fed on a pasture, they readily admit, “we have also sought other suppliers in Australia and the U.S. who meet the same standards for dairy protein“. Without the certified organic or certified grassfed label, there is the possibility that the cows were raised with some GMO feed. The amount of sugar in this shake is pretty high too at 11 grams per serving, which is almost 3 teaspoons! Although this powder is filled with vitamins and minerals, these don’t come directly from real food. The ingredients within the natural flavors in this shake are not identified on the label. Flavors can contain up to 100 ingredients, including “synthetic chemicals such as the solvent propylene glycol or the preservative BHA” as well as GMO-derived ingredients.
Another two I get asked about all the time that aren’t organic either…
Shakeology (Greenberry): Proprietary Superfood Blend, Protein Blend (Whey Protein Isolate (milk), Pea protein, Flax (seed), Chia (seed), Quinoa (seed)), Chlorella (whole plant), Pea fiber (seed), Spirulina, Yacon (root), Cordyceps (fungi), Camu-Camu (fruit), Acerola cherry (fruit), Chicory fiber (root), Spinach leaf, Pomegranate (fruit), Astragalus (fruit), Bilbury (fruit), Blueberry (fruit), Lycium berry (fruit), Maitake (fungi), Reishi (fungi), Rose hips (fruit), MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), Ashwagandha (root), Enzyme Blend (Amylase, Cellulase, Lactase, Glucoamylace, Alpha-galactosidase, Invertase, Kale (leaf), Lactobacillus sporogenes, Shisandra (fruit), Maca (root), Luo Han Guo (fruit), Cinnamon (bark), Green tea extract (leaf), Moringa (leaf), Sacha inchi (seed), Other ingredients (non-GMO Fructose, Xanthan Gum, Natural Strawberry Flavor (with other natural flavors), Citric acid, Himalayan salt, Stevia extract (leaf).
Arbonne Vanilla Protein Shake Mix: Protein Matrix Blend (pea protein isolate, cranberry protein, rice protein), sugar cane, sunflower oil, natural vanilla flavor, inulin, maltodextrin, flax seed, stevia leaf extract, xanthan gum, gum acacia, guar gum.
You can still supplement with protein and avoid heavily processed protein powders like these!
I typically prefer to make protein smoothies from scratch with real nutrient-dense foods – but this is not always the most convenient option. I realize there are times when you just need to whip up a quick protein shake and run out the door or want something while traveling – without worrying about poisoning yourself with unnecessary chemicals. Now that I am pregnant, I need extra protein for my growing baby, but want to make sure I am getting it from the safest sources.
It’s important to note that I don’t like consuming additional no-calorie sweeteners like stevia extract and erythritol on a daily basis. The extra sweet sensation screws with my taste buds and I’d rather have my daily drinks sweetened with fruit and other natural sources that don’t mess with my hunger signals.
That’s why I created my own: Truvani Plant-Based Protein Powder
Our unique protein blend of organic pea, chia seed, and pumpkin seed protein creates a complete plant-based protein that is easy to digest and is smooth (not chalky and lumpy like the other brands!)
We also avoid the plastic tubs that other protein powders use to avoid BPA contamination.
We have strict criteria each ingredient supplier must meet before we’ll consider using them and then we hold them accountable by independently testing their ingredients. For instance, our ingredients need to be not only be certified organic and non-GMO, but they need to pass heavy metal testing as well.
- USDA Organic
- Free of stevia
- Free of additives or artificial flavors
- 100% plant based (made from a unique blend of pea, chia, and pumpkin seed protein for a complete amino acid profile)
- Made from real protein (NOT an isolate)
- Easy to mix – even in just water
- Good for your cardiovascular health, a strong immune system, muscle growth, a healthy metabolism, and youthful skin
To learn more about what makes Truvani Plant Based Protein so unique, check this out.
Do you know someone still consuming protein powders with terrible ingredients? If so, please share this post with them and spread the word!
P.S. Still confused on protein powders? Remember, if your protein powder is not certified organic, it’s not worth putting it in your body – especially on a regular basis. Period.
Updated to remove outdated info 8/27/2016
Updated with Truvani protein powder, as this is what I currently use – 7/17/19