Years ago, I started adding a very delicious vanilla whey protein to my smoothies that I got from GNC. I was religious about using this one brand, and when they suddenly discontinued it, I became outraged! I called every GNC in town searching high and low for it. It was the best tasting whey protein on the market and I didn’t want to go on a hunt for another kind. Well… long story short, I got to the bottom of why they discontinued it – the health department found rat droppings in samples of the protein at the manufacturing plant! WHAT. I’d been drinking rat droppings for all those years? @#$%&%&*^%^$$!
Needless to say, I have never looked at protein powders the same again. I research the heck out of them before I ever consider putting them in my body.
The key to finding a high quality protein powder is figuring out the right questions to ask…. Is it organic and free of pesticides? Is it GMO free? How is it processed? Does the processing retain its nutritional quality, vitamins and minerals? Does it contain artificial or refined sugars? Do they have heavy metals?
Yes…I said heavy metals. Consumer Reports conducted an eye-opening investigation that revealed that several popular highly processed protein powders like Myoplex, Muscle Milk, Designer Whey and GNC brand all contained arsenic, cadmium, and lead. Yikes.
This is just another reason why it is incredibly important to know what you are buying, where it is from and how it is produced.
So today…I want to share with you my Food Babe approved list of protein powders that are free of pesticides, GMOs, all those nasty chemicals and other grossities…
- Organic Plant Protein Superfood 30 Shake ($39.99 from Nutiva for 18 servings) – Nutiva’s shake is made from certified organic whole food plant proteins – no processed whey or isolated soy and contains 20 grams of protein per serving! This shake is a blend of organic pea, pumpkin, sunflower, chia, hemp and sacha inchi proteins, along with 30 superfoods including reishi mushroom, baobab, moringa, kale, hawthorn berry, purple corn, sea buckthorn, kelp and cinnamon. It also tastes amazing, despite having no fake flavors, nasty chemical additives, and only 2g of sugar per serving. Unlike other protein manufacturers that never tell you what’s in their “natural” or “organic” flavors, Nutiva uses an organic flavor where they actually list what’s in it – vs. hiding it! All of these ingredients are ORGANIC too – so they are not using Roundup-Ready GMO corn and they use all organic ingredients to make the carriers for the flavors! This is a huge deal – not just with transparency, but the high level quality of each ingredient they choose. Also note – the sugars in the product come mostly from plants and fruits – not added sugar or stevia (which I think makes most protein powders taste kinda too sweet and some nasty!) I’m so happy that Nutiva formulated the BEST plant protein powder out there!
- Tera’s Organic Whey ($25 from Amazon for 12 servings) – There’s a lot of controversy about whether or not to consume whey within the health food community and from what I have researched – the benefits of consuming whey are valid for muscle building, muscle recovery and weight management. It just depends on what kind of whey you get and from where. You either you can pick low quality heat processed alkalinity stripping whey protein isolate – or you can pick cold processed whole food whey concentrate made from organic fed cows not treated with growth hormones or antibiotics. Tera’s whey is actually made in small batches and takes considerable care in how the whey is processed. Tera’s whey also comes in some very delicious flavors like blueberry and coffee that are real food based – not loaded with ambiguous “natural flavors.”(One caveat, I’d like to mention – if you decide to go with a whey protein, it’s crucial to maintain a diet high in other plant-based foods. This whey, although a good product that retains its nutritional profile, can be acid forming in large quantities just like a diet with an over emphasis on meat and dairy. Remember keeping your body alkaline is key to avoiding disease and eating a diet full of plant based foods is the only way to keep it that way.)
- Nutiva’s Hemp Protein – ($21.99 for 30 servings) – The ingredient label of this very nutritional protein supplement has one beautiful ingredient “organic hemp seeds.” This protein powder may not be for everyone, because the taste is definitely something to get used to. But when combined with the right tasty ingredients like fruit, raw cacao and/or almond butter, it can be very appetizing. Finding the right balance of hemp protein to additional ingredients is the key to enjoying this rich in Omega 3 fatty acid supplement.
I’d love to know if you have tried any of these before or found any protein powders you like better. Please leave a comment and let me (and others) know.
Updated 08/25/2016 to include new Nutiva protein powder and remove others I no longer use because they contain stevia and gums.