Scary junk in commercial protein powders
First things first, let’s start with why you don’t want to go buying that typical protein shake from Walmart or GNC or Herbalife or Isagenix. As explained in this article by leading natural physician Dr. Mercola, commercial protein powders often contain concerning amounts of heavy metals like mercury and cadmium.
Also if you read the ingredients, you will find a long list of things like artificial flavours, sweeteners, thickeners, texturizers, gums, and waxes. Plus the protein is from non-organic milk, so you’re getting all the hormones and pesticides from that. Consider that in making the whey the milk gets concentrated, so those chemicals get concentrated too.
Finally, they are high-heat processed so the protein molecules become denatured and aren’t as useful to the body. Basically commercial protein powders are a massive waste of money, and could actually be toxic.
But isn’t whey isolate best?
When we were initially researching the best protein powder, Dave Asprey the Bulletproof Exec was recommending cold-processed cross-flow microfiltered whey isolate. This was supposed to be the cleanest, purest source of protein to eliminate all those nasty toxins & ingredients mentioned above.
However, excuse my dumb non-sciencey language, but whey isolate is basically a “chemistry molecule”. Kind of like taking a vitamin C supplement instead of eating an orange. It’s just one constituent of the food and the body doesn’t quite know what to do with it. When you eat the whole orange (or get all the proteins from natural milk), your body understands how to use it most effectively. (Dave Asprey has now changed his recommendation to a less-processed form, see more below – his product is my second best go-to)
Ok, so real-food protein powder is better
Will gets all the credit for finding our current favourite, and in my opinion the Best Paleo Protein Powder. He wanted to get more muscley and wanted to do it in a healthy way. Sounds good to me! ;)
He found that Protein 17 is the most minimally-processed, well-sourced, real-food based protein powder on the market right now (that we know of!). When they use minimally-processed complete milk proteins, you’re getting all the goodness of the milk, (not just the “chemistry molecule”! ha.) This includes enzymes like lactase, and minerals like magnesium. Protein 17 is actually a pretty good source of magnesium, which is something our diets often lack.
From the Protein 17 website:
I like how Protein 17 gives the most information about exactly how the whey powder is processed. There are a number available that say they are organic and grass-fed, but they don’t specify nearly as much about how the delicate immune-supporting proteins from the milk are minimally processed so that they remain intact.
They even explain on the container how there are no additives to make it blend with water (like most protein powders have), so it’s necessary to use a mixer or magic bullet.
It currently has 207 five-star reviews on Amazon which I found pretty dang impressive and clearly those folks are super-discerning customers. The only grass-fed organic whey on Amazon that has more reviews (Tera’s Whey, 275 reviews, 4.5 stars) doesn’t specify their processing methods, so I’m not as apt to trust it.
The second best choice for Paleo protein powder
If you see anything on your protein powder that says it “mixes easily with water” or “dissolves instantly”, that should be a red flag for additives. However, if you can’t deal with having to blend Protein 17 every time, my next best recommendation is Upgraded Bulletproof Whey.
It also contains coconut MCT (a healthy fat) for brain-power and colostrum for immunity.
If whole foods are better, why would you use protein powder at all
Good question, and totally valid point. Generally speaking we certainly stick to whole foods 95% of the time, (and real food 99% of the time! except maybe the very occasional hung-over McDonalds feast. GASP! Yes, I said it!)
However, as discussed above, Protein 17 is pretty darn close to a whole food. And 3 other things come into play here:
- convenience – sometimes we just need grab-and-go nutrition!
- cost – having protein as a supplement helps save a bit on buying whole meat, poultry and fish
- “eatability” – Will wants to consume more protein for muscle-building, but a normal person in a normal daily life can only physically eat so much. While lean muscle is awesome, neither of us really want to eat 1.5 lbs of meat at every meal. And that would get mighty expensive.
What we use protein powder for:
- to add nutrition to our “paleo treats” recipes like muffins, loafs and pancakes, as well as to smoothies. We make baked stuff for easy breakfasts sometimes (see one of my recipes here)
- Will has a protein shake every day after working out (raw organic grass-fed milk and Protein 17) for manly muscley purposes
That’s basically it. What do you use it for?
Share your experience with paleo protein powder
What are your thoughts on using protein powder as a smart nutritional supplement? What protein powder do you think is best? Has protein powder helped you achieve your goals? Has this article enlighted you to reconsider your approach to protein powder? Let me know your thoughts below!