So you’re on a major health kick and all about smoothies. Or maybe you’re training for Tough Mudder because you’re a bad ass (but also 20% crazy). Perhaps you took the plunge and bought that blender that’s 1/3 of your rent. What do all of these things have in common? You’re likely in the market for a protein powder. Lucky you, today we’re doing a round up of the giant, and often confusing world of protein powders. The good: there’s a ton of amazing products out there! The bad (and the ugly): there are a ton of junky products out there! Protein is something we need, daily, and we want to ensure we’re getting it from a source that our bodies can utilize efficiently. So let’s dive into the topic of protein, why quality matters and a recipe for DIY protein powder.
First things first: protein powder supplements are just that: supplements. They are not intended to become the sole source of protein in a diet, and it’s important to note that there is no protein powder that can do what the power of whole foods can. Our favorite whole food sources include pastured eggs, wild caught seafood, pastured meat / poultry, seeds, nuts, whole grains and legumes. But when you’re on the go, or want to make a standard green smoothie a protein packed breakfast, it can be an incredible boost to your daily nutrient intake. Anyone on the go who needs a well rounded meal, very active people or athletes, vegans or vegetarians, or those recovering from a major illness will likely benefit from the extra support supplemental protein can provide.
Protein is a key component to any meal, in fact, without it, it’s not considered a full meal. Protein will sustain you and give you energy, all while giving your body the tools it needs for restoration, brain function and much more. What makes a protein complete? The presence of all the amino acids (listen i’m not calling you a dummie it’s the name of the site and they do a great breakdown…for dummies. Be cool it’s a joke). Those are the building blocks of proteins. In nature, these are only found in animal sources, but we can “create” whole protein sources by food combining (for example having legumes + whole grains together = full amino acid profile). These are just fun facts because I’m certain you like to dork out on this like we do.
Back to protein you can find in a jar. There are a daunting amount of protein powders out there, and unfortunately there are plenty that aren’t worth your hard earned cash money. When it comes to shopping for protein powders you’ll want to follow these cardinal rules:
- Look for those containing few ingredients, and only whole foods
- Avoid any and all sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors and/or colors
- Avoid any “isolates” including whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, etc. These are NOT whole foods. This will cancel out most brands you see at GNC type stores. We’re really going to hammer this one home: soy protein isolate, for example, is a cheap GMO soy that’s highly refined and can cause allergic reactions.
- Hydrogenated anything = no bueno. May come in the form of “hydrogenated whey protein” – which means it’s a denatured, RANCID oil, which turns into trans fats, which turns into you getting in trouble at the doctor.
- Soybean oil, gluten, milk powder, maltodextrin: because there is no place for these in protein powder and some of them no reason for existing.
- Because we avoid dairy during our programs, we tend to avoid whey protein powders – but if you know you’re cool with whey/dairy, always opt for a grass-fed whey protein powder (we have a few whey based recs below). If you’re not sure if you are, then do Prescribe 20 to help figure it out!
Here’s a list of our favorite powders, though there are some other great brands out there! Hit us up in the comments if we’re missing one of your personal faves.
*These are affiliate links but do not fear, this is our personal opinion on our favorite products!
Collagen! Duh, we love us some collagen. And while it’s not a traditional “protein powder,” it is indeed a protein powder. You’ll not only get younger as you consume it (science still pending), you’ll get 18 grams of protein per serving.
Garden of Life RAW: This brand uses wonderful ingredients but some people find the texture gritty and chalky, while some people love it. We love this brand (including their probiotics).
Jarrow Hemp Protein: Organic, simple protein comprised entirely of hemp.
Ka’Chava : A very expensive blend of antioxidant rich components and protein. We do love the chocolate flavor though.
Naked Whey: Exactly what the name says, this is nothing but grass-fed whey protein. It’s got a clean taste and we give two thumbs up, if you can tolerate dairy.
PlantFusion: A great flavor and created from very digestible pea and sprouted amaranth protein. Pea protein is all the rage.
Sunwarrior Classic: This is a very clean, basic but nutritious powder created only from brown rice protein.
Sunwarrior Warrior Blend: We prefer this Sunwarrior blend because it relies on pea protein (which we love) and combines superfoods like hemp and cranberry. This is one of our favorites.
Tera’s Whey: Delicious. We love their organic line, and if you want flavored options their chocolate / vanilla / berry are flavored with stevia (not sugar) which we’re cool with. Great texture – only works if you can tolerate dairy.
Ultimate Paleo Protein: This is the new dark horse of the bunch. We were just tipped off to this super clean product. Ultimate Paleo Protein is a unique protein powder that supplies incredible recovery and immune supporting ingredients for athletes and active individuals. This powder is completely free of hormones and additives and is 100% hypoallergenic.
Vega Sport: One of our favorites, this has a high protein content and a nice texture. More expensive than some of the other brands.
Vega One: It contains more antioxidants but less protein than Vega Sport and is meant to be an entire meal replacement. We don’t love the texture as much.
Vega Protein Smoothie: Less protein than both Vega One and Vega Sport but blends very well into smoothies, one of our favorites! Less expensive than the other Vega brands.
Alternatively…you can use a combination of whole foods/make your own protein powder and and feel very Pinterest all the while. The plus side of making your own is that it’s cheaper, you’re utilizing whole foods, and you’re in charge of exactly what goes in. To get a well rounded dose of protein from whole foods, try our DIY protein blend at the bottom.
PRESCRIBE NUTRITION DIY PROTEIN POWDER
- 1 part flax seeds
- 1 part chia seeds
- 1 part hemp seeds
- 1 part raw pumpkin seeds
- Add equal parts of each ingredient to a large jar or container, mix well and keep covered. Make as much or as little as you like, simply be sure to keep it sealed (if you make a large batch it’s ideal to keep it in the refrigerator).
- Use ¼ cup for each smoothie serving, and if the smoothie recipe already calls for one of these ingredients, such as chia seeds you can omit it from the original recipe since you will adding in your own. Enjoy!
We talk about this type of intel and loads of other useful stuff in Prescribe 20….so you should probably sign up and feel like a million bucks 20 days afterwards.