Have you walked down the “Fitness Health Food Aisle” lately? It is a popular aisle for those who aren’t well educated in true health food, but honestly want to cut calories and loose weight. (This isn’t a post judging you if you spend time and money in that aisle. This post is more about the diligence it truly takes to purchase worthwhile, pre-made food that does your body good. I know, that seems like an impossible task). The more I dive down this journey of wellness (that has SO much to do with the fuel/food we put into our body), the more I see that most pre-made foods come at a (health) cost. I could spend hours going through all the “health food” and shedding light on some I am sure are thought to be okay…I would probably even disturb myself with facts I would uncover along the way, but today I want to talk about…
As a busy woman/wife/mom, I have come to appreciate the idea that once a day, my meal is taken care of and drinkable! My motivation for using protein shakes is a no-brainer meal that is high in nutrition and convenience, but low on prep time. I eat a (mostly) whole foods diet so this is not necessarily my only healthy meal of the day. However, I recently read a blog post that got me thinking that I need to be more diligent about the source of that shake.
Now I will be up front with you that this article is a few years old. So, the information about specific shakes may or may not be up to date. The fact remains that most of them listed still contain these same ingredients. Furthermore, if you scroll beyond the chart, you will see a break down of the ingredients she calls into question. That being said, you can go on a Google hunt and be scared from all protein shakes quite quickly. OR you can be talked into the fact that there are really really great ones but you need to know your stuff. So, if you are a shake drinker, like me, let me know! What brand do you like (the taste of) and is it one that you selected based on ingredient origin and composition? I have gone through a half dozen or so brands and will give my specific feed back in a future post. For now, if you drink a shake, make sure you know these simple things:
THE INFO BELOW WAS PULLED STRAIGHT FROM MERCOLA’s website. Great info if you are in the market for a new/better Protein Shake:
The 9 Essentials to Look For in Your Whey Protein Powder
1.) All-natural, pasture-fed cows’ whey, NOT pesticide-treated, grain-fed cows’ whey
- Compared to grain-fed cows, pasture-fed cows produce whey that:
- Is nutritionally superior to grain fed
- Contains an impressive amino acid and immuno-supportive nutrient profile
- Is rich in healthy fats–lipolic acid and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)
2.) GMO-free whey
- Choose whey made without GMOs
3.) Cold processed, NOT heat processed
- Most whey is heat processed which:
- Makes the whey acidic and nutritionally deficient
- Damages the immuno-supportive micronutrients and amino acids
- Makes whey inadequate for consumption
Cold processed whey protects the nutrients in their natural state.
4.) Acid-free processing, NOT Acid / Ion Exchange Processing
Acid / Ion Exchange Processing is cheaper than acid-free processing, but it denatures the amino acid profiles by using acids and chemicals to separate the whey from the fats.
5.)Whey protein concentrate, NOT protein isolates
Protein isolates are proteins stripped away from their nutritional cofactors. There are three problems with that…
- All isolates are exposed to acid processing.
- Your body cannot assimilate proteins in isolated form.
- Due to over-processing, isolates are deficient in key amino acids and nutritional cofactors.
You must make sure you get whey protein concentrate instead of protein isolates, which are an inferior product.
When you remove fat, you actually remove components of its immunological properties, such as phospholipids, phosphatidylserine, and cortisol. Additionally, all of the igG immunoglobulins, which are an excellent source of glutamine and cysteine, are also bound to the fat globule. Fat provides not only calories; most foods rich in healthful fat – including nuts and seeds like almonds and chia – are carriers of antioxidants, such as vitamin E and phytosterols.
Therefore, you’re clearly left with an inferior whey protein if you take the fat out. So don’t settle for anything less than whey protein concentrate.
6.) Sweetened naturally, NOT artificially, and low carb
- Most whey products are artificially sweetened making them useless if you have sugar sensitivities, or just don’t want to put artificial sweeteners or flavors into your body.
Your whey should be low glycemic, low carb and should not contain any artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohol, glycerin, fructose, sugar or gluten.
7.) Maximum biological value, NOT compromised or damaged
- Most whey proteins provide some benefit. But, due to the ingredients, the source of the whey, the concentration of beneficial nutrients, or the type of processing, many whey products simply don’t deliver what they promise.
- You want whey that’s guaranteed to retain its maximum biological value — one with all the key amino acids, cofactors and beneficial micronutrients present and intact rather than compromised or damaged, and not missing any amino acids or essential nutrients.
8.) Easy to Digest, NOT Causing Digestive Stress
- Many whey products contain long-chain fatty acids, which are hard to digest and require bile acids to absorb.
- You want a whey protein powder with medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). These are easily absorbed, digested quickly, and utilized as energy without causing digestive stress.
Ideally, you want a product in which the MCT come from the best source of all — coconut oil.
9.) Free from Toxic Heavy Metals or at Such Low Levels NOT to be a Health Risk
- Many protein powders both whey and non-whey could contain dangerous levels of heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic.
- A Consumer Reports‘ evaluation showed some leading brands of protein powders exceeded United States Pharmacopoeia’s (USP) recommended safety limits for certain heavy metals.
You want to avoid these products at all costs because any high concentration of heavy metals taken over time could lead to serious health consequences.
Okay, so lots of info that may seem overwhelming, but I promise to provide you with a list of great options in just a few weeks!