My wife and I have been on a quest to find the perfect protein supplement. You know, one you feel like you could take for the rest of your life and not worry about any adverse side-effects? Well the quest has taken us many places and Emily has written an AWESOME post on some proteins that are actually worth every penny.
Most everyone who is involved in some aspect of fitness realizes the importance of protein in post-workout supplementation. Protein rebuilds muscles, fueling growth and development and revitalizes the body after a hard workout. Optimal protein levels are of the utmost importance for athletes to maintain their well-being and develop themselves into better, stronger, faster athletes. Choosing how to supplement your protein intake is an important choice for your health and well-being. Many protein powders available today are being touted for their nutrition labels showing high protein, low-carb, low-sugar or sugar-free nutritional facts. It is up to us as consumers to realize the negative effects of putting these artificial sources of protein into our systems.
Why has artificial, chemically created “food” taken the place of real, whole food in our diets? Since when has it made more sense to meet our protein requirements with artificially-flavored, chemically sweetened and enhanced substitutes? Obviously, the best source of protein in our diet is real, whole food. In a perfect world, we would all have a perfectly seasoned, cooked to perfection chicken breast awaiting our return in the locker room of our gym to rebuild muscles after a tough workout. Since this is almost never possible, protein supplements are an easy, quick way to replace that chicken breast in our diet; not every time, but in cases where it’s not feasible to scarf down a piece of high-quality protein after an intense workout. So whats a hard-working athlete to do? Research, research, research. Luckily, most of that research has been done for you and has been compiled in this informative post.
What NOT to Buy
One of the most popular and widely-available protein powders out there today is whey protein. Whey protein is a mixture of globular proteins isolated from whey, the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. Because whey is a by-product of dairy, it contains proteins that may upset the digestive systems of those with known intolerance to lactose, and milk products. Because of this, whey protein is not suitable for everyone. However, whey protein is easily accessible, and cheap and therefore makes up a large percentage of protein supplements today.
The fact that whey protein is a by-product of dairy processes is not what is inherently wrong with this type of protein supplement. Unfortunately, the American public has demanded a protein powder that contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving, is low-carb and low in sugar and fat, while tasting just like that milkshake you had at McDonald’s last week. To achieve the unspeakable, producers have turned to chemically created additives to enhance a natural source of protein. While whey may not be the BEST source of protein, the real issue is with the artificial flavors and sweeteners present in most whey protein powders today. Let’s take a look at one of the most popular whey protein powders available on the market.
Here is the ingredient list for Optimum Nutrition Extreme Milk Chocolate whey protein from bodybuilding.com:
|Ingredients:Protein Blend(Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Peptides), Cocoa(Processed With Alkali), Natural And Artificial Flavors, Lecithin, Creamer(Sunflower Oil, Maltodextrin, Modified Food Starch, Di-Potassium Phosphate, Tri-Calcium Phosphate, Tocopherols), Salt, Acesulfame Potassium, Aminogen®,Sucralose, Lactase.|
|ALLERGEN INFORMATION: Contains Milk And Soy (Lecithin) Ingredients.[wpcol_divider]Most of us are trying to maintain a healthy diet, but sometimes that can be sabotaged by hidden ingredients that appear harmless or disguise themselves on labels as terms we don’t know of, so we ignore and hope for the best. Why consume artificial flavors, soy-based emulsifiers (lecithin), modified “food” (modified food starch), and artificial sweeteners (sucralose)? There is a better way!!|
What should I be looking to buy?
Enter: protein supplements that come straight from high-quality sources of protein that contain no artificial flavors or sweeteners. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Take for example this protein from NOW Sports:
Pea protein. From Amazon.com: “Non-GMO Vegetable Protein 100% Pure, Unflavored, High in Branched Chain Amino Acids, Allergen-Free, Soy & Dairy Free, High Solubility, Easy to Digest Vegetarian Product, All Natural – No Aspartame, No Sucralose, No Acesulfame-K. Peas are well known for being a rich source of highly bioavailable protein.”
Doesn’t that sound better!? Wouldn’t you rather this, or something like it be your source of high-quality, muscle-building protein after a workout? Mix it up with a little fruit juice for sweetness or make it into a fruit smoothie and you can’t go wrong. Instead of buying flavored protein powder, let nature do the work for you and reward your body after a job well-done. We are only as good as what we put in to our bodies.
From Amazon.com: “It’s not only what RAW Protein, by Garden of Life, contains, it’s also about what it doesn’t contain – there are no fillers, no artificial flavors and no synthetic ingredients. It is gluten-free and dairy-free and contains no soy allergens.”
Once again, a much better, all-natural source of protein.
Whey Protein Isolate
If it is whey protein you desire, and you still prefer a flavored protein powder, NOW Sports makes an all-natural whey protein powder that is sweetened with stevia extract, a low-calorie, natural sweetener.
And we will also let Optimum Nutrition redeem themselves with this all-natural whey protein, also sweetened with stevia:
As you can see, protein supplements vary greatly not only in flavor and source, but also in their degrees of health-consciousness. Do yourself a favor and consider choosing a protein powder that will really do your body some good.