Are Fairlife protein shakes good for you?
Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition
Are Fairlife protein shakes good for you? Fairlife Core Power protein shakes are not good for you. Keep reading to learn more about the ingredients in Fairlife protein shakes, and why they can cause uncomfortable side effects.
Fairlife protein shakes are not good for you.
Are Core Power protein shakes good for you?
Fairlife is a brand of ultra-filtered milk distributed by the Coca-Cola Company. Their protein shakes, which can be found at most gas stations in the United States, are cheap, convenient, and one of the most popular protein supplements. With 26 grams of protein per serving, Core Power protein shakes are certainly a great way to boost your intake, but are they healthy? In this article, we will take a close look at Fairlife’s ingredients so you can decide for yourself.
Fairlife Nutrition Facts.
Fairlife milk contains more protein and less sugar than ordinary milk. A 14oz Fairlife Core Power Vanilla Protein Shake contains 170 calories, 26 grams of protein, and 5 grams of sugar. From a Nutritional Standpoint, it looks like a good source of dietary protein. Just because the nutrient content looks good does not mean that a protein supplement is good for you, however. The ingredients matter just as much, if not more, and in this category, Fairlife fails miserably.
Filtered Lowfat Grade A Milk
The first ingredient and main source of protein in a Fairlife Core Power Vanilla Protein Shake is Filtered Lowfat Grade A Milk. To make filtered milk, milk is passed through a semipermeable membrane, which removes some of the water and lactose (sugar). What is left behind is milk with more protein and less sugar than ordinary milk. This might sound like you can have your cake and eat it too, but hold your horses. Because Fairlife protein shakes still contain some sugar (lactose), they can cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance occurs when the body does not make enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose. It is estimated that roughly two thirds of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance, which makes sense because humans no longer “need” the ability to digest milk after breastfeeding. Common symptoms include bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
A Fairlife Core Power Vanilla Protein Shake contains almost a half dozen food additives. Although not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, additives can add up quickly (especially if you drink a protein shake every day) and cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain. This is because food additives are hard to digest and sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria more time to eat. As they eat, these bacteria produce gas, which causes bloating and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon) and can lead to constipation. In the long term, food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine, which can result in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.
Here are the food additives in a Fairlife Core Power Vanilla Protein Shake:
Natural Flavors, Carrageenan, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum
A quick note about natural flavors…Most people are aware that artificial flavors are synthesized in laboratories, but many are surprised to learn that natural flavors are also made in labs. “Natural flavor” is more or less a catch-all term for everything that a manufacturer would rather not spell out on the ingredient list. While food manufacturers are required to disclose their ingredients, natural flavor manufacturers are not. They can add solvents, preservatives, emulsifiers, carriers and other additives to a flavor that qualifies as “natural” under current regulations.
All Fairlife Core Power protein shakes are sweetened with artificial sweeteners, which are among the most harmful additives in the long term as they alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious, chronic GI problems, widespread inflammation, and permanent damage to the gut microbiome. Some sweeteners are also poorly absorbed by the gut (meaning they feed those hungry gut bacteria), and cause diarrhea because they draw water into your intestine. Now you finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom!
Here are the artificial sweeteners in a Fairlife Core Power Vanilla Protein Shake:
Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose
When it comes to identifying food additives and artificial sweeteners, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, they are the ingredients that you cannot pronounce.
The final Fairlife ingredient that I would like to discuss is stevia. Stevia is an inexpensive zero calorie sweetener derived from the stevia rebaudiana plant. It is over 100 times sweeter than table sugar, and is considered by many to be a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners like sucralose. That said, stevia is often extracted from the stevia rebaudiana plant using chemicals like ethanol and methyl alcohol. This, one could argue, makes it barely more natural than the artificial sweeteners that it seeks to replace. In fact, a recent class action lawsuit filed in California reached a $6.1 million settlement because it was ruled that the company in question falsely labeled and advertised its stevia sweeteners as natural.
A Fairlife alternative.
Our protein powders are additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates – 99% of supplements fail to meet at least one of these criteria. They are perfect for people with gut issues and sensitive stomachs, as well as for people just looking to boost their protein intake without the processing and added junk. Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we use egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried before becoming protein powder. Almonds are just roasted, pressed, and ground. Minimally-processed ingredients like these are an easy to digest, gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.
Filtered Lowfat Grade A Milk, Contains Less Than 1% of: Natural Flavors, Monk Fruit Juice Concentrate, Stevia Leaf Extract, Carrageenan, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Acesulfame Potassium, Sucralose, Lactase Enzyme, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3.
Unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to eggs, egg white protein is the best protein for your gut. Egg whites are low in fiber, low-FODMAP, naturally alkaline, and have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of any whole food. Our customers have experienced fewer digestive issues with egg white protein than with any other type of protein. If you cannot eat eggs, try our almond protein powder. Unlike protein concentrates or isolates, almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients like calcium and vitamin E. We prefer almonds to other minimally-processed plant protein sources because they are more gut-friendly. Research suggests that almonds possess prebiotic properties and can improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome.
“I’ve had Crohn’s disease for 20+ years and it’s always been hard to find a protein powder my stomach can handle. I’ve had no problem digesting drink wholesome AND it tastes great. I highly recommend this protein powder if you have IBS or Crohn’s.” – Jesse
Fairelife Core Power protein shakes are not good for you.