Is vegan protein powder good for you?
Is vegan protein powder good for you? Some vegan protein powders are good for you, most are not.
Most vegan protein powders are not good for you.
Is plant based protein powder good for you?
Plant-based protein is good for you, and is as effective as any other type of dietary protein at helping you meet your nutritional goals. Some people will tell you that plant proteins are inferior to whey protein, for example, because they are not complete. This is misleading. A complete protein is a protein that contains the nine essential amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own. Although it is true that dairy, eggs, and meat contain complete proteins and most plants do not, humans do not need to consume complete proteins in every bite of food at every meal.
If you are eating a balanced diet and getting your protein from a variety of sources, it does not matter if your proteins are complete. In other words, you do not need to mix and match incomplete proteins to create a complete protein every time you eat. Eating a variety of plant foods like legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains on a regular basis will suffice. Moreover, research has shown that whey and plant proteins promote similar strength, performance, and body composition adaptations. In other words, you are by no means holding yourself back by choosing plant-based protein. In fact, if you keep reading, it will become abundantly clear that you are doing the opposite.
Plants are easier to digest than dairy.
Dairy-based proteins like whey, which is a byproduct of cheese and yogurt production, are known to cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People with lactose intolerance and IBS are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. Partially digested food feeds the bacteria in your gut, which produce gas and cause side effects.
Plant proteins, on the other hand, are easy to digest. Although every gut is different, it is unlikely that moderate amounts of plant protein will upset your stomach. If you find plant protein powder hard to digest, it is probably due to added ingredients, not the protein itself.
Plants are better for your skin.
Dairy-based proteins can also cause acne. Dairy indirectly stimulates insulin production, which regulates sebum production. Sebum, an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands, can clog your pores and cause pimples. Dairy can also hinder your ability to process blood sugar efficiently, which can cause inflammation in your skin. This matters because acne is an inflammatory disease, that is, clinical evidence shows that inflammation occurs at all stages of acne development.
Plants, on the contrary, are great for your skin. A recent review of 20 studies found that plant-based dietary interventions are good for skin barrier health and function.
What about heavy metals?
Simply because there are detectable amounts of heavy metals in protein powder does not render it unsafe to consume, nor does it discount the benefits it offers as part of a balanced diet. To put matters into perspective, according to a study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, we consume more metals from common foods like kale, apples, avocados, than we consume from plant-based supplements. In other words, if you are eating a healthy serving of any of these foods, you are probably ingesting more heavy metals than you would from a serving of vegan powder.
We should take heavy metals seriously, especially given the popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets, but we should not the fact that plants contain heavy metals deter us from using plant-based protein powders. Instead of worrying about heavy metals in your protein powder, you should focus your attention on the ingredient list.
Any type of vegan protein powder can help you boost your protein intake, but not all vegan protein powders are good for you. This is because most vegan protein powders are full of heavily-processed ingredients that look nothing like real food. Keep reading to learn more.
Why drink wholesome?
drink wholesome is additive-free.
One of the reasons why we make the healthiest vegan protein powder is that we do not use food additives. Most protein powders, on the other hand, are full of 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.
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, causing bloating and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon), which can lead to constipation. In the long term, food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine and trigger the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.
When buying protein powder for sensitive stomachs, one additive to avoid in particular is artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are among the most harmful food additives in the long term as they alter the composition of your gut microbiota. This can lead to serious, chronic GI problems, widespread inflammation, and permanent damage to the gut microbiome.
Some sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, are poorly absorbed by the gut, meaning they feed your hungry gut bacteria. They can also cause diarrhea because they draw water into your intestines. Now you finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom!
Here is a list of the most common food additives in protein powder:
acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol
When it comes to identifying food additives, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, additives are ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Food additives are not the only thing to avoid when buying protein powder, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.
Protein Matrix Comprised of (Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Casein, Milk Protein Isolate, Egg Albumen, Glutamine Peptides), Polydextrose, Sunflower Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Tocopherols), Natural and Artificial Flavor, MCT Powder (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Nonfat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide), Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Yellow 5, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Papain, Bromelain.
*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling protein powders in the United States.
drink wholesome is made with real foods.
Another reason why we make the healthiest plant-based protein powder is that we do not use protein isolates. Most protein powders, on the contrary, are made with protein concentrates and/or isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They appear on the ingredient list as “pea protein” and “whey protein” as opposed to “peas” and “whey.”
I will not go into the details, but protein concentrates and isolates undergo heavy mechanical and chemical processing before becoming protein powder. Sometimes, manufacturers use chemical solvents like hexane to isolate (separate) the protein from the food. This means that what you end up putting into your body looks nothing like real food.
If you think about it, your gut was designed to digest naturally occurring foods, not laboratory formulated imitations, so if you feed it anything but real food, it might get upset. The long term implications of eating processed foods are still not well understood, but more and more research is finding that it can alter the composition of your gut microbiota, and lead to permanent damage to your gut microbiome.
Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the healthiest vegan protein powder with whole almonds. Almonds are just roasted, pressed, and ground becoming protein powder. Whole foods like these are an easy to digest, gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates. This is in part because whole foods contain a variety of enzymes and other digestive aids that help to break down the food, making it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients. Protein isolates and concentrates, on the other hand, have been stripped of these digestive aids, making them harder for the body to digest and absorb.
Moreover, minimally-processed plant-based foods like almonds are rich in fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. 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.
“This is the first protein powder that has EVER not upset my stomach and it still tastes SO GOOD!!!” -Emily
drink wholesome is the healthiest vegan protein powder.