Protein Powder Nutrition Facts
Looking for the protein powder Nutrition Facts? Protein powders classified as food have a “Nutrition Facts” label. Protein powders classified as dietary supplements have a “Supplement Facts” label.
What are Nutrition Facts?
A Nutrition Facts label is required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on most packaged foods and beverages. It provides detailed information about a food’s nutrient content, and helps consumers make informed food choices. Generally, the Nutrition Facts label can be found on the back panel of the packaging.
How do you use the Nutrition Facts?
Here are 2 ways to use the Nutrition Facts label.
1. Look at the listed serving size, and compare it to your portion size (the amount you actually eat). The Nutrition Facts label refers to the serving size, so if the serving size is one scoop and you eat two scoops, you are eating twice the calories, fat, etc. than what is listed on the label.
2. Use the percent Daily Values (DV) to calculate how your protein powder fits into your diet. Daily Values are reference amounts (expressed in grams, milligrams, or micrograms) of nutrients to consume each day. A percent DV tells you whether a serving of the food contributes a lot or a little to your daily diet for a particular nutrient. Remember that Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. 5% DV or less of a nutrient per serving is considered low. Aim low for saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars. 20% DV or more of a nutrient per serving is high. Aim high for nutrients you want more of. Note that the percentage Daily Value for protein is not listed on the Nutrition Facts label.
What are Supplement Facts?
The nutrition label for a dietary supplement is called a “Supplement Facts” panel. Protein powder manufacturers get to choose whether they put a “Nutrition Facts” or a dietary “Supplement Facts” panel on their packaging. To the untrained eye, these panels look very similar as they include much of the same nutrition information, including fat, carbohydrate, and protein content. Upon closer examination, however, you will notice that Nutrition Facts and dietary Supplement Facts are different.
How do Nutrition Facts differ from Supplement Facts?
First of all, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains a list of ingredients that they have tested and determined to be “Generally Regarded as Safe” (GRAS). If a product contains ingredients that are GRAS, then the product is considered to be a food, and can be labeled with a Nutrition Facts label. If a product uses ingredients that are not GRAS, or in quantities that have not been determined to be safe, then it must be classified as a dietary supplement, and labeled with a Supplement Facts label. You should be skeptical of companies that use Supplement Facts labels.
Here are 5 more differences between Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts labels.
1. Dietary ingredients without Recommended Daily Intakes (RDIs) must be listed on the Supplement Facts panel. They cannot be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel. Only dietary ingredients with RDIs can be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel.
2.The source of a dietary ingredient can be listed on the Supplement Facts panel. It cannot be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel. For instance, a Supplement Facts panel may list “whey from grass-fed cows” as an ingredient, whereas a Nutrition Facts panel may only list “whey.”
3. On a product with a Nutrition Facts label, all of the ingredients must be listed in the ingredient list. On a product with a Supplement Facts label, ingredients that are listed in the Supplement Facts box are not required to be repeated in the ingredient list.
4. The part of the plant from which a dietary ingredient is derived must be listed on the Supplement Facts panel. For instance, if a dietary supplement contains rose as an ingredient, it must list what part of the rose was used (i.e. “rose petal”). This information cannot be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel.
5. “Zero” amounts of nutrients cannot be listed on the Supplement Facts panel. This information must be listed on the Nutrition Facts panel.
Our protein powders use Nutrition Facts labels. Because we use 100% real food ingredients, we feel that our protein powders should be classified as food, rather than as supplements.
What about the ingredients list?
Foods with more than one ingredient must include an ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, and are more important than the Nutrition or Supplement Facts label. Although a Nutrition or Supplement Facts label contains lots of important information, nothing speaks to the quality of a protein powder more than the ingredients. Here are a few ingredients to avoid when buying protein powder.
Avoid food additives.
Most protein powders are full of food additives. Although they are not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, food additives can add up quickly, especially if you drink a protein shake every day. At higher quantities, food additives can cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects.
Many food additives are hard to digest and sit in your gut for longer than they should. This gives your gut bacteria more time to ferment (eat), and as they eat, these bacteria produce gas, which causes bloating, cramps, and nausea.
In the short term, 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 disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine and trigger the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.
Keep an eye out for artificial sweeteners too. Artificial sweeteners are poorly absorbed by the gut, which means that they feed your hungry gut bacteria. They also alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious GI problems and widespread inflammation.
Finally, artificial sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, can cause diarrhea because they draw water into your gut. Now you might 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, they are the ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Food additives are not the only thing to look out for when buying protein powder, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.
egg whites, coconut, cocoa, monk fruit
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.
Dairy-based proteins like whey can casein are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production. They are known to cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Over one in three Americans are lactose intolerant, and the prevalence of IBS is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent in the United States. It follows that you may be lactose intolerant or have IBS and not even know it.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood condition, and it is unclear why dairy triggers symptoms. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is clearly understood. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you just learned, partially digested food feeds the bacteria in your gut, which produce gas.
Avoid protein concentrates and isolates.
Finding an additive-free, dairy-free protein powder is hard. Finding an additive-free, dairy-free protein powder made with real foods is next to impossible. Why? Most protein powders are made with protein concentrates and isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They are listed on the ingredient list as “pea protein,” for example, as opposed to “peas.”
We 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 separate the protein from the food. This means that what you end up putting into your body looks nothing like real food.
The potential problem here is that your gut might not know what to do with ingredients like these. Your gut prefers the real thing, not some heavily-processed imitation, so protein concentrates and isolates might be hard to digest for people with sensitive stomachs.
Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we use egg whites and chickpeas. Egg whites are simply broken, pasteurized, and dried before becoming protein powder. Chickpeas are just dried and ground. Minimally-processed ingredients like these are easy to digest and a stomach-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.
Unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to eggs, egg white protein is the best protein for people with sensitive stomachs. Egg whites are low in fiber, low-FODMAP, 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 chickpea protein powder. We like chickpeas because, compared to other plant protein sources, they are high in soluble fiber. Unlike insoluble fiber, which can have a laxative effect, soluble fiber increases in size as it moves through your digestive tract. This can help make your bowel movements easier and more regular.
“I just finished my first bag and ordered 2 more! I Iove this stuff! I have IBS and every protein powder hurts my stomach…except drink wholesome!”
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.