The Best Simple Protein Powder
The average protein powder is anything but simple, just take a look at the following ingredient list:
Whey Protein Concentrate, Maltodextrin, Non-Fat Dry Milk, Acacia Gum Fiber, Cereal Pieces (Sugar, Corn Flour, Whole Grain Oat Flour, Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Cocoa (processed with Alkali), Soybean and/or Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Fructose, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sodium Ascorbate, Zinc Oxide, Niacinamide, Reduced Iron, Retinyl Palmitate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cholecalciferol, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid, Wheat Starch), Medium Chain Triglycerides, Oat Flour, Cocoa Powder (processed with Alkali), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Whey Protein Isolate, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sucralose, Lactase, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Molybdenate, Protease, Amylase, Zinc Oxide, dl-alpha Tocopherol Acetate, Cholecalciferol, Niacinamide, Manganese Gluconate, Seleniomethionine, Beta Carotene, Copper Glucon ate, d-calcium Pantothenate, d-biotin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Chromium Picolinate, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid. Contains: Milk, Soy, Wheat, and Coconut.
This ^ is one of the best-selling protein powders in the United States, and it looks more like a science experiment than anything else. I count just about 50 ingredients, most of which I cannot pronounce. It is truly mind boggling how artificial and processed the foods we eat have become; they look nothing like real food, which is not only disgusting, but also bad for our health.
If you are anything like me, and would like to get back to the basics, you have come to the right place. We make our protein powders with simple ingredients, which we list on the front of the package (so you know exactly what you are eating). Our chocolate protein powder, for example, is made with egg whites, coconut, cocoa, and monk fruit. Our vegan chocolate protein powder is made with almonds, coconut, cocoa, and monk fruit. You cannot find simpler ingredients. Keep reading if you would like to learn more about what is NOT in our protein powders, and why you should avoid ingredients like these.
Avoid food additives.
Most ready-to drink protein shakes and many protein powders 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. This is because food additives are, generally speaking, hard to digest. They 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), which 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. Artificial sweeteners 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 and widespread inflammation. Some sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, 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 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 simple 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 and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, 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 isolate (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 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 easy to digest and a stomach and gut-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 almond protein powder. Almonds are simply roasted, pressed, and ground before becoming protein powder. Unlike protein concentrates or isolates, they still 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 can improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome. Research also suggests that almonds possess prebiotic properties, meaning they stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
“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.