What are the ingredients in protein powder?

What are the ingredients in protein powder? In this article, I will review the ingredients in a typical protein powder to give you a better idea of what might be in your protein powder.


Real vs fake ingredients.

Written by Jack Schrupp & endorsed by Baylee Reller, RDN

What are real foods?

Real foods are foods that can be found in nature. In other words, they have undergone little to no processing. Examples of real foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, and fish. 

Real foods are good for you, and your diet should consist primarily, if not entirely, of real foods. When it comes to protein powder, the more real foods on the ingredient list, the better.

Real foods are nutritionally balanced, and allow nutrients to work together like they were meant to. Eating a diet composed primarily of real foods can lower your risk of chronic disease and lead to better life outcomes.


What are fake foods? 

Fake foods are foods that cannot be found in nature. They are either artificial, or derived from real foods by means of mechanical or chemical processing. Examples of fake foods include colors, flavors, and preservatives.

Fake foods are not good for you, and you should avoid eating them at all costs. When it comes to protein powder, the fewer fake foods on the ingredient list, the better. 

Here is a list of some of the most common fake foods 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

Because they look nothing like the foods that your body is meant to digest, fake foods linger in your gut. This gives the bacteria that live there more time to eat, and more time to release gas. This can cause side effects like bloating and stomach pain.

Eating lots of fake foods can also disturb regulatory pathways in your intestines, triggering the development of systemic inflammatory disorders, and disrupt your gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms living in your gut. It helps you digest food, protects you against pathogens, and educates your immune system. For this reason, when you gut microbiome is out of whack, it can lead to widespread inflammation and the onset and progression of several chronic diseases.

BSN protein powder
BSN protein powder ingredients

Typical protein powder ingredients.

As an indication of what might be in your protein powder, I will now review the ingredients in BSN SYNTHA-6, one of the most popular protein powders on Amazon.com. I counted all the real foods and all the fake foods, and gave the protein powder a Wholesome Score, which is calculated on a scale from 1 (not wholesome) to 5 (wholesome).

The more real foods and the fewer fake foods a protein powder has, the higher its Wholesome Score is. This is not a scientific determination, but rather an honest attempt at greater transparency. Too often we use protein powder without thinking twice about what we are putting into our bodies. Now without further ado, here are the ingredients in BSN SYNTHA-6 Whey Protein Powder.

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.

Real Food Count: 4

Egg Albumen, Cocoa, Nonfat Dry Milk, Salt

*Notice that I did not include Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, or Milk Protein Isolate in this list. Although these ingredients may seem like real foods, they are not. Protein concentrates and isolates are heavily-processed ingredients chemically or mechanically stripped of everything but the protein. We will not go into the details, but some 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.

Fake Food Count: 21

Glutamine Peptides, Polydextrose, Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Tocopherols, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Disodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide, Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Yellow 5, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Papain, Bromelain

Wholesome Score: 1 (terrible)

Of the 25 listed ingredients, 21 of them are fake foods, making BSN SYNTHA-6 Whey Protein Powder about as far from real food as you can get. It is for this reason that I gave it a Wholesome Score of 1 (out of 5). According to my criteria, BSN SYNTHA-6 Whey Protein Powder is not something you want to put in your body.; although it has protein, it is also full of added junk.

Our protein powder ingredients. 

Our protein powders are made with 100% real foods. Plus, instead of using heavily-processed protein concentrates and isolates like most protein powder companies, we make egg whites and almonds. Minimally-processed ingredients like these are easy to digest, not to mention better tasting. Order samples to see for yourself.

vegan vanilla protein powder serving suggestion
vanilla protein powder lifestyle image 1


real ingredients

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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.