What Are The Bad Ingredients In Protein Powder?

What are the bad ingredients in protein powder?

What are the bad ingredients in protein powder? Keep reading to learn more about the bad ingredients in protein powder. 

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The bad ingredients in protein powder.

In this article, I will take a close look at the ingredients in one of the most popular protein powders, BSN SYNTHA-6 Chocolate Milkshake Whey Protein Powder. Note that this is not a BSN SYNTHA-6 review, but rather an examination of its ingredient list. Moreover, keep in mind that although this may not be your protein powder, it is similar to many other protein powders, and may therefore give you an idea of what is in your protein powder. If the ingredients in your protein powder look anything like those in BSN Syntha 6, you should start looking for a new protein powder.

What are real foods?

Real foods are foods close to nature. Picture an almond or a banana. A real food consists of a one ingredient and has undergone little to no processing. 

What are food additives?

Food additives are heavily-processed derivatives of real food added to protein powder to improve characteristics like shelf life and texture. They generally fall into one of the following categories: flavors, colors, preservatives, anti-caking and gelling agents, emulsifiers, stabilizers, or thickeners. 

Real foods vs food additives. 

Again, most 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) 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. 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, widespread inflammation, and permanent damage to the gut microbiome. 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. 

BSN protein powder
BSN protein powder ingredients

How this works?

I reviewed the ingredients in one of BSN SYNTHA-6’s most popular protein powders, which also happens to be one of the most popular protein powders on Amazon.com. I counted all the real foods and all the food additives, 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 food additives 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.

Additive 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 food additives, 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.

So, what are the bad ingredients in protein powder? To put it simply, the bad ingredients are anything that is not real food.

our ingredients: 

egg whites, coconut, cocoa, monk fruit

the alternative:

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.

vegan chocolate protein powder
chocolate protein powder

★★★★★

“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!”

-Julio

Looking for a new protein powder? Try drink wholesome

Our protein powders are additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates. 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. Order samples to see for yourself.

Our protein powders are made with real food ingredients.


Hi, my name is Jack. I created drink wholesome because I was sick of protein powders that upset my stomach. drink wholesome is handmade in Plymouth, MA. 

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.