When it comes to protein powders there’s a wealth of choice in the marketplace. Sometimes this can prove confusing when all you need is a quality product that delivers all the essential amino acids for strong recovery while being a healthy addition to your diet.
Well, broadly speaking there are two kinds of powders out there.
On the one hand, we have natural protein powders. Derived from natural sources and unmodified, these are best exemplified by vegan protein powders in Australia. This is because the term ‘natural’ can be open to extensive interpretation. If you stick to quality vegan products you can rest assured the ingredients will be legitimately sourced, and of course some of the best-tasting chocolate protein powders, vegetarian protein powders, chocolate plant protein powders and pea protein powders are all vegan!
On the other hand, we have ‘conventional’ protein powders, which basically means the ingredients are chemically synthesised from source stock that is often non-vegan
So between the two choices, what do the base ingredients signify when we are choosing what to put into our systems?
Let’s start with your chemical life…
Chemical Protein Powders
A key point to remember about these powders is that they are often derived as a by-product of the dairy industry. This means, most often, cows. If your protein powder does not come from a source that uses grass feed, free range cows that is free from hormones, GMO’s and pesticides, then the likelihood is that you will be ingesting the end product of an industrial system that does not value the overall health of cattle by feeding them the appropriate foodstuffs.
Dairy cows are raised to provide milk and are treated as standalone factories to supply milk endlessly until they are incapable of doing so. To boost production and maintain the cows’ immune system defences while in crowded conditions, hormones and antibiotics are sometimes added. There’s plenty of research that argues your uptake of these chemicals is less of a cocktail and more or a residual effect, but there are also concerns, especially for women, that such dairy sources can:
- Create intestinal tract inflammation that affects your fertility.
- Prevent estrogen metabolism through antibiotics effects on your microbiome.
- Decrease magnesium levels, affecting your adrenal and pituitary glands.
- Mess with your estrogen production with artificial growth hormone introduction.
Literally food for thought. And why would you chance it when vegan protein powders or a vegan protein meal, for example, contain none of the above?
Better Living With Chemistry?
Other off-the-shelf powders are often touted to supply fantastic taste, but this is down to artificial sweeteners playing on our instinctive leaning toward sugars. Major offenders include Sucralose, corn syrup solids, and the delicious-sounding acesulfame potassium, a sugar substitute often marketed as ‘Sweet One’.
Artificial sweeteners are convenient ingredients because they send signals to the brain to keep ingesting them. There’s no off switch, so you feel an addictive rush when you drop these powders in your smoothie.
Heavy Metal Fan?
It’s not a music question. Many widely available protein powders actually contain chemical additives that supply mouth-watering doses of arsenic, cadmium, and mercury that surpass daily intake limits. These are heavy metals, and they like to pool in your body and organs and damage them.
Arsenic builds up to cause diarrhoea or headaches and is a known carcinogen. Cadmium accumulates in the kidneys and prevents them from removing blood acids, leading to renal tubular dysfunction. Mercury, meanwhile, induces muscle weakness and poor coordination, accelerating memory issues and sensory function.
Of course, the levels associated with chemical powders aren’t going to exert major effects tomorrow, but it’s the conscious choice to ingest such ingredients that seems absurd when you can choose simply not to. It’s comparable to choosing whether to live next to a nuclear waste site or in a certified clean environment. Choose not to expose yourself to the possible effects of toxicity.
Believe it or not, some powders also provide you with trans fats. These substances are created during industrial food processing when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. So when you see ‘hydrogenated whey protein’ or even ‘partially hydrogenated coconut oil’, it means high-temperature heating to improve the product’s stability and stay on the shelf longer.
Trans fats are a major contributor to clogged arteries. This can lead to reduced blood flow which in turn reduces all major bodily function effectiveness. Trans fats are the reason fast foods have a bad name, and although they are being partially phased out there is zero excuse to ingest them via your protein powder!
Natural Protein Powders
‘Natural’ is a diffuse term when it comes to food labelling, so it’s advisable to use powders that openly declare they are ‘vegan’. Why? This will ensure that all ingredients come from verified sources and adhere to higher standards, and have not been derived from additive industrial processing methods.
So how do these powders compare?
Vegan powders have admittedly come a long way from previous formulations, and the choices now available really do offer the taste, texture, and composition that make them perfect for all kinds of uses. Sweetness can come from organic stevia instead of added sugars, heavy metal content is not a concern, and you will not be experiencing the hazards of trans fats.
A Cautionary Tale
In the quest for quality protein, it’s also important to remember that the amounts are important. At an RDA of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight, many people are simply ingesting too much protein and this comes with significant health downsides. Severe overuse of protein puts extreme stress on the kidneys; leaches bone minerals, increases body weight and fat levels, and leads to dehydration.
Experiments in protein overloading have resulted in overwhelming body stress and the same symptoms associated with improper bodybuilding techniques. It’s critical to understand that, wherever your intake comes from, it needs to be at the correct levels for your bodily needs.
In a Nutshell
If it’s all about understanding what you put in your body, then treat yourself like a temple and opt for the top-rated vegan protein powders available in Australia. Quality over quantity doesn’t have to mean you’re breaking the bank, it simply means you’re helping your body to discover its true potential in terms of the energy and recovery you need and expect from a protein powder.
It’s simple…opt for functional, healthful vegan ingredients every time over the risk and uncertainty of chemical powders.
It’s better to know exactly what you put in your body. Go natural…and even better go vegan!