An active, healthy vegan lifestyle demands a little consideration and research to ensure you’re putting the very best products in your body to fuel your physical and mental needs.
Treat your body well and you’ll enjoy the results.
The cornerstone of an effective dietary approach is to access high-quality vegan protein sources with a well-formulated array of essential and non-essential amino acids, MCTs, and bio-available nutrients. Using high-quality protein powder achieves this aim, whether it’s the best tasting vegetarian protein powder in savoury baked goods, chocolate plant protein powder in your post-workout shake, or tasty pea protein powder in your lunchtime vegan protein meals.
It has everything you need for your dietary base, including low-fat levels so you can more accurately control your physical goal progress. And this is the challenge, many lower quality proteins in the marketplace actually have high-fat content, something that could impede those goals and even directly cause significant harm to your system.
So, why is this and what are the issues you face with low quality/ high-fat proteins?
What is a ‘Low Quality’ Protein?
Not all whey or vegan protein powders are designed and created equally. There is a vast range available in your local shops and online that claim to be specifically formulated to be beneficial, yet many of these brands fall short when the ingredients fail to measure up to the claims.
This is especially true for vegan protein powders since specific care must be taken to ensure the ingredients are from trusted, reliable sources, while also guaranteeing they work as you need them to. The keyword here is ‘additives’, namely the extra components that some brands include in powder formulations as fillers, bulking up the overall powder profile, especially in vegan powders that rely on plant-based protein forms such as hemp, rice, pea, and soy.
The idea is to ensure the powder gives you a feeling of satiety, or ‘fullness’, when you use it. This is an unfortunate side effect of the fact that many people use protein powders as meal replacements instead of as dietary complements. They look for a full stomach from, say, protein shakes, and the lower quality powders provide this using bad fillers that are not going to help you in the long run.
These powders may contain natural or artificial sweeteners, such as brown rice syrup solids, or chemicals that are designed to create an acceptable flavour experience. They can also contain carbohydrates and fats that are often bundled into the original protein source, leading to uncertain claims on the label where you may not really understand the breakdown of the ingredients.
Fats - Good and Bad
Fats in protein powder can come in several different forms. It can be bewildering, but in general, you need to know that saturated fats are the main problem, leading to increased bodily inflammation and weight gain, and are also linked to heart disease, arthritic complaints, and diabetes. Monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, are beneficial. A good example of these are the medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that promote weight control, appetite satisfaction, and increased mental focus.
So, what are some of the key health issues associated with lower quality powders that contain higher levels of bad fats?
High protein diets (think Atkins or Keto) are hugely popular for weight loss goals, but they can actually also be high-fat diets. Going paleo? Well, you’ll be ingesting more saturated fats along with that protein! Even though these patterns are associated with animal fat consumption, a vegan high protein diet can also fall into the same trap by emulating the diet goals and including too many of the bad fats.
Stress on the heart is one result of this approach.
Saturated fats increase bad (LDL) cholesterol, upping your chances for arterial blockage and heart disease and, in large quantities with increased physical exercise, even for heart attacks. You are stressing your heart if you are active and taking in saturated fats, just as much as if you were a couch potato.
Choosing to be vegan has the benefit of avoiding the animal and dairy sources of LDL, so why would you accept it in your protein powder?
Defining weight maintenance targets is an ongoing, structured endeavour. You plan where you want to get to, then qualify your approach with the right balance of nutrition, healthy vegan food inputs, regular fitness for the body and meditation for the mind.
Weight accumulates with increased fat deposits around the body, and it’s important to note that our bodies have different types of fats. When your body is functioning well it produces plenty of brown fat, the calorie burning good fat that helps accelerate your metabolism and therefore improve body tone.
White fat, on the other hand, stores energy around your body as, well, fat.
Arterial stress and poor conditioning as a result of saturated fat diets can impair your brown fat viability, leaving you open to weight gain.
You are willingly sabotaging your weight goals if you knowingly include these fats in your diet.
Yes, even cancers can be attributed to a diet high in saturated fats. While not directly causing cancer itself, higher saturated fat levels have been positively associated with a higher risk of HER2 type breast cancer.
Most evidently, simply being overweight has now been definitively linked as the largest preventable cause of cancer. This research is in the early stages, and while the specific reasons are being explored, the impressive drop in cancer incidence in people who lose weight points to the body’s increased resilience when the stresses of weight gain are relieved.
Lowering processed food, bad fats and sugar intake, as well as maintaining healthy weight in tandem with regular exercise are the key steps toward avoiding the incidence of cancer, and having clarity in what you eat is at the very start of the journey.
Opt for powders with fewer ingredients, clear descriptions, and credible sources. ‘High quality’ means lower complexity, basically, foodstuff you can see is closer to its origins. It’s well worth the time and effort, and yes, the additional expense over cheaper powders, to know which protein products aren’t tricking you.
Your money will be better spent on a product that is credibly low in fats, only contains the beneficial fats, and will promote your health and wellness goals instead of damaging them.
Don’t accept artificial additives, flavours, or fillers. It’s junk food with all the same issues.
Insist on understanding what you are putting in your system and choose the vegan protein powders in Australia that are worthy of your needs.