Though the daily consumption of commercial protein powders have become increasingly popular over the last decade, in my opinion, these protein powders are predominantly for the ill, malnourished, and professional athletes. I don’t believe they should be used on a daily basis. But, if you are going to consume a protein powder daily, and don’t fall into any of the above categories then make sure you are consuming a high quality whole food protein powder. But, first, let’s examine why I feel this way.
Why I favor whole food consumption over isolated nutrient consumption:
I am a fan of eating as much ‘whole food’ as possible. Whole foods have been studied to assimilate better in our bodies. A nutrient can be isolated from a whole food like protein, but I have learned, it is the other parts of the plant, containing the enzymes and cofactors, that allow for better absorption. So, soy isolate or whey isolate are not the kind of protein powders I recommend or use myself.
What is high quality protein powder?
In my opinion, a high quality protein powder is one that is:
- Free of additives, fillers, and artificial / isolated sweeteners
- No or little sugar
- Whole food based
In the table below I have compared popular protein powders by cost per gram of protein & ingredients. As I mentioned a few weeks back in my laundry detergent post, I am trying to make it easy for you to shop by your values; hence, the detailed chart below. I want to mention that the fair trade column could be more accurate. However, I just did not have the time to email each company and figure out if any of the ingredients are fair trade. If the packaging did not specify fair trade ingredients, I wrote 'not sure' in chart.
By now you know that I am a fan of whole food over isolated nutrients. Therefore, the protein powders that I recommend are often a powder created by blending several high protein profile whole foods. My top two go to's are:
Homemade protein powder (explained below)
Sun Warrior (I have no brand affiliation)
What is a homemade protein powder?
Homemade protein powders are ones that blend whole food powders that are contain a high protein profile. For example many seeds, nuts & legumes contain higher protein profiles making them not only excellent sources of protein but also an option that is easy on your wallet. Notice in the spreadsheet, a high quality hemp seed powder is relatively cheap.
I want to reiterate, though whole food protein powders are better, there is nothing like eating whole food. Powders even if they are whole food based lack the enzymes and cofactors that allow for maximum absorption and assimilation of that protein into your body. So what is bottomline for the average person looking to eat well? I recommend that you stick to a whole food based diet and the use of whole food based protein powders when needed!
How do you feel about protein powders? I am always open to discussion so comment below & let's get talking!