Are you trying to get healthy? Are you buying protein bars and supplements to help you boost metabolism and hold onto that lean muscle?
You’re going in the right direction. All protein supplements are not created equal however. It’s important for you to know, first, whether you handle certain foods. Then it’s important to consider the timing of the type of protein you want to take. Finally, it’s important to know which ingredients you never want to ingest.
I’ll apologize for the images. This isn’t one of those beautiful picture posts. It’s just shots of labels of three of the most popular brands of protein and a couple of the same brands protein bars. These are popular. You and I see them advertised or someone in your women’s group is selling them. And no one is selling you with intent to do harm, but they likely simply don’t know.
So let’s explore what’s on the ingredients list you want to watch out for, depending on your needs and goals for using a protein and on your tolerance to certain foods.
First up below: This is a whey protein product, so if you know you tolerate dairy, you’re fine with this. That is, as long as you’re having it right before or after moderate to vigorous exercise when you need it. At other times, the easy digestibility of this type of protein gets so quickly absorbed that it can increase your blood sugar which releases insulin. If you’re using a protein shake to lose weight and get lean, game over. Fat metabolism is halted.
It’s the several ingredients that follow that are more alarming. Brown rice syrup, invert evaporated cane syrup, sugar, invert surge, fructose…. all ingredients for fat storage. Further down you se maltitol syrup, maltodextrin. These are more sugars. Then lecithin, without it saying soy or sunflower lecithin, you can suspect soy lecithin. In most cases soy is not something you want to use until at least you’ve personally tested it for yourself.
Soy is an obesogen, a goitrogenic, and a estrogenic. That trilogy means it helps create more fat cells and storage, interferes with thyroid function, and disrupts your endocrine (hormone) system.
Again at the bottom you’re warned that milk and soybean products are included. Since these are common allergens it’s in bold.
So far, this is one protein option you don’t want. Ever.
Again, this is a whey product, not in itself bad. Just remember to test and to time it appropriately. Fructose appears high up in the ingredients on this long list however. Then the gum, which was also listed above.
This list otherwise, if you can overlook fructose (I couldn’t), isn’t as marked up. But what you do see and might wonder why I underlined is a list of many added nutrients. We tend to think, the more nutrients the better, right? I was the same way until I began to study micronutrients and their competitive nature. If you’re taking a multivitamin or other supplements for instance and then you also have this loaded drink, you may not absorb many of what you’re ingesting. By increasing the dose you more than half the intake. So you’ve defeated the purpose. Just be thoughtful about what you’re taking on a daily basis.
This is another dairy-based protein product. I’ve missed underscoring the fructose appearing high up in this one. If I didn’t mention, this is one of the absolute “no” you don’t want in anything unless you’re goal is to gain fat.
Further toward the bottom you see pseudo names for sugar, artificial ingredients for shelve life, and the artificial sweetener, sucralose, along with soy lecithin.
In this next label the isolated soy protein may be debatable. I’ll admit that many of my especially vegan customers swear by it. However, mentioned above, it has the trilogy of negatives working against it. If you’re a women in peri or post menopause you may feel best leaving this out if you’re struggling with symptoms like hot flashes. Next you’ll find several sugars included in this label and then gums toward the bottom.
It’s the red arrows drawing your attention to an otherwise “clean” ingredients list, that’s almost impressive in it’s components. That all destroyed by the addition of fructose. It’s a fairly long list of allergens this protein product is made next to as well.
In this last label, I just wanted to point out again the large amount of added nutrients and have you consider the logic behind it. On this particular label you can see Iron is included. Iron is one of the most competitive micronutrients. Ideally, if you’re taking a multivitamin, you would want one without iron. You’d instead take your iron at midday and take your multi in the morning or evening. That way you’d prevent malabsorption. In this case, though, iron is just added.
While it sounds good, it’s not practical.
Doing the right thing with so many choices is a challenge. Stay abreast of the ingredients on your list. If you’ve been looking for the grams of protein, that’s a step. Looking for the grams of sugar, another step. Be sure to keep reading down to the last ingredient though. Find as clean a product as you can so you’re getting the highest quality in you for the best you outside.
For more information about protein types and timing for your needs, read more here.