In Nutrition

protein shakeSome of the ingredients in your protein shake could be keeping you fat or zapping you of energy. Toxins you want to avoid are lurking in some of the most popular protein powders.

I know because I made this mistake myself. Twenty years ago when I first started using protein smoothies for quicker recovery from runs as I trained, then coached marathon training, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Today, we all have access to so much more information, that’s not the problem. The overwhelm of choices and the personal trainers and clubs selling shakes make it hard to choose unless you can read a label well. It’s not just about grams of protein, sugar, and carbs. That’s the easy part.

Before you read on, it’s only fair I tell you I carry protein shakes. I swore up and down for 30 years I’d never sell supplements. I’ve shared why I do before.

I’ve hosted webinars, created videos, and blogged at length on this topic. Good marketing does not a good product make. Below is an updated list of ingredients to avoid and why. I get asked frequently from 28 Day Kickstart students and private clients about specific brands of protein. If you’ve got a label at home, go get it to have as you watch the video and or read the list below. Add your questions to the comments.

Protein shakes are a convenient addition of protein to make the minimum quota of 20-30 grams per 3 meals a day via a delicious smoothie that feels like a treat is helpful for stopping the loss of muscle and increasing fat burning.

Ingredients to Avoid:

GMOs (genetically modified)–There’s no mandatory safety assessments, there is more toxic pesticide use, and there’s no long term studies to show that they’re safe.

Artificial colors – I hope it goes without saying that you don’t want artificial anything in your body, particularly dies or colors. A protein shake you’re taking to improve health shouldn’t have artificial colors added.

Natural Flavors – This one seems harmless. Unfortunately, this is a veil companies can use to disguise “not so natural” items under. Put this one on a “clues” list and in combination with too many words you don’t recognize or other ingredients listed here, consider it a red flag.

Carrageenan gum – of the ”gums” added to foods to thicken this one is the one to watch for and minimize.

Antibiotics – if you’re using an animal product whether it’s whey, beef, or eggs you care about what the animal used to make it was fed. If it was fed antibiotics you’re being fed antibiotics.

Hormones– If hormones were used to fatten the animals used in protein shake products you’re using, you’re getting them too.

Not “Certified Organic” – often means it contain GMOs and pesticides. Look for a statement on your protein shake that tells you it contains neither of those or is certified.

Heavy metals – Third party heavy metal testing is becoming a standard among quality brands. If it’s not listed on your protein shake label, check the website or make a quick call and ask. (EAS Myoplex and Muscle Milk – commonly found in your gym’s refrigerator – had the highest of all levels of all brands in a test of popular protein shakes).

Soy – 90% of all soy is GMO and contaminated with Roundup herbicide. Hybridized protein in soy is hard to digest and produces an allergenic reaction (weight gain or weight loss resistance). It contains phytic acid that leaches calcium and other nutrients from your body.

Fermented soy products are often recommended and safe, even providing healthy benefits. Yet, even in Okinawa where you would expect to find the best options in the world, a private client eating soy who removed it from her diet, reduced her hot flashes and night sweats such that she began sleeping and losing weight again. Test yourself, no matter what. 

Maltodextrin – Made from geneticially modified corn, this is a sweetener to avoid. (Check those “healthy” 100 calorie snacks you pick up at the store or nuts at the airport.)

Acesulmfame potassium or Acesulfame K – These are artificial sweeteners that might be cancer causing. The evidence is inconclusive but they are suspect.

Whey protein isolate – (concentrate is better) means more processing and acidifying in your body. Better proteins are made at lower temperatures and non-denatured so have more of the immune-boosting properties in them. Be sure if you have tested yourself for tolerance of whey (dairy).

The best time for whey is before and after exercise when it’s easy absorption is to your advance. At other times of day that can sabotage by spiking blood sugar.* You may be happy to learn there is a goat’s whey that my clients have found works as a good substitute when other protein options don’t match their specific sensitivity needs.

For more information read the Food Babe blog. Read the thread of comments below her post for info on Shakeology related to heart palpitations. There are multiple comments worth reading.


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