Protein Powder: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Protein Powder: The Good, Bad and Ugly // realnutritiousliving.com
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Travel back in time with me, would you?

I’m thinking the 2000’s. I remember this as the time when Diet Coke, Splenda, and chalky protein bars and powders all became cool. I remember intuitively all of these “fake foods” felt wrong but I wanted to be skinny, sexy, and cool, so I ate them anyway.  No wonder my parents had to use the “jump off a bridge” saying so often!

So today’s topic is protein powder. Keep reading to learn the good, bad and ugly….

protein text

Almost every day I get emails, texts (like above), and questions from my friends, family, and clients about protein powder.

1. Protein powder is expensive 

And comes in the most ridiculous shaped containers that fit almost nowhere, hence the lovely on top of the fridge decor seen below:

protein container ridiculous

But back to the expensive point. I did a quick Google protein powder shopping search and found prices up to $120 for a one month supply. Think of all of the real food you could buy for that kind of cash. You could eat 2 pasture-raised eggs a day at $8/dozen for $40 for one month, which brings me to my next point….

2. Eating concentrated protein without fat is harmful to your health

Protein comes from fat in its natural state (AKA real food).  We need fat to absorb and assimilate our fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K) as well as calcium and other minerals, which can create imbalances. Egg yolks are a great example. They are loaded with fat, protein, and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K 2.

3. Protein powders are often laced with heavy metals 

Check out this study where the researchers found:

“All drinks in our tests had at least one sample containing one or more of the following contaminants: arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.”

This study also shows the same findings. The levels may be low if we only ate protein powder on rare occasion, but that’s typically not the case. Many people consume protein powder 1-3 times a day, so those “low level” metals really stack up and put a burden on the body.

4. Protein Powders are highly processed

The protein is typically heated which denatures the protein making it a low-quality supplement. Not to mention it also contains additives, texture enhancers, and added synthetic nutrients. This can all lead to inflammation and imbalances in the body.

5. Protein powders can cause a variety of digestive issues

Two of the most popular sources of supplemental protein, whey and casein, are derived from milk and may cause negative side effects if you cannot digest lactose. Choosing a whey protein isolate may help because it contains only minute amounts of lactose, but you’d likely still need to take enzymes to be able to digest it properly.

Also, because protein powder is a “health food” sugar alcohols vs. sugar are typically used for sweetness, as well as bulk. This can cause digestive distress in some folks.

Protein takes longer than carbohydrates to digest (great for staying full) but with protein powder, particularly casein will often times stay in the digestive tract and cause gas, bloating and discomfort and has been linked to colon cancer.

 What to do instead??

My favorite way to bump up protein in shakes, smoothies, desserts, and drinks is collagen hydrolysate. It improves digestion, is great for hair, skin, nails, and cellulite, is good for joints, detoxification, and skin tightening. It’s also tasteless, unlike the chalkiness protein powder gives, and mixes perfectly every time. One tablespoon gives 6 grams of protein and helps to balance blood sugar. You can shop my favorite well sourced and moderately priced brand here. Be sure to enter code RNL at checkout to save 10%.

Other great protein options include:
  • Hemp seeds with 5 grams of protein per serving
  • Soaked nuts and seeds (add 2 T- 1/4 cup to smoothies)
  • Pasture-raised eggs yolks
  • Soaked & dehydrated nut butters (like this one)
  • Greens, yes greens have more protein than you think! 1 cup of kale has 3 grams of protein

Try the Berry Green Smoothie Recipe:

berry green smoothie

If you’re looking for a great bar, we recommend these:

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Protein Powder: The Good, Bad and Ugly // realnutritiousliving.com

Melissa Schollaert is a Holistic Health & Nutrition Counselor and founder of Real Nutritious Living. Helping others achieve their health goals to attain their healthiest, happiest life is her greatest ambition.

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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: This content is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease, or as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with your advising physician before starting any treatment for a medical condition. Real Nutritious Living, LLC shall not be held liable or responsible for any misunderstanding or misuse of the information contained on this site or for any loss, damage, or injury caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly by any treatment, action, or application of any food or food source discussed on this site.

Author: Melissa Schollaert

I'm Melissa—Holistic Health Coach & loving mama. My passion is to help others thrive through strategic eating (not dieting), living a toxic free life & creating healthier families.

12 thoughts on “Protein Powder: The Good, Bad and Ugly”

  1. Protein powder definitely comes with it’s share of not awesomeness- as do most supplements. I think if you’re going to buy it you really have to make sure you chose a quality product. Though I have to say I do LOVE collagen!

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