Summer is here, and I thought I would address a question I was recently asked by a client looking to make more smoothies/protein shakes as the weather heats up. She wanted to know which protein powder is best. As with all nutritional supplements, in the protein powder world, there are good powders and bad powders, and knowing what goes into the powder, how it is separated, and where it is sourced from is key. In this blog post, I will highlight a few of the better quality powders that I have used myself and give the pros and cons of each. Any of the following choices would be a good one, but please read on to consider the most important factors for your specific needs when making a selection.
Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Powder (Chocolate or Vanilla)
Pros: lots of flavors to choose from (chocolate, vanilla, coffee, turmeric, plain) and the flavor is relatively good (at least I can vouch for the chocolate and vanilla) and can be used to give a smoothie a distinct flavor profile; sweetened with stevia so it’s safe for folks with unstable blood sugar (think energy crashes all day long), diabetics and those concerned about avoiding all sugar because of gut problems or weight problems; made from bone broth which is my nutritional healing superfood of choice (when it comes from a healthy, high quality animal source).
Cons: contains guar gum and xantham gum, two gum-based stabilizers which can be sensitivities for those with gut health issues (and some data supports they may feed an overabundance of bad microbes in the gut), specifically those following the specific carb or candida diets. Also, I personally would not use this supplement as a replacement for good quality bone broth, since you don’t really know how much bone broth you are getting. When bone broth is in a dehydrated, powder form, it is also important to know what was done to dehydrate and process it. Just to be safe, I personally would not recommend these powders to those with sensitive stomachs, multiple food sensitivities, or other expressed gut health symptoms. If you don’t fall into that category, you may like this one!
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides
Pros: nothing but grass-fed bovine derived collagen with no added stabilizers. This makes it a rich source of omega 3 and omega 6 healthy fats and usually pretty safe for folks with gut health symptoms, dysbiosis, and candida. Collagen peptides are essentially the amino acids that make up bone broth. Although this powder is not technically bone broth, it contains the same building blocks.
Cons: no flavor (this could be a pro in some cases too!), so you cannot rely on this powder to boost the flavor of your smoothie; mixes really well into beverages, cold or hot. Since this is not a manufacturer I have an insider’s perspective on, I can’t vouch for the processing methods, but overall, I have been happy using this powder.
Vital Whey Protein Powder (Vanilla)
Pros: great, creamy texture and really good flavor (this was the only protein powder my 5 year old son would consume for awhile) that can give your smoothie a distinct vanilla flavor profile; derived from the raw milk of grass-fed cows which should cause less reactivity to those who are sensitive to “regular” dairy; contains immunoglobulin and lactoferin, which are not only anti-microbial but also help break down the biofilm structures pathogenic gut bacteria hide behind; sweetened with stevia, so safe for folks with unstable blood sugar (think energy crashes all day long), diabetics and those concerned about avoiding all sugar because of gut problems or weight problems.
Cons: this is not casein-free (casein is the protein found in milk products that many people are sensitive to) and because of this, I would not recommend this powder to someone with expressed gut health symptoms, multiple food sensitivities, or even chronic sinus or ear infections (since dairy consumption contributes to these problems) – just to be safe! Also, this is not as much a “con” as it is a caution: with this or any whey protein powder, you have to be careful about how the protein powder is separated. If the manufacturer uses acid, the whey protein will become denatured and less bio-available. This is especially true if the person consuming the whey protein does not produce enough stomach acid (which is 90% plus of the population), since this will make it harder to break down and absorb any protein.
Biotics Whey Protein Isolate (http://www.thewellnessminute.com/new.php?p=Cowie_Courtney order code: DFILC262)
Pros: safe for those with gut health issues as the protein comes from whey but with the common milk protein (casein) removed for those with dairy sensitivities; creamy texture like a normal whey protein would have; contains immunoglobulin and lactoferin, which are not only anti-microbial but also help break down the biofilm structures pathogenic gut bacteria hide behind; formulated to help heal the gut and for this reason, I often recommend this powder to my clients with expressed gut health issues. It mixes really well into beverages, cold or hot, and compared to the Collagen Peptides lends a creamier consistency to the beverage. If someone is allergic to dairy, I would avoid this powder just to be absolutely safe. Compared to the average whey protein powder, Biotics uses a lot of care in the whey extraction process so as not to denature the whey protein, rendering it less bio-available to the body. This means you get a superior whey protein powder that is easily absorbed by even those with comprised digestion, without the common allergen/sensitivity of the casein present in whey.
Cons: like Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides above, there is no flavor (this could be a pro in some cases too!), so you cannot rely on this powder to boost the flavor of your smoothie.
Nutriclear (Chocolate or Plain) (http://www.thewellnessminute.com/new.php?p=Cowie_Courtney order code: DFILC262)
Pros: this is a pea-based protein and similar to the Whey Protein Isolate above, is separated with the same careful methods. It also contains a variety of nutrients aimed at supporting healthy liver and gallbladder function and elimination pathways, and for this reason, is a key component in the fast-track detox protocal Biotics has available. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the small amount of cane juice used in Nutriclear is actually anti-inflammatory and supportive to gut health, contrary to the normal anti-sugar rhetoric even I am prone to buy into from time to time. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating for significant amounts of sugar in anyone’s diet, however, small amounts of health-supportive sugars like raw honey and cane juice can be a good thing. Also, the taste on this one is pretty darn good! A satisfying, filling, detoxifying and alkalizing breakfast shake or snack is to combine 2 scoops of chocolate Nutriclear with one scoop of Nitrogreens with 12 oz of water or almond milk and blend in a blender or blender bottle.
Cons: I can’t really think of any with this particular protein powder, except that it may cause an unpleasant detox reaction in those with major gut health problems, especially who have not taken any steps to improve diet or heal the gut. This would be true with any product aimed at facilitating detox, so the key is to go slow.