There are thousands of brands of protein shakes and more coming up each day. The practice of private labelling is common in the supplement industry where all the companies do is focus on marketing and selling. The products get manufactured in bulk and which is why you will also find almost everybody selling ‘their own brand’ of protein powders.
If you have read part1 of this article, you know you want to go for Whey protein in Concentrate form that are not treated with chemicals in their extraction process. This narrows down the protein shakes to about a few 100. In this part, we will look at what are the things that will help you pick out only the best protein powders for yourselves:
Source of milk is organic, grass-fed cows – Most of the cows at commercial dairy farms are fed a diet of grains so that they give more yield (read ‘milk’). Grains is not their natural food and these cows develop weak digestive systems and are prone to diseases. To ensure their health they are then also given antibiotics which will filter into the milk they produce. An ‘artificial recombinant bovine hormone’ (rBGH)- banned in EU, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan- is commonly injected in the cattle to increase their yield. When you opt for whey from organic grass fed cows, you are opting out of all these chemicals and artificial hormones.
Opting for whey from milk of organic grass fed cows is actually a very personal preference. If you are particular about the milk that you have and about organic food, then you would definitely be interested in this. However, this comes with a heavy price tag and I am happy to pay for it because I do not take protein shakes all year round. You would have to prioritise accordingly.
Natural Sweetners – If the protein you are looking at has Acesulfame Potassium ( /Acesulfame -K also known as Ace -K) or Sucralose, Aspartame or any artificial sweetener listed as one of the ingredients, you would want to stay away from it.
We all have heard about the harmful effects of Aspartame and now there is a new artificial sweetener on the block – Ace-K. Although approved by FDA, it has scant research on its health effects which has even the officials within the FDA concerned (Ref1). In short, look for those with natural sweetners only like Stevia or even sugar alcohols like Xylitol are preferable.
Avoiding Soy Lechitin – This is an emulsifier used in most supplements. You will find this in most of your baking products and other packaged food items. The concern here is that significant amount of Soy is now from GMO seeds (genetically modified organism). This remains a controversial topic and one where the the effects of these GMO plants are still not understood and researched. The more packaged food you consume the more you are increasing your exposure to its effects.
Protein supplements are something that you would plan to have almost everyday and it is advisable to then avoid those that contain this Soy emulsifier. The alternate to them is Sunflower Lechitin, but even these need to have a GMO free label alongside.
I have tried to list out the basic facts on protein supplements that you should explore when considering your purchase. The good to have features listed above- organic grass fed whey, natural sweetners and non GMO additives, are a tall ask even from popular brands like Optimum Nutrition, MuscleTech, Ultimate Nutrition, etc. But these are the things that I personally search for in my protein supplements and would not advise you to go for anything less.
To find out which ones passed this test, continue reading- Review: Best Protein Shakes and where to get them. We compare them based on not only what goes into the protein powders, but also which one would give you the most bang for the buck.
Ref1: Karstadt, Myra; Testing Needed for Acesulfame Potassium, an artificial sweetener; Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Sep; 114(9):A516