So you’re on a major health kick and you’re all about smoothies. Or maybe you’re training for a Tough Mudder because you’re a badass (but also 20% crazy). You may have even taken the plunge and bought that blender that’s 1/3 of your rent. What we’re trying to say is, whether you’re on a smoothie kick or just looking for a way to add extra nutrients, you’re likely in the market for a protein powder.
Lucky for you, today we’re breaking down the giant, and often confusing, world of protein powders. The good: there’s a ton of amazing products out there! The bad (and the ugly): there are a ton of junky products out there! Protein powders aren’t all created equally so we’ll give you the deets on what to look for when you’re shopping.
First things first. Protein powder supplements are just that – supplements. They’re not intended to be the sole source of protein in your diet. It’s important to note there is no protein powder that compares to the power of protein from real, whole foods. Our favorite whole food sources include pastured eggs, wild caught seafood, pastured meat and poultry, seeds, nuts, whole grains and legumes. But when you’re on the go or want to turn a standard green smoothie into a protein-packed breakfast, it can be an incredible nutrient booster.
We know there’s a daunting number of protein powders out there and unfortunately they’re not all good for you. To make it a little easier, we’ve put together some “rules” to follow when shopping for protein powders.
- Look for protein powders made from whole food ingredients like rice, hemp, or peas.
- Avoid those with added sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors and/ or colors.
- Steer clear of “isolates” including whey protein isolate, soy protein isolate, etc. (this will eliminate most brands in your typical GNC-type store). These are NOT whole foods. Soy protein isolate, for example, is a cheap GMO soy product that’s highly refined and can cause allergic reactions.
- Hydrogenated anything = no bueno. You may see “hydrogenated whey protein” for instance, which means it’s a denatured, RANCID oil that will turn into trans fats, which will turn into you getting in trouble at the doctor.
- Watch out for soybean oil, gluten, milk powder, and maltodextrin. They’re simply not necessary and have no health benefits.
- Because we avoid dairy during our programs, we tend to avoid whey protein powders – but if you know you’re cool with whey and dairy, always opt for a grass-fed whey protein powder (we have a few whey-based recs below).
Here’s a list of our favorite powders (hit us up in the comments if we’re missing one of your personal faves!):
Vital Proteins Collagen: We love us some collagen powder – we add it to our coffee, smoothies, sauces…you name it. It’s virtually tasteless so you can truly add it just about anything! Plus you’ll get a whopping 18 grams of protein per serving.
Garden of Life RAW: This protein powder has an all-star list of ingredients including organic greens, fruits, veggies, and probiotics. The 20g of protein comes from whole foods like peas, grains, and seeds.
Nutiva Hemp Protein: This simple organic protein powder is comprised entirely of hemp. And it’s super budget-friendly!
Naked Whey: Exactly what the name says, this is nothing but grass-fed whey protein. It’s got a clean taste and we give it two thumbs up for those who tolerate dairy.
Sunwarrior Classic: This delicious and nutritious powder is a blend of brown rice, quinoa, chia seed, amaranth and pea protein.
Vega Sport: One of our favorites, this powder has a high protein content and a nice texture. We also like this brand’s other blends, Vega One and Vega Protein Smoothie.
*These are affiliate links so if you choose to use our link to make a purchase we’ll make a small amount of money at no additional cost to you.
Alternatively, you can make your own using a mix of whole food ingredients you probably already have in your pantry! Not only is DIY protein powder cheaper but it can be more nutritious, too! Try our simple recipe below (we love adding 1/4 cup to our morning smoothies):
Prescribe Nutrition DIY Protein Powder
- 1 part flax seeds
- 1 part chia seeds
- 1 part hemp seeds
- 1 part raw pumpkin seeds
- Add equal parts of each ingredient to a large jar or container. Mix well and keep covered. Store in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.