Protein powders are flawed. You can't buy a sincerely healthy one in Australia. By sincerely healthy, I mean one that is made out of foods you actually eat. I can't read the back of a label without having to google at least one of the ingredients.
And I'm not even examining the whey and casein options on the market. I put a line through those because I don't drink the bi-product of another species breast milk. You're absolutely out to lunch if you think that your body is biologically designed to recognise that as food. The fact that 65% of the global population find it difficult to digest lactose should tell you something! And yeah, whey might not contain as much lactose as other forms of dairy but you're talking about eating something that is created by spray drying the leftovers of cheese making. Do me a favour!
Also, when else are we served whey and casein? Again, not traditional foods.
Despite the dairy rant, there's a lot to critcise about plant based powders too. Suspect sweeteners, flavours and stabilisers.
Here's a list of ingredients I've spotted in the best selling plant-based protein powders:
- natural flavours
- monk fruit extract
- stevia extract
- xanthum gum
- tara gum
- malic acid
Why Are They Added?
You have to understand that a protein powder company has several goals:
- They need to find a protein source that is highly concentrated; the most protein in the smallest serving
- The protein has to be cheap
- It should taste good
- It needs to stay fresh, ideally for up to 12 months, and be able to withstand exteme temperatures that occur during international shipping
- The protein should dissolve in liquid when shaken
Very few companies compromise on any of these market demands. And why would they? Customers set the market. Chocolate whey outsells unflavoured hemp seeds because the majority of the market just want something that tastes great and has lots of protein. Crossfit Chris wants guns and a chocolate milkshake, he's not interested in the potential long term consequences of these synthetic ingredients create.
But What's The Alternative?
Fair point Chris. There isn't much out there. You can get one ingredient hemp protein powders in the States that have all the essential amino acids. But they're almost entirely banned for human consumption in Australia. And the market here isn't mature enough to not accept "natural flavours" and "vanillan" as ingredients. What's wrong with vanilla? The make organic vanilla bean powder.
You Can Make Your Own
I'm sick of the synthetic stuff. I've got about 5 varieties of the best selling plant-based protein powders in my cupboard but I can't see myself ever using them again. Not now that I've made my own.
My original recipe, below, combines my favourite seeds. And I add cinnamon and sea salt. All of the seeds are seriously dense so one serving (two heaped tablespoons) is roughly 10g of protein. You can just add more if you're a protein fiend. Importantly, what seperates these ingredients from any other protein source on the market is the nutrients.
This recipe will give you half your day's needs in magnesium, fibre, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, potassium and B vitamins. Not to mention that cinnamon is one of the best antioxidant sources on the planet.
Unquestionably, homemade recipes are better than ANYTHING you'll find on the Australian market.
Homemade Protein Powder Recipe
- Takes 5 minutes
- Makes 20 servings
- Hemp seeds - 1 cup
- Flaxseeds - 1 cup
- Pumpkin seeds - 1 cup
- Cinnamon - 2 tablespoon
- Sea salt - 1 teaspoon
- Simply measure out all your ingredients and put them in a food processor
- Process for one to two minutes, until the seeds have broken down
- Store them in an air tight container; one serving is two heaped tablespoons or 50g
- If you keep in the cupboard you have several weeks to enjoy it but if you're going to take your time then I recommend keeping it in the freezer; fresh for three months in there
But This Isn't Exactly Like The Store Bought Stuff
Well, firstly, that's the point. They use high concentrated proteins and synthetic sweeteners. Homemade recipe are never going to be quite as protein dense or as sweet.
But I Like Sweet
Me too. You can use vanilla bean powder and stevia. You could use coconut sugar. You can even buy maple syrup powder and honey powder. The latter two are great. But like vanilla bean, they're not cheap. Which is why you're protein powder company doesn't use them.
I'm about to give you a bunch more homemade protein powder ideas. You can add stevia, maple powder, honey powder or coconut sugar to pimp them. I chose to just add a sweetener when I use the powder. So if I'm making a smoothie I just add a splash of maple syrup to the mix. If I'm making homemade protein bars I'll just add dates.
Same method as above, just different nutrients.
Anti-Inflammatory Protein Powder
- Walnuts - 1 cup
- Chia seeds - 1 cup
- Hemp seeds - 1 cuo
- Turmeric powder - 1 tablespoon
- Ginger powder - 2 tablespoons
Green Detox Protein Powder
- Flaxseeds - 1/2 cups
- Sunflower seeds - 1 1/2 cups
- Spirulina - 4 tablespoons
Hormone Boosting Protein Powder
- Hemp seeds - 1 cup
- Rolled oats (GF) - 2 cups
- Maca - 3 tablespoons
Raw Chocolate Protein Powder
- Rolled oats - 1 cup
- Pumpkin seeds - 1 cup
- Cacao powder - 1/4 cup
- Cocoa powder - 1/3 cup
- Sea salt - 3/4 tsp