In a perfect world I would tell you to avoid protein powders all together and focus on eating whole, natural foods. I preach this constantly, but I am also a believer in practicality and reality (for the sake of sanity), so I’m here to share some of my favorite, and not-so favorite protein powders I’ve experimented with over the past few years. As a very athletic person trying to gain muscle mass, I do drink protein shakes daily. It makes my crazy life much easier, giving me extra nutrients, minerals and vitamins. So many of you have asked me on Instagram or Twitter what my favorites were, so I figured we’d make it easier for you and put all that good info in one place! Please keep in mind that no good protein powder can replace a good diet so get the foundation right before you experiment with supplements. Promise?! And there is such a thing as over doing it on the protein (read about that here).
I’ve tried SO many different kinds of protein powders, but I’m only sharing the best of the best with you today. Being a gal with plenty of food allergies to mention, I chose to only share the ones that are “clean” or “allergy-free”. Most general brands or supplements found at GNC or places like the Vitamin Shoppe contain things like gluten, soy, food dyes, added processed sugars and more. I refuse to meddle with that crap regardless of my athletic needs or desire for convenience.
Noteworthy Protein Supplements I’ve tried (in no particular order)…
1. Reserveage Organics Grass-Fed Whey Protein – I’m a chocolate girl, so chocolate won me over, but the vanilla is pretty good. I have milk allergies most of the time, but have noticed that when I consume organic dairy in small amounts I have near to no reactions. I have cycled through 3 containers of this protein supplement and had zero reactions; though it contains milk, it is low in lactose. Interesting, huh? The ingredients are almost perfect: whey protein concentrate, cocoa, natural flavors (questionable), stevia leaf extract, sunflower lecithin. The whey protein comes from grass-fed cows which is awesome. No synthetic hormones are used and you can be assured that the cows were pastured and your product is organic. I’m a huge fan of whey protein (only when it is grass-fed and organic) because it is easily absorbed and digested by the body. This is a great protein supplement to take right before or after a workout. I still continue to use this supplement on a weekly basis and is one of my favorites. The price is amazing for the quality. I get mine at Whole Foods.
2. Protein 17 Organic Grass-Fed Whey Protein – I recently stumbled upon this product while on a Google rampage to find a “perfect paleo protein powder”. What I first found was this “Paleo Protein” that, frankly, looks like shit (you stopped me at carageenan). But then I found Protein 17, ordered it within 5 minutes and I’m so glad I did. There is no flavor to the powder, which cuts out excess ingredients, so it’s not entirely tasty. This product is perfect on paper: no soy, no gluten, no GMO’s (HUGE!), grass-fed, not acid-treated, no additives, no artificial sweeteners, etc. The ingredients label is mighty short: Organic Pasture-Fed Whey Protein Concentrate. That’s it! Of course, being human and all, I wish it had some flavor, so I add my own cacao powder to my protein shakes with two drops of stevia. I will be using this protein supplement until (and if) something better emerges. Until then, this is the ultimate. Even the price is great! You can only buy it online, as far as I know.
3. Garden of Life Raw Protein – This product is vegan, raw, organic, gluten-free and soy-free, yippee! I’ve tried every flavor: original, vanilla, chocolate and vanilla spiced chai. The original is not lovely tasting, but the spiced chai was my favorite. Last year this time, this product was the only supplement I was taking. I have to be honest, I don’t love this product. I’m not a vegan, or a raw foodist, but it is obvious that raw, live foods are healthy for us, providing the highest amount of nutrition. But I prefer to just eat raw vegetables, and I won’t be using this supplement again. What’s ironic is that last year this time I was very sick, with uncontrollable seasonal allergies, digestive problems, and a bloated belly that looked like it belonged to a pregnant woman of 6 months. It was painful, miserable, and almost hopeless. I was consuming lots of vegetables, some fruit, plenty of water but this protein supplement, along with oatmeal, was part of my regular diet. I cannot stress enough how much of a physical and mental mess I was. Thankfully, I listened to my instincts that my body does not react well to grains or beans, and all is just peachy keen now. The ingredients include a long list of seeds, grains, and legumes. I now know that grains and beans present a huge problem for me, and since cutting them out of my diet completely, I have never felt better in my life. I actually tried taking this supplement again a few months ago and had a very bad reaction. If you suffer from unexplained aches, pains, inflammation, digestive problems, depression or acne, I HIGHLY suggest cutting out grains and beans from your diet and seeing how your body reacts. It has made all the difference in my life.
4. Vega Sport Performance Protein – I bought this protein supplement once and unfortunately, didn’t like it very much. It is a plant-based protein powder containing things like pea protein, brown rice protein, alfalfa protein and hemp protein. I didn’t react to it as badly as I did to the Garden of Life Protein but I wasn’t able to digest it properly (I’m assuming because of the rice), and stopped taking it after only a handful of uses. The texture is really smooth, and I liked the berry flavor. It has a high BCAA content, which I liked, but still had to stop using it. It’s one of the better vegan options, but I’d rather not see the grains on the ingredient label.
5. Progenex More Muscle Protein and Recovery – This protein is different from all the rest, it is more focused on performance and muscle gains. The flavors are dynamite – I loved the belgium chocolate and mocha (dessert in a shaker, anyone?). I noticed a significant improvement in my workouts and made big gains in my lifts at CrossFit. I could not recommend these products enough to athletes and anyone looking to see fitness improvements. However, that being said, I do have some complaints… It made me bloat. Yeah, man. Again with the bloating story. This is kinda huge for me though because I’m trying to get a six-pack. The quality is good, but not great. And the price is high for me. I’ll spend dollars on kale, grass-fed skirt steak or almond flour but I can’t pay $69 for a month’s supply of protein powder that isn’t even organic or grass-fed.
I want to hear from you! What protein powders do you take, if any? Have you come across any great products? Please share!
I was not sponsored or endorsed to write about any of these products. Hopefully you’ll find some help from my experiences!