Protein powder can be a fantastic way to boost your protein consumption or speed up post-workout recovery. But, many of the most popular protein powders aren’t Paleo friendly, so you need to take a close look at the ingredient label before adding it to your blender bottle or smoothie.
It is convenient to mix up a protein shake when you need a snack before meals or after a workout. Instead of reaching for the cheapest protein powder you find at GNC, it is better to do your homework to pick the right product. With a little bit of research, you can have your cake and eat it too… as long as the cake is made with the right Paleo protein powder!
Protein Powder Ingredients to Avoid
It can be shocking to read the ingredient label and find a bunch of items that you are trying to avoid. Before making the purchase, you should always turn over the product package and read the entire ingredient list. A quick glance at the ingredients will help you determine if the protein can be included with your meal plan.
These are a few things to stay away from:
- Artificial ingredients
Most types of protein powder are made with whey, and the topic of whey is debatable among Paleo enthusiasts. Some people decide to use whey protein because it is an isolated fraction from cow’s milk and not the whole ingredient. But, it is a personal decision that each person needs to make for themselves. You might decide that you prefer to stay away from whey and stick with a protein powder derived from Paleo-friendly ingredients that are a better match for your health and fitness goals.
Digestible Protein Sources
Another reason to be selective about the ingredients in your protein powder is to make sure that you are a using a product that is easily digestible. People often turn to the Paleo diet to improve their digestion and find relief from tummy troubles, but they start experience digestive problems when they incorporate protein powder back into their diet. It can be disappointing to experience stomach issues from your protein powder, so you should look for ingredients that are beneficial for digestion.
Here are three options to look for:
- Egg protein
- Beef protein
- Rice protein
Egg protein is a great option to consider, because it provides a nice profile of amino acids that can be easily used by the body. Look for protein powders that use whole egg protein, egg white protein, or a combination of the two. Certain Paleo protein powders might use beef protein isolate, which is very comparable to the amino acid profile from whey protein.
Like whey protein, rice protein isn’t technically considered Paleo friendly, but it is one of the least offensive grains that can be consumed. This ingredient is less superior to animal ingredients, but it might be a good option if you need an alternate product because of food allergies or another reason. When rice protein is isolated from the brown rice grain, it results in brown rice amino acids that can be used by your body. But, rice protein is not an optimal ingredient for the Paleo diet, so it should only be considered for individuals who can’t tolerate egg protein.
Ingredient Sourcing Methods
Reading the ingredient label is important, and you also need to consider the ingredient sourcing that is used by the manufacturer. It has been found that humanely raised chickens and cows produce eggs and meat higher in nutrition compared to factory-farm raised animals. Additionally, humanely raised animals aren’t contaminated with pesticide-laden feed, high doses of antibiotics, or other harmful chemical treatments that are often used by confined animal feeding operations.
So, make sure that you look into the sourcing methods that the protein powder manufacturer uses for their products. The health of the animals will have a direct impact on the quality and nutrition that is available within the protein powder.
Isolate vs. Concentrate
It is important that you understand the difference between “isolate” and “concentrate” with protein powders, because these different methods will have an impact on the overall nutritional profile of the protein powder.
Concentrate is a truer form of the ingredient because it is less processed. So, if your ultimate goal is to reduce the processed foods that you are consuming, then you might choose a concentrate. These ingredients will be close to the natural form of the original ingredient, and include things such as fat and other compounds. But, the drawback is that the protein content is generally less than an isolate product.
Isolates are essentially pure protein extracts, and very few of the other elements from the original ingredient remain. Isolate is usually about 90-94% protein, so you can quickly increase your protein consumption with one serving. The drawback is that isolates go through quite a bit of refinement, resulting in a highly processed product.
If you are cost sensitive, then you might lean toward the concentrate products because they are cheaper than isolates. On the other hand, if your ultimate goal is higher protein count, then you should choose an isolate.
Finding the Best Paleo Protein Powder
Being selective about the quality of your protein powder means that you need to be willing to spend a little more on the products that you are buying. With Paleo protein powder, you definitely get what you pay for in terms of the quality and effectiveness of the product.
One of the best places to find high quality protein powders that contain Paleo friendly ingredients is online. A quick search for “Paleo protein powder” will uncover a few popular brands that you might consider, such as:
- Paleo Pro where you can find a high quality protein powder made from a blend of egg and beef
- True Nutrition which offers several options, including beef protein isolate, whole egg protein, egg white protein, and Sacha Inchi protein powder
- MHP offers another source of Paleo-friendly egg and beef protein powder
Or, if you are looking for ways to boost your protein consumption without using protein powder, then you can find some delicious recipes here on our website, including a list of Paleo protein recipes that you will love!