“Healthy Smoothies” or just Bull$h*t?
Protein powders can be found everywhere at the moment, endorsed by personal trainers, celebrities and influencers telling you how much they *love it (*for a cut of the profits), to the supermarket shelves selling protein balls in convenient little packets. And, it is actively promoted as part of a healthy diet, and increasingly for weight control. Ironically, many people who love protein supplements go to a lot of effort to avoid processed foods but seem to forget that protein powder is one of the most processed foods out there.
Most people understand that eating too much refined starch (white flour) or refined sugar is not good for them. These are the extracted and refined parts of the plant that give us carbohydrates. So why on earth is it that we think extracting and refining the protein part of a plant, or from milk, is going to be good for us?
"It’s a highly processed food that then costs a whole lot more than the whole food it came from.”
There’s no denying that protein powder is convenient. It provides a quick and easy source of protein after a workout that doesn’t require refrigeration.
Let’s face it, it's not always convenient to tuck into a meal right after the gym, so in some cases protein supplements can be a good option from a convenience perspective.
However, getting the protein you need from actual food is preferable to using protein powder, as it’s likely to offer far more in the way of nutritional benefits. Whole foods offer the benefits of a range of other nutrients such as carbohydrate, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, which protein powder unfortunately doesn’t (or does so in much smaller amounts).
I would be lying if I told you I didn’t occasionally have a protein powder, I sometimes find it to be useful for a quick drink between clients when I’m hungry and I know that I still have another 4+ hours before I can sit down for a meal. So, if you are going to use protein powders, it’s important to know what you are having…
Compare the following 4 proteins, to compare apples with apples, I’ve selected all vanilla vegan. All with 30g serving size.
What you are looking for is…
The AMOUNT of ingredients in each one. (and how many of those ingredients you can PRONOUNCE)
How many grams of PROTEIN per serve?
How many grams of SUGAR per serve?
24.1g of protein
0.1g of sugar
22.7g of protein
0.5g of sugar
10g of protein
*6g of sugar
*Please note that as per it’s recommendation Herbalife states on the nutrition panel “for best results, consume 2 x 30g Per day
So that equals 12g = 4 teaspoons of sugar
You may be also interested to know that local smoothie bars around Melbourne use Herbalife powders in all their smoothies. Please always check the ingredients list before purchasing these products.
24.8g of protein
0.3g of sugar
The bottom line
If you do decide to use protein supplements, know what you are consuming. A good trick is to go for the one that contains the least amount of ingredients, but make sure that you prioritise food as your main source of protein.
And remember, simply taking protein powder or eating protein bars won't magically make you build muscle or tone up - you need to be giving your body a reason to change first through good old fashioned exercise!
I am not promoting or condoning any of these products, I just want you to be an informed consumer. Don’t buy into marketing tactics, quick fixes or miraculous claims. Don't waste your money on useless products or unsustainable, miserable diet plans that encourage you to replace real food with “diet shakes”.
You are educated enough to know that you don’t have to turn your life upside down with a brand new diet to lose fat or eat more nutrients - you just need to make a few small changes which, over time, will produce the results you want. This process will include all of your favourite foods and support your mental health.