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If you think protein supplements are only for fitness fanatics and bodybuilders, you might be shocked to know that many nutritionists, herbalists, and medical professionals also recommend these essential macronutrient powders for their many benefits outside of gym culture.

Protein is essential because it enables the body to repair tissues, produces critical enzymes and hormones, and helps to build muscle, among other functions. For many of us, preparing or consuming three balanced meals every day can be challenging at times. Protein powders can help us reach our health goals in a nutritious and often affordable way. 

Your daily diet may not provide sufficient protein, or you may have goals for physical recovery and repair that upping your protein intake could support. Whatever your reasons for being protein-curious, we’re here to help you decide which type of powder is best for you, which to avoid, and how to navigate the heavily coded labels that dominate the market today.

Scientific studies have confirmed that consuming protein powder can assist with building muscles, post-workout recovery and weight loss, among other benefits. Despite popular myths about who should use dietary supplements, anyone who wants to add more protein to their diet can use protein powders, as they are widely available in stores and online. It’s easy to mix with liquids like water or milk, soups and smoothies, and it can be added to other home-cooked meals. 

Researchers have found that some people who eat a mostly (or strictly) plant-based diet may struggle to meet their protein requirements through diet alone if they are not regularly consuming protein-rich foods. Health and genetic conditions ranging from eating disorders to IBS and cancer may also lead to protein deficiency. While this is rarer in the United States, there are many countries where lack of protein is common and has serious consequences, especially in early childhood development. Protein deficiency can lead to malnutrition or other life threatening outcomes. 

A reduced appetite from cancer treatment or older age, a wound that is slow to heal, or a serious burn are some other reasons people use protein powders to help the body get extra calories and protein that can repair and replace cells, among other critical functions of healthy protein intake. Of course, the more common users are those with specific fitness goals. Whether trying to bulk up in muscle mass or get leaner, those who exercise regularly often include protein powders and other dietary supplements as part of their personal fitness plans to achieve their desired outcomes

In order to create protein powders, protein is condensed from either animal sources (eggs, milk, etc.) or plant-based sources (peas, rice, soybeans, etc.). But, many highly processed powders may also contain artificial flavors, hidden fillers or additives like dextrin, sugar, glucose or xanthan gum. We recommend you steer clear of these unhealthy options! Whether derived from plant or animal sources, the four main types of protein powders are:

1. WHEY PROTEIN - the most commonly available powder on the market today. Originates from milk and is a direct by-product of the cheese making process.

2. CASEIN PROTEIN - releases protein slowly, so is said to be beneficial to muscle recovery. Also originates from milk.

3. EGG PROTEIN - known for their high protein content, egg whites (sans yolks) are generally the primary ingredient in these protein powders.

4. PLANT PROTEIN - free of the cholesterol found in whey and casein protein powders, plant protein powders are unsaturated and were found equally effective for strength and performance to their animal protein counterparts in a side-by-side comparison. 

Check The Label: Less is Best

We’ll keep it simple. Here’s our label vs a generic label:

We’re looking for protein powders that contain few ingredients, are ideally made from real food, are unsweetened, list protein as the first ingredient, and don’t have yucky or weird stuff (see below for more on the shocking things found in some protein powders - eek!) included in the recipe. But, given many health fitness gurus suggest “hacking” or “decoding” the labels, there’s clearly some misleading going on by a lot of protein powder manufacturers. Beware of false advertising.


Asking the right questions is fundamental. What’s in so many of these products is often not derived from natural sources, and can be downright toxic for your health. In one study, researchers found over half of the 134 products they tested from 52 brands contained high levels of pesticides, heavy metals, and other carcinogenic and infertility-causing toxins. That’s scary to even think about, let alone to consider consuming!

When seeking the highest quality protein powder, ask these five questions first:

1. Does it have any weird fillers or additives? Often “spiked” with empty fillers, many commercial protein powders use extra ingredients that are known to cause gastric distress and digestive issues. 

2. Are GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) part of the package? Beyond the full scope of how GMOs affect human health (research remains scarce while public skepticism is still very high), there are real biological, ecological and economic concerns we should all be concerned about as beings who eat to stay alive! Instead, look for GMO-free products.

3. What “natural flavors” are in this product, and what does that even mean? “There seem to be about 1,000 chemicals in the GRAS category that have not been researched or approved by the FDA or anyone else,” Nourish Schools co-founder Casey Seidenberg wrote in The Washington Post. GRAS = Generally Regarded As Safe, but Seidenberg and others rightly question whether “unstudied natural flavors” can be considered safe or healthy.

4. Is there any real chocolate (or other flavor in the name/description) in the recipe? As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t recognize multiple ingredient names, there’s probably not any “real” food (i.e. not artificially made) in it. The American Council on Science and Health does a great job detailing the exploitation of customers by the “natural fallacy”.

5. Does this product contain heavy metals or chemicals? Shocking truth: arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead were found in 15+ processed protein powders in a lab test by Consumer Reports

6. Does it have sweeteners? Most of them have either synthetic sweeteners or a ton of sugars of sorts. Be sure to keep a KEEN eye if you’re looking for zero sugar, which is what we recommend. 
Enjoy this deliciousness at a discounted rate this week!
*Discount already applied on the website. 


DISCLAIMER: This content is not intended to encourage self-diagnosis, and is purely informational in nature. We are not suggesting any of these herbs be used in place of medicine or as medicinal alternatives. We do suggest you work with your chosen herbalist, healer and/or physician about how to best integrate these and other herbal remedies into your overall health-boosting routine. The ancient wisdom of plant-based remedies includes a complex system requiring guidance from practitioners whose expertise cannot be summarized in just one article. Please use plant medicines carefully and intentionally. Discuss any questions or doubts directly with a healthcare practitioner.

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