I was recently asked what I thought was the best protein powder. Protein powder comes in a few forms, and it’s a popular nutritional supplement, especially for people who consider themselves bodybuilders. I don’t consider myself a bodybuilder, and I’m not a big fan of protein powders in general. Here’s my take on them:
Be careful with protein powder. Protein has to be processed by the liver in order to be useful to your body, and too much of it–especially animal protein–can cause renal toxicity in the long term. High-protein diets were a big deal a decade ago, but they are not healthy or balanced.
If you’re going to supplement with protein, plant-based protein is best, and if I were going to take it in concentrated form (which I rarely do) I would choose spirulina. It’s extracted from algae, and it’s got all 22 amino acids plus some great phytonutrients like chlorophyll. It’s also much more environmentally friendly than animal protein, since it produces 400 times the protein per acre than beef cattle. It’s anti-inflammatory, and unlike soy protein, it’s easy to find clean, organic, non-GMO sources. Spirulina protein is already broken down into amino acids for easy absorption, and it won’t stress your liver and kidneys like whole animal protein will. That’s one reason that I’ve been getting most of my protein from plants and sea vegetables for the past 20 years.
I can’t talk about protein powder without talking about whey. Whey is a byproduct of cheese manufacturing that was formerly considered toxic waste. Where I live, whey was routinely dumped into sewers until it was made illegal to do so, and in fact some cheese manufacturers were fined for continuing to dump whey in the sewers. The dairy industry and the department of agriculture decided that when needed to be disposed of some other way, and through clever marketing, it was transformed into a premium nutrition product. Whey protein isn’t great stuff, despite its reputation as a complete protein.
You should get most of your protein from the food you eat, which should be clean, organic, and mostly plant-based. You shouldn’t have to add anything fancy to good natural nutrition–that’s what your body wants, and it’s what you should eat.
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