When you’re in the market for a new protein powder make sure to peruse the ingredient labels the next time you are at your local nutrition store or health food joint. One thing you may be overlooking is the sugar content. Many of these so-called healthy powders are heavy on the sugar and seriously lacking when it comes to protein. And while it may make your shake taste like it came from a malt shop, it won’t be doing your waist any favors. According to Healthy Living, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published research showing that a higher protein diet can help weight loss. However, some of the protein powders used to achieve this are loaded with added sugar which can wipe out the benefit and in some cases even cause weight gain.
According to Medill Reports Chicago, there are various reasons people eat protein bars, drink shakes, or take their protein pills and put their helmet on. Some want to build muscle and some are looking to shed a few pounds. Others are hoping that extra protein will help them recover from a workout more quickly. When you are considering taking a protein supplement it is important to think about your motivation, then choose accordingly depending on the nutrient ratio. A healthy protein supplement should have minimal sugars and carbohydrates. A good rule of thumb is 5 grams or less of sugar per serving. High glycemic sugars and carbohydrates cause insulin release which, in excess, cause health problems like weight gain, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. Also, be sure to check the amount of fiber listed. Fiber is a good addition and can slow the absorption of sugars.
Consuming large amounts of sugar has also been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, according to the Mayo Clinic. And Harvard Health found that sugar can increase blood pressure and boost the risk of strokes. Livestrong adds that sugar overload can be responsible for a myriad of health issues from infertility to gallbladder disorders to sleep apnea. So it is important to avoid processed sugars and when you are calculating your daily total, hidden sugars in foods like your protein powders, do add up.
Plenty of mass-marketed protein products are doused in chocolate or mixed with dried fruit or other additives with sugar. Usually, this is to mask the taste which is sometimes bitter or unpalatable. Many bars are also full of added sugar which is used to bind it together. When choosing a protein supplement, look for one that has lots of grams of protein and a low gram count of sugar. Are you reading the list of ingredients? Sometimes sugar by any other name will taste as sweet. The sweet stuff goes by many aliases such as dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose, and maltodextrin, to name a few. Then there is the artificial sweetener gang, which will save you on calories, but are made synthetically and aren’t necessarily good for the body. Often brands will try to pull one over on you by using words like syrup or juice when they are deriving the fake sweetener from corn. If you see that, drop it like a hot potato, or ear of corn, as it were. If you are hankering for a little taste of honey, the best option is to make your own treat.
You can get the sugar you crave from natural ingredients like agave, honey, or fruit. Add that to unsweetened protein powder, and your body will be satiated, just as if you consumed one of the store bought powders that are sweetened like Sugar Smacks. Fruits, in moderation, are acceptable sugars and are even good for you, because they also contain fiber which slows down the absorption of sugar, sort of a built-in yellow light. Fruits also boast micronutrients and vitamin C. They do, however, have fructose, which is a sugar, even if it is a natural one. Fructose, in large doses, can cause insulin resistance which is the first domino of diabetes. So fruit is great food, but like everything, it is to be consumed in moderation.
According to Judy Fulop, a naturopathic practitioner at Northwestern Integrative Medicine, it’s always easier to control your sugar intake when you make your own at home. Skip the gym shake bar or your favorite juice place and whip one up in your kitchen blender. While your best source of protein is always lean meats and legumes, a sugar-free whey protein or low sweetener option is a good way to replenish what you burn in a workout or as a quick meal in your daily dietary routine. SFH PURE in natural flavor is a perfect option if you want to naturally sweeten your shake to your taste.