In my search for continuing to stay fit while making this transition to eating local, organic and more plant based, my first challenge was to find a healthy, organic, non GMO alternative to Whey Protein Isolate products. I use these very often while training. I mix them in my oatmeal in the morning, as well as using them for pre and post workout nutrition daily. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t buy cheap protein powder. I make a point of buying a product that’s a free from artificial sweeteners (Stevia sweetened), claimed to be one of the BEST, and also more expensive. The other day, I took a look at the ingredients listed on the side of my $64 dollar tub of what I thought to be “PURE” protein, and did some research. What I found was that it was full of the same synthetic chemical additives that I have learned about, including GMO’s! A friend of mine also gave me some advice regarding Whey. A little test. Take your Whey Protein powder, and add a small amount of water on your finger with the Whey Protein powder, rub your fingers together. The thick, gluey paste that bonds your fingers together, gives you a pretty clear picture as to how much of this stuff gets stuck in your digestive tract, and how difficult it would be for you body to process it. Sickening!
I am now researching and testing alternatives to Whey Protein. In case some of you don’t already know, Whey is a byproduct in the production of cheese, rather than discard the liquid portion of the milk that remains after cheese has curdled, producers further process whey into a variety of forms, including the whey protein powder. Many people have dairy allergies, and modern dairy products come from cows that are given a variety of hormones, medications and unnatural foods designed to keep them producing as much milk as possible. These chemicals are then passed to humans through dairy products. I choose to limit dairy in my diet, usually only using Greek Yogurt and a bit of butter from time to time, although the more I learn, the more I think I may end up eliminating it all together unless I can find a healthy form of it.
One thing I found VERY interesting on my search was the testimonials from several bodybuilders on forums who have have noted that when using Whey Protein, the muscles built do not maintain, and disappear quickly if the whey protein is no longer used.
I learned that Plant-based proteins are different. There are a number of plant-based protein alternatives to whey protein. These alternatives offer as much, if not more protein than whey, in addition to many other benefits. The ease in digestion also means that it is easier to consume greater quantities of plant-based proteins, if that is desired.
Here’s some information on the various kinds available on the market:
Hemp protein closely resembles the protein of the human body. It is easy to digest and contains all of the essential amino acids that the body requires. It also contains Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids that whey protein does not. Brazil nuts are known as one of the most calorie dense types of vegan foods and they are also 50% protein. Brazil nuts have a high selenium content, which means it is a powerful antioxidant. Hemp based protein has long been used by those with dairy allergies that prevent them from using whey. It provides high levels of protein and also natural enzymes. Some examples of plant based hemp protein would be Thor’s Raw Power and Living Harvest Hemp Protein.
Pea Protein is a relatively new form of protein powder which is valued for its high digestibility (90-95%), low potential for allergic responses, and low price. Pea protein has a light, flurry texture and slightly sweet taste which mixes well in solution. Pea protein is less allergenic than soy and has no negative health controversies associated with it. Pea protein is often combined with rice protein to achieve a superior amino acid profile than either protein alone. Pea protein is low in the sulfurous amino acids (cysteine and methionine) but rich in lysine; in contrast, rice protein is deficient in lysine but has high levels of both cysteine and methionine. The combination of rice and pea protein (RPP) also helps mitigate the strong, chalky taste of rice protein on its own. This combination is considered by many to be among the best tasting protein powders. An interesting aspect of pea protein powder is that when high concentrations of powder are mixed with small amounts of water, the pea protein can be formed into a semi-solid mixture which can be used as a jam or spread.
Chlorella and Spirulina are other forms of plant based proteins that are used by vegetarians and vegans. These are 100% whole foods from the ocean / plant kingdom. This type of protein is 100% assimilated by the body, is full of minerals and chlorophyll, and you will gain the extra benefit of having this assist your body in detoxification of heavy metals. This type of protein will build an extremely strong dense muscle. An example of this type of protein is Chlorenergy chlorella (tablets) or Healthforce Nutritionals Spirulina (powder – easily added to shakes).
Sprouted Brown Rice Protein uses a process of using raw sprouted whole grain brown rice. The unique process creates the first complete hypoallergenic protein which is made up of all 9 essential amino acids and the other non-essential amino acids in a perfectly balanced amino acid profile. Rice proteins can contain up to 85% protein is an easy transition from whey. Some deliver more protein per scoop than hemp – and are very easy on the digestive system. Be sure to use one who’s method of extraction uses neither chemicals nor acid hydrolysis, and only organic enzymes during the process so that the process is 100% organic compliant.
Whatever type of plant-based protein is used, it is always best if the processing involved does not heat the ingredients. Above are listed plant-based proteins that qualify as raw in that the ingredients are never heated over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
“It is very common for those interested in bodybuilding to make the claim that a plant-based protein simply cannot assist in muscle growth in the same way as an animal derived protein (like whey). However, it is not difficult to observe that herbivore animals like gorillas or horses possess lean, strong muscles. In fact, many bodybuilders who have changed from whey to a plant based protein have noted that the muscle built from plant-based protein is more solid, very dense and much longer lasting”. – Dawn Vickery of Raw Elements
I have decided to start with a blend of these different types of protein in one product called “PROGRESSIVE HARMONIZED VEGAN PROTEIN”. It comes in flavored or unsweetened. I have done a bit of digging about this product and found that its certified Organic, and Non GMO. I’ll keep you posted on how it tastes, and what results I see from it as far as muscle building goes!
Here’s link to where you can buy it on the Natures fare website, or in store:
So a little update for those interested, I’ve been away for a while recovering from a concussion due to an accident at the ski hill. I have had a long recovery (since Feb 2013) and I’m just starting to get back on my feet! I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with everyone, and giving recommendations on products that I have found have helped me with my recovery, as well as natural health and healing methods that I have experienced to prevent myself from using pain medications. It’s a long story, looking forward to sharing it! Stay tuned for new posts on these subjects and other topics of interest!
In relation to this post, I will add that I have switched to Vega Sport Vegan Protein shown in the photo. I prefer the taste, and I have found it makes me feel great, with no gastro issues, and it contains a healthy dose of all naturally derived BCAA’s! My favorite is the Vanilla flavor.