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Protein Powder Primer: Whey or No Whey?

Protein Powder Primer: Whey or No Whey?

I have many clients who tell me they want to cut back on meat but they are worried about getting enough protein every day.  I tell them about the great, delicious vegetarian sources of whole food protein available to them, including chickpeas, quinoa, coconut milk, beans, brown rice, and miso.  If they still crave something meaty, wild salmon or organic chicken are superior to red meat.

Incorporating these great foods into daily meals will give a person sufficient useable protein to meet the body’s needs. While some people will choose cheese or milk for their protein fix they often complain about feeling bloated, gassy and congested.  Others want to know about protein powders and this is what I tell them.

Protein powders can provide a quick and effective supplement to a healthy diet.  They should never be used to replace a balanced meal but in today’s hectic world, a berry smoothie with protein powder is a better option than a coffee and muffin at the nearest drive-thru.  Like any food product or health supplement, there are reputable brands and there is junk. Read the entire label to find out how much genuine food product you are getting in comparison to fillers, sugars, preservatives, and artificial flavors and colors.  If you see these ingredients, put it back on the shelf and move on to the next option. And if you see any “isolated protein” steer clear.

When reading the package, you may notice that some protein powders include whey, which is usually derived from dairy sources like cow’s milk and goat milk.  Proponents of whey protein conclude that these protein powders offer a wider spectrum of amino acids than non-whey products. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and they are used to strengthen, repair and rebuild our bodies.  Some amino acids are heat sensitive so cooking or processing with heat will destroy them (think meat). Since they contain dairy, these powders are not an option for vegans or people with dairy allergies or sensitivities. Dairy consumption has been linked to the problems mentioned above and can increase inflammation in the body. Dairy products can also contain hormones and antibiotics used on livestock.

I prefer vegetarian protein powders over whey. Vegetarian protein powders can be sourced from a variety of plants, including peas, hemp, rice, pumpkin and soy. Soy has been linked to allergies so I would recommend trying some of the other types first, as well as choosing a product that is organic, or if that is not possible, one that does not contain genetically-modified organisms. Extreme muscle-building types may argue that vegetarian proteins don’t contain the full spectrum of amino acids needed to “pump you up” but there are many successful vegan and vegetarian athletes and body builders who would disagree.  Regardless, protein powder is a supplement, not a meal. Nothing in a bottle or jar can replace fresh, nutrient-rich, protein-rich foods at every meal.

My protein powder recipe of choice is:

Protein-Packed Blueberry Banana Smoothie

1 cup of almond milk
1 cup of almond yogurt
1/2  of a frozen banana
˝ cup of blueberries or strawberries
1 heaping tablespoon of organic hemp or pumpkin protein powder

Blend all ingredients together for a delicious smoothie.

Check out my new book 60 Seconds to Slim. Subscribe to my free e-magazine Worlds Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow my blog on my site, Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.

Read more: Appetizers & Snacks, Conscious Consumer, Desserts, Diet & Nutrition, Drinks, Eating for Health, General Health, Healthy Schools, Michelle Schoffro Cook, Smart Shopping, Vegan, Vegetarian, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Michelle Schoffro Cook

Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, RNCP, ROHP, DNM, PhD is an international best-selling and 17-time book author and board-certified doctor of natural medicine, whose works include: 60 Seconds to Slim, Weekend Wonder Detox, Healing Recipes, The Vitality Diet, Allergy-Proof, Arthritis-Proof, Total Body Detox, The Life Force Diet, The Ultimate pH Solution, The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan, and her new book The Probiotic Promise. Subscribe to her free e-magazine World's Healthiest News at to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow her on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.


+ add your own
8:09PM PST on Nov 28, 2014

Great info.

12:29PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

Food... My favorite edible...

8:34AM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

just add ants

11:03PM PDT on Jun 3, 2014


6:39PM PDT on May 4, 2014

Love my shakes.

2:07PM PDT on Apr 26, 2014

Unless it's from grass-fed cows it's no good. I also don't feel as though isolates are beneficial because they forgo plenty of other natural vitamins and minerals in say raw whole full-fat milk. I am an advocate of doing things yourself, so why not find a local farm that sells raw milk and make your own whey liquid? Even the milk itself is above and beyond processed powders in the "health" stores. Unfortunately the milk nazis are hampering down on raw milk sales and as far as dairy consumption goes, pasteurized/homogenized/processed/fortified dairy is not worth buying for food.
If you're worried about protein consumption you should forget it. Unless you live off of a liquid diet you get enough protein and fiber to not have to supplement it ever, and doing so is probably worse for you than anything.

7:31PM PDT on Apr 24, 2014

Whey Protein all the way. Not just any whey protein either. Micro filtered and cross flow ionization to boot. Not just there yet. From Wisconsin certified organic or from New Zealand organic.

There. Now that is one completely unbeatable protein. Excellent for liver health. More than any vegetarian or vegan powder could ever dream to be.

3:46PM PDT on Apr 22, 2014

Good to know. Excellent article.

10:45AM PDT on Apr 20, 2014


2:25PM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

Thanks, another great article by Dr. Michelle!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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