Thursday, March 19, 2015

No Whey!

I choose plant proteins for numerous reasons: some are environmental, some health related, and some compassionate. Today I want to give you some health reasons for switching from whey to plant proteins, such as pea, rice and oat. 

Even high-quality, grass-fed, organic whey is problematic from a metabolic standpoint. One study found whey creates an insulinogenic effect similar to white bread. In other words, whey protein is absorbed quickly and can elevate blood sugar (and subsequently, insulin) levels similarly to a high-carbohydrate food like bread.*  An excess of insulin encourages the body to store fat. 
Because whey is absorbed so quickly, insulin levels will peak quickly then crash, so you may no feel satisfied for long. Slower-absorbing proteins should provide more satiety.

Sports nutritionist John Berardi, PhD, notes several other problems with whey. Even though whey is mostly lactose free, even high-quality whey protein can contain traces of this sugar. Dried whey, a common food additive, contains almost 77% lactose.*

If you are trying to lose or maintain weight, or struggle with sugar cravings or candida, whey should be avoided.

Berardi also states that whey can create excessive inflammatory immune responses and food intolerances. Like other dairy products, whey may induce gas, bloating, nasal congestion and excessive mucous production.

As a vegan, I often supplement with protein powders and bars. I drink Vegan Shakeology (Available in Chocolate or Tropical Strawberry here: for complete nutrition but sometimes make smoothies with a mixture of brown rice and pea protein powders when those flavors just won’t work or when I want to cook with an added protein boost (i.e. adding it to pancakes, etc). I find rice protein powder to be more gritty and less dissolvable than oat or pea, but it also has a better amino profile, so I tend to blend them.

You can also boost your protein by 5 grams by adding 2 tablespoons of PB2, and 2 grams with a teaspoon of Spirulina (bonus 150% RDA Vit. B12!)

These days there are many alternative options to whey protein. I encourage you to give them a try!