The Ugly Truth About Protein Powders

Years ago I used to drink a smoothie everyday consisting of banana, blueberries and a whey protein powder blend that I loved. I thought I was being healthy because after all, the claims promise ripped abs, sleek muscles, more energy and better athletic performance.

proteinpowderSounded good to me.

I’ll just drink this protein shake everyday and I’ll be a healthy and hot super yogini, right?


Protein powders are highly processed, usually heated to the point that actually denatures the protein, which makes it nearly impossible for the body to recognize and use. The result is higher levels of acidity and toxicity in the body, which can lead to plenty of unwanted illnesses and diseases.

Protein powders are often filled with preservatives, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), allergens like dairy (whey protein isolate) and soy, and other synthetic toxins like aspartame, saccharin, and artificial flavors.

By the way, if you see “artificial flavors” on the back of any food or supplement label, just know that thousands of “secret” food chemicals can be hidden under this sneaky little label.

And in case all that wasn’t enough to get your attention, since protein powders are considered a “supplement,” they’re not even regulated by the FDA.

Consumer Reports conducted an eye-opening study  a few years back revealing that several protein powders on the market contain dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals – specifically arsenic, cadmium, and lead.

Not good.

The long of the short here is that there are way too many scary risks that far supersede the promised health claims of protein powders. The good news is you don’t have to rely on protein powders because you can get all the protein you need from eating real whole foods.

Be sure to check out my post on plant protein here. And if you want to give your green smoothie a boost of protein, try hemp seeds.

For the protein gram counters out there, just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds will load you up with 14 grams of protein.

Hemp seeds are by far the cleanest complete protein available on the market today, containing all 9 essential amino acids. Plus, hemp seeds provide a great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, helping to keep you fueled, regular, happy and healthy.

If you know someone using a questionable protein powder, please share this post. And now, I want to hear from you. Do you use protein powder? Have I convinced you to try an alternative? I want to know.

With love and hemp seeds,


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Showing 13 comments
  • Deanna

    Great article. Thanks…so many people are uneducated when it comes to supplements, reading labels and hidden ingredients. Also, check out the Natural News latest heavy metal testing on plant based proteins to insure you are using a high quality noncontaminated brand. Peace and light! Deanna

    • Julie Peláez

      Yes, is a great resource! Thanks for sharing!

  • Steven Mitchell

    Very good article! I agree that most of the protein powders on the market today are best to stay away from for the reasons you shared. It’s funny I came across your post because I was just about to post an article addressing the same topic. Sunwarrior or Garden of Life are the only decent powders that I know of.

  • Mehdi

    Thanks for this post julie. very informative and had answers of all the questions in my mind.

  • Dawn Stom

    I use an organic hemp protein… Is that good? I have never liked whet as it makes me very sick and avoid soy bc of thyroid. I was once on a rice protein through dr & nutritionist. Now years later I’ve discover hemp protein and love it! My kids will even drink it! Please say it is just as good as the seeds.

    • Julie Peláez

      Have you checked out the label? What else is in it besides ground hemp seeds?

  • Anahi

    I think a better point is that people who choose to use protein powder should be careful when deciding what to buy. You make it seem as if all protein powder is bad, but like you say MANY protein powders have this or that. It’s just all about being smart in which protein you decide to consume because some have cheap fillers, lots of sugar, etc. I believe it’s better to consume as much protein from food, but that’s not always easy for some people.

  • Melanie Imperio

    What about this one: Sprout Living Epic Protein Original. It says the ingredients are: Sprouted Brown Rice, Yellow Pea, Sacha Inchi, Cranberry Seed, Jerusalem Artichoke. It says “No “natural” flavoring, “other ingredients” or additives whatsoever.”

  • Jake

    You’re awesome! I’m new to this and was going to buy some today, but I’ll buy the whole foods instead… The Protien Powders are way too pricey anyway, i can buy a good amount of groceries with that price :)

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Jake, We are so glad you found this information helpful! We totally agree! You can buy much more quality whole food for the same price as the protein powder. Thanks for letting us know!

  • Brenda Davies

    I am currently on the Six-food elimination diet (technically, top 8 allergen). My health coach recently recommended adding Vega brand protein powders to my fruit & veggie smoothies, so I have been using Mango Tango and Bodacious Berry flavors. Thoughts on this brand of powder.

    • Jo and Jules

      Hi Brenda, Thank you for reaching out! We are not super familiar with Vega brand so we can’t comment on it. As you read above we are really into protein in it most natural and unprocessed forms. We wrote another article about it here: Why not try hemp and chia seeds in your morning smoothie and see how you feel? Does it give you the same results your health coach is trying help you find? XO, Jo & Jules

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