By Dawn Vickery of Raw Elements
Whey protein powders are a staple of the health industry. But are they really the best way of getting protein into your diet? How do plant-based protein alternatives measure up to the industry standard?
Whey is a byproduct in the production of cheese. However, 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 used by so many in the bodybuilding and athletic industry.
Dairy products in general are not the best food for the body. Human beings are the only creatures on earth who drink the milk of another mammal or drink milk of any kind past childhood. Our bodies were not designed to digest dairy. Early humans could not digest dairy at all (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6397001.stm). This is a part of why so many people have dairy allergies. Additionally, modern dairy products come from cows that are given a variety of hormones and medications and unnatural foods designed to keep them producing as much milk as possible. These chemicals are then passed to humans through dairy products. In short, dairy is not a healthy foundation to a diet. Dairy should be limited, if not eliminated in a healthy diet.
Whey proteins are noted for causing bloating, a symptom of the body’s difficulty in digesting it. Additionally, many who have taken whey powder protein as a part of body building have noted that the muscles built do not maintain, and disappear quickly if the whey protein is no longer used. 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.
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.
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).
The ‘new’ protein on the market – is a very silky smooth sprouted brown rice protein. This particular protein uses old world processes of combining the sprouted endosperm and the bran from 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. This 85% protein is an easy transition from whey. It delivers more protein per scoop (16 grams) than hemp – and is very easy on the digestive system. Unlike other extraction processes their method of extraction uses neither chemicals nor acid hydrolysis. They use only organic enzymes during the process and the process is 100% organic compliant. An excellent example of this protein is Sunwarrior Protein.
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 exercise and 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. I can truly attest to this as I have been through the full range of proteins in the last 15 years, from Whey to Hemp and Brazil nut based, to Sprouted Brown Rice.
I feel the Brown Rice Sunwarrior Protein is the next stage in Body Building and Athletics, as it builds fantastic muscle, is extremely easy to digest, and comes in Chocolate, Vanilla and Natural. This is much closer in texture and taste to whey protein without the harmful side effects, so it is an easy transition. Since many of us are lactose intolerant which can lead to extra weight gain, we have found that many women and men really benefit from switching to Sunwarrior. It will allow your body to remove the toxic build up left behind by animal products. I have never met a woman that is not trying to lose those last 10 pounds. These proteins will definitely assist in weight loss and vibrant health.