Protein is the building block of muscle. Most choose whey protein powder. But, what do you do if you’re on the Paleo diet? Whey’s not an option. We fill you in on what is.
Protein here, protein there, protein everywhere!
Protein powder can be very useful to those who are lacking and wanting to make gains or speed up recovery post-workout. But, many protein powders are not Paleo friendly, so how do you choose your Paleo protein?
You need to read. Read ingredients. Also read reviews, articles, and journals. Do your research. Or, you could take the easy route.
Simple, read this article!
All the research you could ever want on the topic of Paleo protein powders is right here!
What Is Paleo Anyway?
Based on the diet of our ancestors, Paleo diet plan is a way of eating only certain foods while excluding others. It has become very trendy these days to eat like the cavemen used to. Unless you simply are not listening, there are many positive outcomes of people who have been on this diet for the long term.
Paleo entails eating only the foods that the hunter/gatherers supposedly ate. That includes things like fruits, veggies, seafood and nuts. Since I didn’t live back in the cavemen days, I can’t quite vouch for what they ate.
But, that is where the research comes in with a list of foods known to be Paleo friendly.
These Are Some Paleo Friendly Foods
If you plan on switching to a Paleo diet, you need to embrace the right types of paleo recipes.
Glad you asked!
Try any of the following:
- Oils like avocado, olive, walnut, coconut, flaxseed, and macadamia.
- Fresh fruits like apples, bananas, oranges, pears and avocados.
- Fresh veggies like broccoli, carrots, peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
- Grass produced meats like beef, bison, elk and deer.
- Free range chicken and turkey.
- Seafood is Paleo friendly. Opt for stuff like salmon, haddock, shrimp and other shellfish.
- Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts.
These Are Foods That Are Not Paleo Friendly
Just as there are plenty of Paleo-friendly foods, there’s also a number to keep away from.
Any of the following:
- Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are off limits.
- Grains, including breads and pastas, rye, wheat, and barley are also no-nos.
- Legumes like beans and lentils should be off your menu.
- Vegetable oils.
- Processed foods.
- Artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
- Trans fats.
- Dairy foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt.
So now that you know what you can and can’t eat on the Paleo diet, you should have a better understanding of what to look for when you’re buying Paleo friendly protein powders.
Whey protein powder is very popular amongst those in the fitness world. But, if you are looking for Paleo friendly powders, this is not the one for you. That’s because whey is derived from cow’s milk.
Remember Little Miss Muffet who sat on her tuffet?
Yeah, she wasn’t on the Paleo diet. The curds and whey that is talked about in the popular nursery rhyme refer to coagulated milk (curds) and milk plasma (whey). So knowing what the Paleo diet entails, it’s safe to say that this dairy product is not part of it.
There are a few different versions of the Paleo diet. Some state that dairy is okay, while others say that it’s your choice. Still, others state absolutely not. So it is safe to say that you can make this decision at your own discretion. But, if you’re following the original version of the Paleo diet founded by Dr. Loren Cordain over at thePaleodiet.com, you will find that dairy is under the “do not eat” list.
What Type Of Protein Is Paleo Protein Powder Made From?
Simply put, it is derived from that list of foods we outlined. Those are the ones you are allowed to eat on the Paleo diet. With most Paleo protein powders you will find that they are made from some or all of the following:
- Whole Egg Protein – Made from the chicken whole egg, this protein provides an excellent combo of amino acids and high levels of beneficial sulfur. This is essential to many hormonal pathways in the body.
- Egg White Protein – Taken from, you guessed it, the egg white. This is a bit lower in calories than whole egg protein and is made by removing the yolk and converting the white into powder form.
- Beef Protein – Of course this is going to be grass-fed since everything Paleo needs to be grown and fed naturally. The process of producing beef protein powder includes boiling down the flesh, skimming off the fat and then drying the remaining amino acids.
- Sacha Inchi Protein – Made from the seeds of the Sacha Inchi plant. This is a highly digestible and complete protein.
Things you will not find in Paleo protein powders (with any hope) are added sugars, artificial sweeteners and everything else on the “do not eat” list.
What’s So Great About Paleo Protein Powder?
Glad you asked. There’s plenty to tell. Protein is one of three essential macronutrients. The other two are carbs and fats. Protein is found in every cell of the human body and is needed to make hormones and enzymes. Your hair, skin, and nails are mostly made of protein and your muscles need protein to function and grow. I’m sure you can see why it’s important to put a quality protein in your body because you literally are what you eat.
That’s where Paleo protein powders come in. These are usually the least processed protein powders due to the Paleo protocol of no processed foods. They usually contain no artificial ingredients, added sugars or weird stuff that nobody can pronounce.
By consuming a protein derived from sources like grass-fed beef and free-range chickens, neither treated with hormones or antibiotics, you’re getting a higher quality supplement than if you just grab a bucket of whey off the shelf.
That’s not to bash whey protein. It’s just that Paleo-friendly protein powders are usually a lot more natural and way less processed than any other protein products out there and that’s because it’s what the people have asked for.
Since following a Paleo lifestyle can give you limited options on various ingredients, Paleo protein powders usually contain their portion of carbs that are derived from sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin A, copper, manganese, vitamin C and many other vitamins and nutrients. Sweet potatoes are also a low-glycemic food. That means they won’t give you that spike in blood sugar and they keep you satisfied longer.
Can Paleo Protein Powder Be Considered Paleo If It’s A Processed Food?
As you read on that handy list we outlined, processed foods are a no-no on the Paleo diet.
So, why is it okay to consume Paleo protein powder?
This is another decision that you are going to have to make for yourself. But, there are some good reasons as to why it would be okay to consume this processed food.
Paleo is all about eating whole foods, foods with minimal processing, no additives, no artificial sweeteners and so on. But, in order to the extract proteins from the whole foods that contain them, a bit of processing must be done. No doubt you’ll agree that egg whites look different from egg protein powder, that milk looks nothing like whey protein powder and that would give you the argument that Paleo protein powder is not food in its original form so it’s not Paleo, right?
Well, there are a few things to consider. Olive oil and coconut oil are considered real, healthy foods. Surprise! They have to go through a process to take their forms. The same goes with carrot juice.
Do you find it in the ground like that?
Nope. The point is that not all processing of foods is a bad thing and finding a minimally processed Paleo protein powder with healthy ingredients is definitely possible.
This Is What To Look For When Choosing Your Paleo Protein Powder
Now that you have a good idea of what Paleo-friendly ingredients are, it’s time to pick out your powder.
Be very selective about the quality of the powder even if it means you have to spend a bit more money on it. With Paleo protein and any other type of protein powders, you definitely get what you pay for when it comes to quality and effectiveness of the products.
Read The Ingredient List Thoroughly
Usually, the first three ingredients listed are the main and most abundant in the product. As a result, you should make sure those ingredients say beef protein, egg protein or any other type of Paleo-friendly protein.
Look out for artificial flavors, colors and sweeteners such as aspartame. Don’t forget that there are many names for artificial sweeteners and companies can be very sneaky about hiding them under a different name. The same goes for sugar. It comes under names like evaporated cane juice, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, glucose and many more.
Don’t buy it if it contains soy. Soy is also a no go on the Paleo diet. Also, if it has hydrogenated anything in it, put it back on the shelf.
Don’t Trust The Front Of The Tub
Everything a company wants you to know about their amazing products will be stated on the front of your protein tub. Statements like “All natural” and “Low calorie” may appear, but remember that arsenic is also all-natural and saccharin is low calorie.
Make sure you get all of your info from the ingredient list. If you can’t pronounce most of the ingredients, put it back.
Ask Plenty Of Questions About The Product
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. People usually only do this when they are buying something expensive like a computer or even a car, but you need to be aware of what you are about to put in your body.
Ask questions like: Is it organic?
Is it Non-GMO?
Are all the ingredients listed Paleo-friendly? If you’re on the Paleo diet, you need to be sure of these things.
Don’t Forget To Take A Look At Nutrition Facts
Knowledge is power. That’s why you need to read. It doesn’t matter where you are. Stand in the middle of the grocery aisle and read labels like the guys outside of the beauty parlor read their newspapers while their wives are getting their hair done. Take your time and read it all.
The facts matter!
You want to know the protein content per serving. You want to know the serving size and how many servings you are getting for your money. And, you want to know things like the carb and sugar content as well.
Think About Buying Online
You can do a lot more research on the product you’re considering by buying it online.
Everything you need is right at hand. Open another tab and search for the product reviews. Find the pros and cons.
Also, you may even be able to email or chat live with someone from the product’s website and get your questions answered a little better compared to buying from your local grocery or health store. Another good reason to buy online is for price comparison. You can scroll through different sellers and sites to find the best product at the best price.
Now that you know a few things about Paleo protein powders like what ingredients to look for, what exactly it is and where to get it, you can try it for yourself and see how you like it. Don’t forget to feed your body with the best foods that contain quality ingredients. Also, drink plenty of water and exercise often.
By Heather Neff, CPT
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