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3 Things to Know About Your Whey Protein (Is Whey Protein Paleo?)

Jeremy Hendon | March 9
Is Whey Protein Paleo?

Whey protein gets a bad wrap.

Especially if you read any Paleo sites or blogs.

And I really don’t understand it, sometimes.

There are a lot of myths about whey protein, but very few people look at the bigger picture.

Whey Protein is Pretty Darn Good, But It All Depends

is whey protein paleoPure whey protein powder is fairly non-toxic. After all, it’s pure amino acids. Nothing wrong with that.

And by the same token, it’s fairly nutritious. You’re not getting many vitamins or minerals, but you need amino acids.

In other words, it’s pretty good. Not great, but good.

But it all depends… (plus we make a few recommendations for whey protein brands at the bottom):

1. Is your whey protein pure?  Many whey protein powders contain a lot of fillers, like processed sugar, soy lecithin, and other little nasties. If you’re using them, then you can’t really blame the whey protein. That’d be like eating a salad covered in dressings full of vegetable oil and then saying the veggies are bad for you.

2. Are you sensitive to dairy?  If so, then whey is probably a no-no, even though it often contains lactase.  It’s got relatively little lactose, but you probably won’t react very well anyway.

3. Finally, what are you using it for?  Traditionally, whey protein is used for protein shakes, such as those that bodybuilders drink. In general, unless you’re a bodybuilder, and probably not even then, whey protein shakes aren’t really necessary (though not all that bad). You’re better off eating a big, nutritious meal.

On the other hand, if you’re new to Paleo and still trying to get on the right track, whey protein can be useful, particularly when it comes to baking. Giving up grains and flour usually means giving up the soft, flexible nature of things like bread.  However, if you throw a little bit of whey protein in with your almond or other nut flour, it will give it that same stretchiness.

Let’s Give Whey Protein Its Due

You shouldn’t be using it as a meal replacement unless you’re in a pinch, but every once in a while, there’s really not much that’s bad about whey protein.

And even if you’re using it in shakes, if it’s helping you avoid other junky breakfast food, then it’s most definitely a step in the right direction.

Which Whey Protein Is Best?

Ingredients do matter, and many whey protein brands have tons of non-Paleo ingredients (see #1 above).

So, here are a few whey protein brands that we’ve found to be ‘purer’:
1. Raw Organic Whey – this one is a bit pricey, but it’s only got 1 ingredient: Organic Whey Protein Concentrate. And the reviews are fantastic.

2. Jarrow Formulas Whey Protein – this one is more reasonably priced and has 2 ingredients: 100% Ultrafiltered Whey Protein from milk and lecithin (from soy). Some people (like Louise) feel that soy lecithin affects them, but other people (like me) can’t tell the difference. And the science doesn’t show too much that’s problematic with soy lecithin (see our article about it here).

3. Primal Fuel – this product is made by Mark Sisson’s company. It’s got a few more ingredients than the other brands, so we’re not huge fans of it, but we’ve put it on this list in case you prefer to follow Mark Sisson’s brand. Here are the ingredients: Whey Protein Isolate, Coconut Milk, Inulin (from artichoke), Guar Gum, Sucrose, Natural Flavors, Maltodextrin, Sodium Caseinate, Kelp Plant Extract, Stevia Leaf Extract.

Images: Copyright Robert Gourley cc © Jasminko Ibrakovic from Fotolia