Everything That's Wrong With Plant-Based Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are all the rage these days and can feel like a super convenient option too as you reach for a quick protein fix. However, protein powder may not be as innocent as it seems. As outlined by Harvard Health Letter, protein shakes, in general, should be treated cautiously. Because these are dietary supplements, the FDA lets manufacturers take care of things like product safety. For all you know, the manufacturers' claims may not be 100 percent accurate. 

Plant-based protein powdered varieties are usually made from sources like peas, hemp, and soybeans. They may also include such ingredients as sugar, artificial flavoring, and thickeners. To get to the root of the issue, Mashed spoke with Dr.Piper Gibson, AHND, TND, BCDNM, FDN-P, holistic health and nutrition expert, and founder of Regenerating Health. "Plant-based proteins are a heavy hitter in the protein department and Ensure is a new plant-based protein shake to the game. Ensure is usually marketed to the elderly population or for children who are failing to thrive," Gibson said. 

Unfortunately, one of the major ingredients in this shake is sugar. "Sugar," Gibson noted, "has no nutritional value, leading to obesity and type 2 diabetes." And that's not the only problem your body could encounter.

The soy protein in your shake may lead to bloating

Soy is a popular source of plant protein because it has the advantage of being a complete protein. But unless it's organic, it isn't ideal, according to Gibson, who said that soy-based protein powder can be tough to digest on account of the fact that "soy is one of the most genetically modified foods (GMOs) globally." The result? A whole lot of bloating. Uh-oh.

Gibson had some tips on choosing a plant-based protein. Some of the most important things to look out for? An absence of artificial ingredients and a super short ingredients list in general. "When you are on the hunt for a quality plant protein, check out Orgain Organic Protein or Golden Ratio," Gibson advised. "Both have minimal ingredients and none of the artificial junk."

But if you can, perhaps you should consider getting your protein from whole food options such as nuts and lentils instead of a processed plant-based shake. As one Redditor argued, "When getting your protein needs from whole food sources (like beans, lentils, nuts etc) you're also getting [fiber], iron and other vital minerals in a package that your body knows how to digest."