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The Scoop On Finding A Healthy Plant-Based Protein Powder

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Protein powders come in many different types. Most people are familiar with the milk-derived whey and casein proteins, but the lesser-known plant-based options are starting to get more attention because people cannot help but talk about how good they feel from it. Plant based proteins can be made up of soy protein, hemp protein, pea protein, and rice protein. High quality plant based protein powder can help you build muscle, burn fat, and even support digestive health. The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) states 56 grams of protein per day is ideal for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman. We can ensure we hit this daily quota from just one plant based protein powder which can provide us 20-28 grams per serving.

There are several types of plant-based proteins on the market. When considering a new protein powder for your diet, here are some important elements to consider:
• What ingredients make it high in protein?
• The protein per serving
• Are there artificial fillers, 'natural flavors' or additives?
• How was the crop raised?
• The price
• Calories and sugar content

We are what we eat, so it's very important to only put high quality and nourishing food into our body. Who we are next year is a result of what we have consumed this year.

Protein is an important element for building our body. Everybody needs protein. Most people think we get protein by eating meat, when there are actually some plants and seeds that offer more protein for the body and are more easily digestible. I only buy plant based protein powders because I know it is easily assimilated in my body via the digestive system. So whenever I can take advantage of getting protein from a plant or seed, I do it.

There are many protein powders on the market right now, so I've taken 2 of the most popular brands, plus one new plant based protein to compare.
1. NUTIVA Plant Protein SUPERFOOD 30 SHAKE
2. VEGA One Nutritional Shake
3. SHAKEOLOGY

The Ingredients, and Are They Organic?
Whenever we put something into our body we ought to be concerned with what it is, the quality of it, and if the ingredients are organic. If they are not organic, the food is often grown conventionally with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The food can absorb these chemicals and in turn, our body absorbs the chemicals when we eat the food. Our body can have a challenging time detoxing these chemicals, and so they end up storing in our fat cells causing weight gain, inflammation and a weakened immune system. Industrial dairy-based whey proteins are produced from cows injected with antibiotics and fed GMO corn and soy that is sprayed with Monsanto's RoundUp herbicide, which the World Health Organization stated is linked to cancer.

I was absolutely shocked to find out the Vega is not organic. Most people assume Vega is organic, like I did, because it is such a popular product.

NUTIVA (ORGANIC) ;

Ingredients: protein blend (*pea, *pumpkin,* sunflower,* chia,* hemp,* sacha inchi), *coconut milk powder, fruit and vegetable blend (spinach, broccoli, beet, tomato, apple, cranberry, orange, blueberry, strawberry, shitake mushroom, swiss chard ),* inulin (from chocory) ,* hawthorn berry,* baobob,* moringa,* sea buckthorn,* purple corn,* reishi mushroom,* kale,* kelp,* vanilla flavors, d-alpha- tocopherols (vitamin e), himalayan sea salt, * cinnamon, digestive enzymes (protease, amylase, lipase, cellulase, papain, bromelain), probiotics (bacillus coagulans [provides 1 billion cfu/serving]).

*certified organic
made without dairy, soy or sythetic "natural" flavors.

VEGA (NON-ORGANIC):

Pea protein, whole flaxseed (micro-milled), organic acacia gum (naturally occuring fiber), hemp protein, SaviSeedTM (sacha inchi) protein, organic gelatinized maca root, organic broccoli, inulin (from chicory root), organic spirulina, organic kale, organic marine algae calcium, fruit & vegetable blend (spinach, broccoli, carrot, beet, tomato, apple, cranberry, orange, blueberry and/or bilberry, strawberry, shiitake mushroom), chlorella vulgaris (cracked whole cell), papaya extract, probiotics (bacillus coagulans [provides 1 billion cfu/serving]), antioxidant fruit blend (grape seed extract, organic pomegranate, açai, mangosteen, organic goji, organic maqui), Contains 2 percent or less of: natural vanilla flavor, natural caramel flavor, stevia extract, citric acid.

SHAKEOLOGY (NON-ORGANIC)::

Protein Blend (Whey protein isolate (milk), Pea protein, flax (seed), Chia (seed), Quinoa (seed)), Pea fiber (seed), Pomegranate (fruit), Yacon (root), Acerola cherry (fruit), Cordyceps (fungi), Chicory fiber (root), Blueberry (fruit), Bilberry (fruit), Astragalus (root), Camu-Camu (fruit), Lycium berry (fruit), Spinach (leaf), Maitake (fungi), Reishi (fungi), Rose hips (fruit), MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), Ashwagandha (root), Enzyme Blend (Amylase, Cellulase, Lactase, Glucoamylase, Alpha-Galactosidase, Invertase), Kale (leaf), Lactobacillus sporogenes (as Bacillus coagulans), Schisandra (fruit), Maca (root), Luo Han Guo (fruit), Cinnamon (bark), Green tea extract (leaf), Moringa (leaf), Chlorella (whole plant), Sacha inchi (seed), Spirulina.

Other ingredients: Non-GMO fructose, Natural vanilla flavor (with other natural flavors), Xanthan gum, Himalayan salt, Stevia extract (leaf).

Organic differentiates the quality of the product. Why does it matter? Organic is incredibly important, especially when we take a look at the environment right now and all the excess chemicals and toxins we breathe in on a daily basis. Plus when you buy non organic you are supporting this kind of unhealthy system that is not good for the future of our planet. You are giving your body a break when you buy organic, plus helping out the environment.

It's as simple as if we eat non-organic we consume more toxins. Toxins cause weight gain and a list of health problems.

Nutiva is certified organic.
Vega is NOT certified organic.
Shakeology is NOT certified organic.

*Nutiva's organic farmers build healthy soil without Glyphosate-based herbicide or synthetic fertilizers.

Is it Genetically Modified?
NUTIVA is certified NON-GMO
VEGA is certified NON-GMO
SHAKEOLOGY is NOT certified NON-GMO

High Protein Count
NUTIVA 20 grams of protein in a 34-gram scoop
VEGA 20 grams in a 46-gram scoop
SHAKEOLOGY 15 grams in a 42-gram scoop
**Nutiva has 25% more protein per ounce than Vega.

The Price
NUTIVA: $49.95 serves 18
VEGA: $69.95 serves 20
SHAKEOLOGY: $129.95 serves 30

Nutiva has the best value for money. Shakeology is the most expensive which is bizarre since their product is the cheapest to make (ingredients) and is not certified organic OR NON-GMO.

Sugar Content and what is it Sweetened With?
Our body's thrive off sugars, but the right kind of sugar. Whole natural sweets that come from nature are easiest for the body to digest, like fruits and vegetables. White sugar and refined sugars like corn syrup are dangerous for the body.

NUTIVA is sweetened with monk fruit and has 2 grams of sugar per serving.
VEGA is sweetened with stevia and has 1 gram of sugar per serving.
SHAKEOLOGY is sweetened with stevia and has 8 grams of sugar per serving.

*If you do not like the taste of stevia which can give some people a sickly aftertaste that lingers in the mouth for a long time, opt for Nutiva as it does not use stevia.

Calories
Nutiva 120 calories per serving
Vega 170 calories per serving
Shakeology 170 calories per serving

Avoid Brown Rice and Oats as a Filler
We want to limit our rice intake as rice can accumulate heavy metals. And if you are eating oats make sure they are organic as the standard way to harvest oats is to spray RoundUp TM. Right when the kernel is ripe and it kills the plant. We shouldn't be eating RoundUp TM it is a toxin. It should almost be illegal. Also be on the look out if a product lists 'natural caramel flavor' or 'natural vanilla flavor' as these often are synthetic and are not found in nature. Brown rice is a common protein used in most plant- based protein powders. It's worth noting that the main source for brown rice protein is China. Also consider the fact that rice tends to uptake soil- based heavy metals which then ends up in the organic rice protein end product.

The Taste
You want to make sure that even in water it tastes great. You don't need to deal with the bad flavor in drinking a protein smoothie. I taste tested all 3 of these brands and my favorite was Nutiva, it was smooth and enjoyable. Vega was grainy, and Shakeology was absolutely terrible and tasted extremely refined. I didn't enjoy the stevia aftertaste of Vega or Shakeology.

Can it be made with Water?
You want to make sure you can make your protein powder in water, just in case you are on-the-go and get stuck one day and are carrying a one serving satchel in your bag and water is your only option. I tried all three of these in water and the one that mixed best was Nutiva, it was smooth. Vega and Shakeology was grainy. If you do have the luxury of blending it with almond milk or hemp milk you are in for a delicious smooth shake treat!

Other factors to include are is it a natural probiotic, certified gluten free, kosher and soy free? The only one of these 3 that tick this entire list is Nutiva. Nutiva have clearly done their thorough homework on a high quality, affordable shake delivering proper superfood nutrition to the body.

Also side note: Nutiva has been nominated for "Favorite Protein Powder" in the 2016 Veggie Awards by VegNews Magazine, the world's largest survey of vegan products, people, and places with over 60,000 people casting their vote.

In Conclusion
After completing this study, and factoring in the above, of all the plant based proteins I have tried, I would personally choose Nutiva's Plant Protein Superfood 30 Shake in either vanilla or chocolate as my top choice. For me it is obvious since Nutiva is actually certified organic, is at a great affordable price, low in sugars (and not stevia) and has a great taste.

Serving suggestion: Add 2 tablespoons of Hempseeds to your shake for an extra 8g of Protein and 1.7g Omega-3.Consider the addition of 1 tablespoon of Nutiva Coconut Manna (ie coconut butter) and water to eliminate the need for buying cartons of almond or coconut milk.