3

votes

Why the love affair with protein powder?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 25, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Of all the healthy eating communities out there, I figured that Paleo eaters wouldn't consider protein powders at all. Yet I see a lot of talk about them on this site and ads for PaleoPro protein powder on many Paleo blogs.

Why is this substance so attractive? Wouldn't a can of sardines or a chicken breast be the cleaner way to obtain protein?

Why the love affair with protein in a powder form?

618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on April 27, 2013
at 05:18 PM

Good to know! ... and while I'm sure bodybuilders know this, I wouldn't count on all young "I wanna get ripped" types to understand the actual mechanics of it all. I paraphrased that part of my answer from a few comments on the topic of protein powders from this site. I've been browsing alot, being an interested newbie. I wasn't advocating that anyone DO that, I was just musing about what the motivation of the young whey powder user may be. I should have said "MUST MAKE sense to THEM when needing to build muscle" Thanks!

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 27, 2013
at 01:35 PM

Amen .

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 27, 2013
at 01:33 PM

*Extra bioavailable protein in a simple, drinkable form makes sense when needing to build muscle.* This isn't actually true, and bodybuilders know this. :-) Getting the minimum required-for-muscle-growth amount (as opposed to just RDI) is pretty easy from whole food. However, for people who cannot find the time to cook or for people like v*gan bodybuilders, "extra protein" really isn't extra anymore - it's literally their required protein.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on April 26, 2013
at 10:03 PM

Good if someone is starving, but isn't there a danger of aggravating things like SIBO having such a large bolus of instantly bioavailable protein powder.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 25, 2013
at 04:28 PM

Nice detailed answer.

3327924660b1e2f8f8fc4ca27fedf2b2

(2919)

on April 25, 2013
at 04:25 PM

Whey protein, albeit processed, is more bioavailable than a chickenbreast or sardines. This is excellent for people with digestive issues/low stomach acid.

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11 Answers

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8
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 25, 2013
at 04:09 PM

There isn't a categorical, paleo love affair with protein powder, in my humble opinion.

Many of us, myself included, will happily rant about how protein powder -- an uber-processed, processed food -- is never ideologically paleo, regardless of its source food base. However, for people who have resolved to take in supplemental protein for whatever reasons they have, even us ranters will often help them chose "more paleo" or the best best option of their choices.

Wouldn't a can of sardines or a chicken breast be the cleaner way to obtain protein?

Well, technically a real food isn't going to be cleaner than a protein isolate (although it might be cleaner than a protein concentrate) - heck, most minerals (as opposed to "toxins") are basically "good pollution" the organism you're eating took up when alive. However, I get your drift - and that's exactly what many of us do: eat real food.

In general, the love affair with protein comes from somewhat unscientific (i.e. bro-science) anecdotes of protein helping to build muscle. Frankly, I tend to believe the science - supplemental protein doesn't really do much (unless it's not supplemental, and is your major protein source, e.g. v*gan bodybuilders).

I have no trouble eating 100g-ish of protein per day from real foods, and honestly, it's generally in the 140-220g range. However, I have my own bro-science level hypothesis that the one thing consuming supplemental protein does -- if you are balancing out calories, too -- is shift the ratio away from carbohydrates and fat; i.e. in a closed system, more protein means less fat and carbs - not necessarily a bad thing (or a good thing, for that matter).

You'll see a lot of the "paleo-gurus" out there shilling out for vitamins, supplements, drinks, and supplemental protein. They're just trying to self you stuff - they may be paleo, but they still like to make a buck from a gullible soul. So, caveat emptor.

If you're interested in bodybuilding (which may protein-chasers are), there's a lot more science behind use of creatine, which happily is much, much cheaper than supplemental protein ... and also arguably not paleo at all.

:-)

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 25, 2013
at 04:28 PM

Nice detailed answer.

2
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on April 27, 2013
at 12:45 PM

I have the same question, the Paleo diet is obviously about eating whole foods, and few things could be less "whole" than protein powder, especially those derived from whey (dairy) which is borderline Paleo to begin with.

I think one answer for why they are popular is because they are a profitable product, and many people who promote the Paleo diet (such as mark Sisson) sell these products to make money. Hey it is a capitalistic society and you have to do something to make money, but I think the products are hypocritical.

Another reason is that some people who are interested in the Paleo diet are also seriously into fitness and working out and for some of those people, getting enough calories and protein is a real challenge because they are really pushing their bodies. In my opinion unless you are trying to be a professional athlete this is probably unnecessary, but the people that market these products make you think that you need a protein shake to walk around the block so that they can sell you more product.

I avoid all shakes, bars, smoothies, powders, etc. about 98% of the time. Very occasionally I will have a protein shake if I just had a really tough workout and won't be able to eat for 2 or 3 hours, for example I recently worked out before jumping in the car for a 5 hour drive and didn't have time to eat nor did I want fast food.

But I think having protein shakes every day or as a significant part of your diet is a mistake, the calories hit your system so fast it is just like eating a candy bar IMHO, and you don't get any other nutrients. Our bodies were not designed to take a large quantity of one extracted nutrient and we should eat all foods in their whole, natural state.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 27, 2013
at 01:35 PM

Amen .

2
A750b123ca8d74e080607522a9001686

on April 26, 2013
at 11:08 PM

protein powder isn't biologically superior to whole food sources - it's just way more convenient.

2
89985542ffc00c296552951369fe809a

on April 26, 2013
at 08:47 PM

I hate protein powder - give me a steak (beef, salmon, whatever!) over from clumpy powder any day!! ;)

1
0334d143dae3bb0f30169e6ef31e3a4d

(104)

on April 26, 2013
at 06:17 PM

Yeah I've noticed that. I think it's because Paleo diet really focuses so much on protein instead of carbs that some people are trying to do much more with other stuff. Although I still prefer getting it the regular way, eating meats and protein filled goodies.

Been strictly following a diet cookbook, and I don't think it will do me that much good if I added this protein powder. I get more than enough protein from the diet itself, I wouldn't to compensate for more.

1
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 25, 2013
at 04:27 PM

I don't think there's some sort of paleo love affair with protein powder. It's just another way to get protein, I prefer whole food sources though, protein powder sometimes messes with my gut.

1
F40448d3eb00eb159334ee7bfb2b693a

(45)

on April 25, 2013
at 04:23 PM

I use hemp force for my post-workout smoothie which is hemp, maca, and cacao power. It's organic. I would never uses those kinds that have all sorts of chemicals in them

0
618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on April 26, 2013
at 11:41 PM

As a beginner just getting the lay of the land, I can see that "Paleo" encompasses alot of different sub-groups, and one of them is the Weight Lifters / Extra Lean Ripped Muscle Six Packers. For them, having a protein drink seems beneficial even if not technically paleo. Extra bioavailable protein in a simple, drinkable form makes sense when needing to build muscle. Another thing I've noticed is that there are many younger, college aged paleo eaters, and if they can get their nutrients in liquid form during times they just can't cook and eat a balanced meal, well - more power to them. I had to drink whey powder at one point in my life for different reasons - I couldn't eat solid food - and I HATED it!!! I was dying for a savory protein shake, a roast beef shake or a pork belly shake! So I started making blended soups and those helped me heal to that I could eat again. But the whey protein was a necessary step. We are all on different paths, and there should be no judgement of how someone else chooses to piece together the puzzle that is "PALEO" into their optimal eating plan. That's just me though!

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 27, 2013
at 01:33 PM

*Extra bioavailable protein in a simple, drinkable form makes sense when needing to build muscle.* This isn't actually true, and bodybuilders know this. :-) Getting the minimum required-for-muscle-growth amount (as opposed to just RDI) is pretty easy from whole food. However, for people who cannot find the time to cook or for people like v*gan bodybuilders, "extra protein" really isn't extra anymore - it's literally their required protein.

618fc5298c4a96b817c4918c795a875f

(1217)

on April 27, 2013
at 05:18 PM

Good to know! ... and while I'm sure bodybuilders know this, I wouldn't count on all young "I wanna get ripped" types to understand the actual mechanics of it all. I paraphrased that part of my answer from a few comments on the topic of protein powders from this site. I've been browsing alot, being an interested newbie. I wasn't advocating that anyone DO that, I was just musing about what the motivation of the young whey powder user may be. I should have said "MUST MAKE sense to THEM when needing to build muscle" Thanks!

0
C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on April 26, 2013
at 11:28 PM

Tastes like chalk and I haven't noticed any gains from egg or whey. It can mix well especially the casein variety (that can whip into a nice foamy consistency). I have made better progress muscle building just eating more when exercising and cutting back on days I'm not training.

0
07a941eb3c2a63feced03ad91ecc22b9

(139)

on April 26, 2013
at 10:34 PM

Defense Nutrition Warrior whey or RAW WHEY at Amazon. Great quality brands.

0
86c97b2779feab3c330f5e1c5fea7e25

(2312)

on April 26, 2013
at 08:58 PM

I personally use and enjoy protein powder...a fruit smoothie with some chocolate or vanilla protein powder is amazing (add some almond butter and I'm in heaven).

I ALSO eat lots of real foods, but protein powder is the one thing (OK and Sriracha) that I haven't given up for Paleo. It is convenient, tasty and good way to meet protein requirements (especially when only eating 2 meals/day)

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