No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bites Recipe

no bake protein bites recipe

Chocolate + peanut butter. The two were definitely made for one another. And today I’m going to show you how to create something magical with those ingredients that’s actually good for you.

This healthy no bake protein bites recipe is:

  • Dairy free
  • Gluten free
  • High in fiber
  • High in protein
  • Low in sugar
  • Delicious!

It’s perfect for those of us who can’t tolerate (or choose not to eat) dairy and gluten. And best off: no cooking or baking skills required, which means it’s really simple and nutritious.

Let’s get to the recipe!

No Bake Protein Bites Recipe Ingredients

  1. 1 cup peanut butter (I used plain organic peanut butter with no salt added. Any nut butter will work though.)
  2. 3/4 cup oats
  3. 1 T hemp seeds
  4. 1 T chia seeds
  5. 1/2 dark chocolate bar (chopped into chocolate chip-sized pieces). I used Alter Eco Blackout Chocolate. In general, the higher the % of cacao is, the lower the sugar content will be.
  6. 4 scoops of Pure Food Raw Cacao Protein Powder
  7. 1 T honey (optional, depending on how sweet you like it)
  8. 1 cup water (or plant milk)
  9. 2 T shredded coconut (optional)

**Makes ~16 protein bites

How to Make the Protein Bites

  1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and turn it on for 30-60 seconds.
  2. Form the dough into balls (this recipe makes around 16 protein bites).
  3. Sprinkle with coconut, if desired.
  4. Refrigerate whatever protein bites you don’t eat right away. 😉

Nutrition Facts (Per Protein Bite)

134 calories

8 grams of fat

11 g carbs (3 g sugar, 3 g fiber)

6 g protein

chocolate protein balls

Get more healthy high protein recipes here.

How to Use Pure Food for Best Results (Healthy Smoothie and Food Recipes Included)

In this post, I’m going to show you how hundreds of others have used Pure Food to produce some pretty awesome results.

Whether you want to lose weight, put on some lean muscle, improve your energy levels, or most importantly, feel better, I’m confident the recipes and techniques I’m going to share below will help you.

There are lots of recipes in this post. I split them up between 1.) Smoothies and 2.) Food. I will continue to update it constantly, so bookmark it so you can come back if you need some inspiration!

Without further ado …

How to Use Pure Food Protein Powder in Smoothies

First off, use a blender for best results. The powder will mix okay on its own but it’ll taste smoother coming out of the blender.

Since Pure Food has only clean, healthy ingredients without the fillers, so-called natural flavors, and sweeteners other plant protein brands use, the taste is earthy and natural and your taste buds and gut may need time to acclimate to the probiotics. Start with one serving (10 grams) or less and work your way up from there.

Also, make sure the package is sealed between each use. We don’t use preservatives and although the product has a two-year shelf life, it’s real food, so the sooner you use it, the better it’ll taste. I keep mine in the refrigerator to preserve more nutrients (but you don’t have to).

GIVE PURE FOOD TIME TO WORK
Pure Food will help you feel better and you will experience noticeable improvements in your health if you give it time to work. 

I recommend at least 14 days to allow the probiotics time to colonize in your gut. The probiotic strain we use, by the way, has been clinically shown to boost immunity, improve gut health, and help your body digest plant proteins better.

Like any good health or fitness product (and it should go without saying), you need to make a commitment to yourself by eating cleaner and exercising if you really want to see results fast.

Pure Food Smoothie / Juice / Liquid Recipes

Here are some of my favorite smoothie and juice recipes using both Pure Food Cacao and Vanilla Protein:

Simple Chocolate Banana Smoothie

Cacao Chia Berry Blast

  • 1 scoop Pure Food Cacao Protein Powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen organic berries
  • 1 T organic chia seeds (flax, hemp, or pumpkin work too)
  • Handful of ice
  • 2 cups of water (or almond or coconut milk)

Chocolate Fat Burning Smoothie

Chocolate Meal Replacement Smoothie

  • 2 scoops Pure Food Cacao Protein Powder
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 T organic oat flour
  • 1 T organic coconut oil
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of water
  • Ice (start with a small handful and add more depending on how thick you like it)

Want 3 More Pure Food Meal Replacement Recipes? Grab These Free Recipe Cards

Vanilla Berry Blast

Tropical Superfood Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Green Smoothie

  • 1/2 scoop Pure Food Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen organic strawberries
  • 1 handful organic greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc.)
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • 12 oz. water or almond milk

See more Pure Food Smoothie recipes on Instagram

Food

Some of these recipes were sent to us by customers and others were created by yours truly. You’ll find tasty-yet-healthy overnight oats, protein balls, cookies, brownies … even bread for all you carb-lovers.

Some of these recipes require baking and some don’t. Cooking/high heat denatures some of the nutrients in any food, including Pure Food, so I cook with mine sparingly.

But these recipes are a nutritious way to satisfy your sweet tooth (disclaimer: they’re not going to taste the exact same as their “regular” sugar- and junk-filled counterpart). With that said, we think they’re pretty darn good.

Pure Food Solid Food Recipes

no bake protein barNo-bake Protein Balls

No-Bake Protein Bars

Protein Muffins

Protein Pudding (or Ice Cream)

Chocolate Chip Vegan Cookies

Protein Pancakes

Healthy “Brownies”

Protein Bread

If you have additional recipe ideas, questions, or comments about how you use Pure Food, please share them with me by  emailing me directly at Scott@purefoodcompany.com

Enjoy!

Scott Christ

Founder, Pure Food Co.

Best Clean Eats: Plant-based Clean Eating Food List for 2020

what is eating cleanWhen you claim to have created the world’s cleanest plant-based protein powder like we do, you better darn well know a thing or two about clean eats.

So with that said, I can tell you with conviction that I have spent countless hours reading labels, poring over nutrition research studies and articles, and dropping half my paychecks at Whole Foods in search of the healthiest “clean” products on the market that meet my dietary restrictions (I’m allergic to dairy and corn and avoid most products with gluten and soy too).

In this post, I will share my findings with you. You’ll discover:

1) What clean eating actually means.

2) How to spot and avoid brands posing as “clean.”

3) My 10 favorite clean eating packaged foods.

Let’s start with #1 …

Clean Eating Basics

What does it mean to “eat clean”?

clean eatsI’ll be the first to admit that the term clean eating is ambiguous … enough to elicit some scathing reactions.

Like this response from one of the top writers on Quora:

It’s a vague term for faddish eating, mostly with an orthorexic bent. It has no scientific basis and, like pretty much all food fads, is rooted in a fear of modernity.

And this one from a registered dietitian published in the British Medical Journal:

The command to eat cleanly implies that everyone else is filthy, being careless with their bodies and lives. It comes with promises of energy boosts, glowing skin, spirituality, purity, and possibly immortality. But this nonsense is all based on a loose interpretation of facts and a desire to make the pursuit of wellbeing an obsessive, full time occupation.

Ouch.

I disagree with both and I’ll tell you why in a minute.

First, here’s my definition of clean eating:

A whole food, plant-focused diet that’s low in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and other artificial ingredients.

The body of evidence that supports the health benefits of eating this way is enormous. So maybe eating “clean” is just another label … but it’s one that I believe can be of real, tangible benefit to people who don’t know how to eat healthy (or who do but aspire to eat better).

What’s the harm in that?

To me, there are bigger fish to fry anyway …

clean eats product marketing claimsThe real problem with clean eating

One of the underlying reasons for much of the aforementioned ambiguity and debate is Big Food coming in and slapping clean eating claims on all types of unhealthy packaged foods.

For example, some of my competitors in the protein powder industry sell sugar sweetened beverages to children that are marketed as clean and “all-natural”.

Not cool.

In addition to added sugar or artificial sugar, many so-called “clean” products on the market contain mystery ingredients and fillers like gums and “natural flavors,” which are now the fourth most common ingredient on food labels.

It should come as no surprise that those clever food product marketers have found ways to exploit the “all-natural” and “clean” claims, since the FDA doesn’t regulate use of these terms.

So how do you know what’s clean and what’s not?

Well, clearly “clean” is open to interpretation. But here’s what I look for:

  1. Organic ingredients I recognize as whole, real foods.
  2. No added sugar.
  3. No refined white flour.
  4. No dairy or corn-based ingredients.
  5. No mystery fillers like gums, “flavors”, and other additives.

If you stick with products that meet those criteria, it’s hard to go wrong.

When in doubt, the ingredients and nutrition facts label are the two objective sources of truth on any packaged food product.

If you don’t know what something is, don’t buy it until you research the safety of the ingredients. Check out credible sources that back their claims with peer-reviewed science (like the EWGCSPI and Pubmed).

10 Best Plant-based “Clean Label” Packaged Food Brands for 2020

I’m not saying you need to be a vegetarian or vegan to eat clean. But the focus on my clean eating approach is plants … because 99.9% of us can benefit from eating plant-based.

The clean eating brands I’m going to show you below contains food products with no or extremely minimal:

  • Added sugar
  • Artificial ingredients
  • Allergens like soy, dairy, gluten, and corn
  • Animal products
  • Highly processed ingredients posing as “natural” (e.g., flavors, gums, and other additives)

Malk: Their unsweetened almond and cashew milks are among the very few without gums, fillers, and additives. Here are the ingredients in the almond milk: organic almonds, Himalayan salt, filtered water. They also have a great almond milk/oat milk non-dairy creamer. Use their Store Finder to see if it’s available near you.

Made Good: Made Good Foods has a line of better-for-you granola products and delicious cookies that  are certified vegan, organic, and non-GMO with just 6 grams of sugar and 110 calories.

From the Ground Up: These guys sell some mighty tasty cauliflower crackers, pretzels, and potato chips. Their ingredients are plant-based, super simple, and contain no corn, wheat, dairy, or artificial junk.

Autumn’s Gold: Their grain-free, Paleo-certified granola and granola bars are very good tasting and contain much less sugar than your run-of-the-mill granola. Available on Amazon too.

Italian Volcano: Dream Foods International makes organic citrus juices and natural ethnic foods. The company began bottling juices near the Mt. Etna volcano in Sicily. I absolutely love their Italian Volcano Lemon Juice, which I add to my water (and it’s great for soups and sauces). They sell a 2-pack at Costco here in Michigan.

Nutiva: Great source for organic coconut oil and hemp seeds. Here’s the Store Locator. Most of their products can be found on Amazon as well. I love their coconut manna as a high fat dessert for all you keto people out there!

Bragg Organic: Bragg apple cider vinegar, “liquid aminos” (non-GMO, lower sodium soy sauce), coconut aminos (soy free), and nutritional yeast are staples in my clean eating recipes.

The Brinery: Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, their fermented products are among the best I’ve ever had. From their website: “People often hear “sauerkraut” and think of vinegary limp vegetables in a can or bag, but at The Brinery, we transform vegetables through the process of lacto-fermentation.  Our name tells you everything you need to know about this ancient art of food preservation – we add a natural salt brine to farm fresh vegetables. That’s it.” Love that.

Wildbrine: My co-favorite fermented foods company. Wildbrine now sells sauerkraut, kimchi, salsa, hot sauce, and plant-based cheese. They are all fantastic. This brand is legit … and so are the health benefits associated with all of its fermented products. Eat more fermented foods, people!

Alter Eco: Alter Eco’s dark blackout chocolate is dairy-free, has 4 simple, organic ingredients, and contains 85% cacao for a healthy dose of antioxidants. It has just 4 grams of sugar and also 4 grams of fiber per serving (a Snickers bar has 20 grams of sugar, for comparison’s sake). They also sell other chocolates, coconut truffles, quinoa, and rice.

Final Thoughts About Clean Eats

Hopefully this provides some inspiration and ideas to help you find cleaner products. It hasn’t been easy in the past but now you’re starting to see a lot of brands jumping on the clean eating bandwagon … and I think that’s a good thing.

Minimally processed foods with ingredients you can pronounce are generally (but not always) healthier.

If you have questions or want to share your favorite clean eating foods and/or packaged products, leave a comment below.

And don’t forget to hit those share buttons on the left if you found this post helpful. 🙂

Pure Food Healthy High Protein Muffins Recipe

One of our awesome Pure Food customers Traci shared this Pure Food protein muffins recipe with me and it was too good not to share.

Traci hails from Naw’lens, Lousiana (I bet people from New Orleans get annoyed with that real quick). She says she whipped up these healthy muffins as a cleaner, healthier alternative to beignets.

I made a few modifications with the ingredients I had on hand that I noted below (I still included the original recipe though).

Best part is, this high protein muffin recipe is nutritious. It’s low in sugar, high in fiber, and is soy, dairy, and gluten free … pretty awesome!

Here’s the ingredients and instructions:

Pure Food High Protein Muffins Recipe Ingredients

healthy high protein muffins ingredients1 scoop of Pure Food Vanilla Protein Powder (note: I added 2 scoops)

2 cups of old fashioned oatmeal

1/2 cup of egg whites

1 banana

2 Tablespoons of hemp seeds

2 Tablespoons of chia seeds

2 Tablespoons of unsweetened coconut flakes

1 Tablespoons of light agave (note: I used organic coconut sugar)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (note: I used whole vanilla bean powder)

A pinch of pink Himalayan salt (note: I used plain sea salt)

How to Make the Muffins

  1. vanilla protein healthy muffinsMash one banana in a large bowl. Add one scoop of Pure Food Protein powder Vanilla. Stir.
  2. Add Agave (or coconut sugar), Vanilla, Hemp seeds, Chia seeds, and Coconut. Stir.
  3. Add two cups of oatmeal. Stir.
  4. Add egg whites to form a solid dough. Stir.
  5. Sprinkle sea salt.
  6. Take muffin pan. Spray with coconut oil. Create little muffins by rolling dough in your palms. Drop in muffin pan. Bake 8-10 minutes at 380 degrees. (note: I added about 5 minutes of cooking time since my muffins were larger. If you do 8 smaller ones stick with 8-10 minutes and see if they’re done).** 

Keep refrigerated after baked.

If you want them heated, heat them in microwave for 3 minutes at 20% power.

**I made 4 large muffins and ate one as a post-workout snack. As you’ll see below, if you go that route you get a solid 345 calories, 10 grams of fiber, and 19 grams of protein!

Here’s the final product …

gluten free muffin recipes

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 345

Carbs: 46 grams

Fiber: 10 grams

Sugar: 6 grams

Protein: 19 grams

Fat: 11 grams

Check out my other high protein recipes for more inspiration. And if you have a Pure Food recipe you love, please share it with me by replying to this post or shooting me an email at Scott@purefoodcompany.com!

My Simple Green Smoothie Recipe with Protein Powder

I don’t know what it is about green smoothies but whenever I drink them, I feel better.

Maybe it’s the flavanoids.

Maybe it’s the polyphenols.

Maybe it’s the fiber.

There’s something about those magical, mystical green plants that produces amazing results. And there’s plenty of science to back that up for you skeptics out there.

The fact is, eating and drinking more green vegetables can help with nearly every chronic health condition and disease imaginable.

Enter green smoothies … the easiest way to get your daily dose of greens, all in one (sometimes) delicious dose.

But parsley and kale juice can get old fast. Sometimes you just want your green smoothie to have a little more substance. In those cases, adding a scoop of plant-based protein powder can help your green juice or smoothie pack a more powerful punch.

Why Do You Need Protein in Your Green Smoothie?

You don’t. But here’s why I add some once in a while … because the benefits of protein are well documented in clinical studies. Protein has been shown to:

Most adults get enough protein. But older adults and those who exercise may find it hard to eat enough to maintain lean muscle mass … especially those who follow a plant-focused diet.

That’s where a good protein powder comes in.

Protein powder can complement your green juice or smoothie by helping improve the flavor and adding a boost of muscle and bone boosting (or preserving) goodness.

However …

Not All Protein Powders Are Created Equal

Many powders have added sugars, additives, and fillers. There are various side effects associated with each. Kinda defeats the whole purpose of drinking a healthy green smoothie, if you ask me.

Now, I am admittedly biased because I created my own protein powder … but Pure Food is the only plant-based protein powder with 100% plant-based, organic, real food ingredients + probiotics.

That’s why it’s the absolute best protein powder to use with those green smoothie recipes … because you’re adding real food ingredients instead of a bunch of fillers, gums, and natural flavors.

But I digress.

Let’s get to the recipe already!

Ingredients: Green Smoothie Recipe with Protein Powder

simple green smoothie ingredients

1/2 lemon

1 pear

2 large kale leaves (stems removed)

1 stalk celery

1 scoop Pure Food Vanilla Protein Powder

1 tsp. spirulina (optional … spirulina is an awesome superfood but definitely makes it more “green” tasting)

Water (depends on how thick you want it … see below for my recommendation)

**I recommend using all organic ingredients. Especially organic pears and celery, both of which show up on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of foods most contaminated with pesticides.

How to Make My Green Smoothie Recipe

  1. Wash all vegetables and rip the leaves off the kale.
  2. Toss everything in a blender or juicer, fill with water to the 24 oz. line, and blend on high.
  3. Add ice cubes to taste.

Here’s what the final product looks like:

green smoothie with protein powder recipe

protein juicer recipes

The nutrition stats are pretty solid. This recipe is bursting with vitamins and minerals!

Nutrition

Calories: 201

Carbs: 38 grams (8 grams of fiber)

Protein: 14 grams

Fat: 2 grams

Final Thoughts

You can substitute the pear for most fruits. Understand that some fruits (pineapple and mango, for example) will be on the sweeter side. I know it’s sugar from fruit, which is obviously better than added sugar … but I recommend limiting your sugar content to maintain optimal body composition.

If you like a little more sweetness, add a little organic stevia … or raw honey if you’re splurging. Just not too much, because it is sugar! 😉

If you like this green protein smoothie recipe, subscribe to my email newsletter to get more just like it.

Benefits of Protein Powder

Even mentioning the words protein powder can stir up heated debates among doctors, nutritionists, athletes, vegan/vegetarians, and everyone in between.

Protein powder, some say, is a magic bullet that can help you look like this if you’re a man …

benefits of protein powder

Or this if you’re a woman:

best protein shake for women

In this article, I’ll dispel the myths and misconceptions … and break down the latest and greatest science of protein powder. I’ll  answer your most common questions I get on the topic, such as:

  • What exactly is protein powder
  • How is it made?
  • How much protein do you need?
  • Do you really need a protein powder supplement to lose weight and/or gain muscle?
  • How/when should you consume protein powders for optimal health?
  • What are the benefits and risks of various types of protein powder sources?
  • How do you choose the best one for you?

Without further ado, let us begin …

What Is Protein and Protein Powder?

Proteins are organic molecules made up of amino acids (the building blocks of life). Protein helps build, maintain, and replace the tissues in your body. Your muscles, organs, and immune system are made up mostly of protein.

Protein powder is a powdered form of protein (duh).

What Happens When You Eat Protein

When you eat protein, your stomach uses its acid and enzymes to break it down into those “building blocks” we talked about (amino acids).

what are bcaasThe most important of the amino acids for building lean muscle and losing fat are called BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids.

Together, the three BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) account for as much as 33% of muscle tissue. Here’s a brief overview of each: 

  1. Leucine is a branched chain amino acid that helps your body synthesize protein.
  2. Isoleucine is a BCAA that can help your body regulate blood sugar levels and ensure your muscle cells are metabolizing sugar (instead of fat cells).
  3. Valine is the least important BCAA for body composition (it’s also the least-studied).

Protein powders can come from plant or animal sources, each having a different make-up of amino acids.

Different Types of Protein Powders (and Their Benefits and Risks)

There’s some intriguing science about the most common types of protein powder sources that we’ll explore a bit further …

Whey Protein

whey protein powder safetyAs mentioned, whey protein has been studied more than any other protein powder. A quick search of “whey protein powder” on PubMed brings up close to 400 studies to date.

While you can certainly find studies like this one that showed no link between whey protein and body composition, the overall body of evidence seems to suggest that whey works for building muscle. 

A meta analysis (a review of a group of studies) published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition looked at 14 clinical studies including a total of 626 adults and concluded that whey protein powder has favorable effects on body composition (and is even more effective when combined with resistance training).

However, there are some side effects associated with whey protein, particularly for those with sensitivities and allergies to dairy.

And one study found that high protein diets from animal-based sources may lead to kidney disease. The researchers cautioned against eating too much protein from animal sources like whey.

Casein Protein

Casein is a slower digesting form of milk-based protein. Casein is often marketed as a “superior” protein source.

However, one study showed that casein did not have any noticeable differences on body composition, strength, and power and agility compared to whey.

Casein has a few major flaws as a protein source too. This study found that it promotes the growth of prostate cancer cells.  And since it’s milk-based, it’s probably not a good choice if you’re sensitive to dairy.

Brown Rice Protein

brown rice protein woman weight lossRice protein is a plant-based protein powder used by vegans, vegetarians, and people who can’t tolerate dairy products like whey and casein. In one study published in the journal Nutrition, researchers found that rice protein had similar effects on body composition as whey.

In other words, there was no difference between the group of subjects that took rice protein and the one that took whey protein; both experienced positive body composition changes.

One of the main complaints you’ll hear about rice protein is it’s high in potentially toxic heavy metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.

While it’s true consuming high amounts of some of these metals can lead to negative health effects, heavy metals are in all plants that grow in soil. Here’s a quote from Jon Barron’s well researched article on the topic:

In summary, don’t have a knee jerk reaction to the label “heavy metals.” (Both calcium and iron are technically heavy metals.) Yes, obviously, when it comes to “toxic” heavy metals, less is better than more. But the issue is far more nuanced than a simple label–or even numbers on a chart for that matter. You have to factor in whether or not the element actually has any “proven” toxicity (tungsten has no demonstrated toxicity), whether it’s organic or inorganic (organic arsenic is virtually ignored by the body), and whether it’s bound or unbound (bound cadmium has only 2-6% absorbability).

Yes, many plant-based protein powders have tested high for heavy metals.

That’s why it’s up to you as the consumer to ask the manufacturer of your protein powder what their heavy metal contents are, especially if they use rice protein (if they won’t share those numbers, it’s a big red flag).

And choose a rice protein from organic brown rice to avoid ingesting potential chemical pesticides and herbicides.

Pea Protein

organic pea protein benefitsPea protein is another popular plant-based source of protein. It’s becoming increasingly prevalent in vegetarian / vegan / dairy free powders for several reasons:

  1. It’s generally lower in heavy metals than rice protein.
  2. It’s a “complete” protein source that contains an impressive BCAA profile.
  3. Pea protein powder is among the most hypoallergenic of all protein powders, as it contains no gluten or dairy.
  4. It’s easy on the gut and doesn’t cause bloating, a common side effect of many other protein powders from animal sources.
  5. It has been shown in small studies to have similar effects to whey protein on body composition.
  6. Pea protein has a PDCAA (digestible indispensable amino acid score) of .89 (whey is 1). When combined with rice, hemp, and/or soy in certain combinations, you can get this number on par with whey!

While pea protein hasn’t been studied as much as whey or soy, it is a promising protein source for those looking for alternatives to dairy proteins. Again, organic pea protein is always a safer choice because you’re ingesting less pesticides.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is another popular plant-based protein powder. Most men should avoid it because it contains isoflavones and phytoestrogens that share similarities with estrogen.

It’s often extracted using hexane, a petroleum-based solvent … and most soy from comes from genetically modified (GMO) soybeans.

However, according to several studies, soy protein may have body composition benefits for older women.

One study showed that a daily supplement of soy protein prevented increases in subcutaneous and total abdominal fat in older women. Another showed soy protein had a mild effect on body composition in elderly women.

One caveat: whey has been shown to be more effective than soy for improving lean body mass when combined with resistance training. So if lean body mass is your goal, you may want to consider other protein sources than soy if you’re using a protein powder.

How Is Protein Powder Made?

Protein powder processing methods depends on the type of protein and the company making it.

Whey Protein Processing

how is whey protein madeMost commercial whey protein powders are made using a high-heat, acid-flushed, “ion exchange” process to separate the whey from the cow’s milk. This can strip away vital nutrients, creating an imbalanced, acidic “whey isolate” that’s then contaminated with synthetic additives, flavors, and chemicals to make it taste like something resembling food.

So why do companies use it?

Because processing protein with acids is cheaper, of course.

If you decide a whey protein supplement is best for you, I recommend choosing one that’s organic, from grass-fed cows, and raw or cold processed.

Ask the manufacturer how it’s made before you buy it and spend a few bucks more on an acid-free, organic product … it’s worth it.

What if you can’t tolerate milk-based products or prefer plant-based proteins though? How are those processed?

Plant Protein Processing

Many of the supposedly-healthy plant proteins used in supplements and packaged foods today are processed using hexane, a petroleum-based neurotoxin. Using hexane is an efficient and highly profitable way for food manufacturers to remove oil from plants and separate the protein.

If you decide a plant protein powder is a better option for you, look for plant-based protein powders that are cold processed and “enzymatically sprouted,” which means all-natural enzymes are used rather than chemicals to separate the protein from the plant.

Also, sprouting grains used in plant-based powders (e.g., rice, pea, amaranth) increases many of the plants’ key nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids often lacking in grains, such as lysine. Sprouted grains may also be less allergenic to those with grain sensitivities.

Who Should Take Protein Powder?

best protein for womanProtein powder is most commonly associated with athletes and people who are active … but it may be beneficial to everyday Joes and Janes too if you’re not getting enough protein (more on that in a minute). Here are a few reasons why:

  1. For healthy adults, low protein diets can lead to weight gain and increased fat mass.
  2. Eating more protein can help increase levels of the hormone glucagon, which helps control body fat.
  3. Eating protein can help strengthen bones as you age.

So How Much Protein Do You Need?

It depends on several factors:

  1. How much muscle you currently have. The more muscular you are, the more amino acids your body needs to maintain your current body composition. If you don’t know your body composition and want to make real, measurable improvements to your health, go see a personal trainer who offers body composition analysis so you can get a “baseline” of where you’re currently at.
  2. Your activity level. The more you move, the more protein your body needs.
  3. Your age. The older you get, the more protein your body needs to maintain its muscle.
  4. Your hormones. If your body has high levels of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), it will use protein more efficiently than someone with low levels. These hormones decrease as you age, which is one of the reasons why older adults need more protein.

So back to the original question: how much protein do you need?

The current recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram (or around 0.36 grams per pound) of body mass in generally healthy adults.

However, this protein intake recommendation is only to prevent protein deficiency and maintain nitrogen balance in the body (a negative nitrogen balance indicates that muscle is being broken down and used for energy).

It’s not necessarily optimal.

Studies show that athletes, active people, and older individuals may require even more protein (1.4 – 2.0 g/kg of body weight).

does protein powder workIn a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers compared muscle development in three groups of athletes on the same exercise routine but with different protein intake levels.

One group was given 1.4g/kg of body weight, the second group received 1.8g/kg of body weight, and the third group got 2.0g/kg of body weight.

The researchers found that 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight was sufficient to see favorable changes in body composition in athletes.

Non-athletes and particularly older adults need at least 0.8 g/kg per day to help preserve current levels of muscle (or “lean body”) mass.

So to recap:

  • Athletes need at least 1.8 g/kg of bodyweight [For a 150-pound person, that’s 122 grams of protein per day].
  • Older adults and non-athletes need at least 0.8 g/kg of bodyweight [For a 150-pound person, that’s 54 grams of protein per day].

When Should I Take Protein–Before or After a Workout?

If your goal is to lose body fat and increase lean body mass (muscle), then the answer is both.

In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers concluded the following:

High-quality protein dosed at 0.4–0.5 g/kg of LBM at both pre- and post-exercise is a simple, relatively fail-safe general guideline that reflects the current evidence showing a maximal acute anabolic effect of 20–40 g

That’s 27-34 grams of protein both before and after a workout for a 150-pound adult.

Couple other interesting things the study authors noted:

  1. Despite claims that you need to take protein immediately (within 1 hour) after a workout to maximize gains, evidence-based support for such an “anabolic window of opportunity” is far from definitive.
  2. Even minimal-to-moderate pre-exercise high-quality protein taken immediately before resistance training is capable of sustaining amino acid delivery into the post-exercise period. In other words, eating protein before your workout may have more impact.

Long story short, eat a little protein before and after a workout if building muscle and/or losing body fat is your goal.

What is the Best Protein Powder?

“Best” is an ambiguous term. The best protein supplement for you depends on your age, your health goals, and a number of other factors.

Here are a few common things to consider:

  • What protein powders get absorbed by your body best?
  • What are the benefits and risks of all the ingredients in your protein powder?
  • What protein powders do not cause digestive distress (gas, bloating, etc.) when you take them?
  • What type of protein is best for your unique health needs (losing muscle, building fat, etc.)?

For me personally, I choose packaged products with only organic ingredients I can pronounce … that have no/low sugar and have some dietary fiber.

As you can see, choosing a protein powder is a highly personal decision though.

For most people, the potential benefits of protein powder outweigh the risks if your diet is lacking in protein and/or you want to improve your body composition.

Grab Our Free Protein Guide Here

The Best All Natural Protein Powder for Women

best protein powder for women[If you want the PDF version of this post for later reading, download it here].

I must admit I had some trepidation when writing this post. That’s because:

a) I’m a man who sells a protein powder, and

b) There is no single best protein powder for women.

Stay with me though …

Because there are certain objective criteria you can look at and questions you can ask to evaluate protein powders to find the best one for you (whether you’re a woman or a man).

In this post I’ll share those insights with you.

Plus, I’ll show you supposedly all-natural ingredients to avoid based on my 15+ years as a science writer/researcher in the health and wellness industry and founder of my own small nutrition company.

Let’s get going …

Compare 20+ of the best all natural protein powders by ingredients, nutrition, cost, and more.

Types of Protein Powder

We’ll begin by looking at several types of protein that are marketed to women.

Whey Protein

You may have heard that whey protein is the best type of protein powder for women.

It’s not. 

Here’s why …

Whey is derived from dairy (it was a waste product of cheese-making before supplement companies realized they could process it and sell it).

According to the National Institutes of Health, 65 percent of adults have a reduced ability to digest dairy (this is called lactose intolerance).

Lactose intolerance can cause any number of the following:

  • Bloating and gas
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Imbalance of gut bacteria (which promotes dysbiosis of the gut)
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Irritability

Aside from these inflammatory responses lactose intolerance leads to, whey is also hyper-insulinogenic. This means your body secretes a lot of insulin when you eat it. Hyperinsulinemia is associated with hypertension, obesity, dyslipidemia, and glucose intolerance (collectively known as metabolic syndrome).

Can whey protein help if you’re a woman looking to gain lean body mass (or “muscle mass”)? It appears so.

But the potential side effects outweigh the benefits, in my opinion.

Plant-based Proteins

Soy Protein

While there are studies that show soy might have some benefits for older women such as lowering cholesterol, easing menopausal symptoms, and reducing risk of breast cancer, other research casts doubt on these findings.

A report published by the DHHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Effects of Soy on Health Outcomes, concluded that there was “little evidence to support a beneficial role of soy and soy isoflavones in bone health, cancer, reproductive health, neurocognitive function, and other health parameters.”

Perhaps most alarmingly for women, soy may stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.

Also, most non-organic soy protein is derived from GMO crops.

Rice Protein

brown rice protein woman weight lossWhey protein is commonly thought of as a superior protein source for women looking to improve body composition (lose fat, increase muscle) compared to plant-based protein powders.

However, when one group of researchers studied whey vs. rice protein head to head, they found that both whey and rice offered similar post-exercise body composition benefits … there were no statistically significant differences between the two groups.

Another study found that leucine, the key amino acid to activate muscle building, was absorbed faster from rice protein than leucine from whey protein. The study also found that amino acids in brown rice protein are highly bioavailable and are non-statistically different from whey protein in trained athletes, despite claims from whey proponents claiming superior digestibility and “bioavailability.”

However, certain brands of rice protein have tested high for heavy metals like arsenic, which has made rice protein the source of much debate as well.

If you’re going to use a rice protein powder, make sure you ask the manufacturer for the heavy metal counts.

Finally, rice protein may be more beneficial when combined with other plant sources

Pea Protein

best protein powder for women Pea protein is one of the best plant-based sources of protein if you’re looking to replace body fat with lean muscle. It may also help you:

Lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and decrease your risk of heart disease and kidney disease.

Pea protein has an impressive amino acid profile that may be complementary with other plant-based sources like rice and hemp.

Hemp Protein

hemp protein fiber muscleHemp protein is generally made of about 50% protein and 50% fiber. Because of this, some critics knock it as a protein source.

But hemp is one of the only vegan protein sources that contains all nine essential amino acids.

And hemp protein provides the essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 in a well balanced 3:1 ratio.

Consuming hemp is safe, healthy and legal (no, it won’t get you high). On top of that, hemp protein powder may help improve heart health, decrease osteoporosis risk, reduce sugar cravings and boost your immune system.

When combined with other plant proteins it offers a powerful plant-based complement.

Other Plant Proteins

There are plenty of other plant-based protein sources on the market (pumpkin seed, sacha inchi, flax, chia, barley, and algae, to name a few).

Not many of them have been studied in humans yet though.

This doesn’t make them bad options. Just stick with ones that are a) organic and b) processed using low heat methods (otherwise, vital nutrients can get destroyed).

What’s the Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss?

Any protein powder can help you lose weight as long as you create a calorie deficit.

Unfortunately, many of the protein products out there are marketed as weight loss supplements with “all-natural ingredients.” I’ll talk about the latter point in a minute, but the truth is, there’s no such thing as a “weight loss protein powder”.

There’s evidence that eating a high protein, plant-based diet is one of the best ways to lose weight. Supplement companies use this data to their advantage.

Check out this report from the National Institutes of Health for more info about common ingredients touted for their weight loss benefits (spoiler alert: most don’t have a strong body of evidence to support their supposed efficacy).

There are actually certain ingredients protein powder manufacturers put in their products that may do more harm than good for some women … even though they’re marketed as all natural and clean.

Here are a few, in particular, to think twice about …

Protein Powder Ingredients Women Should Avoid

Red Flag Ingredient #1: Sugar 

I’ve reviewed many protein powders that contain 10 grams or more of added sugar per serving.

That’s roughly half a day’s worth if you’re a woman and a third of a day’s worth if you’re a man.

Sugar is one of the biggest causes of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

Doesn’t matter if it comes from all-natural honey or highly-processed high fructose corn syrup … they produce the same metabolic responses in your body.

And artificial sweeteners like sucralose and sugar alcohols like xylitol may be worse.

Red Flag Ingredient #2: Flavors

The FDA allows food companies to use the term “natural flavors” to describe any food additive that originated in nature. They’re now the 4th most common ingredient on food labels.

In a fascinating 2011 interview that aired on 60 Minutes, scientists from Givaudan, one of the largest companies in the $24 billion flavor market, admitted their number one goal when creating flavors was to make them addictive!

One of my biggest beefs with these “flavors” is protein powder manufacturers don’t have to tell you what’s in them.

David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), has this to say about so-called “natural” flavors:

The truth is that when you see the word “flavor” on a food label, you have almost no clue what chemicals may have been added to the food under the umbrella of this vague term. For people who have uncommon food allergies or are on restricted diets, this can be a serious concern. [Natural flavors] will often have some solvent and preservatives—and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.

Here’s my final red flag …

Red Flag Ingredient #3: Fillers, Gums, Emulsifiers

We talked about potential allergens and additives in flavors. But there some other common ingredients to be wary of when you see them on the ingredients list of protein powders. Food manufacturers love these fillers because they have unique properties that add desirable texture and/or shelf life to processed foods.

But they may come at a price: many have been shown to cause digestive distress and gut imbalances and/or raise your glycemic load, which can lead to a whole other set of issues.

  • Gums (xanthan, locust bean, arabic, carrageenan, guar, carob, etc.)
  • Lecithins (soy and sunflower)
  • Dextrins (maltodextrin and rice dextrin)

If you’re using a protein powder that doesn’t have organic ingredients, there’s a high likelihood all of those plant-based ingredients are sprayed with pesticides and other chemicals.

If you’re in the dark about how these pesticides can impact your health, read what scientists have to say.

Summary: What’s the Best All Natural Protein Powder for Women?

Let’s not sugarcoat it: most women humans buy nutritional supplements like protein powders because they want to look better and/or feel better.

But what if looking and feeling better comes with a price?

Many protein powders have ingredients that cause inflammation, change your gut flora, raise your blood sugar, or worse.

Even most of the ones marketed as “all natural” have some type of highly-processed pseudo-food like gums, fillers, and other additives.

Most of them are deemed safe for consumption by the FDA … but “natural” has quickly become an ambiguous and over-marketed term in the protein powder business.

At the end of the day, all-natural comes down to the ingredients: are they real food as close to their natural state as possible or are they pseudo-foods that contains fillers, additives, and other junk?

In most cases it’s the latter, unfortunately.

The best protein powder for you depends largely on your health and fitness goals. Are you trying to lose body fat? Gain muscle mass? Eat cleaner, more natural foods?

In my opinion, the potential price you’ll pay down the road is not worth the risk when it comes to protein powders that contain these types of ingredients.

Click here to get my spreadsheet comparing 20+ protein powders/shakes by ingredients, nutrition, cost, and more.

Womens Best Protein Powder Review

With a name like Women’s Best Protein Powder, you can bet my expectations were quite high when reviewing this product.

First, I’m going to assume your definition of “best” is similar to mine: high quality ingredients and superior nutrition.

One thing I can tell you with 100% certainty is this:

The ingredients in Women’s Best Proteins are definitely not the highest quality.

In fact, some may be quite detrimental to your health.

I’ll explain why in this review …

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

CLICK HERE to get our FREE Google Sheet comparing 25+ brands by nutrition, ingredients, and cost.

What Is Women’s Best?

Here’s the first red flag: I couldn’t find any information about this company. 

Their website is registered in Austria and they claim “Fast Shipping to USA” on their site … so it doesn’t appear as if Women’s Best is a U.S. company (which I don’t have a problem with, for the record … just pointing it out because I found it odd there wasn’t any information about the company available on the site).

Anyways, Women’s Best sells a whole bunch of products. I’m going to focus my reviews on their protein powders, including:

  1. Vegan Protein
  2. Slim Body Shake
  3. Superfood Smoothies,
  4. Whey Protein

Let’s get to it …

Women’s Best Protein Powder Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

1. Vegan Protein

Vanilla

women's best vegan protein powder nutrition facts
Nice protein blend … but then they add “natural” flavors and the artificial sweetener sucralose. Find out why you should avoid these below …

Chocolate

womens best chocolate protein review
Same junk as the vanilla vegan product.

Strawberry

strawberry protein women best
I’m starting to sound like a broken record …

Banana

womens best banana ingredients

Cookies N Cream

cookies and cream protein plant-based

Latte Macchiato

latte macchiato nutrition facts label

Salted Caramel

salted caramel protein reviews
This one also has “caramel powder,” which you can be sure has some additives Women’s Best isn’t listing on the label.

Raspberry Vanilla

womens raspberry vanilla protien

Unflavored

woman best vegan unflavored nutrition ingredients
Heck, even the “Unflavored” has sucralose and stevia? Why??

2. Slim Body Shake

Vanilla

slim body shake nutrition
The “Slim Body” formula is garbage. It’s loaded with corn- and soy-based fillers and additives.

3. Superfood Smoothies

All Green Superfood Smoothie

all green everything superfood smoothie
Lot of good ingredients but unfortunately, they’re not organic. Plus you have gums/synthetic fibers as the #2 ingredient and sucralose!

All Red Superfood Smoothie

red superfood smoothie nutrition
More of the same for the Red Superfood Smoothie.

All Black Superfood Smoothie

all black smoothie ingredients
Same junk as the other smoothie products. Coconut milk powder always contains excipients (fillers) because of its high fat content (or else it clumps together). If it’s not listed on the label, it’s usually GMO corn-based maltodextrin!

4. Whey Protein

womens best whey protein powder
I’m not even going to waste your time reviewing all the whey flavors. They ALL contain junk-filled “aromas” (aka, natural flavors), thickening agents, fillers (lecithin) and the artificial sweetener sucralose. 

Red Flag Ingredients

Here’s a little deeper dive into some of those ingredients I flagged above …

Natural Flavors

Other than salt, water, and sugar, natural flavors are the fourth most common ingredient on food labels today.

The FDA allows food companies to use the term “natural flavors” to describe any food additive that originated in nature. However, it’s not the source ingredient I have a problem with … it’s all the other junk they’re allowed to add.

According to David Andrews, Senior Scientist at the Environmental Working Group:

[Natural flavors] will often have some solvent and preservatives—and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume. In the end product, it’s a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients.

The EWG goes on to say:

The truth is that when you see the word “flavor” on a food label, you have almost no clue what chemicals may have been added to the food under the umbrella of this vague term.

Sucralose

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is the cause of much controversy. Several researchers contend that sucralose negatively impacts the gut. Studies have showed it can induce negative changes in the microbiome and enzymes. And some animal studies have shown that it may cause cancer.

Although the cancer study has been challenged by the European Food Safety Agency (a group that has strong food industry ties), I will side with the unbiased Center for Science in the Public Interest on this one. They say:

Our bottom-line advice to consumers, especially children and pregnant women, is that they continue to avoid sucralose and aspartame, as well as the artificial sweeteners acesulfame-potassium and saccharin.  The potential cancer risk to humans is small, but there is no reason to accept any cancer risk from these products.

Gums and Lecithin

WB uses gums and lecithins, which are popular food additives used to thicken processed foods.

These ingredients can cause major side effects for anyone who suffers from GI issues. Plus, if they’re not organic, they’re usually sourced from GMO soy and/or corn.

Non-Organic Ingredients

All Women’s Best protein powders contain ingredients that are not organic. While there are certainly products with organic ingredients that are bad for you, non-organic ingredients means there’s a good chance you’re ingesting pesticides and other chemicals with your protein shake.

Women’s Best Reviews Summed Up

Because of ingredients like sucralose, “natural” flavors, and gums/fillers, I recommend avoiding all Women’s Best protein powder products.

If you’re looking for a clean, plant-based protein with no additives, fillers, and artificial sweeteners, try Pure Food Protein instead.

best plant-based protein powders

Usana Protein Shake Product Reviews: MySmart & Nutrimeal Nutrition/Ingredients Analysis

In this review, I’m going to tell you why you may want to think twice about buying Usana protein shakes and powders.

While I do sell a protein powder of my own, my reviews of Usana proteins are as unbiased as possible because I evaluated all their protein products using two objective criteria: 1.) Ingredients, 2.) Nutrition Facts Labels.

No company can hide behind these two pieces of information.

Long story short, for Usana they revealed some pretty shady stuff.

Let’s get started …

Researching Plant Protein Powders?

CLICK HERE to get our FREE Google Sheet comparing 25+ brands by nutrition, ingredients, and cost.

What Is Usana?

According to their website:

USANA manufactures the highest-rated, most effective nutritional supplements and health care products in the worldOur products are the best money can buy.

Usana sells their products through a process they call “direct selling.” It’s also known as MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) or a “pyramid scheme.” This is the same model companies like Beachbody (who sells Shakeology), Isagenix, Arbonne, and Herbalife use. You sign up as a rep and then get a commission for selling Usana protein powders and other products to your family and friends.

The reason I bring this up is not to knock on MLM companies (there are some decent ones out there) but to point out that most Usana protein reviews you see online have a vested interest in selling Usana products.

In this analysis I’ll be focusing on Usana protein powder products.

These include Usana NutriMeal and MySmart Shakes. Usana sells a lot of other products. Some of them look perfectly fine from a nutrition standpoint.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same about their proteins, as you’re about to see …

Usana NutriMeal and MySmart Protein Shakes Review

Here’s how my reviews work …

First I’ll show you the nutrition facts labels and ingredients for each product. You’ll see “red flags” highlighted for each.

Then I’ll go into detail about each of these ingredients below the images.

Let’s have a look …

Nutrition Facts and Ingredients Analysis

NutriMeal Nutrition Facts / Ingredients

Chocolate

usana chocolate nutrimeal nutrition facts review
17 grams of sugar per serving plus all types of gut-disrupting fillers, “flavors”, and additives. More on this below…

Vanilla

vanilla nutrimeal ingredients
More sugar, more junk.

Strawberryusana meal replacement shake

MySmart Shakes Nutrition Facts / Ingredients

MySmart Plant-based Shake

usana mysmart protein nutrition facts
More gums, fillers, and flavors. Don’t let the “plant-based” moniker fool you.

MySmart Soy Protein