It’s not always an easy task adjusting to a new diet, especially paleo, there’s a lot of confusion as to what foods and food groups fit within the paleo diet and a lot of mixed information available online.
A very common question for newcomers starting out on a paleo diet is around protein powders, specifically “Is protein powder paleo?”.
In short most protein powder is not paleo friendly. It’s a dairy product which was not consumed during the paleolithic period and it is heavily processed which again would generally be avoided on a paleo diet. However, there are a number of more paleo friendly options.
Is Whey Protein Powder Paleo?
On a strict paleo diet, Whey protein powder is not paleo friendly. Whey is a product of cow’s milk which generally wasn’t consumed by humans in the paleolithic period, but having said that it does naturally exist in nature.
For those with intolerance to lactose, many of the brands of whey protein powders available will not cause them to react in the same way that they do to milk. This is because whey protein powders are isolates of milk, meaning they have been stripped away from the rest of components of milk like lactose.
Whey protein is also heavily processed, which again is another no go on a strict paleo diet. The milk must be processed in order to separate the whey as mentioned in process above. With a lot of the protein powders available sweeteners and preservatives are then added to the mix to improve taste and product shelf-life.
Is Soy Protein Powder Paleo?
Answer: No Soy protein powder is not paleo. Soy protein comes from soy beans and soy beans are legumes which are not part of a strict paleo diet.
Legumes would have been available to cavemen during the paleolithic period, so what’s the issue right?
Well, legumes such as Soy are not part of a paleo diet because they generally contain a number of nutrient blockers which stop the body from absorbing some of the nutrients and minerals that we need. Phytates that bind up nutrients and minerals in food, Trypsin that inhibits digestion, Phytoestrogen that can inhibit fat loss and many more.
Is Casein Protein Powder Paleo?
No, on a strict paleo diet Casein protein powder is not paleo friendly, like whey it is a produce of cow’s milk and is heavily processed in its manufacture.
Similar to whey protein, Casein is produced from cows milk which again wasn’t consumed by humans in the paleolithic period. Whey protein is generally quick to digest which is why it used by athletes post training for quicker recovery, casein protein is slower to digest which is good for a more prolonged release of protein into the body.
Which protein powders are paleo friendly?
There are a number of more paleo friendly paleo options on the market, such as Egg White protein, Pea protein, vegetable and grass fed beef protein powders.
Egg white protein powder
Try out Now Foods Egg-White Protein here
Pea protein Powder
Try Naked Pea, pea protein powder here
Beef protein powder
Try Paleo Protein grass-fed beef protein here
In summary protein powders on a paleo diet are a matter of choice, there are a number of more paleo friendly alternatives available or you might just adjust ‘your’ paleo diet to allow for protein powders. It is also an extremely easy and convenient source of protein to aid in your training that may limit your progress if you cut out. There’s no point restricting yourself from eating something that will aid in your goals just because it doesn’t conform to a strict paleo diet. You need to work out what is best for you.