Nutrition: Back to basics step 6 part 2 , protein powders

Tuesday 08 May 2018

Before leaving the back to basics set of blogs I want to continue the theme from last week when I focussed on protein and take a look at Protein powders. Why would someone want to use them, which are available to buy and how they can be used.

Since that time my knowledge has increased as I have managed to do more research on the topic which has been useful.

First of all why would someone want to use protein powders?

Well if you recall protein is absolutely vital to us for many reasons.

·       To support good immune function, which has the potential to fight infection

·       Protein helps to stabilise blood sugar levels. There is a great deal of research on protein foods and blood sugar control which you can read in last weeks blog on protein 11/3/14 link

·       Protein is needed for repair of tissues and has been shown to aid healing.

·       Enzymes, antibodies and many hormones are made from proteins.

·       It helps to build muscle and helps to prevent muscle mass loss which can happen when people lose weight as a result of their cancer.

·       It gives the body energy.


As we know the main foods that provide protein in the diet are the meats, fish, eggs, dairy foods if you use them, peas, beans, lentils and to a lesser degree nuts and seeds.


As a result of treatment or due to the type of cancer that people may have, this can cause either loss of appetite, finding foods, including protein foods difficult to digest, or experience loss of weight and need building up or find it difficult to maintain weight. Also difficulty swallowing and/or a sore mouth may reduce the desire for food.  Under these sort of circumstances I encourage the use of protein powder for several reasons;

·       They are generally very easy to digest.

·       They blend well with many foods and smoothies and can be added to baked foods.

·       They add valuable protein that is needed by the body.

·       They are generally well tolerated.

·       They can be used in a smoothie to make a meal replacement drink.

So what forms are available to buy?

whey protein powder.

·       Whey protein is produced as a by -product of cheese making (15-20% of the whole milk when separated) and contains all of the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein).

·       Whey protein is especially rich in some amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) that are important for muscle building and repair.

·       It is also a good source of the minerals calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

·       Research has shown that it helps to support the immune system by helping to boost white blood cells.


However possible disadvantages. Some people have reported a degree of bloating. This may be due to the fact that it still contains Lactose (milk sugar) and if you have a lactose intolerance then obviously it will not be suitable.

It may also contain some artificial sweeteners depending on the make so it is important to read the label.


When I was researching about whey protein powder I came across an article from ‘Integrated Oncology Essentials,’ and it recommended that when buying whey protein powder to avoid those which use isolated casein as the main source of protein and select only whey based powders. This is because according to their research Casein has been shown to increase tumour growth rate whereas whey powders were shown to be beneficial for those with cancer. The China Study by Colin Campbell also mentions this on page 65 and 66 so if you have the book have a read.


Many people ask me about the levels of insulin growth like factor in whey protein powder as they are concerned about this. From all of the research that I have done it appears that it contains traces. One paper measured it in part per billion, others quite rightly explained it depends whether the cow was given growth hormones etc. which would naturally increase levels so the true answer is quite complicated but simply put, yes it has traces.



Pea protein.

·       Made from peas that are dried and powdered.

·       This carries the same benefits as whey protein powder as a protein replacement in the diet

·        There would be no lactose present making it easier to digest.

·       It is totally free of casein.

·       It will not have even a trace of IGF1.

·       It is also suitable for vegetarian/vegan.

·       So a quick summary seems to be that it is a very suitable protein powder to consider.

Hemp protein powder

This is a personal favourite simply because it offers such a lot.

·       According to the article in bio science and biochemistry Hemp protein contains all of the essential amino acids (building block of protein) which is quite unique in a plant.

·       It is also rich in omega 3 unlike other protein powders therefore has an added advantage.

·       Also hemp grow in a harsh environment so there is no need for chemicals or pesticides which you could say makes it organic.

·       It is also rich in many vitamins and minerals.

·       It is easy to digest, lactose free.

·        It has a good fibre content.

·       No heat has been used in its production making the essential fats readily available to the body.

·       Some people ask me about the druggy effect it may have after all hemp is used to make Marijuana. It contains about 1% of the THC the compound found in Marijuana.

Possible disadvantages However it does have a distinctive flavour, some people describe it as drinking green vegetables while others describe it has having a nutty flavour. It would also add a pale brown colour to the food it was mixed with like the natural colour of hemp. I would get over this by adding cinnamon or nutmeg to a fruit smoothie, but in a savoury mix/food then I do not think that the natural flavour would not matter too much.

Another protein powder that may be worth considering that has similar properties to Hemp protein powder is Spirulina powder. This is also high in chlorophyll which has natural cleansing properties.

Soya protein powder has the same properties as soya milk. It is a good source of protein but can cause allergic reactions in some and the biggest disadvantage that most of the soya available for powder is genetically modified.


Find out more

 The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health Paperback – 25 Feb 2016

by T. Colin Campbell (Author), M.D. Thomas M. Campbell II (Author)

Blog originally written by Caroline March 2014

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