Protein powders and pre-made beverages are no longer the exclusive domain of bodybuilders and weightlifters. They are now a common staple in many homes and foodservice kitchens. More and more consumers are realizing the benefits of high-protein drinks. Protein builds muscle, repairs damaged tissues, contributes to weight loss, and much more.
According to Cleveland Clinic, the average adult should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. A 50kg (120lb) person would need about 40 grams of protein per day (your weight x .8). People can purchase protein drinks pre-made or make their own by adding a scoop of protein powder to milk, juice, water, yogurt or other liquids.
Types of Proteins
There are three main types of protein:
- A protein isolate is a powder that contains plant or dairy protein and amino acids and nothing else. Most protein powders are protein isolates.
- A protein concentrate offers less protein per serving but contains carbs, other vitamins/minerals, fiber, and other additives.
- Textured protein is a less processed form of protein. It contains a less concentrated amount of protein per serving than isolates and concentrates. It is often used by vegans and vegetarians as a meat alternative.
Not all Protein Powders are Equal
It’s a good idea to check the labels of protein powders. Some protein powders and beverages may include ingredients that are not Halal or are simply undesirable.
Some protein powders and drinks have over 75g of sugar per serving. Sugars are added to make the protein powder taste good. Sugars include dextrose, fructose, glucose polymers, sucrose, and maltodextrin. If you see sugars at the top of the ingredient lists, it means that the protein powder or drink has high sugar content. You may want to try unsweetened protein powder and add your own coconut sugar, honey, date sugar, stevia, or another sweetener to it.
GMO Protein Powders and Drinks
Some protein powders are made from GMO plants. Studies conducted over the years have found that GMO soybeans contained high residues of the pesticide glyphosate, compared with organic soybeans. Glyphosate may be carcinogenic. It may cause inflammation, affect hormonal levels in females and interfere with immune health.
The Clean Label Project released a study about toxins in protein powders. They found that some contained heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and bisphenol-A (BPA).
On the positive side, there are many options available to those who want to gain from the beneficial properties of soy protein products. Soy protein is widely available, easily absorbed, and has numerous health benefits. It’s also the only plant protein that contains all essential amino acids. For those who want to avoid GMO soy, high-quality organic soy protein is available in most supermarkets. There are also nutritious soy-based foods like tofu, soy milk, miso, tempeh, and edamame.
Although soy is the most common plant-based protein in powders and drinks, there are many alternative forms. They include (1) Peas (2) Rice (3) Potatoes (4) Hemp.
Whey protein powder is dairy-based. It is one of the most popular proteins due to its creamy taste and consistency. It is derived from cheese by-products. It is also a complete protein, which means it contains all the essential amino acids that, with the exception of soy, other plant-based sources don’t have. And unlike plant-based proteins, it contains both lactose and gluten.
Is protein powder Halal? Due to questionable sources of gelatin and rennet in cheese products, whey protein should be Halal certified. There are some ISA-certified Halal protein powders produced by brands like Add a Scoop by Smoothie Essentials as produced by Juice Bar Solutions and Cambrooke / Aninomoto with their registered liquid and protein bar brand protein, probiotic and nutritional products like Glytactin®, Ketovie®, Vilactin® among others.
The following is a sample whey protein powder ingredient list which would require an intensive review of each and every product component to qualify as Halal:
Ultrafiltered Whey Protein Concentrate [Milk] Rich in Alpha-Lactalbumin, Microfiltered Whey Protein Isolate [Milk] Rich in Whey Isolate Peptide Fractions, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Alpha and Beta Caseins and Caseinates [Milk], Milk Protein Isolate [Milk], and Egg Albumen [Egg], Glutamine Peptides), Richmix Sunflower Powder Consisting of (Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate [Milk], Mono- and Di-Glycerides, and Dipotassium Phosphate), Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, Litesse II Polydextrose, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Nutrisperse MCT Powder Consisting of (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Non-Fat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, and Silicon Dioxide), Ticalose Cellulose Gum, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Lecithin [Soy], Aminogen, and Papain.
The above list contains some thickeners, fillers, flavors and colors, artificial sweeteners, and Sucralose (Splenda, E955). Reading ingredients and determining their source can be very complicated. ISA’s auditors have many years of expertise in auditing supplement brands and tracking the sources of the ingredients in nutraceuticals and other supplements for Halal compliance.
When it comes to choosing the right protein powder or drink, knowledge is key to understanding both nutritional value and Halal compliance.
Islamic Services of America is a leading Halal Certification body in the United States and North America, recognized internationally in every sector of the Halal industry including meat and poultry, slaughter and production services.