The world of fitness can be overwhelming. It's filled with promises of this diet and that training style, what worked for this person and what didn't work for another. That's exactly the trap that I fell into when I started my journey. I began watching YouTube videos and following girls on Instagram who were fitness gurus. Anything that they did, I followed thinking that was the way to reach my goals. One of these things was hopping on the whey protein powder wagon.
Although I already knew I was severely lactose-intolerant, I went ahead and started incorporating protein shakes into my diet every single day. It wasn't until I cut them out for a month then returned back to them that I noticed my body had been reacting poorly to them all along. Not only was I experiencing terrible breakouts but I was also always bloated. At this point, I had already watched so many videos and read so many articles saying that the only way to gain muscle and lose fat is through supplementing your diet with whey protein.
It wasn't until a close friend of mine urged me to look for a protein powder that worked for me specifically that I decided to try out a plant-based option called Tropeaka Lean Protein. Within a few days, my skin was already clearing up, and my digestion was no longer suffering. I felt fuller with energy, and my muscles were recovering better than ever before.
So what's the deal? Why is whey considered the holy grail in fitness? Although I am not vegan, I will only consume vegan protein powders, and here is why.
First of all, the myth that plant-based protein is not complete is entirely false. To be a complete protein, it needs to contain all nine essential amino acids, which is what animal protein sources have. But if you combine brown rice protein with pea protein, you get them all.
Not only are you getting all your protein but you are also feeding your body tons of essential vitamins and minerals naturally found in plants. This was huge for me because when I was consuming whey, I felt like it was doing nothing for me. When I made the switch over to plant-based proteins, I no longer felt extremely tight by the end of the day after an intense workout.
The best part was that my digestion calmed down. After speaking with Jennifer Weare, a registered holistic nutritionist and founder of Hol: Life Hub, I learned that vegan proteins are hypoallergenic, meaning that it is very unlikely for your body to respond to them in a negative way. "Vegan proteins are much less inflammatory," and your body is more likely to easily digest and absorb them, she said.
Weare's number one recommendation was to "ditch the dairy." Whey is a component in dairy that can upset your digestive system. Weare also warned, "Dairy consumption has been linked to acne, asthma, eczema, and other diseases."
After doing my own research as well, I found so many stories of other people who experienced skin breakouts in reaction to whey protein. Even if you were not lactose intolerant as a child, as we get older, our body starts secreting less lactase, which is the enzyme required for breaking down the sugar in dairy products. That means more acne, inflammation, and digestion discomfort in response to whey.
If you've experienced any symptoms similar to this, switching over to a plant-based protein powder may be something you want to do. Just like with whey protein, try to avoid artificial flavours and sweeteners, and look for a blend of pea and brown rice protein to build lean muscle. But once again, this is what worked for me. It may not work for everyone. Always do what makes you feel good. If protein powder is not your thing, that works, too. You don't always need to supplement your diet to make those gains.