Table of Contents
- 1 Stevia-Free Protein Powder
- 2 What is stevia?
- 3 Protein powders without stevia or sucralose
- 4 What is the best protein powder without stevia or artificial sweetener?
- 5 Is stevia an artificial sweetener?
- 6 What are the side effects of stevia?
Stevia-Free Protein Powder
If you're familiar with health and fitness, you will likely be aware that the macronutrient protein plays a key role in the growth and repair of muscle tissue.
Because protein plays such an important role in our general health and fitness, protein supplements have proved to be incredibly popular over the last several decades. Because of this, there are now more varieties of protein to choose from than ever before.
One thing there is to know about protein supplements is that the sweetness can vary from product to product, depending on which sweeteners and/or flavours, if any, the manufacturers use. A lot of times this sweetness can simply be overbearing.
As a result of this, many people look for sweetener and/or stevia-free protein powders.
What is stevia?
Stevia is also known as Stevia Rebaudiana, and it is a plant and a member of the chrysanthemum family. It is a natural plant-based sweetener, so does that mean that stevia-sweetened products are made with ground up stevia leaves and stems? Well, actually, no, it doesn't.
Stevia-sweetened products are made with an incredibly concentrated extract from stevia leaves known as Reb-A, or Rebaudioside A. Reb-A is an extremely sweet concentrate that is around 200 times sweeter than regular table sugar. Now that is sweet!
As you know, too much sugar can result in weight gain, it can lead to diabetes, heart disease, heart attacks, hormonal imbalances, and plenty more besides. Because of this, people craving sweetness began looking to healthier alternatives. Honey was considered because it is natural and beneficial, but it is rich in naturally occurring sugars and is therefore very caloric dense.
The solution to the sweetness conundrum came in the form of stevia. After all, stevia was made from a plant, it was incredibly sweet, and it delivered virtually no calories at all.
Protein powders without stevia or sucralose
Years ago, when protein powders were first created, they were sweetened with sugar, which was quickly found to be detrimental to our health and to a person's healthy lifestyle. The sugar was quickly replaced with artificial chemical sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose, which were found to be even worse than sugar.
Both stevia and sucralose were, and still are, used in many protein powder blends to give them a sweet taste and make them more appealing to the mass market. With more people becoming more health conscious, however, a lot of people are looking for sweetener-free, plain protein powders instead.
You can now purchase stevia-free and sucralose-free protein powders, which are generally unflavoured and usually contain just the one ingredient – the protein, with no stevia added.
These are generally considered to be the healthiest protein powder and better for the physique. The downside is that the flavourless no stevia protein powder isn't as palatable.
Stevia-free vegan protein powders
More often than not, plant-based protein supplements are sweetened with stevia because, after all, stevia is itself plant-based.
So, does that mean that all plant-based protein supplements contain stevia? Absolutely not.
If you follow a plant-based diet and/or use plant-based vegan proteins but want to avoid stevia, there are plenty of stevia-free vegan protein powders that you can utilize.
These include the following:
Plain organic pea protein
The first example of a very popular stevia-free vegan protein powder that we have for you today is plain organic pea protein.
This protein powder literally contains 1 ingredient and is made from yellow split peas, which are surprisingly high in protein.
The protein is made by taking dried split peas, grinding them into a fine powder, and then soaking them in a saline solution to remove as much starch from them as possible, leaving you with the protein.
The mixture is then dried, refined and filtered, and is packaged up and is ready to hit the stores.
Because the peas are organic, and because they undergo minimal processing, they retain far more of their nutritional value, making them a very healthy choice for plant-based dieters struggling to get enough protein.
Plain organic hemp protein powder
Organic hemp protein powder is made from nothing but pure hemp protein, making it another 1 ingredient supplement.
Hemp protein powder is derived from hemp seeds, and yes, it comes from the same hemp seeds that are a member of the cannabis family. Don't worry, though, they don't contain THC to have any mind-altering effects.
What the seeds do contain, though, is plenty of natural plant-based protein, along with heart-healthy oils, fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Hemp protein powder is considered a complete protein as it contains all essential amino acids needed by the human body. It is basically made by taking hemp seeds and grinding them into a fine powder.
Hemp protein has a nutty, slightly earthy taste because it is unsweetened, but it goes very well with breakfast smoothies and shakes containing fruits for natural sweetness, though in reality you can use it in a variety of different ways.
Plain organic brown rice powder
When people think of rice, they instantly think carbs because, well, rice is considered a carbohydrate.
Brown rice is naturally lower in carbs than white rice, but in order to make organic brown rice protein powder the rice is processed and filtered to remove the starches from the grains of rice, leaving you with nothing but pure brown rice protein.
The rice is grown and harvested organically so it is healthier and is therefore more nutritious. It is rich in amino acids, and despite containing all nine essential amino acids needed by the body, it doesn't quite fall into the complete protein category because it is naturally low in Lysine.
It too has a nutty taste and grainy texture, but like the other proteins on our list today, it goes very well with smoothies and shakes. You can also use it to make healthy savoury baked snacks as well.
Plain water lentil protein
Lately, the vegan community has fallen in love with water lentil protein, and for good reason.
Made from Non-GMO water lentil (whole lemnaceae) protein, this is considered to be one of the most complete food sources in existence.
The water lentils contain no GMO ingredients and are farmed, harvested, and processed organically to give you a natural plant-based protein source that is processed minimally to retain maximum nutrition.
Because it goes from harvest to packaging in around 20-minutes, lentil protein contains maximum levels of macronutrients and micronutrients, making it extremely popular amongst plant-based dieters looking for an alternative source of protein.
Not only is lentil protein rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it is also packed full of plant-based protein and amino acids. In fact, lentil protein contains more amino acids than any other plant-based protein which is yet another reason why it's such a popular supplement.
It has a nutty, earthy, slightly salty taste and smoother texture than the other proteins on our list today, and it goes very well with shakes and smoothies.
Stevia-free whey protein powders
So far, the protein powders that we've looked at today have all been plant-based and ideal for those in the vegan community and people looking to follow a plant-based diet and lifestyle.
So, does this mean that it's only plant-based protein supplements that can be stevia-free? Absolutely not. You can purchase a wide selection of stevia-free protein powders, including whey protein, which we're looking at now.
Whey protein is made from milk, and is obtained when an enzyme is added to split the milk into solids (curds) and liquids (whey). The liquid whey then undergoes various forms of filtration, pasteurization, and processing before it becomes the powdered supplement that bodybuilders across the globe know and love.
If you've ever tried whey protein supplements for yourself, you'll notice that the majority of them have a distinctly sweet taste that makes them pleasant to drink and means that you can use them to make very tasty beverages which also happen to be very good for you.
The problem with sweetened whey is the fact that sugar for sweetness is expensive and also bumps up the calorie content and makes the supplement unhealthier. Artificial chemical sweeteners can also be used, but there has been a lot of negative feedback associated with chemical sweeteners, which is why natural alternatives were looked into.
Stevia, which is plant-based was the solution and was considered ideal by manufacturers as it gave a distinct sweetness to the protein, whilst being considered much healthier and much better for you. Although being much healthier, some people simply prefer not to consume it.
Plain grass-fed whey protein contains non-GMO sunflower lecithin and grass-fed whey protein concentrate. Despite being flavourless and lacking the sweetness that is commonly associated with whey protein supplements, this protein supplement is considered to be far healthier than a lot of the alternatives out there.
If you are concerned about the lack of sweetness and flavour, you can simply go ahead and add a scoop or two to your breakfast fruit smoothie.
What is the best protein powder without stevia or artificial sweetener?
In this next section we're going to attempt to tell you how long a piece of string is.
What do we mean by that? Well, basically we mean that the answer given will be subjective, as the best stevia-free protein powder for one person, won't necessarily be the best for another.
Despite this, here's a look at some of the best protein powders free from stevia and artificial sweeteners.
Plain grass-fed whey protein
At the top of our list we have plain grass-fed whey protein, although that certainly won't be the case for those of you that cannot consume animal-derived products.
Plain grass-fed whey protein is top of our list today because it is so versatile. This fast-digesting, rapid absorbing protein is ideal for post-workout consumption when you need to get protein and amino acids into the cells in your muscles fast.
It is a highly tolerated protein that is absorbed quickly and as it is grass-fed and free from GMO ingredients it is also considered to be very healthy and nutritious, even the basic concentrates.
If you are happy to consume a protein derived from animal products, plain grass-fed whey protein is ideal. It also doesn't taste bad either, in fact, it doesn't really taste of anything, so you can mix it with whatever you like.
Plain organic pea protein
Next up we have plain organic pea protein.
This plant-based protein is considered to be one of the most popular plant-based protein supplements in the world today, and rightly so.
Derived from yellow split peas, this hypo allergenic plant-based protein is extremely popular in the vegan community. It is rich in minerals, especially iron, as well as muscle-building protein and amino acids.
It is considered a medium-rate absorbing protein, which means it isn't absorbed and digested super-fast, but it also isn't absorbed and digested extremely slowly, either.
As it is rich in BCAAs, arginine, and other amino acids, it is ideal for bodybuilders following a plant-based articles.
Plain organic hemp protein
Next up we've got plain organic hemp protein.
As we looked at earlier, hemp protein is made from hemp seeds, though it provides no mind-altering effects in the slightest.
The hemp seeds are harvested and processed minimally, in order to retain maximum levels of vitamins, minerals, fats, and of course, the protein and amino acids.
On average, a serving of hemp protein will provide you with around 15g of protein.
Because of its healthy fat content coming from Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, hemp protein is higher in calories, though is beneficial for the brain and the heart. To increase the health benefits further, it is also rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, making it ideal for digestive health.
Plain organic brown rice protein
Rice may indeed be rich in carbohydrates, but once harvested, processed, and filtered, many of the carbs are removed.
Brown rice is higher in protein, richer in nutrients, and lower in carbs than white rice, which is why it is used to create this fantastic plant-based protein supplement.
Brown rice protein has a nutty taste that actually works very well with smoothies, which is why artificial sweeteners and stevia are not required.
The protein itself is rich in muscle-building amino acids, including leucine. Leucine is a key amino acid when it comes to muscle growth, as it facilitates protein synthesis. It has also been found that leucine from brown rice protein, is absorbed by the body faster, and in larger amounts, than leucine from whey protein.
The protein is also allergen-free and contains no gluten, making it a hypoallergenic supplement perfect for people with food allergies and intolerances.
Brown rice protein is also easily digested, so again, it's ideal for those with digestive issues. It will not cause cramp, gas, bloating, wind, or other digestive discomforts, making it very popular amongst plant-based dieters.
Plain water lentil protein
Water lentil protein is a relatively new protein to hit the world of plant-based supplements though it is already proving to be a big hit.
Plain water lentil protein is made from GMO-free water lentils.
The water lentils undergo minimal processing after being harvested, allowing them to retain more of their natural protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Many vegan protein blends consist of a combination of three proteins: brown rice, hemp, and pea protein, but lately more and more blends have started to include water lentil protein as well.
Lentil protein is another protein powder that is rich in protein, and is easily digested due to its high fiber content.
Is stevia an artificial sweetener?
Over the years, there has been a fair amount of confusion over whether or not stevia is an artificial sweetener.
Artificial sweeteners have been found to be very detrimental to your health and well-being, and as a result, experts began looking into the possibility of finding a natural plant-based sweetener instead.
The solution came in the form of stevia, which is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, and is plant-based, rather than being made from chemicals in the lab like aspartame and sucralose.
What are the side effects of stevia?
Generally speaking, there is very strong evidence to suggest that Stevia is indeed very healthy when compared to artificial sweeteners which have been linked with a whole host of different health issues.
With that said, there are a few potential side effects that have been reported by people utilizing excessive amounts of stevia.
A few potential side effects of stevia usage include:
Kidney side effects
In some cases with excessive amounts, users of stevia have experienced kidney issues as a result of stevia being a diuretic.
This basically means that it causes the body to excrete more fluids than it takes in.
However, recent studies have found evidence to suggest that in actual fact, stevia could help to prevent kidney damage as it has been found to help reduce the growth rate of cysts within kidney cells.
Some users of stevia have been found to experience digestive issues as a result of the sweetener. These include, though are not necessarily limited to:
- Stomach cramps
Low blood pressure
Stevia acts as a vasodilator, which causes the blood vessels to dilate and expand, allowing for more blood to pass through them, and thereby helping to reduce blood pressure.
For people with high blood pressure, or at risk of high blood pressure, this is actually very beneficial.
However, for people with normal blood pressure, or low blood pressure, stevia could cause blood pressure levels to drop dangerously low.
For this reason, those with low blood pressure levels should speak to a medical expert before using stevia.