People always ask me about which protein powders are best. If you know me, you know I’m a real food person – so real protein will always be my recommendation. But for those that would like to include some protein supplements to their diet, we did some research to help you out.

Athletes use a lot of energy doing what they do and put a lot of stress on their bodies, so they often require extra vitamins, minerals, and protein on top of their daily food intake. They should take supplements to get these extras right?  Well, maybe not…  A recent article written by doctors out of the American College of Sports Medicine summarize that the general use of vitamin and mineral supplements in athletes who consume a nutritionally-adequate diet will not necessarily improve athletic performance. WOW! And what’s more interesting is that improvements in athletic performance have only been seen in individuals that are deficient in a certain nutrient and take a supplement of that nutrient.

Physical activity may increase the need for vitamins and minerals including antioxidants, especially vitamin C and E.  However, if an active individual consumes a healthy, balanced diet with a variety of foods, then they should get enough nutrients to support their lifestyle.  Also, aerobic exercise, like running, actually strengthens the antioxidant defence system so as you continue to exercise, the decreased vitamin C and E seen mostly in inactive individuals will actually improve with time.

Should I Take A Supplement?

So you may be wondering, how does this affect me? Here are a couple tips to keep in mind before you start taking a supplement.

1.    Take a good hard look at your diet.

There is strong evidence to support that a balanced diet can provide all the necessary nutrients for your health.  If there are any nutrients that you are lacking, you can speak to your doctor for further testing or seek out the expertise of a Registered Dietitian to help you assess your diet

2.    Supplements are just what their name implies.

Supplements are meant to support a healthy diet, not to be the main source of nutrients. If you have a chronic condition that affects your digestion, malabsorption, or intake, this may be something you talk to your doctor about.

Here is a list of powerful foods with loads of essential vitamins and minerals your body needs:

Minerals B Vitamins Vitamins A, C and E
Beef, lean Beef, lean Carrots
Pork, lean Pork, lean Milk, skim
Chicken, skinless Chicken Peanuts
Tuna, water-packed Tuna Orange juice
Kidney beans Refried beans Broccoli
Milk, skim Milk, skim Spinach
Yogurt Yogurt Strawberries

 

Some nutrients are especially difficult to get enough of and they are different for various age groups, genders, and activity levels.  For example, calcium and iron are a common issue for female athletes as iron stores can be compromised by menstruation and sweating.  If you have low iron levels, oxygen won’t be moved around your body as efficiently, leaving you feeling tired which could seriously affect your athletic performance. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones. If you aren’t consuming enough calcium, you could be at an increased risk for stress fractures and broken bones. For tips on getting enough calcium with a lactose-free diet click here.

whey protein powder - two scoops

What About Protein?

Protein is another nutrient that athletes and active individuals need to put some extra thought into.  When increasing the amount of exercise in your daily routine, your body’s protein and energy needs will also increase. You can make sure you get enough protein in your diet by including more foods like nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy products, fish, soy, poultry, and meat.

Protein powders can be convenient, so if you have IBS or other digestive concerns, finding a protein powder that doesn’t upset your stomach can be a real challenge!  Many protein powders contain a variety of ingredients, making it difficult to determine whether or not they are entirely FODMAP free. Here is a list of some protein powders that are relatively low FODMAP but still contain ingredients that may aggravate your symptoms.  When introducing protein powders into your diet your best bet is to try it out in small quantities and monitor your digestive symptoms to understand if they are irritating for you.

Vega One Nutritional Shake

  • Flavours: French Vanilla, Chocolate, Natural, Berry, Vanilla Chai
  • Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy free
  • Sweetened with stevia – an approved sweetener for a low-FODMAP diet
  • 1 scoop contains 15 g protein, 6 g fibre, 1.5 g omega-3
  • Contains probiotics, antioxidants, greens
  • Contains a variety of protein sources: pea protein, SaviSeed™ (sacha inchi) protein, hemp seed protein, sprouted whole grain rice protein
  • Contains inulin which is a FODMAP so it may aggravate GI symptoms
  • Cost – $3.99/single pack, $39.99/474 g, $69.99/827 g

Sunwarrior Raw Vegan Protein

  • Flavours:  Vanilla, Chocolate, Natural
  • Dairy-free, wheat-free, non-GMO, raw
  • 1 scoop contains 16 g of protein
  • Ingredients: Whole brown rice protein, vanilla, pectin, xanthan gum, stevia
  • Gums and pectins can cause excessive gas so you may want to test this one out. Luckily, the company provides samples in all three flavours so you don’t have to commit to buying an entire package.
  • Cost – $64.95/1 kg

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein

  • Manitoba Harvest offers a line of different hemp protein powders each with their own unique features
  • Hemp is a complete, plant-based protein
  • It contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  • All of their products are vegan and non-GMO
  • The HempPro 70 is advertised as being easy mixing, mild tasting, and recommended if you’re experiencing bloating and/or an unsettled stomach from other protein powders
  • Ingredients: Hemp protein concentrate (70% protein by weight) and natural plant extracts
  • Unflavoured and unsweetened
  • 20 g of protein/serving
  • 3.4 g omega’s
  • Cost – $29.99/454 g

What About Low FODMAP Protein Bars?

Now, this is a tricky one.  There seems to always be high FODMAP ingredients in bars. Read the labels, check for ingredients, and monitor your symptoms. Here are the main ingredients to look out for in bars:

Fructose – A lot of bars have fructose sweeteners such as FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides), fructose, high fructose corn syrup, inulin, agave, honey, molasses, and sugar alcohols (sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, isomalt).

TIP: Look for non-fructose sweeteners such as stevia, raw sugar, maple syrup, table sugar, brown rice syrup, oat syrup, dehydrated sugar cane juice, cane sugar, sucrose, and aspartame.

 

Dried Fruit – Many energy bars also get their sweetness from dried fruit, which contains a lot of fructose.

TIP: Choose bars that have nuts and seeds only and avoid those with dried fruit. If you want a bar with dried fruit, choose one with the least amount of sugar on the ingredient panel.

Since it is so hard to find a commercial energy or granola bar that is low FODMAP we’ve created a delicious recipe for you! Make a batch on the weekend and store them in individual servings for a grab and go snack during the week!

Banana Nut Bars

Low FODMAP Recipe: Banana Nut Granola Bar

Makes: 9-12 servings

Time: 5 minutes prep, 25 minutes cook

 

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cups oats

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup coconut oil (or other mild tasting oil such as canola)

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup natural peanut butter

1 large banana

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine oats, chia seeds, walnuts and cinnamon. Stir to combine.

Place coconut oil, peanut butter, and maple syrup in a small pot on the stovetop over low heat. Heat and stir until mixture becomes a smooth consistency.

Mash the banana and add to the pot, stir until smooth. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined.

Line a 9×9 baking sheet with parchment paper and press the mixture evenly into all corners of the baking sheet. The mixture is quite sticky so you might find it helpful to put a plastic bag on your hand to press it out.

Bake for 25 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Wait until cool before slicing into bars or squares.

 

Although protein supplements can be included in a healthy diet, we simply believe that they are not necessary and that most people are able to meet their protein needs through real, wholesome foods. You’ve got to eat anyways, so why not include protein at every meal and snack (at least four times per day) instead of relying on a supplement?

 

Much love & good eating,

Stephanie