Let's take under consideration a protein drink prepared by a popular Polish brand. I noticed, that it is very interesting for people. That's the reason why I decided to take a closer look at it.
The producer describes the product as a “highly-protein milk drink, rich in natural protein contributing to the growth and sustaining muscle mass and healthy bones. From nutrition point of view, it is the building material and the source of indispencable amino acids.”
The producer ensures, that the product doesn't contain additional sugar or preservatives, that it provides 20g of protein in one dose, is based on milk with lower amount of lactose by 80%, and the protein is highly absorbed.
What's on its ingredient list?
Below you can find the chocolate version of this product, there are also strawberry and banana drinks.
MILK, cocoa, sweetener: steviol glycoside, emulsifier: mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids, stabiliser: carrageenan, natural aromas.
Nutrition value in 100 g:
Energy value: 278 kJ/ 66kcal
Fat: 1 g
including saturated fatty acids: 0.6 g
Carbohydrates: 8.2 g
including sugar: 8.2 g
Protein: 6.0 g
Salt: 0.10 g
Lactose: <1.0 g
One packed provides 231 kcal, 28.7 g of carbohydrates, 21 g of protein and 3.5 g of fat.
At first glance, the content of the product seems not specified and imprecise.
The product is mainly based on milk with lower amount of lactose (which is not mentioned in the ingredient list). In 100g of such drink you can find little above 3g of protein. So, how can the producer suggest 6g of protein in 100g?
There's the answer on the producer's website, where you can read:
“Protein found in our product contains 80% of caseine and about 20% of whey protein.” Therefore, it's enriched milk. But the precise information is unknown, because the producer does not give such data in the ingredient list.
However, we can assume, that the product is mainly based on protein from caseine, not whey protein. So, if you are planning to complete amino acids after workout and you want fast absorption, this product will not be the best choice. Caseine (protein, which can be also found in quark) is absorbed slowly.
Whey protein has higher biological value than caseine, it is easily digested and absorbed faster in the body. Unfortunately, according to the producer's website, you can find only 20% of whey protein.
The big advantage of this product, however, is the use of steviol glycosides as a sweetener. This way you will not find added sugar in this product.
Stevia is a natural sweetener claimed to be safe for human health. It's much sweeter than sugar, thanks to which you just need small amount of it to make e.g. a beverage sweeter.
Carrageenan was used as a stabiliser. Thanks to adding it to the drink, cocoa will not get separated from milk. The opinions on the influence of carrageenan on human health are divided. The fact is, that in food industry there is the use of native carrageenan, which is supposed to be safe for human health. However, it becomes harmful when it interacts with the bacteria from human body and gastric juice. That's when in changes its form and may be responsible for intestine inflammation, ulceration, and even stomach cancer.
In the content of this product there are also emulsifiers and aromas.
As for a protein drink, it provides quite a lot of carbohydrates. You can find 28.8g of this nutrient in the whole package.
The price is about £1.
Without wondering if protein from dairy products is good or bad source in our diet, we can prepare our own, fast sweet meal based on the caseine protein, which will supply much less carbohydrates and will not contain carrageenan.
100 g of skimmed quark served with 200g of strawberries
150 g of cottage cheese mixed with one teaspoon of cocoa and 50 g of blueberries
You can sweeten both meals with stevia, if you like.
To sum up, remember that food producers use the current fashion and create appropriate marketing around their products. But it doesn't always mean that their products are the perfect solution for us.