The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) mission for organic foods and farming is to “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” Products that are USDA certified cannot contain any ingredients from the National List of Prohibited Substances. Most USDA certified products are single ingredient products. These are some of the purest products that you can purchase. So, when it comes to protein powder, there’s no better option to boost your protein intake than organic protein powder.
Organic Protein Powder: Other Types of ‘Organic’ Products
Now, USDA isn’t the only organic certification that a product can obtain. However, it is the purest of the organic certifications. There are three different variants of “organic” products that you might see. We’ll discuss them briefly so that you know what you’re getting when you see them.
- “Organic”: Products that are marked “organic” are identified as products that contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients. These products can also be USDA certified. However, the 5% of ingredients must be non-GMO and also must be listed on the list of products that are non-organic but allowed in certified organic products.
- “Made with Organic Ingredients”: Products that are certified as “made with organic ingredients” contain between 70% and 95% organic ingredients. These products cannot feature the USDA certification seal.
- “Organic” (wording only): Companies can use the word “organic” on products that contain fewer that 70% organic ingredients. However, these products can only use the word “organic” on the ingredients panel. The USDA certification seal cannot be placed on these products.
Organic Protein Powder: Identifying Legitimate Products
Unfortunately, it would be rather easy for unethical companies to replace the labels on their products or include a USDA certification seal on products that don’t actually meet the USDA’s guidelines. The penalty for placing a USDA certification seal on a product that doesn’t meet the USDA’s requirements is a civil penalty up to $11,000. That amount is relative to the company. The fine is also dependent on the USDA inspecting foods and enforcing the fine. However, there is no indication of how often the USDA has imposed a fine for incorrectly labeling products.
The USDA operates similarly to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – which is on the honor system. The USDA typically only becomes involved when there is an allegation or a reason to believe a company is incorrectly labeling their products. While this certainly isn’t ideal, it would be nearly impossible for these agencies to police every single product that is manufactured.
Before purchasing any food or supplement product, we would encourage you to conduct a brief search online for the product and the company. If negative reviews or a previous FDA or USDA fine was levied, it will certainly show up in a quick review.
Do Terms Like ‘Organic’ Really Mean Anything?
Now, you might be wondering if the term ‘organic’ really means anything given the lack of government oversight and the different types of certifications that products can place on their labels. This is fair to wonder, considering that foods that are simply labeled ‘organic’ only need to include 70% organic ingredients. And the other 30% of the product contains ingredients that aren’t organic. However, the law requires that those 30% of ingredients cannot be chemicals, additives, synthetics, pesticides or genetically engineered substances.
In addition to the ‘organic’ label on products, there are several other labels or phrases that you may see on organic protein powders or other food products. Terms like antibiotic free, free range, free roaming, hormone free, natural and no chemicals generally look good on packaging. These terms make consumers thing that they’re buying products with increased value. However, these terms carry very little weight because they aren’t backed by solid verification or sources.
Other terms such as no antibiotics administered, no hormones administered and raised without antibiotics a somewhat backed by companies with a clear condition for their labeling. These companies have public standards available for review. However, they are not created or monitored by outside oversight.
Finally, terms such as salmon safe and grass fed (which is a USDA certification) are somewhat more reliable. However, they also aren’t actively policed leading to the usage of these terms to be reliant on the company’s integrity.
The Benefits of Organic Protein Powders and Other Organic Products
Organic products typically have a higher price than non-organic comparatives. So, it’s important to be able to differentiate whether or not organic protein powders are actually beneficial compared to their cheaper alternatives. There are nine benefits of organic protein powders that are universally true for all organic protein powders:
1. Animals Aren’t Harmed to Create Organic Protein Powders
Whereas, other non-organic protein products such as whey protein, are dependent on raising, impregnating and milk cows to then create whey protein as a milk byproduct. And, the vast majority of people turn vegan in order to avoid harming animals. This has led to an increase in popularity for organic protein powders.
2. Organic Protein Powders Help the Earth
Manufacturing organic protein powders is significantly better for the environment that manufacturing animal-based proteins such as whey protein. This is because manufacturing organic protein powders requires much less land, water and resources to grow. Additionally, plants produce much less waste than animals.
3. Organic Protein Powder Doesn’t Contain Growth Hormones or Antibiotics
To keep livestock healthy and growing, they must be given growth hormones and antibiotics. Ultimately, these growth hormones and antibiotics typically are present in animal-based proteins. On the flip side, organic protein powder comes from plants which aren’t treated with growth hormones or antibiotics.
4. Organic Protein Powder is Allergy Free
Approximately 65% of people have a hard time digesting whey protein and other products that contain lactose. Organic plant-based protein powders don’t contain lactose and free of other common allergies. Consuming organic protein powders will help you avoid gas, bloating, fatigue and other allergy related symptoms.
4. Organic Protein Powder Performs Like Whey
Obviously, most people care about the results of the protein supplement they take. The vast majority of people who purchase protein supplements will look solely at the protein content of the product they’re considering. While, there are many other key components of a good protein supplement, the protein is organic protein powders such as pea protein, is very comparable to that of animal-based proteins such as whey.
5. Organic Protein Powder Boosts Metabolism
Organic protein powders take longer for the body to digest due to the fiber that they contain. This causes the body to work harder and longer to metabolize the protein – leading your body to burn extra fat by boosting its metabolism.
6. Organic Protein Powders Don’t Contain Unhealthy Fats
You probably know that there are good fats and that there are bad fats. Bad fats are known as saturated fats and trans fats. These bad fats are commonly found in animal-based proteins because they’re in products such as meat and eggs. However, these products are not found in plants. So, they’re not found in organic protein powders either.
7. Organic Protein Powders are High in Fiber
Plants contain relatively high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber keeps our body’s feeling satisfied and full. While insoluble fibers help our digestive track function properly. Additionally, fiber can also help keep your heart healthy.
Organic Protein Powders are Becoming More Popular
Whey protein has seemingly always been the ‘go-to’ protein supplement within the fitness industry. But, the gap between whey protein and plant-based protein powders such as organic protein powders is narrowing more and more each year. People are becoming increasingly aware that there isn’t much difference between animal-based proteins like whey and plant-based proteins like organic protein powders.
However, as we noted above, there are major advantages to using organic protein powders as opposed to whey. And those advantages typically outweigh the slightly higher protein content of whey protein. Specifically, pea protein powder offers the closest protein content to most whey protein supplements that are on the market.
Pea Protein vs Whey Protein
Let’s briefly compare whey protein and pea protein. We’ll use Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Whey product for this comparison. After all, it currently has 852 reviews that total a 4.5-star average on GNC – so, it must be fairly popular and produce results.
One serving of this whey protein supplement contains 30.4 grams. And of those 30.4 grams, 24 grams are protein. 24 grams of protein is common among whey protein supplements.
Now, let’s look at our pea protein supplement. We’ll have to do a little bit of arithmetic to make this a fair comparison because one serving of pea protein is only 14 grams. Because of this, the serving of whey protein is 2.17 larger than the serving or pea protein.
To correct this, we’ll compare 30.4 grams of whey protein to 30.4 grams of pea protein. 30.4 grams of pea protein contains 26 grams of protein – which is slightly higher than the comparable whey protein supplement.
So, in a side by side comparison, pea protein actually offers a higher protein count than this particular whey protein supplement.
But, why do people buy whey protein when pea protein has a higher protein content? The truth is that most people will look at the label that says ’24 grams of protein’ without considering the size of the serving. It’s always a good reminder to not only focus on what the manufacturer is telling you – but, to take a closer look at what the supplement actually contains.
Pea Protein Powder: The Other Benefits
Pea proteins high protein content isn’t its only key benefit. This organic protein powder offers a variety of other advantages that make it a superior alternative to whey protein. Let’s take a quick look at some of the major benefits of pea protein:
1. Pea Protein Powder Aids Muscle Recovery
The best time to inject your body with a fresh dose of protein is right after a workout. That’s when the blood flow is elevated in the muscles that were exercised. And when the blood flow is elevated, the muscles are more receptive to nutrients. Protein is responsible for repairing the muscle tissues which helps your muscles grow. But pea protein powder is also a good source of branch chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs reduce muscle fatigue and decrease muscle soreness.
2. Pea Protein Powder is a Low Carb Source of Protein
The high protein content of pea protein powder allows pea protein to support the development and maintenance of muscles. But, as a low carb source of protein it also helps reduce calorie intake – making it a great protein source for anyone looking to lose or cut weight. Pea protein powder is one of the organic protein powders that have been proven to regulate the body’s appetite and aid in weight loss due to its high protein, low carb mix.
3. Pea Protein Powder is a Complete Protein Source
Some organic plant protein powders aren’t what are considered ‘complete’ protein sources. Complete protein sources are those that possess the nine essential amino acids that the body can’t produce. The body must receive these nine essential amino acids through a proper diet.
Other Types of Organic Protein Powders
Now, pea protein isn’t the only organic protein powder available. However, it’s the most comparable plant-based protein to whey protein in terms of protein content. But other organic protein powders are available that offer other unique benefits. Here at BioGains, we test plant-based proteins all of the time. And there are two other organic protein powders that stand out to us: organic chia protein and organic hemp protein.
Organic chia protein is made from chia seeds. Like pea protein, chia protein is also a complete source of amino acids. And chia seeds and chia protein powder share several unique benefits:
1. Organic Chia Protein is High in Nutrients
Known as a ‘superfood’, organic chia protein contains high amounts of nutrients such as fiber, protein, healthy fat, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and vitamin B3.
2. Organic Chia Protein Contains Very Few Calories
When compared calorie for calorie, organic chia protein packs a punch when it comes to nutrients to calories ratio. There just aren’t many sources that offer a great nutritional profile with such few calories.
3. Organic Chia Protein are Packed with Antioxidants
The body uses antioxidants to stop the production of free radicals, which can harm cell molecules and allow the body to be overcome by disease.
4. Organic Chia Protein is High in Fiber
Organic chia protein is low in carbs but high in fiber content. This makes chia protein low-carb friendly while giving your body the fiber it needs to maintain a healthy intestinal track and keep your gut healthy.
5. Organic Chia Protein Promotes Weight Loss
Chia protein has a unique ability to absorb water and expand your stomach, which leads to a feeling a fullness.
Another option for an organic protein powder is hemp protein. Hemp protein powders a slightly different set of benefits aside from just their protein content. Like pea protein powder and chia protein powder, hemp protein powder is also a complete source of amino acids. Which is one of the main reasons that pea, chia and hemp protein should be the top three organic protein powders for any athlete looking to build or maintain lean muscle mass.
As you know, pea protein is made from peas… Chia protein is made from chia seeds… And hemp protein is made from hemp seeds. And hemp seeds are known to be one of the healthiest plant-based foods on earth.
1. Hemp Protein Powder Boosts the Immune System
Hemp protein powder contains two globular proteins that are crucial to maintaining a strong immune system. The globular proteins are called edestin and albumin. Hemp protein powder is believed to contain more edestin than any other organic protein powder. These two globular proteins help the body create antibodies and carry out enzymatic functions in the blood plasma.
2. Hemp Protein Powder is Good for Heart Health
Hemp protein powder is a heart friendly organic protein powder. It contains the perfect blend of healthy fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6. Hemp protein powder also contains linolenic acid which could help prevent coronary heart disease – according to recent studies.
3. Hemp Protein Powder is Colon Friendly
Studies have found that approximately 65% of people suffer from some type of discomfort when they regularly consume protein products. This can be attributed to additives and processing that the more popular animal protein supplements such as whey contain. Organic protein powders are mostly free of any additives and are easier for the body to digest. Hemp protein powder in particular is a great source of soluble and unsoluble fiber. These fibers help to reduce constipation and cleans the colon. Hemp protein powder could be the best option for you if you’re one of the 65% of protein consumers that suffer from bloating or fatigue.
Organic Protein Powder Really is the Future of Protein Powders
What started as a protein source for vegans and vegetarians is quickly becoming more popular among other athletes. That’s right, organic protein powders aren’t just for vegans and vegetarians anymore! In fact, one recent study found that almost 37 million people regularly purchase plant-based alternates but don’t identify themselves as vegans or vegetarians.
It’s no secret that plant-based foods are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. But, just how rapidly plant-based foods are becoming more popular is a bit shocking. In small to midsized restaurants, experts have identified a 19% growth of plant-based items. For home-based consumers, plant-based foods are up 24%. This is due to the increasing demand of consumers and the creativeness of plant-based food eaters that are constantly creating healthier, tastier recipes. One recent study found that almost 37 million people regularly purchase plant-based foods but don’t identify themselves as vegans or vegetarians.
But consumers don’t just want to consume more plant-based foods. They also want to consume more protein. Protein products account for approximately 80% of all sales in the health and fitness industry which makes them by far the most frequently sold product.
The perfect storm has been created for organic protein powders. The world is becoming more aware and more people are adopting plant-based foods and/or diets. At the same time, protein is still becoming increasingly popular – even though it already dominates the sports nutrition industry as the most popular supplement.
If you haven’t already made the switch from animal-based proteins to plant-based proteins… What are you waiting for?