Need to Find the Best Paleo Protein Powder? Let’s Know How?

It is surprisingly tricky to find the best paleo protein powder. Have you ever started a project thinking that it will be pretty easy and straightforward, and then finding that it is anything but? Well, that’s what happened to me with this review.

What I found was that, although we might think we know what the paleo diet is, "the devil is in the detail". There are all sorts of little things that make the difference between paleo and non-paleo.

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And this is certainly true when you start to look at protein powders that can be used by those on strict paleo diets.

Right at the outset, I must say that the products I reviewed all seem very good for anyone looking to maintain health, support muscle growth and repair, and also for those wanting to lose weight. However, when you assess them from the paleo point of view, it gets more complicated.

I am going to give a very quick overview of the paleo diet, and of what you should be looking for when you buy a protein powder. The I’ll take a fairly in-depth look at some protein powder brands, to show you why I think they passed the paleo test.


What Is a Paleo Diet?

Simply put, those who believe in following a strict paleo diet say that we should eat only what our hunter-gatherer, cavemen ancestors ate. They base this belief on the fact that humans survived for 140,000 years on that diet, and our ancestors, by all accounts, were lean, mean, tall and fit. For the past 10,000 years our diet has changed, mainly because of the introduction of agriculture.

Paleo’s say that our bodies are not adapted to the grains and sugars that have now become part of our diet. And that doesn’t even take into account all the other more recent changes to processed food, food additives, strange fats, GMO, grain-fed beef and chickens, pesticides and herbicides.

The picture of many modern people – overweight, stressed, lacking sleep, beset with chronic illnesses – is, they believe, the result of this change in diet.

What Can You Eat on a Paleo Diet?

Shifting to a paleo diet means removing the foods that damage our health – grains, legumes and dairy – and adding more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants by eating significantly more vegetables.

A simple summary of what is and isn’t allowed on the paleo diet is shown in this table:

Okay to Eat

Avoid

Fruits

Dairy

Vegetables

Grains

Lean Meats

Processed Food & Sugars

Seafood

Legumes

Nuts & Seeds

Starches

Alcohol

Taken from the website of Robb Wolf.

Benefits of the Paleo Diet

Some of the health benefits are given as:

Best paleo protein powder for weight loss

List of foods in the paleo diet

  • Stable blood sugar
  • Burn off of stored fat
  • Reduced allergies
  • Balanced energy throughout the day
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Clear skin and better teeth
  • Improved sleep
  • More efficient workouts

Some studies have shown that a paleo diet can actually reverse the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes. It is known to be helpful for cardiovascular disease, auto-immune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, and other chronic diseases.

If you want to learn more about the diet, you can look at the work of Prof. Loren Cordain, who was the founder of the paleo movement. You might also want to look at some of what Chris Kresser has to say about being a bit more flexible and focusing on what works for a modern-day person, rather than being obsessed with our ancestors. He also has some really good and straightforward videos about the benefits of the paleo diet.

A really amusing and informative video, from a different source, is useful for understanding why we get fat.

So, What Are You Allowed to Eat?

Okay to Eat

Implications for your diet choices

Fruits

You can eat most fruits, but limit them if you want to lose weight because of the sugar

Vegetables

This is the primary food type you should be eating. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Tubers like sweet potatoes and yams are good to replenish glycogen stores after exercise.

Lean meats

The meat eaten by our ancestors was lean, with high levels of Omega 3. The high saturated fat in today’s animals is often related to the grain diet. So, grass-fed is important

Seafood

Omega 3 fats are important here. Also, fish should be wild, to avoid mercury and other toxins in farmed fish.

Nuts & seeds

High in calories, so there are limits to how much you can have

Healthy fats

From nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil, grass-fed beef

You are looking for nutrient-dense foods, not carb-dense foods. The key understanding is that the same number of calories from tubers like sweet potatoes or yams will provide a very different energy source than the same number of calories from a packet of potato crisps.

There are tricks to the diet, including the balance of the food eaten. You can get it wrong. But it might be worth learning. The alternative is to continue to feel tired, to struggle with weight, or even to be ill.

What Does the "Non-paleo" List Mean for Protein Powders?

There really are two things you must check very carefully if you are looking for a protein powder:

  • Source of protein
  • Additives

This means that you need to read labels very carefully, and also understand what you can/can’t eat. As you will see from the following table, many of the ingredients we’ve become accustomed to seeing in protein powders are on the "non-paleo" list:

Avoid

Implications for choice of protein powder

Dairy

Non-dairy means excluding all whey-based and casein protein powders. (There is some debate about this, and many "paleo protein powders" are whey-based.)

Grains

Only grass-fed beef or chicken to be used. Rice is not paleo.

Processed Food & Sugars

Zero sugar. Zero chemicals

Legumes

Legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, lupin bean, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts and tamarind.

This means that very popular types of protein powders can’t be used – especially if based on peas, peanuts or soy. (This is even though paleo’s regard peas as the least damaging of the legumes.)

Starches

Important to look at fillers and "fibers" in protein powders.

Alcohol

Did you know that even something as simple as vanilla essence has alcohol in it? (This is so little that it would still be regarded as "paleo")

What Are the Sources of Protein for the Best Paleo Protein Powders?

If you cannot use whey, casein, soy, peas, rice, what is there? You will have to look for the source of your protein from meat products (beef and eggs are the ones most available now) or a vegetarian version from vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Both beef and eggs have most of the 22 amino acids we need to build muscle and repair cells. Surprisingly, some vegetable and seeds contain a wide variety of amino acids too (pumpkin seeds have 18). Generally, though, you might need to have more than one vegetable to make sure you get all of the amino acids.

Comment on Beef Supplements

I’d like to make some comments about beef supplements.

  • It’s really important to make sure that you are getting protein from real meat – and not just the unwanted bits like hooves and ears. This is mainly collagen and gelatin, and has little protein value. It’s cheaper for the manufacturers, and, legally, they can call it "beef protein".
  • There’s a strong cross-over in the target markets for beef protein powder between those on paleo diets, and those who participate in high impact sports or body-building (perhaps because paleo’s tend to be health and fitness focused?) However, this means that there are often formulations and ingredients that are non-paleo. It’s really important to read labels and research the companies.

With this basic background, let us have a look at the protein powders I reviewed and the recommendations I have made. I hope that this will give you a better idea of what you should be looking for. (And, if you are looking for a "paleo protein powder", I hope my list will help you to decide what to buy.)

Product Review: the Best Paleo Protein Powders

#1 - Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder by Seed Oil Company

Size: 1lb / 454 g (2x pack on sale)

Serving size: 10.5g of protein x 30 servings

Calories: 52 per serving

Carbs: 1.43

protein powder for paleo diet

via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our rating

The Seed Oil Company is a small, family-owned farm in Oregon in the USA. Their seed oil business is based on pumpkins, grape seeds and camelina. Everything is grown organically, without chemical pesticides and herbicides or anything GMO.

Source of protein: Pumpkin seeds from non-GMO pumpkins grown in Oregon, USA

Additives: None

Pumpkin protein powder is a good choice for vegans. Pumpkin seeds are one of the so-called "superfoods", with an amazing array of contents. They are nearly 60% protein, by weight, with 18 amino acids. They are particularly well-known for their high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor for serotonin (the "feel-good" hormone). So, it is great for moods and stress if taken during the day, and for bringing about restful sleep if taken at night. It is also known to be good for easing chronic pain, weight loss and increased libido.

Review

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamins K, C, A and B and the minerals magnesium, zinc, Iron and phosphorus. It is also one of the few seeds that alkalizes the body.

The powder is advertised as organic, gluten free, vegan, kosher, non-GMP, raw. It has a good shelf-life of up to 2 years if stored in a cool place, and preferably refrigerated.

I was particularly drawn to their packaging. It looks like what it is – pure pumpkin! So, it scores high marks for being a simple product, naturally milled and with no additives.

I also liked its versatility. You can mix it into smoothies, oatmeal, sprinkle on food, etc like other protein powders. But you can also replace some or all of the flour and really boost the nutritional value of your brownies, cookies or muffins.

A serving is only 10.5g of protein – less than half of most protein powders - so the price is understandably much lower. However, even if we double the price, it still seems to be very reasonable.

Pros

  • 100% pumpkin
  • Natural flavor – no sweetener
  • No artificial ingredients, binders, fillers
  • Added nutritional benefits
  • Vegan
  • Attractive packaging
  • Well-priced

Cons

  • Low protein levels per serving

#2 - 100% Grass Fed Beef Protein Powder by Equip

Size: 1lb / 454 g

Serving size: 24g of protein x 30 servings

Calories: 100 per serving (5 from fat)

Carbs: 1g (dietary fiber)

best paleo protein powder crossfit

via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our rating

Equip is an interesting company, started by a chiropractor who worked mostly with people doing high-impact training like CrossFit. They were always asking his advice about the best supplements to take. He started looking for ways to develop high-quality, whole-food-based solutions for nutrition and especially for work-outs.

His product range has subsequently expanded to be more than just for work-outs – and he changed the name from "pureWOD" to "Equip", as an indication that the products were designed to equip people with the nutrition they needed, outside of the food they were eating.

Source of protein: Grass-fed beef

Additives: Cocoa powder, stevia leaf powder

What I really like is how simple this product is. It is just beef, natural flavoring and sweetener. The marketing blurb is that it doesn’t taste like beef – it tastes like "amazingly fudgey brownies". The beef is grass-fed, and hormone and antibiotic-free.

Review

What makes this a bit different is the high content of collagen and gelatin, together with the promise of good meat in the product. The promise is that it is about 70% muscle meat and 30% collagen – "just like a real cow". It is made in the same way as bone broth and then spray-dried. This means that you don’t just build muscle with the powder. It also supports joint surfaces, ligaments and tendons, and connective tissue. (We can see how working with CrossFit training influenced the design of the product.)

But you don’t have to be an athlete to benefit. A study showed that exercise together with a collagen supplement improved body composition and increased muscle strength in elderly men.

The manufacturers warn you to expect some clumping of the powder when you mix it – this is because of the collagen, and also because they haven’t added "weird" chemicals to make it mix perfectly. They believe that a supplement should be as close to food as possible. Their promise is that every serving gives you the equivalent protein to a 4oz piece of grass-fed beef.

Just a note on the additives. Stevia is paleo, and has been around for a long time as a sweetener. Cocoa powder is also paleo, although it would be better if it was cacao, which is the natural product. "Cocoa" is processed cacao.

So, although this product is not advertised specifically for paleo, it is suitable for those on a paleo diet.

Pros

  • Paleo friendly
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Balance of meat with collagen and gelatin
  • No antibiotics or hormones
  • No artificial ingredients, binders, fillers
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • May be too sweet

#3 - Paleo Protein Powder by PaleoPro

Size: 1lb / 454 g

Serving size: 26g of protein x 15 servings

Calories: 120

Carbs: 1g (dietary fiber)

best paleo protein powder egg white

via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our rating

This brand was born out of the frustration of "paleo nuts" who just couldn’t find a real paleo protein powder. They were tired of whey-based products that are not paleo and products with long lists of ingredients, most of which are just not paleo.

They set about developing their own protein powder, starting with a list of things they didn’t want: soy; whey, dairy or lactose; sugar or artificial sweeteners; preservatives or artificial ingredients; gluten, grains or wheat; chemical processing.

What they did want was easily digestible protein, that was easy on the stomach, and tasted amazing.

Source of protein: Grass-fed beef; whole eggs, egg whites

Additives: Dutch cocoa, stevia

Review

So, they have used egg from humanely-raised chickens and beef from naturally raised lean beef. Everything is spray-dried to turn it into a powder. Nothing needs to be added to preserve it – it is air-dried, natural food.

Both whole egg and egg white are very high-quality proteins, and help with muscle development (the "paleo nuts" are also sports nuts!). Egg white is very easily digested and the bioavailability of the protein is very good.

Most people said that this Ancient Cacao version was a great-tasting protein powder. But I’m not sure why they used Dutch Cocoa for the flavor, as this is a processed product, and not paleo. Stevia as a sweetener is paleo, although some people don’t like the taste or find it too sweet.

There are 6 different flavors available, including an unflavored and unsweetened one, called "Plain Naked". This might be the choice for the very strict paleo dieter.

The price is a bit high, but you seem to be getting very good ingredients.

You can watch a short video about the PaleoPro products in here

Pros

  • Designed specifically for paleo
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Eggs from humanely raised chickens
  • No antibiotics or hormones
  • No artificial binders, fillers
  • Single-ingredient version available

Cons

  • Dutch cocoa
  • Quite expensive
  • Some people really don’t like the stevia taste

#4 - PaleoBeef-Dairy Free Protein by Adaptogen Research

Size: 1.8lb (810g)

Serving size: 21g of protein x 30 servings

Calories: 110

Carbs: 4g (dietary fiber)

best paleo protein powder beef

via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our rating

This company is based in Florida and California in the USA. They manufacture a range of supplements, including protein powders.

What I liked was their approach to the raw materials they use in their products. They only source from reputable vendors and test for purity, bioavailability and safety. End products are tested with infrared spectroscopy and then tested again by an independent laboratory. In this time of "fake products", this gives some degree of assurance about what we are buying.

Source of protein: Beef (“contains” Hydrobeef)

Additives: Natural vanilla flavors, medium chain triglycerides, tapioca dextrin, natural caramel flavor, certified organic stevia leaf extract, silicon dioxide

I included this product in the review because of the HydroBEEF content. HydroBEEF is a concentrated beef protein, produced by a patented hydrolysis process. The patent is owned by Essentia Metabolic Proteins (formerly known as Proliant Health). It is 97% protein, from high quality lean meat (not the beef offcuts), from animals raised in Sweden. There are no GMO ingredients, hormones or antibiotics. The benefit for us is easy absorption and assimilation of the protein.

Review

We have to trust the Adaptogen Research company about the contents of their protein powder.

  • I have a small question about exact quantities, as the wording is that it "contains" HydroBEEF. I also wonder, if the protein content is 97%, then why, in this product, is the protein content only 21 g of every 27g scoop? What’s the rest?
  • Maybe the answer is in the additives list? There is no indication of how much tapioca dextrin is in the powder, or why it is there. Tapioca dextrin is a natural product, from the cassava plant. It is a good source of fiber, and a replacement for flour. So, it sounds a bit like a filler.
  • We can understand the silicon dioxide, which can be made from natural products, and is used as an anti-caking agent.
  • Medium chain triglycerides are usually extracted from coconut or palm oil. This would be added to boost the body’s metabolism and increase calorie burn.

While we may have a few questions, the product seems suitable for those on a paleo diet.

Strict paleo’s might have some queries about the flavoring. Vanilla "extract" would be pure and from the vanilla bean. "Vanilla flavor" may contain synthetics. Likewise, the paleo version of caramel would be from puree of dates and coconut cream, vanilla and salt. Other forms of caramel are likely to contain sugar, so not good for paleo.

Pros

  • High quality beef
  • Reputable company with high quality standards
  • No antibiotics or hormones
  • No GMO
  • Additives that add benefits

Cons

  • Lack of clarity about exact quantities of ingredients
  • Possible queries about flavoring for strict paleo

#5 - Paleo Protein Double Chocolate Powder Grass Fed Beef by Julian Bakery

Size: 2lb / 907g

Serving size: 25g of protein x 30 servings

Calories: 108 per serving

Carbs: 2g

 protein powder for paleo diet

via Amazon.com

Quality

Price

Our rating

I reviewed this product mainly because it is marketed directly to the paleo market. In fact, Julian Bakery has a whole range of paleo products, including wraps, bars and breads.

I liked the look of their sources and additives:

Source: HydroBeef

Additives: Cocoa powder, vanilla extract, chocolate extract, organic stevia leaf extract, sea salt

Review

I also reviewed their vegan protein powder, called Pegan Protein, with an organic sacha inchi seed base, and monk fruit as a sweetener.

I would have rated both products quite highly – and, if you decide to try them, they may be very effective. Customer reviews seem to be good – also for the taste.

I decided to withdraw my review comments because, when I researched the company, I found that they had been in trouble with the FDA because they had misrepresented the content of products. They also seem to be in dispute with several of their suppliers.It would be a great pity if their products were not as good as they seem to be. This was just another reminder to me about how careful we must all be when we are buying products which we believe are good for our health!

Pros

  • Sources and additives seemed appropriate for paleo

Cons

  • Questions about the honesty of their product labeling
  • Disputes with suppliers

My Ranking of Best Paleo Protein Powder

This is how I ranked the products:

Rank

Product

Comment

Rating

1st

Only one ingredient. Best price. Vegan.

4.9

2nd

Simple product – only 3 ingredients

4.8

3rd

Very good ingredients, except flavoring which is non-paleo

4.7

4th

Good quality protein. Some query about the additives.

4.6

5th

Would be scored very highly, if we were sure that the labeling was honest.

Not scored

I think the bottom line is that to be ranked the best paleo protein powder, then the fewer the ingredients the better. In fact, the best is to have only one ingredient – the protein source. That’s why my number one spot went to the pumpkin seed product.

I hope you will try some of these brands, and let me know what you think of them.

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