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  • Writer's pictureDr Susan Baxter

Processed food and health…

Updated: Mar 3, 2023

QU: What is your take on processed stuff e.g protein powders? Protein bars etc

Thanks for your question: firstly processed stuff in general (as in packaged goods) I tend to steer clear from I prefer to derive my nutrition from foods in as close to their whole form as possible. But it does of course depend what you mean by processing. Cooking, blending and chopping can regarded as processing. And I do cook my food, including veggies because did you know that there are some nutrients that your body can only process once the food has been cooked? That aside I believe you are talking about supplements as processed foods, and I shall answer your two examples separately. Protein powder: e.g. whey is processed yes. However: that is the point of having it. Whey is derived in the milk manufacturing process (remember little miss muffet?). The fact it is powdered is because it is for convenience, and also because it allows your body to absorb it quicker so that it can be utilised after a workout by your hungry muscles. The smaller the particles and the more hydrolysed it is, the faster the absorption (so ON Platinum hydrowhey is even FASTER absorbed!) It simply means that essentially a little part of digestion (making the particles smaller to digest) has occurred to speed up the process. So this processing in my opinion is an AMAZING thing. And it tastes great. However, this is not the same way that ‘Maccas’ is processed which is why it counts differently in my opinion! Protein bars: are a convenience food. I believe that they are a great tool when you do not have access to the food or protein powder that you need. I make my own protein bars (so they are derived from whole foods and yes I would recommend those)…. However many protein bars contain a lot of fillers and things that are suboptimal to fuel the body, such as sugar alcohols (the alcohols used in these bars to help minimize sugar content); and artificial fibre. I just don’t understand when people have them as a staple to their diet yet all other meals are ‘squeeky clean’ since many have more additives than candy (same goes for sugar free sauces and syrups!). Yes there are protein in these (and not all bars are created with equal nutritional weight) but when you are considering the content of a bar, find out what is actually in it. Low carb and no sugar are generally a bad sign for a post work out snack since they have an abundance of sugar alcohols and fibre which will slow down your absorption of the protein in the bars. Remember that real food is better straight after a workout (which includes a protein shake and an apple as ‘real’ to me). I have a delicious recipe on a different take on protein balls you can try.

Reach out if you want to chat!

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