There are so many hidden, unhealthy ingredients in most protein powders, even the ones with healthy sounding names have things like fillers, thickeners, pesticides, maltodextrin, gmo’s, glutens and artificial sweeteners. It is important to have a wholefoods based protein to nourish your body properly that does not contain these harmful ingredients. Let’s compare some labels:

Ingredients: Organic Sunflower Protein, Organic Hemp Protein, Organic Pea Protein, Organic Sacha Inchi, Organic KSM-66 Ashwaganda, Organic Cinnamon (Ceylon), Organic Garcinia Cambogia, Organic Aloe, Organic Baobab Fruit Powder, Organic Shilijit, Plant Enzymes, Non Dairy Probiotics, Organic Stevia Leaf, Organic Sprouted Fenugreek, Organic Yacon Root Powder, Organic Sprouted Buckwheat, African Mango Seed Extract, Forskohlii Root Powder.
Natural flavors”
“Natural flavors, Xanthan Gum”

“Creamer Base, Erythritol, Natural Flavors, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum”

Let’s break down the ingredients that are flagged on the nutrition labels one by one so that you know why they are dangerous.

Natural Flavors

Are natural flavors really that similar to artificial ones? According to Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation,

“Natural flavors and artificial flavors sometimes contain exactly the same chemicals, produced through different methods… A natural flavor is not necessarily more healthful or purer than an artificial one.”

In fact, both natural and artificial flavors are manufactured in labs, by the same companies that make fragrances, and by a very similar process. 

The US Food and Drug Administration defines “natural flavors” as follows (From the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)):

The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

So as long as you start with a natural ingredient, you can do whatever you want with it, and the end result, regardless of how many solvents  you used or how you processed it, will be labeled as a “natural flavor.”

The manufacturers do not have any obligation to disclose exactly what is used in any “flavor” as long as it is GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe). That’s reassuring!

According to Schlosser, who has visited many of these manufacturing plants, the flavorings used can be more numerous than the food it is flavoring. Just look at Vega Sport, it is the second ingredient. That means it is the second most abundant ingredient in there – and it is a virtual mystery as to what it could be! Even in the Kos product, don’t let the plant-based chocolate in the middle of “natural” and “flavor” fool you, it is still under the same guidelines.

Xanthan Gum/ Guar Gum

According to Rebekah Edwards in her article on posted June 3, 2021, What is Xanthan Gum? Is It Healthy?, Xanthan Gum is very similar to Guar Gum as they are both used as food stabilizers, thickeners and to add texture. They are generally regarded as safe (GRAF – remember all of the mystery related to that term that we learned in natural flavors?) to consume, but there are a couple of other issues to consider.

If you are vegan, some Xanthan Gum and Guar Gums are made of whey protein, which may not align with your nutrition standards. They do not list the ingredients of this on the packaging, so you would have to try to get this information from the manufacturer. The Vega Sport and Orgain protein powders have vegan-based protein sources, so you naturally would not expect any of the other ingredients to have non-vegan ingredients.

Another possible problem is that during the manufacturing process, these gums can be made with corn, soy, wheat and dairy products, which are high allergens for many people. Again, this is not disclosed on the packaging, so it will be a lot of work to find this information. Not to mention that corn and soy are almost all genetically modified products, which are anything but healthy.

The last caution to make you aware of, is that if you consume over 15 grams of these products in a day, it is not considered safe. Now a typical scoop of protein powder may only have 1/2 gram, but there are a multitude of products on the market that have these fillers ranging across the food, cosmetic and industrial industries. In the Orgain protein powder, Xanthan Gum is listed near the bottom of the ingredient list, which means it is a very small amount of the total ingredients, but it also has both Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum. In the Vega Sport protein powder, Xanthan Gum is listed in the middle of the ingredients, which means there is more of that in the product.

It would be wise to minimize or avoid products with these texture boosters in them. When you are trying to be healthy, why put something that is potentially unhealthy in your body, when there are products without these things in them?

“Creamer Base”

This can mean that the product contains dairy, and if you are trying to avoid dairy, it would be impossible in that case. In the Orgain product they did list what their creamer base consists of and I will just point out a couple of cautions from those ingredients.

The high oleic sunflower oil is high in omega 6, which we all consume too much of already. Omega 6 consumed in excess can lead to inflammation, heart disease and weight gain. It is also recommended not to heat this oil over the temperature of 180 degrees as it releases toxic chemicals, like aldehydes. In order to get this into a powder form, this oil may have been heated above this temperature creating toxins. Unless you investigate the manufacturing procedures, for this particular product, you would not be aware. I think it is best to stay away from too much Omega 6 for the reasons listed, and if there is a possibility of toxins from the process, it would be a definite no.

The second concern is the naturally occurring heavy metals generated by the rice dextrin. According to this article written by Joshua Ballinger on January 18, 2022, “Rice is likely to contain the naturally occurring heavy metal arsenic, which has been linked to an increased risk of organ damage and cancer when consumed in large amounts”. I would rather stay away from arsenic, anything close to being an aldehyde, or inflammation stimulator, wouldn’t you?


Erythritol has been the new zero calorie darling, promoted as the new “safe” sugar alternative. Is it really that safe? Why not use other options that are derived from plants like stevia or monk fruit? Even though erythritol can be naturally occurring in some fruits, it more often than not comes from genetically modified cornstarch. The dangers of GMO’s are numerous:  infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. David Wolfe warns us of several dangerous side effects, which include allergic reactions, gastrointestinal problems, headache, complications for people with SIBO and IBS, as well as leading to overeating in this article: Erythritol Side Effects: 7 Key Ones To Watch Out For ( He also goes on to say if that didn’t make you decide not to consume it, perhaps the fact that it makes a really good insecticide would sway you. In a 2014 study, the flies were drawn to the sweetness, and it killed them with it’s toxicity.


Ultimately, you need to do your own research to come to your own best conclusions. Most importantly, we all need to read and understand labels, as it is increasingly more difficult to comprehend what the products we are consuming really contain. Orgain would be the last protein powder of this group that I would consume with the natural flavors, Xanthan and Guar Gum, Erythritol, sunflower oil and rice dextrin. Vega Sport only has 2 ingredients to be wary of, the natural flavors and Xanthan Gum; still not ideal. Kos protein was almost free of ingredients to be aware of, but not quite with the “natural” ingredients. The only protein powder I have come to trust and use is Dr. Catie’s pure lean protein. It doesn’t have any GMO’s, corn, soy, wheat gluten, maltodextrin, artificial sweeteners, dairy, coloring, stabilizers, pesticides, or any other artificial ingredients or fillers.

If you agree with me on this choice of protein, you can purchase it here: Dr. Catie’s Pure Lean Protein – PureFitJoy


Dar:) · February 4, 2022 at 2:27 pm

I really appreciate and in joyed reading your blog. I learned so much. Thank u for putting this out there. To our health.

    kathie60 · February 4, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    I am so glad that you enjoyed this information and found it to be valuable! Thank you for taking the time to read it Dar! Our health is so very important! We have to be able to make informed decisions about the nutrition we consume. It is becoming more and more difficult to make good decisions with all of the deceptive labeling. 🙁

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *