Top 5 Protein Powders Without Artificial Sweeteners

This article shares five of the best additive-free protein powders I could find during my latest research project.

You see, after many years together I’m breaking up with my protein powder: it has an artificial sweetener I’m no longer comfortable consuming.

So I combed through the ingredients & manufacturing practices of dozens of protein powders, and the ones I share in this article were among the cleanest I came across.

 

Best protein powders without sucralose

(and without other unwanted ingredients as well)

What’s next

Later on I’ll go into the product features, nutritional & ingredient details for each of these five protein powders.

Next, I want to discuss my criteria for choosing these protein powders above the rest.

In other words, let’s look at what these protein powders don’t have in them.

 

 

test tubes green

Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science & medical resources, clinical studies, and nutritional data used in this article.

 

 

Woman searching with binoculars for a protein powder without artificial sweetener - heydayDo image

 

The search for a clean protein powder

As I mentioned at the outset, I dug through a ton of protein powder product material in my quest to find a new mate for my smoothie concoctions.

Talk about a flooded market. Just look at my Amazon search for protein powder – over 10,000 product listings:

 

Amazon protein powder search - Protein Powders without Sucralose - heydayDo - in article image7

(There’s so much junk out there tho’…I bet 9900 of them aren’t worth swallowing if you’d really prefer a purer protein powder.)

 

So I made a short list of requirements for any protein powder I’d consider taking, and started weeding out all the products that had ingredients I don’t want in my protein powder or in my body.

 

What’s in a clean protein powder

  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No “natural flavors”
  • No other artificial/synthetic ingredients
  • No proprietary blends
  • No fillers
  • No sugar 
  • No soy
  • No hormones
  • Non-GMO

The five protein powders in this article can tick all of the boxes on this list.

 

No artificial sweeteners

Ingredients in this category include sucralose, acesulfame potassium, sugar alcohols**, aspartame, & any other synthetic sweetener they’re cooking up in the lab these days.

 

But make no mistake: controversy and sharp disagreement surround every one of these artificial sweeteners. 

 

One one hand they’re considered totally safe by the government.

I mean look, the FDA has approved them for mass consumption, and many health authorities agree with them.

One the other hand, there’s a loud chorus of physicians, nutritionists, scientists, & other concerned public interest organizations who consider one or more of these artificial sweeteners unhealthy if not poisonous.

 

**sugar alcohols – I’m out of line for calling sugar alcohols artificial, since the FDA has ruled that they are natural, and that they are to be listed as a carbohydrate on Nutrition Facts labels. I know that sugar alcohols occur naturally in um…nature; they’re in lots of fruit & vegetables. But the stuff that’s added to processed foods like protein powders & bars isn’t fresh-squeezed, it’s “industrially made“.

 

Me? I just don’t like downing artificial ingredients on a regular basis that have been synthetically made.

It’s a personal diet choice and I’m fine without ‘em, honest. 

And so are the five protein powders featured in this article.

 

No “natural flavors”

This veil is used to protect proprietary recipes/formulas made from natural things like herbs, fruit, plants, etc., and I get that…Colonel Sanders’ secret recipe and so on.

But it’s also used as a cloaking device for things like MSG and other synthetic things I am definitely not into.

(Note: I’m very familiar with the FDA’s policy on the term Natural Flavors (1). I wrote about it in a research article I published here on heydayDo on misleading food labels, if you’re interested in the topic.)

 

No other artificial/synthetic ingredients

This is a catch-all category for any other artificial, processed junk that’s not a sweetener that’s separately listed on the product’s Ingredients list (vs. being lumped in under Natural Flavors).

This could include an ingredient mysteriously named Artificial Flavors, or synthetically-produced vitamins & minerals thrown in to beef up the Nutrition Facts label numbers, etc.

This also includes lab-derived (& non-essential) amino acids that are added to the protein powder in order to boost the amino acid stats on the label, a sneaky marketing tactic known as amino spiking. (2)

 

A high-quality protein powder will have an excellent amino acid profile without any help from chemical additives.

Just look at the amino acid numbers of any 100% pure whey protein product; they’re plenty sufficient.

 

No proprietary blends

Anything listed as a Proprietary Blend is an unwanted ingredient in a clean protein powder.

The fact that the manufacturer might instead give it a name like Super Amino Matrix Bomb, Yo! should not impress you either.

As the consumers of this concoction, we don’t know how much of each ingredient is in those formulas, since the FDA lets the manufacturer keep that information to themselves. (3)

I researched this supplement industry practice in detail and wrote about it in an article on proprietary blends here on heydayDo.

 

No fillers

This is pretty self-explanatory.

Adding useless weight to a protein powder (when all we want to pay for is the protein) benefits the manufacturer, not us.

Some fillers are chemicals used in the manufacturing process to make the production more efficient, or to make the product more aesthetically pleasing, i.e. improve texture or appearance.

Sometimes I rock chocolate flavored protein powder where even the cacao or cocoa powder in it is technically a filler, albeit one designed specifically to alter the taste.

There are some unwanted/unneeded ones though.

Consider a filler as any ingredient that isn’t from the protein source in your powder.

Here’s a non-exclusive list of unneeded fillers:

  • Carrageenan
  • Konjac
  • Maltodextrin
  • Cellulose
  • Gelatin
  • Magnesium stearate

 

Sugar cubes in a glass and sugar spilling from a Coke bottle - heydayDo image

Sugar free

This includes any kind of sugar product, high glucose/fructose product, and products like honey or tree syrup, no matter if they’re raw, organic, or scraped from the hooves of unicorns.

I consume plenty of naturally-occurring sugar in my diet already (4).

I don’t need any more of it, especially as a processed additive in a supplement.

 

Soy free

This means no soy lecithin, which is one of the most common emulsifiers used in protein powder manufacturing.

In case you don’t know, an emulsifier like lecithin – usually soy or sunflower oil – is added to protein powders to help it dissolve & mix with liquid better, an anti-clumping agent if you will. (5)

 

My beef with soy products isn’t the same as the main reasons many people give for avoiding eating anything with soybeans in it.

 

Why some believe soy is bad

Common reasons people think soy is bad for them is due to research studies they heard or read about that showed that:

1) soy contains phytates which reduce mineral absorption – specifically iron – as determined in one study from 1992 (6)

2) soy has compounds that interfere with thyroid function, from a 1997 clinical trial (7)

3) soy’s phytoestrogens can throw our hormones out of whack, including reducing testosterone levels in men, discussed in the German Medical Science Journal in 2014 (8)

 

protein powder jug orange - heydayDo icon

 

But more thorough research has disproved these theories

All three of those “bad soy” ideas have been proven inaccurate or flat-out wrong by science.

Regarding:

#1 Phytates – More recent studies have shown that simply cooking, soaking, de-hulling, or fermenting the soybeans significantly reduces any negative effect from their phytates (9)

 

#2 Thyroid – A scientific review of 14 research studies on soybeans’ influence on thyroid function stated that

“the findings provide little evidence that…soy foods, or isoflavones adversely affect thyroid function”, and that even “hypothyroid adults need not avoid soy foods.” (10)

 

#3 Hormonal Imbalance – Multiple studies debunk that theory. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s analysis of 47 research studies concluded that

“neither soy foods nor isoflavone supplements alter measures of bioavailable T concentrations in men.” (11)

 

And another meta-review of 35 more clinical trials found that

“(For) women in Western countries, pre- or post-menopausal, there is no evidence to suggest an association between intake of soy isoflavone and breast cancer.” (12)

 

If you’re interested in more compelling evidence proving these points, the medical publishing giant Healthline and the prominent fitness magazine Runner’s World both debunked those anti-soy theories as well.

 

My “no soy in my protein powder” reason

As I said earlier, I don’t want soy in my protein powder for a different reason than those mentioned above:

 

It’s that I’m not comfortable with eating genetically-modified food, and most soybeans grown here in the US these days are genetically-engineered.

 

Here’s the USDA chart showing that approximately 95% of all soybeans grown in the US are genetically-modified. (13)

USDA genetic engineered crops - Protein Powders without Artificial Sweetener - heydayDo - in article image6

I know that no damning evidence exists that proves GMO products are bad for us. And I’ve looked around at a lot of GMO data & opinion. (14)

I guess it’s just a personal choice of mine, like me preferring shorts, a tank top, & flip flops over a Lauren polo shirt, khakis, & Sperry Docksider shoes.

Something just bugs me about genetically-engineered food, so I’ll politely decline until the government goes Soylent Green on me, and makes me eat GMO food.

 

Hormone free

The U.S. meat, poultry, & dairy industries have a long history of hormone use, as dairy farmers & beef cattle ranches are always trying to boost their milk & meat production efficiency. (15)

As early as 1954, the FDA allowed the use of synthetic growth hormones in dairy & beef cattle, ignoring scientific evidence that showed harm to humans & the animals involved too.

Research studies have consistently shown that the synthetic hormone residues make their way into the meat & dairy products US citizens consume, as stated by the American Public Health Association. (16)

Except for the Monsanto-funded studies, their Policy Statement adds.

“Now there’s a surprise.”

😄

 

And for the last 27 years now, the dairy industry in the US has been allowed by the FDA to shoot up their cows with the growth hormone rbGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), AKA rbST (recombinant bovine somatotropin). (17)

 

This, despite those hormones being banned for use in both the European Union & in Canada, due to their cancer-causing ability in humans who eat the meat & drink the milk. (18)

The Center for Food Safety states that

“Canadian and European regulators have found that the FDA completely failed to consider a study that showed how the increased IGF-1 in rBGH milk could survive digestion and make its way into the intestines and blood stream of consumers.”

 

The FDA’s decision to side with industry gets worse:

These findings are significant because numerous studies now demonstrate that IGF-1 is an important factor in the growth of cancers of the breast, prostate and colon.” (19)

 

This is important information to me because after all, whey protein powder comes from milk of course.

 

So if I’m going to drink a milk product, I’d definitely like to see the “rbGH-free” label please.

 

Cows feeding on non-GMO grain - heydayDo image

GMO free

Truth be told, the non-GMO label on food products has its own set of loose interpreters (20), controversies (21), and shortcomings (22).

On top of that there’s what I said earlier, when talking about soy: no hard evidence exists proving GMO food is bad for you.

 

But again: I’m just not comfortable eating genetically-modified products, and I don’t want any in my protein powder if I can avoid it.

 

And so, since protein powder is a finished product from a long line of dairy industry processes, I’d prefer a brand that both displays the label AND is transparent with their customers about where they source their milk from.

 

Be aware: Some giant food companies use the non-GMO label on their milk even if the cows are eating genetically-engineered grain. (23)

 

So in response, many smaller non-GMO dairy product companies (including protein powder makers) have taken to tooting their own non-GMO horn in their product marketing material, bragging up their non-GMO status while disclosing their clean sourcing practices.

I’m OK with their pride of ownership; it helps me make a more informed purchasing decision.

 

protein powder jug red - heydayDo icon

 

Best protein powders without sucralose

OK, time to get to the top 5 protein powders.

Before we do, here again is the list of what all of them do not have:

  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No “natural flavors”
  • No other artificial/synthetic ingredients
  • No proprietary blends
  • No fillers
  • No sugar
  • No soy
  • No hormones
  • Non-GMO

(You can click on the product name if you want to check it out on its Amazon product page.)

 

1. TGS – All Natural 100% Whey Protein

TGS All Natural 100% Whey Protein Powder - heydayDo image copy

Features:

*25g protein per serving, 5.5g BCAAs

*4.7 ⭐ – 2,100+ reviews on Amazon

*2 ingredients: whey & sunflower lecithin (for mix-ability)

*American cows, made in USA

*Un-denatured filtration process

*Gluten free

See reviews & current price on Amazon

TGS Protein Powder without Sucralose - heydayDo - in article image1

 

 

2. Pure Label Nutrition – Grass Fed Whey Protein

Pure Label Nutrition Whey Protein Concentrate - heydayDo image copy

Features:

*24g protein per serving

*4.6 ⭐ – 1,400+ reviews on Amazon

*1 ingredient: whey

*Premium American dairy cows, made in USA

*Gluten free

See reviews & current price on Amazon

Pure Label Nutrition Protein Powder without Sucralose - heydayDo - in article image2

 

 

3. Opportuniteas Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate

Opportuniteas Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder Isolate - heydayDo image copy

Features:

*29.7g protein per serving

*4.5 ⭐ – 1,200+ reviews on Amazon

*Only 2 ingredients: whey & sunflower lecithin (to improve mix-ability)

*Cold-processed

*American cows, made in USA

*Gluten free

See reviews & current price on Amazon

Opportuniteas protein label - heydayDo - in article image3

 

 

4. Muscle Feast – Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate

Muscle Feast Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate - heydayDo image copy

Features:

*#1 ranked protein powder for quality by Labdoor**

*4.6 ⭐ – 900+ reviews on Amazon

*20.5 g protein per serving, 4.5g BCAAs

*Excellent amino acid profile

*Kosher certified

*Gluten free

*German cows, made in USA

(** – Labdoor is an independent 3rd party supplement testing company.)

See reviews & current price on Amazon

Muscle Feast Protein Powder without Sucralose - heydayDo - in article image4

 

 

5. Levels Nutrition – Grass Fed Whey Protein

Levels 100% Grass Fed Whey Protein Unflavored - heydayDo image copy

Features:

*24g protein per serving, 5.4g of BCAAs

*4.5 ⭐ – 3,000+ reviews on Amazon

*3rd party tested for heavy metals

*American cows, made in USA

*Un-denatured, cold-processed

*Gluten free

See reviews & current price on Amazon

Levels Nutrition Protein Powder without Sucralose - heydayDo - in article image5

 

 

 

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Wrapping Up

In my search for clean protein products, I researched two other product categories and wrote about them here on heydayDo in case you’re interested:

7 Best BCAAs Without Sucralose or Artificial Sweeteners

Top 20 Protein Bars Without Artificial Sweeteners

 

I hope that this article on protein powder without artificial sweetener is useful to you, and that the info on the supplement & dairy industries’ production practices is helpful too.

I wish you well on your fitness journey; let’s go.

– greg

October 2020

 

« Fitness Supplements directory


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About Me

heydayDo author Greg Simon
Hi I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. Surfer. Organic food & wine grower. Guitarist & music producer. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far).

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About heydayDo

heydayDo is my “fitness after 50” website that’s about embracing the physically active lifestyle as we get older.
 
It’s an information-sharing, personal opinion blog of mine.
 
(So if you’re looking for medical advice, hit up your doctor or health professional for that. I’m just shootin’ the breeze here…) 
 
heydayDo began as a daily journal I kept as I recovered from the latest of many heart operations I’ve had to deal with since birth. 
 
I have a deep interest in learning about nutrition & fitness, and applying it to improve my quality of life.
 
I believe this knowledge can help me be the healthiest & strongest version of me as I can, even in the face of inborn heart disease.
heydayDo author Greg Simon at 60 (Jan 2020) original

The 60-year-old version of me, January 2020

So when I get curious about something, I’ll dig into whatever sports science & medical facts there are on the topic to learn what’s real & what’s hype.
 
Here on heydayDo I share what I’ve learned from my fitness, health, & nutrition research with whoever drops by.