Are flavoured protein supplements suitable for a Paleo diet?

What is a Paleo diet?

In its purest form, the paleo diet allows you to eat only those foods that humans ate when they first roamed the planet millions of years ago. The intention here is to focus on whole foods such as fruit, vegetables and lean sources of protein that have experienced minimal processing before reaching your plate. Heavy processing methods are associated with a reduction in nutritional content while boosting the levels of refined seed oils high in inflammatory fats, sodium and added sugars.

Technically, no protein supplement is strictly Paleo, whether it is flavoured or unflavoured, using natural or artificial flavouring. Protein supplements contain simply the amino-acid containing proteins that have been isolated or concentrated from the original source.

How is Clean Lean Protein Paleo-Friendly?

Protein powders certainly weren’t consumed by our prehistoric hunter-gatherer ancestors but most “Paleos” we meet consume protein supplements; ALL of which, unless they are unflavoured, use either natural or synthetic flavours. The Paleo diet aims to avoid chemicals and reduce consumption of artificial additives, sweeteners, gums, preservatives, industrial seed oils and food containing ‘anti-nutrients’ not present in high amounts in a hunter-gatherer diet. Clean Lean Protein ticks all the boxes, so for Paleos that do consume protein powder, Nuzest Clean Lean Protein is a great option.

How do we get our natural flavours?

We do not use artificial flavours—they’re 100% natural. Our vanilla is made from vanilla bean but like ALL flavours the vanilla extract is liquid, which means it needs to be dried onto a trivial amount of a  starch “carrier” made from something like rice or potato. To achieve a “flavour” (as in taste) from whole food powder alone would require, in most cases, significant quantities of that fruit or plant. While it could be argued that would be a more nutrient-dense solution, the protein content would be severely compromised.

Therefore, a highly concentrated extract is used to provide an intensity of flavour that requires only a fraction of the amount of whole-food to be used. Synthetic flavours do not use natural extracts; they are instead made in a laboratory to simulate flavours from natural products or invent new ones. The amount of natural flavour in Clean Lean Protein is very small, and the advice from our board of formulators is that all our products are suitable for a Paleo diet. There is however considerable debate within the Paleo community on what exactly ‘Paleo’ is, and so, what you choose to use will depend on your interpretation of Paleo.

Isn’t Clean Lean Protein made from peas/legumes?

One of the main reasons Paleos do not eat legumes is because of their anti-nutritional factors such as lectins and phytic acid. The advantage with our pea protein isolate is that lectins are completely removed in our water isolation process and the remaining phytic acid is negligible. As there is no need to add gums or processing aids, and with nothing added except natural flavour and katemfe fruit extract, the result is a highly digestible protein supplement which is easy on the stomach and easily absorbed. That’s why so many sportspeople flavour our brand and why so many people that experience discomfort with other proteins, especially whey, are regular, loyal customers. This may not fit with every Paleo and their own beliefs, but Nuzest Clean Lean Protein does nothing to interfere with the desired physical results or benefits of a Paleo diet; the main purpose for following it.

NB: there are a very small number of people who cannot consume anything flavoured, even with natural flavours. They have severe digestive issues and a very low tolerance for anything that is not completely natural. We do have a few customers like that who only use our unflavoured (Just Natural) option.