Ingredients You Don't Want To See In Your Protein Powder

From athletes to gym enthusiasts, many people rely on protein powder to help them achieve their fitness goals. These concentrated powders allow you to ingest a large amount of protein at once and can be beneficial to people who need more of the nutrient in their diets. But not all protein powders are created equal. Some rely on additives to improve texture and flavor.

"In general, protein powder itself is very clean," Tod Cooperman, M.D., president and founder of, an independent testing lab for health products, told Livestrong. "It's all of the other stuff companies add to it where you run into trouble. Try to buy a protein powder with the shortest ingredient label you can find."

According to Livestrong, carrageenan is added to some protein powders to make them thicker and creamier. This ingredient is derived from seaweed and found in products like soy milk, ice cream, and sour cream. It can also cause issues with your gastrointestinal tract, including inflammation, ulcers, and tumors.

Artificial sweeteners should be avoided as well

Added sugars can spike your insulin levels and negatively affect your heart health. Many protein powders rely on these sweeteners to improve flavor. Some common sweeteners you can find in protein powder include sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, neotame, and acesulfame K (via Mindbodygreen).

Vegetable oils and fats are sometimes added to protein powder to make it richer and more flavorful. These can raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol. Fillers are another common ingredient you don't want to see. Including ingredients like coconut flour and psyllium fiber, these can bulk up the product but may cause digestive issues like constipation or bloating.

Some common protein powder ingredients aren't necessarily harmful but should be avoided by people with certain dietary requirements. Gluten, for example, is found in some powders and can cause gastrointestinal problems in people who are sensitive to gluten. Caseinate and whey protein concentrate are two protein sources that are derived from dairy, which can cause gastrointestinal issues in people who are sensitive to lactose.