It's only natural, when selecting a plant-based protein powder that you want to make sure you're getting the absolute best.
So, it's understandable that you'd have some questions about where the protein came from, the conditions under which it was grown and the way it was processed.
With both plant-based and animal-based proteins, one of the most common concerns has to do with something called denaturing. What does that mean? And are plant-based protein powders denatured?
What Is Denatured Protein?
Made up of several amino acids chain together, proteins are fairly complex structures. In fact, several proteins may contain the exact same amino acids and yet have different shapes and therefore serve completely different purposes.
Anything that changes the structure of that protein, then, can alter its function. This is denaturing. Unfortunately, lots of things can denature proteins including heat, acids and even light.
Is All Denaturing Bad?
In fact, proteins are even denatured when they're exposed to the acids in your stomach. Why does that matter? Because it proves an interesting point: Just because a protein is denatured, that does not make it useless.
The degree to which it's denatured is incredibly important. A slightly denatured protein can even be easier for your body to use. On the other hand, a protein can be completely denatured and be rendered completely useless.
When considering a specific protein, then, it's important to consider the type of processing that it goes through and the amount of denaturing it likely experienced.
What About Plant-Based Protein Powder?
Logically, certain protein sources must be heated and therefore slightly denatured. But, what about plant-based protein powders? There's no need for these products to be heated at high temperatures or exposed to harsh processing which could destroy the protein's shape.
Still, many plant-based protein powders are treated with heat, acid and other processes to achieve the desired results. This means that some plant-based protein powders are denatured to a greater degree than others.
So, how can you pick the best one? Look for a plant-based protein powder that was grown organically, limiting the need for other processes later on. You'll also want to see that the company uses a gentle extraction process that does as little damage as possible to the proteins.
Naked Nutrition, for example, uses only organic, high-quality crops and does as little to them as possible.