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5 Best Protein Powder Without Artificial Sweeteners In 2023
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Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate
- High protein content
- Delicious flavor
- Third-party lab used for analysis with online COAs
Naked Nutrition Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder
- Made with one ingredient
- Free of artificial ingredients
- Tests for banned substances
15% Off Coupon: HEALTHCANAL
Naked Nutrition Pea Protein Powder
- Made with organic pea protein
- Third-party tested
15% Off Coupon: HEALTHCANAL
Protein is arguably the most important macronutrient for building, maintaining, and recovering lean muscle tissue. While getting protein from real food sources such as lean meat, beans, nuts, and legumes is ideal, protein shakes can make hitting your daily protein needs easier.
With more studies that suggest that artificial sweeteners may not be as harmless as we once thought, many brands have opted to remove artificial sweeteners from their products.
Though hundreds of protein powders on the market claim to be free of artificial sweeteners and additives, all are not created equally.
In this article, we’ve rounded up our top picks for the best protein powders without artificial sweeteners to help you narrow down your choices.
5 Best Protein Powders Without Artificial Sweeteners on the Market in (September. 2023)
- Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate – Best Quality
- Naked Nutrition Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder – Editor’s Choice
- Naked Nutrition Pea Protein Powder – Best Vegan Protein Powder
- Garden of Life Organic Whey Protein Vanilla – Best For Digestion
- Levels Grass-Fed Whey Protein – Best Budget Pick
5 Best Protein Powders Without Artificial Sweeteners In 2023
Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate – Milk Chocolate
Transparent Labs is a brand known for being transparent about the ingredients in its products. Their Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is one of the cleanest protein supplements on the market.
- Free of artificial flavorings, colorings, and preservatives
- Made with natural sugar alternatives
- Company provides COAs online from a third-party lab to verify the presence of heavy metals, molds, yeasts, and microbial contamination
- It contains unspecified natural flavors
Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is sourced from naturally fed, hormone-free cows and made without artificial sweeteners, colors, dyes, or additives.
If you’re not a fan of chocolate, other sugar-free protein powder options, including Cinnamon French Toast, Strawberry, and French Vanilla, are offered.
Whey protein isolate undergoes more processing than whey concentrate, often resulting in higher protein content with fewer carbs, lactose, and fat. With 28 grams of easily digestible protein per 32-gram scoop, this product has one of the highest protein-by-weight ratios in the industry.
All products sold by Transparent Labs are tested by a third party and come with a Certificate of Analysis (COA), attesting to its laboratory analysis for heavy metals, molds, and microbial contaminants such as Salmonella and E.Coli.
Some COAs show a presence of lead above the cut-off point of .001 parts per million (.053ppm). Any level of lead may be considered dangerous. Cadmium and mercury were also above the cut-off points.
A 30-serving container costs $59.99, which is around $2.00 per serving. Recurring orders are eligible for a 15% discount and free shipping. Unopened products can be returned for a full refund within 30 days.
When it comes to simplicity, Naked Nutrition has you covered. Their Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder is made with one simple ingredient — whey protein concentrate.
- Free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, and colors
- Free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- Tests for banned substances through the Informed Choice Program
- Third-party lab tested
- Some users complain of unpleasant flavor
Naked Nutrition Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder is sourced from grass-fed cows raised on California dairy farms. This whey protein powder is made without artificial sweeteners or stevia, which some people avoid because they say it leaves a bitter aftertaste in their mouth.
Additionally, Naked Nutrition Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder is unflavored, so it easily mixes in your favorite beverage or food for a high-protein treat.
Each two-scoop serving delivers 25 grams of protein and 5.9 grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Studies suggest supplementation with BCAAs may reduce muscle damage following endurance exercise and improve exercise performance.
Though manufacturer-sponsored heavy metal test results are publicly available online, full lab reports are unavailable to customers.
Competitive athletes especially can benefit from Naked Whey Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder benefit because it bears the Informed-Choice logo. This means each batch is tested every month for impurities and banned substances.
Each 5-pound container costs $94.99 and contains 76 servings. One serving costs around $1.24.
Naked Nutrition Pea Protein Powder
Naked Nutrition Pea Protein is a great option for those searching for a simple, plant-based protein powder with no artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors.
- One simple ingredient
- Part of the Informed Choice Program and free of banned substances
- Manufacturer tested for heavy metals
- Low in methionine, an essential amino acid so cannot function as a complete protein source
Naked Nutrition Pea Powder is made with one simple ingredient — yellow peas. This vegan-friendly protein powder is dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free. It is also free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, and colors.
Naked Nutrition uses a chemical-free mechanical water-extraction process to deliver a pea protein powder with a superior amino acid profile and 27 grams of protein per two-scoop serving. It carries the Informed Choice seal indicating it is free of banned substances and safe for athletes to use.
Despite its amino acid profile, it is not considered a functional complete protein because of its low methionine content. Methionine is one of the nine essential amino acids needed to make a complete protein. For a more diverse, complete protein blend, Naked Nutrition recommends pairing this powder with rice protein powder, which is high in methionine.
One serving also provides 16% of the DV for iron. This mineral is vital for many functions in the body, including energy production, oxygen transportation, and body temperature regulation.
Its COA reveals the presence of heavy metals, which is not unusual for a vegan-based protein powder that tends to be higher in heavy metals than its non-vegan counterparts. No cut-off point was given on the COA.
Each 5-pound container costs $57.99 and contains 76 servings. Each serving will cost you around $0.76.
Garden of Life Organic Whey Grass-Fed Protein Vanilla
If you are looking for a high-quality protein powder with probiotics to support digestion, Garden of Life Organic Whey Protein Vanilla is a great option.
- Includes probiotics
- USDA Certified Organic
- Third-party tested
- Contains 2 grams of fiber
- American Humane Certified
- Contains the artificial sugar erythritol
Garden of Life’s Lightly Sweetened Organic Whey Protein is made with whey protein concentrate sourced from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows. It’s also soy-free, Certified USDA Organic, and Non-GMO Project Verified.
Flavored with organic vanilla, natural stevia, and sugar-alcohol-based erythritol, Garden of Life Lightly Sweetened Organic Whey Protein is not completely free of artificial flavors, sweeteners, and chemicals. It also contains tapioca fiber, a type of dietary fiber and sweetener made from tapioca starch.
The erythritol found in food products is a man-made sugar alcohol that is often used as a low-calorie sweetener.
However, small amounts of natural erythritol are present in real foods, which is sometimes confusing to consumers as they think erythritol is a natural sweetener.
While some sugar alcohols tend to cause digestive issues, it appears that erythritol consumption is less likely to cause digestive changes compared to other types of sugar alcohols.
A two-scoop serving provides 21 grams of protein, 4.7 grams of BCAAS, and 2 grams of fiber. It also contains 2 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of probiotics to support healthy digestion.
All products sold by Garden of Life are tested by a third party to ensure quality and purity. Heavy metals testing reports are available online.
One downside of this product is that it’s more expensive than others we’ve reviewed. One 12-serving tub costs $32.79, which equals around $2.73 per serving.
Levels Grass-Fed Whey Protein
If you’re looking for purity without sacrificing flavor, Levels Pure Chocolate Grass-Fed Whey Protein is a solid choice.
- Made in the U.S.A
- Free of artificial colors, added sugar, and fillers
- 8% DV for saturated fat in one serving
- Sweetened with the natural sweeteners stevia and monk fruit
- Lacks published third-party test results
As one of the best-tasting options on our list, Levels Pure Chocolate Grass-Fed Whey Protein powder is free of artificial flavors, colors, added sugar, and fillers. It’s flavored with cold-pressed cacao and lightly sweetened with monk fruit and stevia leaf extract.
Although stevia may have an impact on the gut microbiome, it has the least adverse effect of all four non-nutritive sweeteners studied and no measurable insulin blunting effect.
While there is a link at the bottom of their website to view heavy metals testing results, the link is not valid. Because there is no verification, we cannot substantiate their claim.
Levels Pure Chocolate Grass-Fed Whey Protein is made in the United States and produced using current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).
Each one-scoop serving delivers 24 grams of whey protein concentrate and 5.4 grams of BCAAs. This is one of the most affordable supplements on our list. A five-pound container of 71 servings costs $69.95, or about $0.99 per serving.
Levels also has a generous return policy. If you aren’t satisfied with your product within 15 days, they will issue you a store credit to try something new.
What Are Artificial Sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic (man-made) sugar substitutes. They are much sweeter than sugar yet provide virtually zero calories, making them popular among those who want to lose weight.
Many healthcare professionals also recommend artificial sweeteners instead of table sugar to individuals with diabetes because of a past history of providing more stable blood sugars.
Examples of artificial sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) include:
- Saccharin (Sweet’N Low)
- Aspartame (Equal)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)
Despite artificial sweeteners being recognized as safe and approved for use by the FDA, research remains conflicting regarding their long-term effects on human health with more recent studies suggesting adverse effects from many artificial sweeteners on the gut microbiome.
One such 2022 study noted that sucralose and saccharin might alter glycemic response in individuals by adversely affecting the gut microbiome most extensively, while aspartame and stevia affected the microbiome, but to a lesser extent than the four non-nutritive sweeteners studied.
Another 2022 observational study found that individuals who consumed high amounts of artificial sweeteners in amounts approximating 78 milligrams (mg) per day are at a greater risk for heart disease than those who didn’t consume the sweeteners.
In particular, the artificial sweetener aspartame was linked to a 17% increased risk of stroke, and acesulfame potassium and sucralose were associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Of note, this is an observational study, which can only establish that associations exist. At this time, researchers cannot prove a causal link between artificial sweeteners and cardiovascular disease.
Healthy Natural Sweeteners Used In Protein Powders
Most of the products we’ve reviewed in this article are sweetened with stevia or monk fruit. One product is sweetened with naturally occurring erythritol that is in man-made form when added to products, a slightly confusing fact.
Stevia sweeteners are derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana, a South American Shrub. While it is about 300 times sweeter than table sugar, stevia is classified as a zero-calorie sweetener because the calories per serving are so low.
According to studies, stevia does not impact blood glucose and insulin levels. It is considered a healthful alternative to sucralose in individuals with diabetes. Further study is needed to determine its level of impact on the gut microbiome of humans.
Monk fruit is high in antioxidants called mogrosides, which make it 300 times sweeter than table sugar. While additional research is needed, some evidence suggests that the mogrosides in monk fruit may help protect against inflammation, diabetes, tumors, and oxidative stress.
How We Decided Our Picks
We work hard to be fully transparent about all products that we review. Because there are so many different protein powders on the market, we carefully scan through multiple products to present you with several different options based on your budget, lifestyle, and taste preferences.
Here is what we looked for when choosing the products.
The ingredients in protein powders often vary. While some protein powders contain natural sweeteners, such as stevia or monk fruit, others contain artificial sweeteners, corn syrups, or table sugar.
For the purpose of this article, we chose whey protein without sucralose, saccharin, aspartame, and other controversial artificial sweeteners.
To accommodate a variety of lifestyles, we included vegan and animal-based whey protein powders. All whey protein in the products we’ve ranked has been sourced from grass-fed cows.
Therefore, we included flavored protein powders as well as unflavored ones that were free of stevia.
Like all supplements, the FDA does not regulate whey protein powder for safety or effectiveness. This makes lab testing important to verify the purity. Third-party testing is preferable to in-house testing due to its objectivity.
Lab testing also assures the product is not contaminated with other ingredients like microbial contamination, molds, heavy metals, and such.
Priority has been given to products that have undergone extensive testing. Additionally, most products we’ve reviewed have lab results publicly available online to confirm their ingredients and purity, although it was noted that most of these lab reports were done in-house and not assigned to third-party labs, which offer a more objective testing platform.
It’s important to note that third-party certifications are expensive. Products that lack third-party testing are not always bad; consequently, heavy metal contamination in the products was a common finding in these products and many others on the market.
What customers say about a company speaks volumes. When choosing a product, it’s always important to check to see if the majority of customers are happy with the product and customer service offered by the company.
While quality is important, so is affordability. We aim to include high-quality protein powders at a range of prices to fit most budgets. Overpriced products and cheaper, low-quality supplements were filtered out during the selection process.
Whey protein powders are a great way to fill protein gaps in your diet to hit your daily protein goals. While there are many protein powders on the market, many contain artificial sweeteners and other unnecessary additives.
Artificial sweeteners are considered safe by the FDA and are unlikely to cause harm in small to moderate amounts. Still, most experts agree that natural sweeteners, such as stevia and monk fruit extract, are better options.
When choosing protein shakes without artificial sweeteners, it’s important to carefully read the product label and opt for a reputable company that utilizes lab testing, preferably third-party, to ensure quality and purity.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best whey protein powder without artificial sweeteners is Naked Nutrition Grass-Fed Whey Powder, which contains one simple ingredient — whey protein powder.
No. Although many protein supplements use artificial ingredients and sweeteners, there are several that use natural sweeteners.
Naked Nutrition Grass-Fed Whey Powder, Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate, Naked Nutrition Pea Protein, and the others we’ve discussed are completely free of sucralose.
While many whey protein supplements use aspartame and other artificial sweeteners to enhance their flavor, pure whey protein does not contain aspartame.
No. A 100% pure protein powder does not have artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors. However, many companies choose to add regular sugar or artificial sweeteners to enhance the taste of their protein powder.
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Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here
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