Ask Larry:

Your question: Larry, I just saw that “sprouted” brown rice protein powder is available now. Why would I choose that over the egg white and pea protein that I use now?

Larry’s Response: Protein supplements can be useful – especially for athletes or for people who don’t eat meat/fish/poultry. However, all plant based proteins will be deficient in many of the important essential amino acids that are found only in FLESH. Sprouted plants are healthy as they offer nutrition without the added starch and sugar that a full grown plant delivers. There is some carbohydrate in sprouts, but the overall benefits of sprouts outweigh the grains themselves.

The egg proteins are good because they contain many of the essential amino acids – again, not all of them. Also, many people are sensitive to eggs and there is no way to remove that possibility.

I conclude there is no basic advantage of brown rice over pea protein (or any of the other plant sources – as long as the source is NOT soy) – except for maybe the taste. I’ve tried pea protein in the past and it makes the back of my throat burn. It isn’t too bad when the powder is mixed with fresh fruit and coconut milk. The best non-meat protein would be a combination of various protein sources, including brown rice.

When all is said, though, none of the protein powders can possibly deliver a healthy combination of amino acids. They’re better than nothing but that doesn’t make them good. This is the whole issue with vegan dieting and it is made worse by people who insist that humans developed from eating sprouts and shoots.

We have always been omnivores – eating whatever we could get. Mixing it up is necessary. Nobody could survive eating only beans, or eggs, or soy, or even red meat or fish. We have developed to consume all of it.

Back to the idea of SUPPLEMENT. I stand behind my naive idea that supplements are vitamins, minerals, and amino acids we need but don’t get enough of in our food. In this view, protein supplements can be useful, but can’t substitute for food (though the supplement is necessary because the food sucks).

Consuming what we don’t need – or what we need but in excess – is as foolish as taking drugs. There is no legitimate need to take specific amino acids (carnitine) or natural substances (bitter orange, raspberry ketones) to force the body to work differently than it was designed to do.

In the end, I don’t oppose protein powders (except soy) but they are all deficient is some amino acids. My focus would be how I can meet my need for protein in a complete way – and in a product I could tolerate (makes no sense to say something is great if I won’t eat it because I don’t like it).

I am, though, reluctant to recommend any particular protein supplement and I even have some reservations about suggesting individual amino acids (tryptophan is one that is still spooky).

If I was supplementing with a protein shake I’d look for a combination of some plant protein and egg protein. And, I would not stop eating meat.