There are so many high-protein desserts on the market. They are everywhere. If you don’t believe me, take a trip down the health food aisle at your local grocery store. These high-protein desserts are created for two purposes: Provide your body with the protein it needs and satisfy your sugar cravings. 

Your body needs a high protein intake to perform a wide range of functions from growing and repairing its own tissues to supplying your body with energy. In fact, your body is quite literally made up of protein. However, your body often craves sugar. That’s why these high-protein desserts that are high in this essential nutrient seem like such a good idea. 

Before you stock up on these “guilt-free” high protein dessert options, I want you to know that these so-called “healthy” high protein desserts aren’t as healthy as they claim to be. I will tell you why you should avoid these high-protein desserts and how you can have a “guilt-free” sweet treat and still get optimal amounts of protein. Let’s discuss these so-called “healthy” high-protein desserts. 

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The So-Called “Healthy” High Protein Desserts

There are all types of desserts in your grocery store from ice cream to gluten-free cookies! You’ve probably noticed label markers such as “reduced sugar,” “reduced fat,” or “high amounts of protein” on deserts in the regular food aisles and frozen foods sections of your grocery store.  There are peanut butter cups, cookies, and bars loaded with protein and chocolate. Even ice cream manufacturers have gotten into the craze and released ice cream with impressive protein content.

While these high-protein desserts may sound like better-for-you options, most of the time they are not better options. For one, these high-protein desserts are typically highly manufactured. That means they are likely exposed to GMOs, toxic chemicals,  and preservatives. 

Another issue with these “healthy” high-protein desserts is that they are packed with “extras” that are not quite as good for you such as refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, whey protein, and other toxic and inflammatory ingredients. Let’s talk about these and other reasons you should avoid these “healthy” high-protein desserts. 

3 Reasons to Avoid Some Protein Desserts

It’s hard to balance your body’s protein needs and satisfy a sugar craving. However, when you grab that high-protein dessert, you can easily overlook all of the ingredients in it. Here are three reasons to avoid some high-protein desserts. 

3 Reasons To Avoid High Protein Desserts – Infographic – Amy Myers MD®3 Reasons To Avoid High Protein Desserts - Infographic - Amy Myers MD® Reasons To Avoid High Protein Desserts – Infographic – Amy Myers MD®

1. Added Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

Americans consume an average of 7,300 teaspoons of sugar every year, which is double that the recommended amount. That comes to an astounding 66 pounds of added sugar per person.1

You might be thinking, that doesn’t sound like a lot in a year. Yet, consider that the American Heart Association recommends that only 100 calories a day come from added sugar. That equals about 6 teaspoons (26 grams) a day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for most men. That equates to 2,190 and 3,285 teaspoons per year, respectively. 

Eating or drinking foods with high fructose corn syrup can lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Additionally, nearly all high fructose corn syrup is genetically modified. Often we think artificial sweeteners such as Sweet N’ Low™ or Equal™ are better for you. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Let’s talk about the types of added sugars you could find in your high protein desserts.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners mimic the sweetness of refined sugar with no or low calories. If the ingredient list on the high protein dessert you are considering includes saccharin (Sweet’N Low™), aspartame (Equal™), sucralose (Splenda™), neotame (Newtame™), or acesulfame potassium (Sweet One™) then they contain artificial sweetener. 

The issue with artificial sweeteners is that they are manufactured using chemicals. Artificial sweeteners are 180 to 20,000 times sweeter than sugar so they can possibly alter your taste buds to have a higher tolerance for sweetness and thus crave sweeter and sweeter foods and drinks over time.2 This can lead to weight gain, which is the opposite of what you intend to do when opting for a low calorie, high protein dessert. 

Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols (polyols) are naturally found in fruits and vegetables and are used in many candies and some high-protein desserts. Erythritol, xylitol, and maltitol are among the most popular of these sugar alcohols. Xylitol is extracted from corn or birch wood and has a sweetness very similar to sugar. One thing to note is that xylitol is toxic to dogs. If you have a furry friend, you want to make sure you don’t let them get into your snacks that contain xylitol. 

While sugar alcohols are a better alternative to artificial sweeteners and refined sugar, sugar alcohols do come with some health risks. When consumed in large amounts, sugar alcohols can cause digestive problems because your body cannot digest them. If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or a sensitivity to FODMAPs, you should avoid sugar alcohols completely.3

Refined Sugars

Refined sugar is an inflammatory food that can cause leaky gut syndrome and put you on the path to autoimmune disease.4

Consuming sugary foods leads to increased production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) (which cause oxidative stress), and spikes levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP). As you likely already know, inflammation is at the root of almost every chronic disease, including Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Sugar even has the power to alter bacterial communities in your gut, determining what types of bacteria and the amount of each that take up home there. This can affect your weight and cause a whole host of issues related to an imbalance of microflora.5

As mentioned above, sugar also directly fuels Candida overgrowth, which leads to its own host of related health issues.

Natural sweeteners include stevia, honey, coconut sugar, and maple syrup are your best options when looking to add a bit of sweet flavor to your high protein dessert. 

2. Inflammatory and Toxic Ingredients

Added sugars and artificial sweeteners aren’t the only ingredients you should avoid in some high-protein desserts. While you are checking the label for sugar content, you may also notice a few other toxic and inflammatory ingredients. 

Cookies and protein bars often contain gluten or whey protein, even the “gluten-free” ones may have been cross-contaminated when being manufactured. I’ll discuss the problem with whey protein later. Gluten and dairy are two of the biggest culprits behind the skyrocketing rates of chronic illness and autoimmune disease we are facing today, and removing them from your diet is the single best step you can take to restore your health.

Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in certain grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. It’s important to mention that the gluten we eat today is not the same as the gluten our ancestors ate. Dairy causes inflammation in a huge percentage of the population, either due to lactose intolerance or casein and whey sensitivities. Not to mention, it’s typically full of hormones and antibiotics.

Even if the label on your high protein dessert says it is free of gluten and dairy, many of them contain toxic ingredients such as:

  • Caramel color
  • Corn fiber
  • Eggs
  • Milk protein concentrate
  • Peanuts and other legumes
  • Processed vegetable oils (i.e. soybean oil)
  • soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Whey protein

These types of ingredients can cause even more harm than a high-protein diet can help!

3. Questionable Proteins

Protein molecules provide structure to many parts of your body including your muscles, skin, organs, and even play a role in your hormone function. Protein is a macronutrient, meaning your body needs large amounts of it for optimal health, as opposed to the comparatively small amount of micronutrients your body needs like vitamins and minerals. However not all protein is good for you. 

Just because the label on your high-protein dessert shows a large amount of protein per serving (more than 20 grams), it does not mean the protein is the kind your body needs. I recommend that everyone get their protein from animal sources. 

It’s so important to supplement our diets with protein powder if we cannot guarantee a daily intake of clean, grass-fed, or wild-caught protein. However, nut and legume-based protein powders (and even protein sources such as peanut butter) can be problematic because nuts and legumes can be inflammatory for some people. 

The Problem with Whey Protein

Casein and whey and casein, both of which are proteins found in cow’s dairy, are among the most common types of protein powders. Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. Dairy products such as whey protein powder are highly inflammatory for a large percentage of the population. They can cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea.

The other problem with dairy protein is that it is loaded with sugar, or lactose, and the proteins casein and whey. Your bodies cannot break down the lactose in milk if you do not have the lactase enzyme. Most people are lactose intolerant or have lactose sensitivity and do not know it. 

What’s more, casein has a very similar molecular structure to gluten, which is highly inflammatory for most people and can lead to autoimmune disease.  About 50% of people who are gluten intolerant are casein intolerant as well.

Healthy High Protein Dessert Options

So what type of protein is good for you? The richest protein sources include animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. Another source of high protein are vegetables. Making sure that your high-protein dessert’s source is one that is good for your body is essential.

You can have a delicious dessert that is also truly healthy. The key is to avoid all the artificial sweeteners, inflammatory and toxic ingredients and questionable proteins that I mentioned. 

I went five years without using a protein powder because I couldn’t find one that met my dietary needs. I finally decided enough was enough and formulated The Myers Way® Paleo Protein powders! This Paleo Protein is one of the only truly clean protein powders on the market sourced from grass-fed cattle. And I have some exciting news! To kickstart the holiday season, I have re-released my seasonal Peppermint Mocha Paleo Protein! I’m going to tell you about a couple of ways to enjoy a healthy high protein dessert this holiday season with this flavor and any of the 9 others we carry in my store.  

Create Dessert at Home

The best way to have a high-protein dessert is to create it yourself at home. There are a number of delicious high-protein dessert recipes that are tasty and full of high-quality protein. 

I’m sure you’re asking yourself – how do I make it myself yet also save time? My protein powders serve as an easy base for many great high-protein desserts that taste delicious and are beneficial for your body. One of my favorites include Glazed Peppermint Mocha Cookies, made with Peppermint Mocha Paleo Protein, Pumpkin Pie Coconut Parfaits, or Strawberry Muffins

Make a Delicious Smoothie

Smoothies aren’t just for breakfast! They are also a great option for a high-protein dessert. If you include ice and the right creamy ingredients it can taste just like ice cream! I love making smoothies because not only are they a nutritious addition to your diet, but you can also customize them however you like! I often enjoy a simple smoothie with ice, coconut milk, and my delicious Cinnamon Roll Paleo Protein

If you’re looking for a delicious holiday treat, this Peppermint Hot Cocoa is sure to warm you up as the weather turns colder. It has the decadence of cocoa, the coolness of peppermint, and optimal amounts of protein when made with Peppermint Mocha Paleo Protein.

Unlike many of the packaged protein desserts you’ll find, my custom-formulated Peppermint Mocha Paleo Protein is gluten, dairy, and sugar-free and sourced from non-GMO, hormone- and antibiotic-free, grass-fed beef. It’s truly a high-quality protein perfect for high-protein desserts. In fact, it has 21 grams of protein in every serving! And, it’s autoimmune-friendly, keto-friendly, and Paleo-approved.

With so many high-protein desserts out there, it’s difficult to find one without refined sugar, sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, whey, and toxic and inflammatory ingredients. Making one on your own high-protein dessert using my Paleo Protein powders is the perfect way to enjoy a sweet treat and avoid those ingredients that can sneak into your sweet treat.