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In this article we take a look at common ingredients that are used as fillers in protein powders. We show you how to spot them on the label and why they shouldn’t be in the product. After reading this you will understand why ViGO Protein is a great product. 

A good protein powder is one that provides as much protein as the product can deliver.

That is why we offer ViGO Elements Protein which is a raw unflavoured protein powder. It is unmatched in purity and nutritional content.

However, we do understand that people also like their protein to be great-tasting. Therefore, we took our NutriWhey 800I raw material and added a little bit of flavours, natural colours and a sweetener to it (read more about the formulation here).

Voila, ladies and gentlemen, ViGO Protein! Simple design-maximum potency!

Some Protein Supplements are out there to dupe you!

Unfortunately, not all proteins are formulated with the same focus on active ingredients as ViGO Protein.

Many proteins are bulked up with several ingredients in an attempt to boost profitability or to gain a competitive edge on pricing.

This is especially true for proteins sold as “Hardcore Proteins” or “Amino Proteins” or even “Premium Wheys” that are sold at ridiculously low prices (e.g. in the low R200s).

How to spot the fillers?

You’d think that companies using fillers wouldn’t list them but actually they do! That’s because these fillers are nutritional ingredients. They can be of benefit in other contexts but they are most certainly out of place in a product that’s labelled as a “Pure Whey Protein”. The moment one adds these ingredients the product isn’t a pure whey. 

Simply look in the ingredient list and look for the ingredients below:

  • Added amino acids

The amino acids Glycine and Taurine are the most common added amino acids that are added to proteins.

The practice of adding amino acids to protein products is called Amino Spiking. That’s one of the most deceptive (yet clever) things to ever happen in the supplement industry!

What happens is that supplement brands cut down on the complete protein (e.g. whey) and replace it with these amino acids.

Here’s how it works:

  • Both complete proteins (like whey) and amino acids contain Nitrogen.
  • When the protein content of a food is measured in the lab it is its Nitrogen content that’s actually being measured.
  • The routine test cannot distinguish between Nitrogen from complete proteins and Nitrogen from added amino acids. 
  • Amino acids are generally a lot cheaper than complete proteins, especially the ones commonly used, like Taurine and Glycine.  
  • Addition of amino acids allow unscrupulous companies to cut down on product cost and still keeping their “protein” content high. 

The truth is that in each “20g protein” shake you may be getting only 15g of complete proteins, with the rest of the “protein” being from added amino acids. 

No big deal, because proteins contain amino acids anyway, right? Wrong! The amino acids used are either non-essential (e.g. Glycine) or aren’t used to make body proteins (e.g. Taurine). Even if the “more beneficial” amino acids like Arginine and BCAAs are added, it is still a bad practice because you aren’t getting a 100% whey product and thus not benefiting from a complete protein. 

This practice, or must we rather say malpractice, of Amino Acid Spiking resembles the 2008 Chinese Milk Scandal where Melamine (a compound that resembles protein) was added to adulterated milk to give the impression of an intact protein content.

Of course, amino acid spiking won’t kill you but it is no less of a scam than the Melamine scandal. The sad part is that many leading brands have done it. Just do a quick google search (Amino acid spiking lawsuits) and see some big names that were served lawsuits!

  • Creatine

The use of Creatine in a protein is an example of Amino Spiking. This is because creatine contains Nitrogen (and a lot of it). A “creatine-boosted protein” is a very attractive marketing proposition for obvious reasons: creatine is a proven compound for exercise performance. 

However, what happens is that your “20g protein” might actually contain only 15g protein from complete protein and the remaining 5g “protein” is from Creatine. Not cool!

What would be cool is if the brand reassures you that the product provides 20g protein from complete proteins to which Creatine has been added. Must they most certainly won’t. Again, not cool!

  • Carb sources (e.g. Maltodextrin and milk solids)

The use of carbs are in a protein powder is another cost-cutting strategy. There is a rationale for adding carbs to protein to make a meal replacement powder or a recovery shake. However, carbs are out of place in a product that’s marketed to you as a “100% whey”, “pure whey” or “only whey”.

The carbs you need to look out for are Maltodextrin, whey powder and milk solids. Milk solids are typically skimmed milk powder, which is high in carbs (lactose).

Proteins that contain added carbs usually contain in the vicinity of 60-65% protein (60-65g protein per 100g powder), compared to the average 75% protein you’d find in premium products like ViGO Protein.

The take-home lesson: choose better, choose Excellence in Nutrition, choose ViGO Protein.

Thanks for reading this article up to this point. If you have any question, I would love to hear from you on

God bless!


Founder and Nutritional Scientist.

An infographic about fillers in protein powders and why vigo doesn't contain them


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2 thoughts on “Spotting fillers in Protein Powders [With Infographic]

  1. Reply
    Mike - May 15, 2020

    Wondering why you added malto dextrin to the other protein shakes in your line if they are fillers?

    1. Reply
      siteadmin - May 16, 2020

      Hi Mike. Thanks for your comment and for reading the article.
      By protein shakes we mean “Pure Protein” supplements which are supposed to have NO added carbs.
      The other “protein shakes” in our range that you are referring to are Lean-Rx and REGO. In these products there is a rationale for adding carbs as they serve the purpose of energy provision (Lean-Rx) and glycogen replacement (REGO).
      I hope the above helps clarify!

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