Thickeners & Stabilisers – what to look out for
If you take a look at the ingredient list of your favourite protein powder you might find a few ingredients that you don’t recognize or are difficult to pronounce. These unfamiliar ingredients could be thickeners or stabilizers which have a functional role in powdered supplements. They could also be fillers which are additives to bulk up a serving size.
Most people consume supplements to help boost their exercise performance and speed up recovery. They don’t expect sneaky additives in their products which could cause digestive issues like stomach cramps and bloating or negate your hard-earned results.
Thickeners – the good and the bad
A thickening agent or thickener is an additive which increases the viscosity of a liquid without changing the taste of the mixed produce. There are different types of thickeners, also known as hydrocolloids, which are used in the food industry, this includes:
- Polysaccharides (fibre): starches, vegetable gums and pectin.
- Vegetable gums: cellulose, xanthan gum, guar gum and alginin.
It is important to note that, although the above thickeners are FDA-approved for human consumption, not all thickeners are built equally. This is particularly relevant for the starch-based thickeners which may even alter the nutritional value of your shake by increasing the carbohydrate content.
Research has been done on thickeners and has shown that although these additives have an important role in food, chemically-based, genetically modified thickeners or thickener blends may have side effects affecting cells in the lining of the gut causing “leakiness” which may result in the development of autoimmune diseases. More research is required to confirm this hypothesis.
More common unpleasant side effects associated with cheap thickeners or thickener blends include bloating, gastric distress, and stomach cramps as they can be tough to digest, especially if you are consuming them in high volumes.
Xanthan Gum is a thickener which you’ll find in METALAB Supplements. It is a natural, plant-based fibre which is derived from fermented corn and acts as a thickener and stabilizer to prevent separation of your shake once it’s mixed. A little bit goes a long way, and only a little bit of xanthan gum is needed to make the smoothest, creamiest shake. Xanthan gum is FDA-approved and suitable for both vegans and vegetarians.
We are proud of the fact that we do not sneak any cheap fillers or stabilizers into our products, and you can rest assured that what is on the label is in the product. Don’t let dodgy thickeners that you don’t even know you are consuming sabotage your hard-earned results in the (home) gym!