In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the artificial sweetener stevia, deeming as safe to use as a zero-calorie sweetener for food and beverages, according to the Mayo Clinic. This sweetener is, as of 2010, used in beverages such as soda, protein drinks and teas. It is also used in energy bars, and at home as a table sweetener. There are four types of protein drinks commonly available: whey, egg, soy and rice. Some drinks can have a mixture of two types, the Truestar Health website explains — egg and whey, for example, or rice and soy.
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Whey protein boosts the immune system, supplies the body with the optimum source of amino acids and helps muscles recover after workouts, Truestar Health reports. Soy protein is more suitable for vegans, and it lowers the risk of heart disease and helps to increase the nutritional value of foods. Egg protein, meanwhile, is fat-free and is the richest source of amino acids alanine, glycine, methine and arginine. Rice protein is also suitable for vegans, is hypoallergenic and has complete protein sources.
Stevia has a low glycemic effect on the body, making it safe to consume for those with diabetes. It is an all-natural herb and has zero calories and 0 grams of carbohydrates — facts that manufacturers of protein drinks containing stevia don't hesitate to point out.
Two products made from the stevia plant are commonly used in beverages and foods, the "Wall Street Journal" reports: Truvia and PureVia. Manufacturers of these products take the leaves of the stevia plant and extract a compound known as rebiana; it is further processed with other natural ingredients to form rebaudioside A, according to the PureVia For Health website.
As of 2010, a variety of available protein drinks are sweetened with stevia leaf extract. EnergyFirst's ProEnergy, for example, is made with whey isolate and contains stevia; the protein drink is good for dieting, and, according to the manufacturer promotes a stable blood sugar level and is ideal for diabetics. Another example drink, Jay Robb's Flavored Whey Protein, uses stevia and is made from grass-fed cows not treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone, the manufacturer notes on its website. According to the Bodybuilding website, Optimum Nutrition makes a 100-percent natural whey protein drink mix suitable for low-calorie, low-carb diets; it contains 70 milligrams of stevia leaf extract.
Stevia is safe in moderation, though the Mayo Clinic cautions that those who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid using it until further research is conducted. Those who are taking diabetic or blood pressure medication should use stevia with caution; they may risk developing hypoglycemia by combining it with drugs used to treat those conditions. Protein drinks are an ample healthy source of protein, with most containing more than 20 grams of protein per serving. Because stevia is a natural, low-calorie sweetener, protein drinks containing stevia can be a healthy diet addition. Consult your doctor before using protein drinks to supplement your diet.