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How do I know if a protein powder is free of banned substances?

To ensure that a protein powder is free of banned substances, particularly if you are an athlete subject to doping control, it is essential to look for products that have been tested and certified by reputable third-party organizations. These certifications provide an added layer of assurance that the product does not contain any substances that are banned in sports.

Here are some of the most recognized certifications to look for:

  • Informed-Sport and Informed-Choice: Products certified by Informed-Sport are tested for banned substances by LGC's world-class sports anti-doping lab. Informed-Choice serves as a quality assurance program for sports nutrition products, suppliers to the sports nutrition industry, and supplement manufacturing facilities. The certification ensures that products are regularly tested for substances considered prohibited in sport1.
  • NSF Certified for Sport: The NSF Certified for Sport® program helps athletes, coaches, and trainers make more informed decisions when choosing sports supplements. Products that carry this certification are tested to ensure they do not contain any of approximately 270+ substances banned by major athletic organizations. The program also confirms that the contents of the supplement actually match what is printed on the label and that there are no unsafe levels of contaminants2.
  • Banned Substance Control Group (BSCG) Certified Drug Free®: This certification provides protection against drugs on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List as well as other prescription, over-the-counter, and illicit drugs not banned in sport. It is another robust option for ensuring the purity of dietary supplements3.

When selecting a protein powder, check the packaging for any of these certifications. Most certified products will prominently display the certification mark on their label. Additionally, visiting the official websites of these organizations allows you to search for the product and verify its certification status. It's also a good practice to buy supplements directly from reputable brands or authorized retailers to avoid counterfeit products that might not adhere to the same standards4.


  1. Informed-Sport, Official Website.
  2. NSF International, Certified for Sport.
  3. Banned Substance Control Group, Official Website.
  4. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). Tips for Dietary Supplement Users.
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