Protein powders have grown in popularity among a wide spectrum of people in recent years, from elite athletes to individuals who are too busy to have a complete meal. They believe that adding sports nutrition supplements to their diet is a safe and straightforward approach to gain muscle and recover faster. In addition, many of these products are labeled as “natural” or “organic,” and they promise fast, dramatic effects.
Are these supplements, however, genuinely safe? These powders typically include potentially dangerous compounds, and some are even loaded with poisons and metals, in addition to protein. How is that possible? The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, including protein powders, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act to ensure that they are safe and effective. Supplements are also not required to be tested to ensure that they contain the ingredients listed on the label. As a result, many dietary supplements marketed in large drugstore chains, natural food shops, and reputable internet shops may not contain what they claim to or include components not specified on the label, according to research.
What Does Protein Powder Contain?
Consumers should pay particular attention to the list of ingredients when evaluating and purchasing sports nutrition powders. Caffeine, creatine, and sweeteners are sometimes found in these powders, although they aren’t stated in the marketing. These chemicals can be especially dangerous when customers are ignorant of their presence.
For example, drinking many cups of coffee or tea throughout the day, as well as a caffeine-containing protein powder, may cause unpleasant side effects such as tremors, headaches, and sleeplessness. In addition, creatine, a popular sports supplement, increases the quantity of water in your muscle-cells, causing considerable weight gain as well as dehydration, stomach ache, and muscular cramps.
Creatine is especially risky for those who have renal or liver illness, and its safety in children and adolescents under the age of 18 has not been researched. Furthermore, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 25 to 36 grams per day, yet some protein powders include as much as 23 grams each scoop. Others include artificial sweeteners such as sucralose or aspartame, which can be dangerous in excessive doses. As a result, customers must be aware of exactly what is contained in their daily protein shakes and how it may influence their health.
Disadvantages of Whey Protein Shakes
When you’re not at the gym, what you do when you’re not at the gym is just as essential as what you do when you’re there. You may see slower increases if your diet is wrong. But, before you rush to the local supplement store for a boost, you should be aware of some of the pitfalls using supplements for bodybuilding. Below are the 15 disadvantages of drinking whey protein shakes you need to know.
1. Lack of Micronutrients
Protein supplements usually lack the vitamins and minerals that you would obtain if you satisfied your nutritional needs via eating. For example, if you ate steak, you’d receive a lot of iron, zinc, B12, potassium, selenium, niacin, and other nutrients. Unless supplemented, protein powder lacks this.
If it is fortified with nutrients, it raises a whole other discussion about whether taking supplements instead of food is a better way to meet your micronutrient goals, which is outside the scope of this article.
2. It Could Be Expensive
It’s understandable that purchasing protein powder in a store rather than online will cost more. Staffing and rent are two examples of store costs. It isn’t easy, but they can’t compete on pricing with their internet competitors. So if you purchase one that is much more expensive than the norm, it is no longer a cost-effective protein source.
3. There are No Additional Advantages to Eating Food
Even though supplement firms advertise the benefits of their own products, there is often no benefit to taking a supplement over meals if overall protein intake is appropriate and includes a diversity of protein sources. So, if you don’t want to eat protein powder for any reason, there’s no need to push yourself to.
4. They Do Provide Nutritional Loss On Their Own
Protein smoothies cannot be used to substitute a complete meal. Even if the shake’s composition has appropriate quantities of carbs and fats, the phytonutrients and antioxidants present in a complete meal are not found in a protein shake.
5. It Will Not Guarantee Immediate Success
A protein shake is an instrument. It can help people lose weight or enhance their workout performance when utilized correctly. However, if you don’t exercise or modify your calorie intake, a protein shake might lead you to gain weight rather than lose it – and not muscular weight.
6. They Have The Potential To Induce Acne
Gastrointestinal issues can cause inflammation. Protein powders, such as whey protein, include hormones and bioactive peptides that can boost sebum production. Consumption of protein supplements has also been shown to enhance the incidence of acne in studies.
7. Nutrient Composition is Unbalanced
When compared to natural sources of protein like meat, milk, and eggs, protein powders are said to have an uneven nutritional makeup. This is because protein powders are higher in protein, and consuming them might cause an imbalance in the body’s nutritional makeup.
8. They Destabilize Gut Microbiota
Whey milk is a kind of milk that has concentrated amounts of certain chemicals. For example, lactoferrin, an antibacterial molecule found in whey milk, has been linked to problems with adult gut flora. They might make you feel nauseous and create gastrointestinal issues.
9. They are Toxic
Bodybuilders who use protein powders are advised to use those made by reputable businesses, according to experts. Some of the firms that make these protein powders use very dangerous elements, including lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury in their products. The ingestion of these poisonous metals can be extremely damaging to your health. Headaches, tiredness, constipation, and muscular and joint discomfort are all possible side effects.
10. They Have The Ability To Raise Insulin Levels
Whey protein powders can raise postprandial insulin and baseline insulin-like growth factor-I levels in the blood. Protein powder consumption after an exercise might cause an increase in insulin levels in the body.
11. Many Protein Isolates Contain a Lot Of Sugar And Other Additives
Unless you add flavor and sweetness, most protein isolates taste horrible. In other circumstances, this means adding as much sugar as a candy bar, soda, or a large slice of birthday cake per serving. If you choose to avoid sugar, you can substitute artificial sweetener, which isn’t a fantastic substitute. Then there are the vitamin and mineral supplements and, more crucially, the ergogenic aids that many manufacturers include. Some ergogenic aids (such as coffee) are both effective and legal, whereas others are neither.
12. Protein Powders do not Provide the Same Spectrum of Nutrients as Complete Meals
My main issue with protein powder is that it frequently replaces actual food in an athlete’s diet, causing them to miss out on all of the other beneficial elements that those meals would have provided.
13. Contaminants and Toxins
Unfortunately, skimming the ingredient list isn’t always sufficient. In early 2018, the Clean Label Project, an independent nonprofit group, presented research findings in which over 130 of the most popular protein powders were tested for pesticides, heavy metals, bisphenol A (BPA) and other harmful pollutants. Detectable quantities of lead and cadmium were found in around three-quarters of the powders tested, both of which may cause long-term health problems, including kidney and brain damage.
BPA, which alters hormones and has been linked to a variety of health problems, was found in around half of the powders. In only one serving, one product had nearly 25 times the allowable limit of BPA.
14. They Don’t Usually Taste Very Good
Because of their taste, protein shakes might be difficult to consume. Even with a variety of flavors to choose from, many individuals feel that they need to add something to their shake to make it taste good.
15. It May Be a Waste Of Money
There are a plethora of protein supplement brands and post-workout snacks to choose from, but I compared the cheapest high-street protein smoothies I could find to a low-cost post-workout snack (such as value range rice cake with banana and peanut butter or whole wheat pita bread with hummus). I discovered that the protein shake would cost between 70p and £1 per serving, whilst the whole food snack would cost between 20p and 30p. A chicken breast costs somewhat less than a serving of a low-cost protein shake for the same amount of protein.
What to Look For When Purchasing a Whey Protein Powder
To be honest, the quality of the powder is likely to be good if you select a respected Australian firm and one of the better items that I shall explain below. As a result, I won’t go into detail concerning amino acid profiles in this section.
When consumers don’t know what they’re searching for, the most common error they make is purchasing a product that isn’t low in carbohydrates or fat. You want a protein powder that is mainly protein if you’re shopping for one.
You’d probably want it to have >20g protein, 5g carbohydrates, and 5g fat per serve (typically 30-40g of powder). Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a protein powder that satisfies those requirements, you won’t find anything like a meal replacement drink or a bulk gainer labeled as a protein powder.
How Much Whey Protein Is Enough?
Knowing how much protein you require on a daily basis might help you decide whether or not you need protein supplements to achieve your objectives. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a 31- to 50-year-old female who consumes 1,800 calories per day needs around 46 grams of protein per day. A guy of the same age requires around 56 grams of protein per day, assuming a daily calorie intake of 2,400.
If you’re not sure how to figure out how much protein you need, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 0.37 grams per pound of bodyweight for an average adult. However, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, if your aim is to bulk up for bodybuilding, the suggested intake may not be adequate (ACSM).
They recommend eating 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight if you lift weights frequently and want to develop muscle growth in conjunction with physical exercise. The ACSM, like many other sources, claims that a well-balanced diet may cover your protein needs without the need for supplements.
The impact of the kind of protein powder lowers dramatically if your protein consumption is fairly well spread and you fulfill your overall daily target from a variety of sources. I’d recommend deciding on one depending on your own preferences in terms of flavor, affordability, and other things. On the other hand, Collagen protein powder may be an exception due to its negative effects on MPS.
The most important thing is to meet your overall daily protein requirements. Protein powders can be helpful in achieving this goal, but they don’t always provide any advantages over meals.
Protein powders frequently include harmful toxins and hidden components. If you’re going to take a protein supplement, keep in mind that these goods are generally unregulated. If you have any odd adverse effects, stop taking the product right once and talk to your doctor.