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The Hidden Dangers Of Protein Powders

The Hidden Dangers Of Protein Powders

What is protein powder?

Protein powder is a category of proteins that have been powdered that may be derived from dairy, foods, or vegetables. Some may be derived from shrimp waste and insects. Because of the increased demand for protein powder, the production of fish protein powder has gotten a lot of attention because it contains the best quality protein. However, the fat content of the protein powder remains a difficult issue that must be reduced further during the production process.

It is now a very popular nutritional supplement. It was used for a variety of purposes, including weight loss and body building. Instead of exceeding the daily limit of protein synthesis, the prescribed daily allowance (RDA) for a healthy adult is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. The rate of protein metabolism is a key factor in protein synthesis in muscle cells, which results in an anabolic effect.

Anabolic hormones play a critical role in promoting protein absorption and synthesis in muscle cells [1]. Hormones, in other words, are the most powerful drivers of nutrient absorption. You will learn more about how growth hormone influences muscle protein synthesis by clicking here. You should also be aware that a high protein diet will lower testosterone levels [2], which induces a plateau during the muscle-building process.

In terms of the toxicity of protein powder to human use, plant-based protein has a greater concentration of heavy metals in the degree of detectable level of measurements. It can contain artificial additives, calories, or even hazardous chemicals like lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), and, the most dangerous, arsenic (As) [3].

Protein powder side effect

Going to add protein shakes to a cup of milk or a smoothie it might seem like an easy way to improve your health. Even so, protein is important for establishing and retaining muscle, bone density, and a wide range of body functions. And a lot of older adults don't ingest enough protein because of a lack of appetite.

But just be wary that chocolate or vanilla protein powder may cause health hazards. "I recommend not using protein powder unless and under supervision, under such circumstances." said the registered dietician Kathy McMannus, Director of the Harvard-affiliated Brigham Department of Nutrition and Women's Hospital.

What does protein powder do?

Protein powder is a crushed form of protein derived from plants (potatoes, soybeans, peas, rice, or hemp), milk or egg (whey protein or casein). Powders could also include additives such as added sugars, artificial ingredients, preservatives, vitamins and minerals. The amount of nutrients per scoop may fluctuate from 10 to 30 grams of proteins.

What are the safety issue involved?

There are some safety issues needed to consider when consuming protein powder:

  • A protein powder can be a dietary supplement but the FDA leaves it up to manufacturers company to determine the risk of products. So, if a protein powder contains what manufacturers say, there is no way to tell.
  • Long-term effects are unknown. McManus says that there is little evidence from supplements on the potential side effects of high protein consumption.
  • McManus points out that digestive distress can be induced. "By using a milk-based protein powder, people with milk allergies or trouble digesting lactose [milk sugar] can experience gastrointestinal discomfort,"
  • It may be high in sugars and calories that are added. Some protein powders have no sugar added, and others have a lot of sugar added (as much as 23 grams per scoop). Some protein powders transform a glass of milk into a beverage of over 1,200 calories. The dangers are poor diet and an unhealthily high blood sugar level, which causes weight gain. A maximum of 24 grams of added sugar per day for women is recommended by the American Heart Association.

Revealing a new danger

Previously this year, a non-profit organization named the Clean Label Project released a study on protein powder toxins. Researchers tested 134 brands for 130 varieties of toxins and observed that many protein powders detected heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA used to make plastics), pesticides, or other cancer-related contaminants and other health-related substances. Some toxins have been present in significant quantities. For instance, one protein powder found to contain 25 times the permitted BPA limit.

What can protein powder have contained so many impurities? The Clean Label Project refers to the production processes or the presence of toxic substances absorbed by plants in the root zone. The plants afterwards are made into protein powders.

Not many of the protein powders tested contained high amounts of toxin. People can see the findings on the website of the Clean Label Project (

Goal of protein intake

Target for dietary recommendations allowance of protein intake: 46 grams per day and 56 grams for women and men respectively. For instance:

  • an egg in your breakfast (5-6 grams)
  • 6 oz of Greek yogurt during lunch (15-18 grams)
  • nuts for snacking (3–6 grams)
  • 2 oz chicken breast (14 grams).

What can you do

McManus suggests that in the following cases, protein powders without toxic chemical substance may be helpful (only under medical supervision):

  • if you are having trouble to eat or under bad appetite
  • if your body require high amount of protein to recover a wound
  • if you are under conditions requiring further calories and protein intake in order to get healthier

Anything other than that, getting protein from natural foods: seed, dairy, fish and lean meat etc. are better ways than protein powders.


[1] Rooyackers, O. E., & Nair, K. S. (1997). Hormonal regulation of human muscle protein metabolism. Annual Review of Nutrition, 17(1), 457-485. doi:10.1146/annurev.nutr.17.1.457

[2] Anderson, K. E., Rosner, W., Khan, M., New, M. I., Pang, S., Wissel, P. S., & Kappas, A. (1987). Diet-hormone interactions: Protein/carbohydrate ratio alters reciprocally the plasma levels of testosterone and cortisol and their respective binding globulins in man. Life Sciences, 40(18), 1761-1768. doi:10.1016/0024-3205(87)90086-5

[3] Rooyackers, O. E., & Nair, K. S. (1997). Hormonal regulation of human muscle protein metabolism. Annual Review of Nutrition, 17(1), 457-485. doi:10.1146/annurev.nutr.17.1.457

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