THE DANGERS OF USING PROTEIN POWDERS
Most people use protein powders to increase fitness but there are dangers involved in
using such products instead of eating real protein from plant-based sources. In fact, consuming
extra protein could lead to possible adverse health consequences; and like most supplements on
the market today, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not monitor protein powders
and shakes for safety.
The body needs calcium to keep bones strong, but consuming extra protein could create
bone problems. In a 2013 study published in the “International Scholarly Research Notices,”
researchers studied the outcomes of a variety of protein intakes such as 47 grams, 95 grams, and
142 grams daily (Renee, 2014). The research revealed that with each increase in the amount of
protein there was a significant increase in calcium lost through the urine which led to significant
calcium loss. Most protein powders contain between 20 to 50 grams plus of protein per serving
The kidneys filter waste products and toxins from the bloodstream, and an increase in
protein intake puts additional stress on the kidneys. In the 2013 study mentioned above,
researchers also studied the possible dangers of increased protein intake from diet and/or
nutritional supplements (Renee, 2014). They noted that long-term use of such products can have
a negative effect on kidney function because it significantly raised the acid load on the kidneys
which leads to a greater risk of developing kidney stones (Renee, 2014).
Add to this contamination from heavy metals. Fifteen protein powders and drinks were
tested by Consumer Reports for four heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and
mercury. While most products tested contained low amounts of heavy metals, some contained
amounts that were higher than the safe daily allowable amount, especially when users consumed
several servings per day. The average level of lead was 13.5 micrograms in three servings of one
product, but the allowable level is 10 micrograms per U.S. Pharmacopeia, an organization that
sets supplement standards (Annigan, 2015), (Renee, 2014).
Most protein powders and supplements are made from cow’s milk, soy protein, and eggs
which can cause allergic reactions in some individuals; and shakes that do contain such
ingredients can also cause diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and shock (Annigan, 2015). Further,
protein shakes that are made from milk also contain milk sugar lactose which can lead to
maldigestion in people who are lactose intolerant. In lactose intolerant individuals, the
undigested sugar goes through the gastrointestinal tract where bacteria in the tract feed on it and
produce gas (Annigan, 2015). What’s also amazing is that protein powders are extremely
processed; and they are frequently heated whereby the protein becomes denatured which makes
it almost impossible for the body to recognize it as protein and use it as such (Peláez, 2013). The
outcome is an increase in the body’s levels of acidity and toxicity which can lead to a variety of
unwanted illnesses and diseases (Peláez, 2013).
Even if consuming additional dietary protein from protein powders and shakes does not
harm a person’s kidneys, it can lead to weight gain because the body doesn’t store the extra
amino acids that are consumed. Those amino acids will either burn as fuel or get stored in the
cells as body fat which leads to obesity (Annigan, 2015). In addition, reliance on protein powders
and shakes can lead to the exclusion of other needed nutrients from the diet. Proteins from raw
plant food also provide iron, calcium, healthy fats, which likely are not in those supplements.
Even if they were, the best source of all protein as well as the rest of the nutrients needed by the
body is via a plant-based diet. In fact, using protein powders and shakes as a source of fuel could
displace fruits and vegetables that provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other phytochemicals
needed by the body (Annigan, 2015).
It’s time to stop using fast substitutes for the real thing. Proteins found in a well-balanced
raw plant diet will do more good for the body than a processed protein powder or shake.
Annigan, J. (2015). What Are the Dangers of Protein Shakes? Retrieved from
Peláez, J. (2013). Why You REALLY Shouldn't Use Protein Powders. Retrieved from
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11371/why- you-really- shouldnt-use- protein-powders.html
Renee, J. (2014). What Are the Dangers of Protein Powder Consumption? Retrieved from
http://www.livestrong.com/article/540079-what- are-the- dangers-of- protein-powder-