Protein shakes and smoothies have seemingly become an integral aspect of a healthy and fit lifestyle. Mass marketed as the fitness cure-all, protein powders and supplements have become so mainstream that people of all ages consume them. These powders can be found in a variety of flavors, from vanilla to fruit punch, and can be mixed with milk, juice, or water to fit anyone’s diet. However, it has come to light that many such supplements have negative effects on the body because they contain harmful elements.
Per Live Strong, the consumption of supplemental protein can lead to calcium loss and the degradation of kidney function.
“In a study published in 2013 in ‘International Scholarly Research Notices,’ researchers examined the effect of varied protein intakes — 47 grams, 95 grams and 142 grams per day. They found that each incremental increase in protein caused a significant increase in calcium lost through urine, resulting in excess calcium loss. The typical scoop of protein powder contains 20 to 50 grams of protein or more per serving.”
Additionally, kidneys serve as the body’s filtration system. In that, excess protein increases the kidneys’ workload.
“In general, an increase in protein intake increases the workload on your kidneys…Consuming high amounts of protein for an extended period of time significantly increases acid load on the kidneys and increases the risk of kidney stone formation.”
The woes of protein powder consumption only increase from there. Consumer Reports revealed that many protein powders contain heavy metals, specifically arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.
“The samples of Muscle Milk Chocolate powder we tested contained all four heavy metals, and levels of three metals in the product were among the highest of all in our tests. Average cadmium levels of 5.6 µg [micrograms] in three daily servings slightly exceeded the USP limit of 5 µg per day, and the average lead level of 13.5 µg also topped the USP limit of 10 µg per day. The average arsenic level of 12.2 µg was approaching the USP limit of 15 µg per day, and the average for mercury was 0.7 µg, well below the USP’s 15 µg-per-day limit.”
These protein powders are often marketed with the message that one can never have too much protein. However, according to Kathleen Laquale, a licensed nutritionist and certified athletic trainer, the average person does not need the protein boost these supplements promise, as the body can break down only a small percentage of protein per hour, causing the rest to be excreted.
“The body can only break down 5 to 9 grams of protein per hour, and any excess that is not burned for energy is converted to fat or excreted, so it’s a ridiculous waste to be recommending so much more than you really need.”
Ultimately, protein powders may not be so integral, after all. If one still wishes to partake, it is important to seek out natural and organic options like Health Force Nutritional’s Warrior Food Extreme and Tera’s Organic Whey.
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