Are Protein Shakes Healthy?

More and more people are consuming protein drinks to help with their weight loss goals, supplement their diets, and achieve improved athletic performance… but are they safe?

    • According to the ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition), protein shakes are a safe way to ensure enough protein, when used as part of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.
    • Protein shakes restore muscle glycogen, a fuel source for exercise, which gets used up during workouts.
    • For the strength athlete, protein shakes can also help repair damage to muscles, leading to muscle synthesis
    • Protein shakes are also convenient and tolerated better (for some people) after intense workouts when solid foods are not.

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What kinds of protein are available?

  • Whey protein: A protein found in milk; fast-absorbing; in your body for a shorter time; good supplement after intense workouts; great source of protein for muscle synthesis and help the body store less body fat. yesss please.
  • Casein protein: the main protein in milk; slow-absorbing; in your body for a longer time; a good supplement for meal replacements or to take before bed
  • Soy protein: a plant-based source of protein; as digestible as other sources of protein; known for its antioxidant capabilities; a good supplement for meal replacements

How Much Protein is Enough?

Sedentary 0.8-1.0g per kg  (0.36-0.45g   per lb)
Recreational exercisers 0.8-1.0g per kg  (0.36-0.45g   per lb)
Serious resistance athletes:early in training 1.5-1.7g per kg  (0.68-0.77g   per lb)
Serious resistance athletes:established training program 1.0-1.2g per kg (0.45-0.55g per lb)
Serious Endurance Athlete 1.4-1.6g per kg  (0.64-0.73g   per lb)
Teenage Athletes 1.5-2.0g per kg (0.68-0.91g per lb)

 

SO.. are they safe?

An investigation by Consumer Reports found traces of heavy metals in all of the protein drinks tested.  Of the fifteen protein drinks tested most had low to moderate levels of heavy metals; but three drink products (EAS Myoplex Original Rich Dark Chocolate Shake,  Muscle Milk chocolate powder, and Muscle Milk vanilla crème) had high enough levels to cause concern. Consuming three servings a day of these three drinks could cause unsafe exposure to three substances — arsenic, cadmium and lead. Consuming these kinds of protein drinks on a regular basis can in some cases create the risk of chronic exposure, even at low levels, to heavy metals such as cadmium and lead that can pose health problems, particularly to vulnerable people,” says Andrea Rock, the Consumer Reports editor for the investigation. Among vulnerable people are children under age 18, pregnant women, and people with diabetes or chronic kidney conditions, she says.

According to Greg Pickett, founder of CytoSport, which makes Muscle Milk, “The substances tested in the report are naturally occurring in the environment, it would be uncommon, if not impossible, not to detect the trace amounts reportedly found in any agricultural product, such as dairy products, fruits and vegetables.”

What’s a little scary? Protein drinks are considered dietary supplements, so the makers are not required to test the products before sale to ensure they are safe and effective. eeek.

More is not always better. Over-doing it with protein can be very detrimental to your health. Experts say too much protein can lead to dehydration and digestive problems, increase your risk for osteoporosis, and for some people, cause kidney problems. Please notify your MD of any changes in your diet.

What’s the best solution?

  • Get your daily protein intake from food, if possible :) Lean meats and seafood, eggs, low-fat dairy, nuts/nut butters, high protein whole grains, and soy can easily help one get their recommended daily protein intake.
  • If you’re going to drink protein supplements… have them in moderation (please), and make sure you consume no more than 30 grams of protein at one time. Overloading your body with excess protein is a waste (your body can only use so much, at one time).
  • Choose protein supplements without a lot of added “crap”, all you need is the protein :)

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