- Protein powders aren’t inherently unsafe, and actually, have more pros than cons.
- Some deem protein powders unsafe due to the risk of unnecessary additives, and their link to potential negative health effects if consumed in high quantities.
- Overall, however, they are generally safe and beneficial for the majority of people.
Protein powders are convenient, tasty, and can be mixed in with almost anything. But are they safe to add to your diet?
In general, protein is essential for health and optimal function
Protein is used by the body to build and repair tissues, make hormones and other important chemicals, and serve as the major structural component of muscle and other tissues in the body. Protein is also used to produce hormones, enzymes, and hemoglobin.
The body requires protein to survive, and thrive, so one would think that the more protein, the better. It’s worth asking, however, if protein powder is a beneficial addition to your diet.
Some of the pros of protein powders are that they’re quick and easy, can be consumed on the go, and are a great supplement to one’s diet. While you don’t necessarily need protein powders, you do need protein, and it’s a surefire way to get some in your diet. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan especially, protein powders are a great way to ensure you’re getting enough protein in your diet.
There are, however, certain potential risks involved with consuming protein powder
To determine how much protein you need every day, the United States Institute of Medicine recommends multiplying your body weight in pounds by 0.37. The resulting number is your daily recommended amount of protein in grams. And while you might think consuming more protein is fine, according to CNN, consuming more than 35% of your daily caloric intake from protein can lead to nausea, cramps, fatigue, headaches and bloating.
Further, in response to the growing trend of high protein diets, in 2001, the American Heart Association published a statement on dietary protein and weight reduction and suggested that individuals following such a diet may be at potential risk for metabolic, cardiac, renal, bone and liver diseases.
Finally, it’s important to check the ingredients of the protein powder you’re consuming as they can contain unnecessary additives. Carole Havrila, a dietitian and certified oncology specialist at the University of Virginia Health System told the Washington Post she knows of cases where heavy metals, caffeine, and even steroids have been found in powders. She also warned of the danger of too many added vitamins.
Overall, while it’s generally recommended that you get the bulk of your nutrients from whole foods, protein powders are a safe, non-meat protein option for the majority of people — as long as you pay attention to how much you’re consuming and the ingredients in the powder you choose.
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