Should You Stop Drinking Your Protein Shakes
Chances are that everyone in the fitness and bodybuilding world has herd about the recent claims of protein supplements containing heavy metals.
As you can imagine supplement companies are worried people will stop buying their protein products.
This was spurred on by a recent magazine article that reported after testing 15 protein drinks for heavy metals;
3 of these protein drinks showed levels above the proposed safe limits…
“We purchased 15 protein powders and drinks mainly in the New York metro area or online and tested multiple samples of each for arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury” said Consumer Reports.
“Concentrations in most products were relatively low,” continued the article, “but when taking into account the large serving size suggested, the number of micrograms per day for a few of the products was high compared with most others tested.”
Out of the 15 products tested, the following exceeded the U.S. Pharmocopeia (USP) suggested limits for safety:
RTD EAS Myoplex Original Rich Dark Chocolate:
- 16.9 arsenic
- 5.1 cadmium
Muscle Milk chocolate powder:
- 12.2 arsenic
- 5.6 cadmium
- 13.5 lead
- 0.7 mercury
Muscle Milk Vanilla Cream:
- 12.2 lead
all amounts are in micrograms
Should you be worried?
Should you stop drinking them?
Well, it appears disconcerting that certain brands are high in these metals, but keep in mind that:
- There are questions as to the choice of lab used by Consumer reports
- the question of acceptable safe levels is also under review
- These test results showed that that 12 out of 15 products were within safe limits even at high doses, or had zero heavy metals present
- The test was based on very large doses. You would have to be consuming 3 shakes a day or up to 8 scoops of a specific product, not just protein powder in general.
Can you name one person who actually drinks 3 protein shakes a day, and does so every that would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 90 a month. A better solution is to eat as many whole foods from different sources and use the protein shakes or powders as a supplement for convenience. Like right after your workout before you have a chance to get home and make something.
There is a segment of the population whom heavy metal contamination will be more of a health concern:
- young growing children
- women who plan to have kids soon
- pregnant women
- nursing women
With all this said, there does not seem to be a need for much concern.
The NSF has questioned the lab testing methods used in this report:
NSF International cannot comment on the test results reported in the July 2010, Consumer Reports article on protein drinks. It omits critical information about the laboratory that performed the test and its accreditation qualifications. ISO 17025 accreditation is critical for any laboratory testing for heavy metals in dietary supplements and nutritional products. The article also omits the test methods used, analytical preparation, sample size, the basis of their risk assessment, detection limits, quality control data and instrumentation used for this report.
- You don’t need extra protein
- high protein diets damage your kidneys
There is also a quote from a dietitian who reports that you can only utilize 5 to 9 grams of protein per hour. Not sure I can go along with that one.
They also said how cadmium was toxic to your kidneys the way that high protein is bad for your kidneys.
I am not sure about the effects of cadmium, but I can tell you that the amount of high protein a bodybuilder or powerlifter consumes is not at all damaging to the healthy of your kidneys.
Bodybuilders and fitness experts have been battling these myths for a long time.
There are cases where a high protein diet may be contraindicated for populations who already have kidney disease. I would say that is a fry cry from saying eating a high protein diet causes kidney disease.
Protein supplements are foods that happen to come in powder or liquid form.
Small exposure are inevitable. We are not living in the cleanest environment and I do not think everyone is eating 100% organic foods. There are definitely contaminates in the food you are eating now.
- Too much of anything can be bad for you. Don’t overdo any one thing.
- Don’t believe everything you read in the mainstream media. You will have to do a little back checking of your own.
- Avoid diets that make you dependent on something. That would include protein shakes or meal replacement supplements.
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