Protein powders and pre-mixed shakes have been around for years, and are currently used by millions of people, especially athletes, who want to lose weight, get a quick energy fix and increase muscle mass, or just as a meal replacement when they don't have time to eat. Though these drinks have been touted as energy and health in a glass, some researchers are now challenging the health claims and safety of the products.
Consumer Reports magazine recently tested 15 protein powders and shakes in an outside laboratory, and made some surprising discoveries. These nutritional supplements may not only be unnecessary for your body, some of them may be unhealthy, especially if overused. The magazine also found that several of the products are significantly contaminated with toxic metals, some of which exceed United States Pharmacopoeia limits.
One drawback to the protein supplements may be the large serving size recommended by the manufacturer. After reviewing government documents and interviewing health and fitness experts, Consumer Reports concluded that most of us already get plenty of protein in our diets. According to the experts quoted in the report, too much protein is not a good thing.
Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Athletic Trainer Kathleen Laquale, is quoted as saying: "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."
Only one of the products Consumer Reports tested, Six-Star Muscle Professional Strength Whey Protein, offers a clear warning to consumers not to exceed six servings in a 24-hour period. The others offer more vague instructions about how much is safe to consume.
And even if you are vegetarian or for some other reason you do need more protein in your diet, Consumer Reports found that using protein powders and shakes is an expensive way to get it. For example, they point out that a 2-pound jar of MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Hardcore powder costs $45 for about a 5-day supply.
But perhaps the most troubling finding in the Consumer Reports investigation was the amount of heavy metal toxins present in many of the protein powders and shakes. Of the 15 sampled, three brands tested unusually high in cadmium, lead, arsenic and mercury. The worst offender being the Muscle Milk Chocolate power, which contains four toxic metals, three of which exceed USP limits.
Ironically, Muscle Milk is the same product that advertises itself as: "Designed after one of nature's most balanced foods: human mother's milk ..."
To read the complete findings of this report, go to www.consumerreports.org.