Are Protein Supplements Bad For You?

by | Aug 14, 2019 | Nutrition, Wellness, Workout

Gym-goers, athletes, and the general public alike, are replacing meals with protein shakes; either to help lose weight, or simply as a convenient way to increase protein intake.

However, is using a powdered protein supplement really necessary? Can’t we obtain enough quality protein through our diet?

While advice from a qualified Nutritionist – factoring in your individual goals – is the best way to assess your personal dietary needs, this blog will take a look at some of the Pros and Cons of using Protein Powders.

How much protein do you need?

Protein is an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues, make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.

Health Canada Recommendations:

Health Canada recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, for the average person…accounting for between 10 to 35 percent of daily caloric intake.

So, for example, this equates to 62g of protein for a 170lb individual.

What does this look like in terms of food?

Approximately two cooked 3.5oz chicken breasts is equal to 62g of protein.

Now those of you with a healthy appetite are probably saying…that doesn’t seem like a lot, and you’re right, it’s not!

Health Canada’s recommendations are very conservative, and the recommendations are listed as such to avoid protein deficiency among the general public.

There are definitely instances where protein requirements would increase.

Who can benefit from higher protein intake?

Individuals following a calorically restricted diet, for the purposes of sport performance or weight loss, can benefit from higher protein intakes.

Athletes – bodybuilders, hockey players, people training for an Ironman or Triathlon, etc. – may actually require DOUBLE the amount of protein as per Health Canada’s recommendation; and often require increased protein intake due to their training regimes, and required muscle mass development and maintenance.

Supplementing with protein powder, in these types of circumstances, makes it easier on the individual.

The pros of protein powders

Ideally, we want our protein intake to be sourced from natural foods, but sometimes we resort to supplementation if difficulties obtaining our requirements arise.

Protein powders can be beneficial for a number of reasons:

1 Convenience

An excellent option for a quick meal/snack, especially in the form of a smoothie for those constantly on-the-go.

2 Versatile

Protein Powder can be used to make protein pancakes, used in baking, or, again, throwing a scoop of protein into a smoothie.

3 Accommodating

There are many different types of protein available – vegan, whey, casein, pea, egg, etc. –  which means a protein type can be selected to suit most dietary preferences and accommodate those with certain allergies.

While protein powder provides many health and lifestyle benefits, and it remains one of the safest protein supplementation forms available, one thing to caution you on is…

Not all Protein Powders are created equal!

The cons of protein powders

Sometimes we need to be cautious when consuming protein powders.  Using a powdered supplement may have some pitfalls:

1 Reliance

Individuals may start to choose protein powder over natural food sources…strictly for ease of use.

2 Nutritional Balance

Protein powders are not nutritionally balanced, therefore we miss out on all the other nutrients our food sourced protein offers us!

3 Cost

Compared to some protein-rich foods, protein powder is an extra expense. Some of the higher-end protein powders can be costly!

4 Hidden Ingredients

Not all protein powders are created equal! Sometimes protein powders contain unlisted ingredients and even dangerous contaminants.  Competitive athletes beware.  Some protein powder products contain banned ingredients not listed on the label. Check for labels identifying the product as “banned substance free, lab tested, trusted by sport” which are often visible on the product.

If protein powder is recommended as a part of a balanced diet, remember…the powders are to be used to supplement your diet, not replace natural foods!

To find out more about the risks, or to understand which type of protein powder is best for you, it is best to consult with a qualified Nutritionist.

Our team of  Nutritionists at One Health Clubs can help determine if protein supplementation is necessary for your lifestyle and overall health goals. Click here to book a free 15-minute consultation with one of our Nutritionists.

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