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The Problem with Protein Powders

- It’s not just body builders, athletes, and health nuts consuming protein powders these days – vegetarians, pregnant women, immune-compromised individuals and kids with picky palates are in on it too. Otherwise smart folks are scooping powdered protein into morning shakes and baking it into muffins in the name of health, fitness, and longevity.

So are protein powders an absurd invention of modernity or a healthy convenience food?

What’s wrong with protein powders?

According to Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price Foundation, the process of making protein powders often requires extremely high heat which overly denatures the proteins (as opposed to the normal denaturing that happens during digestion or cooking) to such an extent that they become virtually useless while increasing nitrates, MSG, and other carcinogens.

While this makes perfect sense to me, there are plenty of folks out there that will argue this point and an increasing number of supplement companies that now offer ‘non-denatured’ products.

Personally, I’m in the camp that thinks that any dehydrated, powdered food with prolonged shelf-life is probably not really a food.

When it comes to the down-side of protein powders — be they organic, hemp, whey, soy, etc – the point that I find most compelling is that protein should not be consumed regularly without a proportionate amount of its naturally occurring fat – this means lean meat and protein powders are simply a no-no unless also supplemented with healthy saturated fats. The saturated fat and fat soluble vitamins in dairy and meat helps the body to properly use the protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Too much protein and too little fat can cause a negative calcium balance that can lead to bone weakness (insufficient vitamin K2), eye problems (from insufficient vitamin A), immune issues (commonly linked to insufficient vitamin D), and other health conditions resulting from excessive ‘lean’ protein consumption.

So does anyone need extra protein?

The basic answer here is no. But for individuals who are not consuming enough protein, a powdered supplement is usually not the best choice.

The Elderly?

The older generation is often wrongly advised to supplement their diets with protein powders to prevent the diseases and degeneration of old age. But without significant saturated fats and fat soluble vitamins excessive protein will cause more harm than good.

Instead, I would suggest that grandma and grandpa enjoy the traditional diets of their childhoods – soups made with homemade bone broth, plenty of pastured butter and eggs, grass-fed meats and dairy, and seasonal produce.

Supplementation with fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil, and therapeutic consumption of bone broths will ensure optimal health far more than powdered protein in any form.

Pregnant and Nursing Women?

It IS true that pregnant women need more protein, but they also need more fat and carbohydrates too.  In simple terms, pregnant women need more food. So a good rule of thumb is for expectant mamas to eat at least two eggs per day, plenty of full fat dairy from grass fed cows, full fat coconut milk and oil, and high quality meat or fish daily.

Often during the first trimester, morning sickness prevents pregnant women from eating anything that resembles healthy food, and convenience foods such as protein shakes can sometimes offer easy, palatable nutrition. Plus, protein-packed snacks consumed throughout the day can help take the edge off of nausea and vomiting.

For these women, I would urge them to first try adding egg yolks, full fat yogurt, and/or fresh whey to smoothies and other drinks (perhaps having someone else make them to avoid the gag-factor). Snack on slices of cheese, hard boiled eggs, or small handfuls of properly prepared nuts.

If a powdered protein shake still seems like the only doable option, choose a non-denatured, minimally processed powder – grass-fed whey or organic hemp – and be sure to also supplement with plenty of fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil which will provide essential fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 plus omega 3 fats necessary for the health and development of both mom and baby.

Picky Kids?

I know plenty of parents of picky kids who swear by a daily smoothie to get nearly all of their child’s nutrition in for the day – protein powder, supplements, veggies – anything that needs to be disguised is whipped up in a blender with some kid-friendly fruit and maybe some natural sweetener. But instead of protein powder, why not add an egg yolk from a pastured hen or fresh liquid whey to the daily drink? And don’t forget some extra fat – a few spoonfuls of coconut oil can usually go undetected.

An important note here: Moderate pickiness in kids is normal – it’s a sign of their flexing wills. But extreme pickiness may be a sign of digestive weakness and gut flora imbalance which can be corrected with the help of a qualified practitioner that specializes in healing food sensitivities. GAPS and the selective carbohydrate diets are two examples of such therapeutic programs.

Vegetarians?

I am going to avoid any meat versus plant discussion in this particular post, but suffice to say that vegetarians need to take special care to consume enough protein and especially saturated fats since much of a vegetarian diet is dominantly carbohydrates (legumes, grains, fruit and veggies).

That said, protein powders are not essential for a vegetarian to get enough protein. Instead, eat plenty of coconut fat and avocados as well as properly prepared legumes, nuts, and grains. If your diet allows, be sure to include plenty of eggs from pastured hens and grass-fed, full-fat dairy.

Body Builders?

If you are a body builder and your sole goal is to pack on an unnatural amount of muscle mass, concentrated protein may be necessary for frequent and efficient muscle repair. But in this case, why not add REAL whey, eggs from pastured hens, full fat dairy, or even raw liver from grass-fed animals to your smoothies rather than the dried, over processed whey?

Eat more protein – eggs, meat, and fish. And while you’re at it, be sure to supplement with high doses of fermented cod liver oil, high vitamin butter oil, and daily coconut oil to counter-balance the protein loading.

The bottom line about protein powders:

Protein powders are generally unnecessary and often toxic. When too much protein is consumed without saturated fat, a myriad of health problems can occur. Eat Real Food.

The Problem with Protein Powders - Holistic Squid

Photo credit for top image: Caza_No_7

This post can be seen at the following blog carnival(s): Fat Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday. Hop on over to check out some other posts you may enjoy!

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Comments

  1. Edie says:

    This is the best explanation of this topic I have read so far! Thank you .

    • Bonnie Lackey says:

      I am 64 years old with osteoporosis in my hips, osteoarthritis in my knees, fibromyalsia throughout my body, reflex sympatheti dystrophy in right leg, neuropathy in both feet, cervical and lumbar spondylosis, carpal tunnel in both wrists, nerve damage in right arm, impingements inboth shoulders, chronic migraines, and now… I have no energy. I had heavy metal toxicity due to dental fillings…but detoxed from that several years ago.
      I have hypothyroidism, and may have diabeties. I need a good protein supplement and advice on what else to take. Does anyone have any good advice and ehere to purchase it. Thank you.

  2. Amy says:

    I agree with your article, wholeheartedly, except “unnatural” amount of muscle mass as a bodybuilder. I’m a WAPF momma who has a lot of muscle mass for a woman, and I don’t think it’s unnatural. I think if we look to hundreds of years ago, men and women (especially of working class) were much more “unnaturally” muscled than they are today. I would venture to say it’s not healthy to have the amount (or the lack of) of muscle mass most adults have today. I push myself to make muscular and strength gains even through pregnancy and see nothing odd about it.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Amy – Sorry, I meant no offense to muscular women and men. I personally find muscle definition attractive on both genders. However, there are some images of bodybuilders that do seem unnatural to me – and whether this is due to steroids or unhealthy diets – I find that extreme fitness and health are often not on the same page.

      • jeff meadows says:

        it bothers me that the high school coach in victorville, CA is giving this stuff to the football players….

      • Staci says:

        Yes- but you didn’t even address the huge contingency of people who are actively trying to build muscle- you just threw us all into the same lot of those looking to ‘pack on an unnatural amount of muscle mass.’ In fact, it is people trying to increase muscle that are probably the largest group using protein powders. It’s amazing that you ignored that.
        If you’ve heard of CrossFit- that is only ONE example of hundreds of thousands of people currently increasing their muscle mass. Not because they are freaks but because they are just getting stronger.

    • Anthony says:

      A typically serious body builder is in no way natural by any means, and I think that’s all the author was saying. Basically, if you body build and take supplements that aren’t real food to gain muscle then no, you are not naturally fit.

  3. Thank you for this! I have shared this with the Nourishing Our Children community and wanted to share these two with you as well:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150196192165172
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150196184535172

  4. Thank you for this! I have shared this with the Nourishing Our Children community and wanted to share these two with you as well:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150196192165172
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150196184535172

  5. Nick says:

    Great article. I recommend gelatin over ANY protein powder, along with grass-fed meats, etc…

    Gelatin is anti-inflammatory and can counter the excess cysteine and tryptophan from muscle meats.

  6. Amanda says:

    what is your view on goat milk protein (double bonded) mixed with whole raw milk? We get Mt. Capra double bonded protein from goat milk from Tropical Traditions. We don’t drink it everyday, maybe 2-3 times a week.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Amanda – I don’t think there’s a need to supplement with any additional protein unless you are a body builder. Why does your family take the goat milk protein?

      • gar says:

        Some people have GI issues and are not able to digest many foods. So am I to understand you think protein powders in general are harmful and useless. This alarms me greatly.

        • Cheryl says:

          I have SIBO and like Gar, I have malabsorption issues and I think alot of people trying to get healthy have bad digestion. Anyway I started using hemp powder and then switched to plain ol raw eggs with a variety of additions to increase vitamins and mineral intake.

          I think people who are sick, can benefit from protein drinks, although home made would be the best.

    • Emily says:

      Kirsten – lol. That’s an interesting idea, but I don’t know the answer. It seems like it should work if you don’t dehydrate the eggs at a temp too high. And if you used the whole eggs (yolks for fat), and it didn’t turn out disgusting, it just may make a great ‘protein powder’! Has anyone else tried dehydrating whole eggs that can give Kirsten some feedback?

      • George says:

        Very dangerous to do without the right controls and equipment. Dehydration takes air, heat, and time, all of which are also primary ingredients to the development of pathogens. I’d stay far aay from that.

  7. Danielle says:

    From a research perspective, there have been found to be many benefits of taking protein supplements in the realm of weight maintenance and achieving a healthy body composition. However, from my personal vegan unprocessed view of things, I don’t think protein supplements are necessary for most people, as long as they are conscious about what they are eating. I use a protein supplement very rarely when I have exercised, and know I have gone all day without eating a good source of protein. I like the concept that nutrients in foods are not meant to be extracted and are meant to be eaten as a whole. While I don’t eat dairy, I would say full-fat dairy would be better than low-fat dairy. This just makes sense to me, but I don’t know of any science which proves this to be the case. I would be very interested to see the sources for some of the facts you stated about the negative effects of consuming protein without the fat.
    Thanks for a great post!

  8. Kym says:

    I agree with this also until the “unnatural amount of muscle mass” which is offensive and ignorant. While some bodybuilders abuse steroids to get the look, there are many natural, drug-free bodybuilders who simply have great genetics and work out hard. And, yes, I know some who are WAPF.

    Can’t we manage to talk about these things without attacking any body type?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Kym – As I commented before, I meant no offense to muscular women and men, and I personally find muscle definition attractive on both genders.

      But that aside, it IS possible and popular to strive to have more muscle mass than your body naturally will maintain even with a good diet and a fair amount of exercise. I don’t judge individuals who want this, but I do think that in order to achieve this goal, such an individual may need to eat an ‘unnatural’ or if you prefer, excessive amount of protein – a dietary decision that may lead to health issues down the road.

      I understand that sometimes people will wrongly judge that those with muscle mass take steroids, thin people don’t eat, fat people eat too much, those with large breasts have implants, etc. That fact that human judge each other sucks, and while I have to admit that I have been guilty of such judgements on more than one occasion, but this is not my point here. My point is, you do not need to protein-load unless your intention is to build muscle mass in excess of that which your body will naturally sustain.

  9. Tanya says:

    Oh, goodness! Thank you for writing a really balanced article about the benefits of real food, and how factory farm products are not necessarily real food, any more than protein powders.

    Kym, I pinged a little on the phrase “unnatural amount of muscle mass” as well, but when I think about it, many body builders acquire a physique that is not naturally produced by the normal activities of our contemporary world. And some go beyond the natural amount of muscle mass their bodies would normally produce. In that case, the phrase makes sense if you don’t add the often negative judgment associated with the term “unnatural”.

    All in all, a very good post!

  10. Tamara Mannelly says:

    I agree that real food is always best and protein powders could be considered a convenience. But sometimes finding a balance between real food and convenience is necessary. I feel (and have been told) I need to eat protein after a good workout. While I could eat a chicken breast/bunless burger/eggs, etc., usually this is at 9:30 am, I have to hurry to the shower to continue on with my day of errands/activities until I pick my child up from school. I don’t always have whey in my refrigerator ready to go and I haven’t been able to get used to raw eggs in my smoothie (I can do 1 yolk, but more than that, I feel I can taste it…and I don’t like it) I use a protein powder that is from grass fed cows and non-denatured, put a scoop in with raw milk, a spoonful of coconut oil, 3 brazil nuts and some ice. Give it a whirl and I am on the go. (sometimes I add a little leftover coffee from the am and it tastes like a fancy coffee drink). Would it be better to get my protein from real food…probably. But, not always practical.

    • Emily says:

      Tamara – I completely agree, and can often be found grabbing a Lara Bar out of my glove box at a stop light or buying a quick meal on the go that is at odds with one of my current standards of perfection. In our modern world we often need to make decisions based on convenience, and sometimes the ‘perfect’ choices are not always the right ones for the moment. And, let’s face it, we can get super self-righteous about food, health, etc, but at the end of the day, these are just our personal priorities. For myself, I try to inform myself as best as possible, then make choices that work for my real life.
      By the way, that smoothie sounds delish!

      • Staci says:

        Well congratulations on the Lara Bar- they are owned by General Mills, which has contributed $520,000 to defeat proposition 37 in California. The money you paid for that contributed to fund the campaign to keep you, me and everyone else in the dark about whether or not we are consuming foods with genetically modified ingredients. Thanks.

        • Emily says:

          Staci – That remark certainly came off as rude, but I will allow it to remain here because I think your message is valid. In fact, I stopped buying Lara Bars when I discovered that they were bought by General Mills. All any of us can do, is make the best decisions that we can in any given moment.

          • Staci says:

            I’m sorry Emily- it didn’t occur to me you wrote that before we all found out about General Mills. You are doing good work and important work. Keep it up.

        • Robin says:

          I completely agree with Staci on the GMO (Genetically modified Organisms) that farmers are growing our crops with such as corn, high fructose corn syrup, corn flour, corn oil and any corn derived additives such as: Xantham Gum, modified corn starch, dextrose, citric acid, BHA & BHT (preservatives), monosodium Glutamate (MSG), EDTA & EDTD. Also crops such as canola oil, soy, soybean protein, soybean oil, soy lecithin, tofu, cottonseed oil, sugar beets, alfalfa, hawain papaya, zucchini, and yellow squash. Most processed foods or prepackaged (junk food) have the GMO’s in it.

          I don’t know about you, but I wont eat anything that is grown from a lab.

          Thank you for your post Staci, I didn’t know about General Mills supporting GMO crops. Why organic is the way to go.

          Thank you Emily for your article on protein powder. I don’t think their are any “healthy saturated fats” other than Virgin Coconut Oil that is not refined. Tropical Traditions “Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil” is the farmer I know of that doesn’t process (refined) their coconuts with chemicals. The saturated fat in the coconut is good because it never enters the bloodstream where it can get stored as fat, instead it enters the liver and gets used for energy, which I found quite amazing. Go to their website and read more about coconuts.

          • Robin says:

            One more fact: The US and Canada don’t have to mention GMO on our food labels. We are pretty much keep in the dark unless you do your research. A few countries ban GMO crops altogether and they do not allow these foods on store shelves. Other countries label the foods that have GMO’s.

    • Nelia Hanes says:

      Where do you get your protein powder? Thanks.

  11. Kym says:

    Tanya, I think you’re right on with “not naturally produced by the normal activities of our contemporary world” as in people are far too sedentary these days and this is a severe health issue (often wrongly attacked as a problem of obesity). The average person today does not have a great deal of strength at all, even those who exercise the recommended the recommended half hour a day because they are sedentary for the other 23 1/2. While it might not be a “normal” activity to work out as long as bodybuilders do, they are at least active far longer every day than just 1/2 hour.

    We live in a society where judging people for their bodies is far too common. As a woman (who is far from bodybuilder size) I get called “too masculine” for having what muscle I do have (which still isn’t as much as I’d like). We need to stop the judging and focus on health. If someone is abusing steroids to get muscle, that’s a health issue, if they are building it naturally then it is not. And you cannot tell just by looking at them which it is so judging it is uncalled for IMNSHO

  12. Andrew says:

    The author is correct that powdered whey protein is probably not the highest quality whey, but I think she goes too far when she says it’s not necessary or beneficial. Her argument can basically be applied to vitamin and mineral supplements — like protein powders, vitamin and mineral supplements are in a dehydrated state and have a long shelf life. Does this mean that you shouldn’t take them? Of course not. The problem is that most people don’t get enough protein, vitamins, and minerals in their diet, so that’s why these supplements are important. If we lived like our early ancestors did and ate plenty of meat, fish, and nuts, then we might not need these supplements, but unfortunately most people eat more grains than anything else, and this results in too many carbohydrates and not enough fat and protein entering the body. Protein supplements can help balance this out, and it’s a good idea to add milk, frozen yogurt, ice cream, or peanut better to protein shakes to add some carbs and unsaturated fats as well. It may not be considered “real food”, but it’s a healthier balance of fat, carbs, and protein than what most “normal” foods would give you, such as cereal, bread, and pasta.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Andrew – I guess that’s what I AM saying: I think we should eat real food like our ancestors (or at least the healthy ones). I don’t think most people would need much supplementation if they simply ate real, good quality food. If someone is looking to balance their unhealthy diet, I personally don’t think adding protein powder is the solution.

      • Mary says:

        I’ve found that using protein powders, which I do mix with coconut milk, has been an answer to what was previously a nutritional wasteland in my life. Powders and supplements are not the best answer, but I prefer the way I feel now to how I felt a mere twelve months ago – bloated, uninspired, constantly worn out, balding, grumpy, mentally dull. That being said, I look forward to incorporating real, solid food into my life. Living alone, the protein powders make getting at least enough protein much, much easier. The formula I use has no added sugar and is non-GMO and vegan.

        • Robin says:

          What kind of protein powder are you using Mary, that has no sugar added and is non-GMO and vegan? You have the right idea by using coconut milk in your protein drink because that has all the nutrients and good fats as long as the coconut milk hasn’t been refined in any way.

  13. Kym says:

    I think I also need to be clear that I do not think bodybuilders should use protein powders, either. Most people I know who have had trouble building muscle while using them and eating a low-fat diet have had far more success when they start utilizing whole-fat protein sources. I’m a hard gainer, but I’m far bigger at 50 and eating WAPF style than I was at 30 when I was trying to build on a low-fat diet and taking extra protein. Besides, a raw milk and yogurt smoothie is far tastier and you can add all sorts of healthy, real food, goodies into it. ~;p

    • Emily says:

      That’s great to hear, Kym – thanks for sharing! It makes sense to me that whole-fat protein sources would be more effective helping to build muscle, but I haven’t tried this theory out for myself. And yes, I am partial to the taste of a raw milk and yogurt smoothie too. Cheers. :)

  14. Judy Griffin says:

    Really smart and informed article. What are your thought about adding Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds to smoothies.

  15. Tim says:

    I agree with Tamara and Andrew. Let’s not condemn whey protein powder.

    Seems to me the main point Emily is making is this….

    If you are going to take whey protein powder
    First – get the best you can buy i.e. from Grass Fed Cows, Low Temp or Cold Processed
    Second – take it with some saturated fat like Coconut Milk or Butter from Grass Fed Cows for example

    I typically include Coconut Oil or Butter in my shakes.

    Here’s one I love….
    1. 1-2 Scoops Undenatured Whey Protein Powder (from Grass Fed Cows)
    2. 1/2 Avocado
    3. 1 TBSP Coconut Oil
    4. 3-4 Organic Strawberries OR 1/2 Banana
    5. about 8oz Water & a handful of Ice Cubes

    If you take whey protein powder because you are a bodybuilder or just a busy person who doesn’t have time to whip up eggs, steak, chicken etc as much as you’d like or need in order to get enough protein then rock on with the whey powder. It’s better to get some protein than none if those are your options.

    I am a big fan of whey powder for these reasons

    1. It’s ridiculously convenient (With a young child, I need convenient as much as possible)
    2. It’s a quality protein (very easily assimilated by the body)
    3. It has been shown to quite possibly be the most powerful way to boost Glutithione levels naturally
    4. It has been shown to provide numerous health benefits like increased fat loss, lean muscle retention and the list goes on and on including like the possibility of fighting off some forms of cancer
    5. It tastes darn good in a shake

    Great post Emily!

    • Emily says:

      Thanks, Tim. I agree: If you are going to take protein powder, choose the best possible source (I would also use whey, low temp processed from grass fed cows), and pair it with saturated fat – coconut or dairy. Your smoothie sounds yummy, and I’d happily drink that if I was your guest! But at my house I’d substitute a pastured egg and a scoop of homemade yogurt for the powder. ;)

  16. Linda carter says:

    I can not say that I agree with this post completely. Just as all protein sources are not created equal. For example grass fed beef vs hormone induced antibiotic filled meats…neither are all protein powders created equal. There is a form of protein powders that are far superior to the ones noted in this article. Raw vegan brown rice Sprouted protein powders. Not made from Whey/Casin ! When you sprout or germinate grains and seeds you unlock the inhibitors therefore making them more digestible and nutrient rich. There are a few brands on the market that get this! Google sprouted protein…educate yourselves ..read articles that express a not so “jaded” view on this subject! Back away from my morning smoothie with “Sprouted” brown rice protein! Ha! I just can’t imagine making my body wok double time every morning to digest and process fish and eggs! Yuck!

    • Emily says:

      Linda – Thanks for your comment. I agree that all protein powders are not created equally. I also agree that sprouted grains and seeds are far more digestible and nutrient rich than in their un-sprouted form. I suppose if you follow a raw vegan diet, then sprouted brown rice protein powder (when accompanied by some good fats like coconut oil) may be a decent option for convenience. Or perhaps your protein powder just feels good in your body, and that’s fine too. Personally, I will take fish and eggs – or even sprouted rice itself – for breakfast any day over scoops of powder, regardless of the source. If I had to choose a protein powder, I would probably pick low temperature-processed whey from grass fed cows and then throw some coconut cream or raw milk in the smoothie for saturated fat.

  17. Kenya says:

    I just stared using a protein powder because I’m losing weight so rapily. If using protein powder is good to do what should I do to gain weight? I eat real food and it’s not helping me with my weight.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Kenya -Without having a comprehensive picture of your diet and circumstance, it’s difficult to say what you should eat besides protein powders to gain weight. I will say, though, that it is not a good idea to overdo it (or under consume) any one macro-nutrient (protein, fat, carbs) for a long period of time without consequences to health. Have you tried smoothies with raw eggs, grass fed cream, coconut oil and/or cream, full fat yogurt? I would also include lots of pureed soups made with bone broth and cream. If you are not already in the care of a good holistic practitioner, I would suggest finding someone who can help you address the root of the issue.

    • Katie says:

      Kenya, what I would suggest is making sure you are getting your daily caloric intake and protein.

  18. David says:

    I enjoyed this article and do agree with the basic premise of it–that protein powders are not really considered a food and it’s possible that it can pose some health risks if not balanced by quality fats. I’m a fan of whole foods and I’m also a fan of quality protein powders. However, from my perspective, this article is laying down a blanket statement at a segment of the population whose primary goal may not to be healthy (though this may be secondary, or even further down the list), but to look good in a bikini. I’m talking about the professional and amateur bodybuilders and physique competitors who are in it to make money. Additionally, there is a time and a place for the use of protein powders.

    The author failed to mention that protein powders and free-form branched chain amino acids (which are even more processed) are being used with success in varying specialties of Medical Nutritional Therapy. For example, patients suffering from dysphagia who are prescribed a level 1 diet can only eat liquid foods that are easily digested–hence the applicability of protein powders. Also, patients on dialysis suffering end-stage renal failure must have increased caloric and protein intake to prevent muscle wasting. Most of the times, these people have little to no appetite, so getting them to eat whole foods on a constant basis is a high hurdle. Free-form branched chain amino acids are part of a successful treatment in conjunction with a wholesome diet in the treatment of liver cirrhosis.

    In terms of bodybuilding, I believe the article misses the mark. Many bodybuilders or physique competitors use protein powders for convenience and just extra calories. In general, the habits of salt and water depletion, intense carbohydrate cycling, and additional supplement/drug use put enough stress on the body–there is hardly a soul out there who does not agree with this. Yet, bodybuilding to some people is a job–it gets the food on the table, it allows them to buy eggs, meat, and other food that makes up the “natural” part of their diet. But if they rely solely on whole foods, there is a slim chance these people will get the requisite calories they need because of the satiating effect of liver, eggs, etc. In turn, this will hamper their results–I have seen this firsthand. One would have to eat FOUR jumbo eggs in order to get the same amount of protein from one scoop of whey protein isolate. The four eggs will have quite a satiating punch, while the bodybuilder could add 80g of a resistant-starch such as oats to the protein powder and still be able to eat another hefty meal 2-3 hours later.

    There is substantial research in the literature showing that when taken with carbohydrates, protein synthesis increased. One such study showed protein synthesis increased by 300% post-workout when whey protein was eaten with simple carbohydrates, completely eclipsing protein synthesis done by protein or carbohydrate alone. If you take into consideration the double effects of insulin and GLUT-4, then you’d understand why bodybuilders believe it’s important to eat a easily digestible protein source, such as whey and casein protein (whey protein has the highest biological value of any protein source, and casein has the highest PDCAAS), along with calorie dense foods. There is also research in the literature showing that fat delays gastic emptying of protein and fats, leading to slower absorption of these nutrients. Though this may be critical for a diabetic and a competitor prepping for a show, this is detrimental to the bodybuilder looking to add muscle mass.

    Protein powders also have a significant price point advantage over whole foods. For someone who is aiming for caloric density, this is important.

    Lastly, I would challenge anyone here to get a person whose life depends on their performance on the stage to blend liver and eat it as often as they do whey protein powder. Chances are, you won’t find many, if any. If you traveled back in time to the Golden Era of bodybuilding when Paul Hackenschmidt, John Davis, John Grimek, and other natural superhumans trained, you would win the bet. But technology and research changed a lot of things. Dieting became somehow easier with supplements. This is akin to people who are addicted to McDonalds and other fast food: their short-term cravings (bodybuilder’s desire for results) and convenience may dictate their buying choices.

    • Emily says:

      Very interesting, David. Thanks for fleshing out some of the positives of protein powder. It is clear that healthiest overall choice is not always the best choice for an individual. For professional body builders, supplements may be worth any potential downsides since their livelihood is dependent on their muscular physique which, from what you say, is much more difficult to obtain through real food.

  19. David says:

    Emily,

    I am terribly sorry for my less than stellar grammar.

    I just discovered this site last night and I am impressed by its contents. Thanks for your hard work!

  20. izaz says:

    Thnq very very much. But i have a doubt that does protien powders make men infertile?

  21. […] from almond butter to protein powder. I switch it up as I’ve read some dubious things about whey protein – so sometimes I substitute in some real food […]

  22. Kint Verbal says:

    Interesting points. “Personally, I’m in the camp that thinks that any dehydrated, powdered food with prolonged shelf-life is probably not really a food.” But what about powdered baby milk? That has to be a food, it successfully replaces mother’s food for some beings that simply grow on it and nothing, nothing else!

  23. Kint Verbal says:

    @ people who think the “unnatural” muscle mass (with respect to bodybuilders) is offensive: research sarcoplasmic hypertrophy to understand the extra “muscle mass” they put on is non-contractile, adding zero strength and burdening the circulation system, the joints and of course compromising freedom of movement because of added mass and sheer size. Consider that a pro on a bulk can’t tie his shoes, and he can’t even run. Is THAT unnatural? I’d say YES.

  24. […] food.  I also strongly believe there are good and not so good protein powders.  Emily over at Holistic Kid does an excellent job outlining all the reasons why protein powders are not considered a real food […]

  25. Michele says:

    I read somewhere that egg white protein powder was a good protein supplement powder to use for gut dysbiosis. I’d like to know your thoughts about this. I have leaky gut and three of my severe reactive foods is beef, dairy, and egg yolk so I have been advised by my doctor not to do whey protein powder. And it was recommended that I do egg white protein powder. I’d also like to know if making homemade yogurt from coconut milk would be a good replacement along with a pastured egg. If it’s still healthier to do real eggs in a protein shake, if I cannot do the yolk how many egg whites would I do? Or what is your opinion on all of this. Thank you.

  26. Chris says:

    This is an awful article, total misinformation that could only be written by someone who doesn’t know enough to know that they don’t know.

    First, you cannot ‘overly’ denature a protein. It’s denatured or it isn’t. Secondly, it doesn’t matter. The process of cooking any protein denatures it. Your digestive system doesn’t care, in fact stomach acid will denature proteins if they haven’t been already. Denatured proteins are not useless by any means, they are simply proteins that have unfolded from a complex 3D shape . It has no effect on nutritional value. The whole process of digestion takes complex molecules and breaks them down into individual subunits, in this case amino acids from intact whole proteins.

    The heating process is called pasteurization, which you mention later in the article as a good thing. As far as the nitrates and MSG, that’s just laughable.

    Perhaps before you parrot someone else absurdly misinformed commentary you should do some research on your own.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Chris – Don’t you just love the anonymity of blog comments where you can be completely RUDE without taking ownership for what you type? If you have something rude to say, please feel free to write your own blog. I absolutely welcome constructive criticism on my blog, but you are NOT welcome to be obnoxious here.

      That said, the main point of this post was not about proving that protein powders contain denatured protein or whether or not this is a good or bad thing. Same for whether protein powders contain nitrates or MSG.

      I do not mention that pasteurization is a good thing in this post. I suggest that eggs from “pastured” hens are a better alternative to protein powder.

      This post is mostly about why most people don’t need extra protein, and the best ways to get it for those who do.

      Perhaps before you comment on a blog post, you should first read the post, and then consider if you would speak to any human being standing in front of you in the same way that you feel appropriate to comment on the internet.

    • Anon says:

      You clearly have zero understanding of utmost basic biology, as you seem to have not a single clue what an enzyme is. you have enzymes present in your directional tract that bind and digest specific nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. If a protein has lost its complex 3D shape (you just gave the reason to why your wrong on your own), the enzymes will not bind to it. So yes, your digestion system does “Care”. Also, in many cases your body isn’t breaking proteins down into their specific Amino acids, some yes, but that’s way to simplistic, and generally incorrect. The fact that digestion breaks things down is a given, but that’s just part of the equation that makes up the complex biology of your system. I can break compounds up by means outside of my body, that’s not digestion. “As far as Nitrates and MSG goes, that’s laughable” The only thing laughable here is you, my friend. Do you even know what MSG is? Clearly not. Its an amino acid, meaning make up wise, its present in most proteins (As you stated yourself again). As for nitrates, maybe you should do some research on the nitrate and protein cycle.

      Perhaps before you parrot someone else on their work you should do a little more than skim through Wikipeida and comment “Absurdly misinformed” garbage.

      I have a masters in biology and have been studying natural health for 30 years, you?

  27. Guy Aylward says:

    We are in the process of bringing my 92 year-old mother-in-law home from the nursing home following a massive stroke. They say there is nothing they can do but she responds well to my wife and she eats my cooking (Small amounts of cream soups and such). Still, she eats maybe 25% of what she needs to eat and that includes the nutrition shakes they give her. Their food looks awful, smells awful, and, according to my wife, tastes awful. So, while we would rather feed her eggs and steak and butter and such, she is only able to swallow on one side of her throat and must adhere to a pureed diet. The protein powder seems like one answer; not an easy way out or a fad diet for us.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Guy – I understand your predicament, and you may find protein powder to be helpful if accompanied by good sources of saturated fat.

      If I were in your shoes, I would first try more pureed soups made from scratch with bone broths and lots of extra fat and smoothies made with egg yolks and full fat yogurt and/or coconut milk for more nutrition density.

      My concerns about the protein powder for someone like your MIL are the health risks of too much protein with adequate fat.

      • Guy Aylward says:

        Thanks. I’m a cook and I do a lot of soups from scratch with homemade stock, heavy cream, butter, veggies, pureed meats, and etc. She likes these and does her best. Still, so far, she just can’t get down enough to satisfy the nutritionist and the doctor. I’ll run the protein powder by them and see what they think. Thanks again.

  28. Emily says:

    Hi there, does anyone know of a safe alternative for Carnation Instant Breakfast? I’ve been giving it to my kids for breakfast before school b/c they don’t have an appetite when they first wake up. Thanks!!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Emily – Why not just make them chocolate milk (whole, raw milk, and pure chocolate powder and maple syrup) or a chocolate smoothie (same but add a banana and or egg yolk) for breakfast? Same delicious flavor (IMO much better!) without all the junk AND with tons of great nutrition. :)

      • Emily says:

        Thanks so much! Can’t wait to try it! And if I’m in a pinch, what are your thoughts on the “Naked” brand of smoothies?

        • Emily says:

          Hi Emily – Truthfully, I think juices like this are essentially junk in good packaging, and the smoothies just have extra stuff added that you don’t need. There are certainly worse things. But I would first limit juice to when it is fresh squeezed – the only way you can be sure of the source and contents. Second best, choose organic. And make your own smoothies. It’s easy and not time consuming. You can even make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge for the morning rush.

        • Kelley says:

          Naked is owned by Tropicana, which is owned by Pepsi Co…. = Monsanto

  29. KT Pierce says:

    This is absolutely misleading. You didn’t take into consideration those with Lyme Disease or auto-immune disorders.

  30. KT Pierce says:

    This is misleading. What about people who require extra protein such as those with Lyme Disease, other chronic illnesses, or auto-immune disorders?

  31. Cynthia says:

    Emily,

    I am a WAPFer, but I’m also in a situation where I need extra protein due to having had weight loss surgery. My lab tests indicate that I am protein deficient. (I began doing WAPF only -after- I had the surgery, for what it’s worth.) Due to limited stomach size and being quickly satiated (especially when eating animal proteins) it is a challenge for me to get in sufficient amounts of protein through food.

    I have non-denatured whey protein from grass fed cows. very difficult to eat enough protein (due to limited stomach size and quick satiety).

    I have gone against the grain of the standard nutritional advice for post-op weight loss surgery patients and I eat according to WAPF guidelines, pastured/grass fed-animal proteins, full fat raw dairy from grass-fed cows, full fat coconut milk, etc. And I am not averse putting a raw egg yolk in my smoothie. I make my own yogurt (thanks to our mutual friend Monica Ford, whose yogurt-making class I recently attended) so I do have extra whey on hand. I admit I am not sure what to do the extra whey!

    To be honest, I really don’t like the protein powder very much. So I don’t take it as often as I should. I am far enough out post-op that I could possibly be able to begin to get all my proteins from real foods and not use the protein powder.

    If you have any ideas for me on how to pack in more protein without using the powders (again, I don’t like them–I can “taste” them even in a smoothie!) I’d be most appreciative to hear your thoughts.

    • KT Pierce says:

      Cynthia – I know Emily will have great advice for you. I just want to say that if you live anywhere near an Earth Fare, their vanilla protein powder is soooo delicious (like melted ice cream). It’s truly a treat! I am the most sensitive and picky eater on the planet, and I promise you – it’s delicious!! Other than that, I have yet to find a comparable protein powder in taste. I hope she gives some good advice.

      Oh! And vanilla flavored Earth Fare brand protein powder is made by a company called Vitamir I think. If you call the Earth Fare on Hendersonville Rd., Asheville, NC, they will be happy to help you figure out how to find that same mix near where you live. They’re the friendliest, most helpful folks I know. :)

    • Emily says:

      Hi Cynthia – How long ago was your surgery and when did the labs show protein deficiency? My guess is that with the way you’re eating, your body with find balance without forcing extra protein. If I were in your shoes, I would drink TONS of bone broth and even add some extra gelatin to help improve intestinal absorption, make sure to do at least 2 pastured eggs daily (if not more), and continue with the grassfed milk and yogurt. If you must have the protein powder, you have certainly chosen the best possible option. Wishing you the best!

      • Cynthia says:

        Hi Emily,

        So thankful for your reply :-) My surgery was 4 1/2 years ago. I confess I am not sure offhand of the most recent time my labs indicated protein deficiency–I will ask my MD to check my lab reports and will be sure to check my levels next time I see him.

        Fortunately, I like bone broths, so I don’t mind your “prescription” there. Ditto with the pastured eggs, though I will have to perhaps get more creative with them if I’m to eat a minimum of 2 daily, since I can only handle “obvious” egg dishes (scrambled, poached, omelette) a few times a week. From what I understand the protein is mainly in the whites. I also seem to recall that according to WAPF it is better to NOT eat the whites raw (e.g. in smoothies) but that raw yolks are ok. Is this still the current thinking? I am happy to eat the yolks raw in smoothies but I gather that this won’t help much with protein levels since the whites have the protein.

        Indeed, I think that as far as protein powder goes, I’ve at least found two really good brands that are from grass-fed cows, non-denatured, etc.

        Thank you for your blog and for your reply!

        • Emily says:

          An average egg white has 3.6g of protein and a yolk has 2.7g. I think the issue in a smoothie is mostly a texture thing, so I would experiment. I typically use all yolks in ice cream but with homemade mayo (which we use as dip for everything!) I do half eggs and half whites. I also like to make a breakfast soup using bone broth, whole eggs and some extra yolks. I will be posting this soon. It’s a great way to eat the eggs without eating the eggs. ;)

          • Kelley says:

            I appreciate this portion of the comments most. This is a subject close to my heart. I had WLS 9 months ago. I have trouble getting in the amount of recommended protein. Carbs go down soo easily, where as any protein sits like a brick. I found myself getting sick from the recommended skim milk, yogurt, cottage cheese etc. I thought that I was becoming lactose intolerant. Then I drank raw milk for the first time 3 months ago. It was like the lightbulb finally went off. My kids now must defend their new “$10 a gallon farm milk” to friends in school. But it’s worth it. We are now abnormal, in a low income Mc-fast-food-king environment. The things I am now learning and trying to implement in our families diet are foreign. It will take time to replace all of our old bad habits. But we are on the right track. As far as the protein powder goes. Originally I was using (hating) the dietitian’s preferred brand. Until the light bulb hit that area as well. I have found a few that I can tolerate. Low – temp and non gmo. My husband is on board with most of the changes. But he is trying to “bulk” up. Listening to body builders. So we have 2 separate protein powders. Any protein powder that says “natural and artificial ingredients” should make anyone run the other way. Baby steps… in time we will get it together. Increasing real food nutrients, decreasing processed. Increasing water, probiotics, and healthy fats, decreasing sugar. For those of us who are not as knowledgeable in these areas, be patient with yourself and the changes. Don’t beat yourself up. Take it one day at a time. For those of you with years of vast knowledge, please be kind to one another. The “kids” are watching. Sometimes this might be the only/ first info someone who wants to change their lifestyle might get. “To whom much is given, much is required”. Educate us, don’t berate us for getting things wrong. That’s how you learn.

          • HM Jones says:

            I too appreciate the article & this portion of the comment. I had gastric bypass in 2004 & have had many complications. Now dealing with many health issues including autoimmune disease. I was put on whole foods diet by health coach 6 months ago but recently saw a specialist for patients with bypass complications who says I need to scrap that & return to the bypass diet which is mostly protein, including the protein shakes. I was never able to tolerate any protein shakes years ago & gave up on them-just the smell was enough to make me vomit. I was not aware of the plant based powders then & apparently neither was my doc. I cannot get the protein I need from food apparently, even 9 yrs post op. I do no T look forward to again wasting money on powders that I won’t be able to tolerate & can’t return. I am lactose intolerant and seem to be sensitive to wheat, gluten, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and whatever my stomach feels like rebelling against that day. I existed mostly on omelets & peanut butter prior to the whole foods diet. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    • HM Jones says:

      Sorry, forgot to add that I am also to avoid fats because of the way my surgery was done-my body can’t tolerate well. I do use coconut milk & coconut oil in cooking, some olive oil occasionally and healthy nuts sparingly.

  32. Ali says:

    I agree – whole foods vs powders are absolutely the way to go… BUT… (and I think the comments address this) there are some cases where protein powders can be useful & perhaps necessary. For those with digestive or physical weaknesses and/or food allergies the protein from the powders are likely more assimilable. And since protein is needed for healing, the protein powders may be necessary in the interim until the GI has healed enough to tolerate the eggs, yogurt etc. & other healing whole foods. (Yes, bone broth is a great healer & perhaps enough for some, but for many added protein is crucial to the healing process, and might only be tolerated in the powder form in initial stages)

  33. Casey says:

    The majority of protein powders are dried around 60-70ºC, while slight denaturization does occur, it’s generally minimal and when it does happen it damages the amino acids in the protein powder. Also, protein powder is the most cost effective way to provide the body with protein as the ideal ratio for protein to body weight for anyone engaged in a decent amount of physical activity is roughly .87 grams of protein per 1lb of body weight, not to mention the amount of calories needed for any individuals looking to put on any type of muscle mass.

    All things considered, I think this articles lacks a great deal of research needed to make any of its information a worthwhile read. The one article you did site provides plenty of misinformation.

  34. Rubie says:

    Coconut oil and avocado in a protein smoothie gives it a mouse like effect, so yummy!
    When making smoothies I tend to pretend its my post workout elixir and put lots of stuff in there!
    Banana, avocado, coconut oil, hemp seeds, maca powder, cacao, blueberries, chia seeds and lecithin… And yes, protein powder. I could def go without it but I use it as an opportunity to add all my supplements in there. It’s not a meal replacement, it’s just a post workout feed to the muscles and I still consume 1500 calories of whole fat protein, carbs and fat

  35. Tressan says:

    My holistic Chiro just recommended pea protein. I can’t read everything everyone wrote but if it’s not repetitive could you respond to this please? Thanks

    • Emily says:

      Hi Tressan – If it’s organic, it’s probably not that bad. But I still am not convinced that most people actually NEED extra protein, especially not without extra fat.

  36. Jadel says:

    What would you say about a high protein drink with concentrated LIQUID whey and casein protein that has never been powdered? “Never powdered and always lactose-free, Core Power™ is nature’s natural energy, protein, & mineral source.” http://www.corepower.com/honey-26g-products-3.php
    Mid to late pregnancy I was found to be protein deficient even while consuming quite regularly plenty of home-raised red meats, fish, pastured eggs and dairy. Midwife recommended 80-120 grams of protein per day and the only way I was able to meet that requirement was to supplement with Core Power (20-26 g/bottle, but never drank more than 1/day). Now breast feeding a 3 week old (he was 10.2 pounds at birth!) and finding it even harder to make protein and nutrient dense meals a regular part of our diet. What are your thoughts on this product in my case and in general?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Jadel –

      I’m curious to hear more about your case… Why were you found to be protein deficient during your pregnancy? Were you underweight of having muscle weakness?

      Regarding the Core Power – personally it doesn’t look very healthy to me. It is very low in fat, high in sugar, and is made with low fat milk and preservatives. Aside from it’s processed nature, the absence of fat with that much protein is concerning.

  37. This does make a good point, HOWEVER, I think in a realistic world of faced paced work, life, kids….everything, this is definitely the lesser of the evils in the food world and shouldn’t be so quickly snubbed.
    I use RAW PROTEIN, protein powder from organic sprouts and rice. It is loaded with FAT-SOLUBLE vitamins A,D,E,K and has live PROBIOTICS AND ENZYMES too and NO PRESERVATIVES. So instead of skipping a meal, or waiting until I’m so hungry that I grab one of my kid’s donuts….I think having a quality protein powder to get me through my morning or day that is nutritious is definitely a good choice and a smart one at that:)

    • Emily says:

      Hi Wholesome Gal – As protein powders go, that one looks pretty good! The label lists no fat though so I’d be sure to mix it with a big glug of raw milk or coconut cream. If you don’t mind me asking, why not give your kids this stuff too instead of their donuts?

      Anyone interested, you can find the this protein powder here: http://amzn.to/Yezqmm.

  38. Jen says:

    Hi Emily great site and thanks for the time you put ino it. I have a question about gaining muscle. I am 40, fit and eat a traditional diet 90% of the time (egss, fish, coconut oil-the whole shebang and BTW bummer on the Lara bars). All my life it has been difficult to gain muscle in spite of walking, yoga and pilates. Tone, yes but not muscle. Any thoughts.
    Thanks

  39. John says:

    I think protein powders are good for active people whether they are into sports, athletics or bodybuilding. In my opinion it depends on the amount you consume. If you only use it as a supplement and not a full meal replacement you should be fine.

  40. I am just reading about alternatives to growth hormones for kids that are not growing normally. My son is 11 and going 6th grade this September. He is very small compare to his classmates. He only weighs 55 lbs. and I am really worried. He is very picky and don’t seem to have a good appetite. I am going to incorporate these ideas and see if it helps. Thanks for sharing!

  41. Gwen says:

    I use Jay Robb protein powders or SunWarrior protein powders but am unsure if these are “safe” or not. Probably better options than others, but still not sure if they are necessary? My question is about the high protein-low carb trend & the debate about whether this is healthy/safe long-term. Paleo is HUGE right now and whiles many tout it to be “everything,” for me, I am concerned about eliminating entire food groups. I agree white, processed foods are bad – but do we really need THAT MUCH MORE PROTEIN & damn near zero carbs? Mercola has been suggesting this for awhile now… Not sure I agree with it. After having tried this in the past, where I use more protein powders/eat more protein & avoid carbs at all costs (including fruit) in order to try to lose 15-ish lb, the result was the opposite. I didn’t lose any lbs & instead stayed the same weight & gained guilt from over analyzing EVERYTHING I put in my mouth – Too many carbs? Too many sugars? Gonna spike blood sugars? Ridic!!!

    So I would LOVE your take on the Paleo diet/low carb & fruit – or how it relates to proteins and us not necessarily needing MORE of them (especially not in subpar forms such as powders). Thanks!!! Hope I didn’t veer off topic too badly! :) And if you have already spoken about this, let me know. JUST found your site & LOVE IT!!! Right up my alley! Thanks!!!

    PS – Great tip about adding a healthy fat WITH the protein – but how much coconut oil would you add to a smoothie for one person? Not entirely sure I am getting enough fats in my diet daily…

    • Sarah says:

      Gwen, I just wanted to share that depending on your body sometimes they thrive on carbs. Plus cutting out food groups, like fat or carbs usually ends up lopsided and fails after a while from my experience. I stayed away from carbs and it was super hard and I didn’t lose any weight. Now I am at my healthiest and slimmest when I eat brown rice pasta, organic pasta 1-2 times a week and I can really eat when those are offered. I make pasta with veggies from my non-GMO garden and I always feel amazing afterwards.

  42. Judith Hausman says:

    I am a 73 year old white female, with limited mobility, had a gastric bypass 8 years ago and lost 160 lbs. I eat very healthy, low fat, no sugar, etc. and I wanted to lose another 30, so I started drinking whey protein with 1 meal a day. I didn’t lose any weight, but I have to urinate 9 or 10 times a night. After reading your information, I realize I am making a big mistake. I did this faithfully for 3 weeks. Any suggestions?

    • Emily says:

      Hi Judith, thanks for your question. I would avoid a low fat diet which can make protein more difficult to assimilate and eat real food. I hope that helps.

  43. Deb says:

    I had gastric sleeve surgery one year ago. I was mainly drinking protein shakes 3-4 times per day as ordered by my doctor. I have had migraines almost everyday. When I found out that there was MSG in them I stopped and the migraines went away. I think that says enough!

  44. Arman says:

    Well… Body builders need a lot of protein, but the protein that they need, will be the equivalent of 30 eggs, or 2 KGs of red meat…

  45. Sarah says:

    So I fall into a separate category, I need to have something in the morning, sugar totally ruins my whole day! In the fall-winter I will eat eggs like crazy but in the spring and summer my appetite dwindles, I don’t like eggs…even the free range local ones I buy! My husband does protein because he doesn’t like to eat breakfast, so it became a way to get something in him before work. I do well with eating whole foods the rest of my meals. In fact recently I dont even have my shake until about 11am…I feel lost on what else to eat because I don’t feel hungry but need something…

  46. Ty says:

    I agree with your assessment of high temperature processing of protein but those process are being used these days on low quality products. Many high quality protein powders are moving to low temperature processing and preserve the protein quite well. There are people that really do need to supplement some protein that have trouble with absorption and it seems very reckless to call protein “toxic” based on your “probably feeling” “Personally, I’m in the camp that thinks that any dehydrated, powdered food with prolonged shelf-life is probably not really a food.” If you really want to make your articles good then link to scholarly reviewed journals on the subject as anything else is really just as much an opinion piece as something about best clothing style. Honestly I am just starting to research this topic and your article raises key questions but for me I need proof.

  47. monique says:

    thank you! It’s so hard for people to grasp it’s about eating WhOLE Foods.

  48. gigi says:

    Thanks for the information, great article! I’m vegetarian and I know I get enough protein from foods like quinoa, almonds and beans but when I was pregnant, my husband and doctor teamed up and convinced me to take soy protein shakes. The shakes made me sick so I guess the baby knew they were no good (:

  49. AlleninAK says:

    First off, I agree in principle. However, some companies, like Mercola, offer a protein powder from Raw whey that is not high heat denatured. I was blessed/cursed with the metabolism from hell. I can eat a huge breakfast and be ravinously hungry at 9. I also am psychotically busy. If I can make a quick shake in the morning, chug it, and keep from killing anyone until 11, thats a definite plus! I have tried other stuff, but the protein powder is what gives it the holding power. I wish I had the time and money to have steak and eggs for breakfast, but that just isnt a reality. I also wish that I could eat one grape and live for the entire day, but that also isnt a reality. On a side note, I have made the NT baby formula or at least most of the ingredients, and used it instead of the protein powder and I can last almost as well. But its expensive and takes a while to prepare too. No magic bullet, but the protein powder is not the demon to only be relegated to Arnold and the other pro body builders

  50. […] more about the dangers of protein powders  HERE and […]

  51. […] protein powders, especially when you consider all the other goodies you get with spirulina (see http://holisticsquid.com/the-problem-with-protein-powders/). Spirulina contains all the essential amino acids, plus some, and provides a healthy portion of […]

  52. Ayla says:

    I think I agree that protein powder is unnecessary as we can all that we need more properly from real, whole foods. But I still wanted to share with you this product because I’ve long since depended on protein powder for quick meals and on-the-go post-workout snacks.

    Vital Whey Protein, found at grasslandbeef.com

  53. Billie says:

    Hello hello :)), I was searching for some info regarding healthy supplementing while breast feeding and pregnant (two things I just happen to be…) and came upon this article. I purchased protein powder from here http://www.sunwarrior.com/ earlier this year because of it’s contents being plant based (vegan) no gmo, organic, no soy, no dairy, etc. have you hear of this, and if so what’s your take? I love the way it makes me feel all around when I do drink it, which is seldom (just so busy) but I’m reading that I should mix with a fat? Thanks in advance! Best Regards, Billie

  54. Scooby1961 says:

    Nice references. Protein powder is 100% natural and I add it to every meal.

  55. […] The Problem with Protein Powders […]

  56. Christiane says:

    Good blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find high quality writing like
    yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate people like you!
    Take care!!

  57. Allina says:

    So are the raw rice protein powders no good?
    I add some fats to mine.

  58. Lydia says:

    When you recommend to add “real” whey, are you talking about they whey you separate when making homemade yogurts? Just clarifying. My husband is trying to lose some weight and all of his work out buddies keep pushing protein powder. I’m trying to find other options.

  59. Emily says:

    Hi Lydia, thanks for the question. Yes, when I mention real whey, that is exactly what I mean. It’s much better to get protein from natural sources where at all possible.

  60. I’m not in strong agreement with the bottom line of this article.
    Yes you need more fats if you’re consuming proteins. Yes protein at a highly excessive level (over 1.5grams/kg body weight) may not be so beneficial, but honestly, of people ate more proteins and less carbohydrates from breads, grains and other starchy sources, I think most would be more healthy.
    Think, instead of a plate of chicken, rice, and vegetables, maybe a plate with no rice and more vegetables and chicken.

  61. […] Holistic Squid: The Problem with Protein Powders […]

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    presently delivers the most of HGH the human body may use naturally anyway.
    The rest is wasted. For these individuals they would be better served by a simple
    multi-vitamin. To force the human body to create considerably larger amounts of lean muscle mass using HGH in a newer age will need the utilization of injections.

    It is a usually outlawed course of action without medical factors.

  63. Desiree says:

    love this article! Do you have any scientific references to protein needing fat to assimilate? I’ve always felt this but have not seen it anywhere!

  64. Arthur Houshiar says:

    Hi Emily,
    Great article, but I was wondering about your feelings on Organic Rice Protein–not processed, zero additives or chemicals, extracted from whole grain and sprouted brown rice. Not using it as a meal replacement, just to help with muscle growth as I am an athlete. Just an additional protein source (12 grams per serving)
    Thanks!

    • Emily says:

      Hi Arthur – Thanks for your comment. If you’re going to use any protein powder, choose the ‘cleanest’ one you can find and then consume it with fat. :)

  65. Jon Jon says:

    There are people who make a lousy $300 per week, with a $100 grocery bill the way it is, protein powder benefits their wallet. You know how much it would cost to eat enough meat everyday to make massive gains. You’re nit picking. These people found a hobby that doesn’t consist of drugs or alcohol. Good for them.

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