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Harvard health letter on "The hidden dangers of protein powders"

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  • Harvard health letter on "The hidden dangers of protein powders"

    Hi Jordan,

    I know you recommend that any protein supplements we purchase are cGMP certified at a miniumum. With that said, I recently came across an article from Harvard Medical School titled "The Hidden Dangers of Protein Powder": https://www.health.harvard.edu/stayi...rotein-powders. They cite 4 risks in the article:
    • 1. "A protein powder is a dietary supplement. The FDA leaves it up to manufacturers to evaluate the safety and labeling of products. So there's no way to know if a protein powder contains what manufacturers claim." - My thoughts: I assume by purchasing a cGMP certified protein product we can try to mitigate this risk?
    • 2. "We don't know the long-term effects. "There are limited data on the possible side effects of high protein intake from supplements," McManus says." - I don't know enough about the research to make an educated statement on this.
    • 3. "It may cause digestive distress. "People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose [milk sugar] can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder," McManus points out." -- If this is the case then they can just get vegan or lactose-free protein powder.
    • 4. "It may be high in added sugars and calories. Some protein powders have little added sugar, and others have a lot (as much as 23 grams per scoop). Some protein powders wind up turning a glass of milk into a drink with more than 1,200 calories. The risk: weight gain and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 24 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men." -- I think this comes down to the consumer choosing a good protein powder that doesn't have a lot of crap added.
    I'm curious what your thoughts are in regards to the article, particularly points #1 and #2. I feel like points #3 and #4 come down to the consumer choosing a good product that agrees with them.

  • #2
    Phys,

    Thanks for the post!

    1) Yes. Also, NSF or Informed for Sport labeling tests each batch. We use the latter.
    2) This is BS.
    3) Correct, though there's usually no lactose in high quality whey supplements - note the absence of carbohydrates. With a milk-protein allergy however, they'll usually have to take a different type of supplemental protein.
    4) This may be true for some mass gainer supplements, sure. That said, one of the biggest benefits of a protein supplement is that it has a high amount of protein with minimal calories. Our protein has 21g of protein and only 90kCal, for example.

    I think the article needs to be updated.

    -Jordan
    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
    ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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    • #3
      Hey Jordan, thanks for the response. If you have the time, could you elaborate on why point #2 is BS? Is it because there are long term studies on protein powder supplementation or is it because of something else?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by physiatry111 View Post
        Hey Jordan, thanks for the response. If you have the time, could you elaborate on why point #2 is BS? Is it because there are long term studies on protein powder supplementation or is it because of something else?
        Yes, we have long term studies on high protein intakes- as high as 4.4g/kg/day - and long term epidemiological data suggesting that after correcting for confounders such as obesity, smoking, fiber intake, etc., populations eating high amounts of protein (from animals) have similar health outcomes to those eating low or high amounts of protein (from plants).
        Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
        ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jordan Feigenbaum View Post

          Yes, we have long term studies on high protein intakes- as high as 4.4g/kg/day - and long term epidemiological data suggesting that after correcting for confounders such as obesity, smoking, fiber intake, etc., populations eating high amounts of protein (from animals) have similar health outcomes to those eating low or high amounts of protein (from plants).
          What about long term studies on high protein intakes specifically from protein powders? (I think this is what the article was referring to)

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          • #6
            That is exactly what I'm talking about:

            https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27807480
            Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
            ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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            • physiatry111
              physiatry111 commented
              Editing a comment
              Misunderstanding on my part--thanks for the reference, I appreciate it.
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