You probably didn’t see this coming; someone telling you that the protein shake you’ve been consuming may not be that healthy after all. Yes, you see the advertisement with the bulky men, you see it trending amongst your friends or at the gym, and you’ve come to believe that it’s nutritious. Do note though, I cannot generalize; there are many great companies now that produce protein powders with organic and pure ingredients. For that, again, I cannot generalize, but will simply make you aware of what’s lurking in the popular protein powders out there.
First off, all of the soy ingredients on the ingredient list should scare you away. Soy is one of the main crops that are most likely genetically engineered, unless labeled otherwise really. Why are GMOs an issue, well that needs an article of its own. To sum it up though, genetically engineered crops are said to cause numerous health effects, like cancer, intolerances, birth defects, infertility, and more. They have not been around long enough for them to be tested. Must I mention, more than 26 nations globally ban the growing or selling of any genetically engineered ingredients, while another 64 nations require labeling of any product that contains genetically engineered ingredients.
True, protein powders contain no added sugar, but instead the majority do contain artificial sweeteners; another reason you should opt them out of your diet. Artificial sweeteners have negative connotations on your health, one of the major ones being brain tumors. They are manmade in a chemical lab, not found anywhere in nature. Sure, avoiding sugar is a great habit to follow, but not by replacing it with these chemicals instead. If you see sugar alcohols on the nutritional label and no sugar, be comfortable putting that product back on the shelf.
When it comes to the whey, another main ingredient in protein powders, you should question if it comes from cow or livestock that were raised with hormones, antibiotics, and genetically engineered feed. These hormones and antibiotics excessively given to the livestock undoubtedly leak into the dairy by-products they produce. Don’t doubt that these cause sickness in the long run, because they may.
I’ll end with some good news in case I just destroyed your hope with these concerns. Today, there are companies that sell protein powders with organic grass-fed whey, pure and natural ingredients, and instead of artificial sweeteners, they use stevia extract (look for alcohol free). Try finding a product you like that is pure in ingredients, or skip the protein powder and aim for a high protein meal instead. That can include fish, meat, or chicken and vegetables, quinoa pilafs, or even a homemade smoothie with hemp seeds for a boost of protein.
Staying fit is undoubtedly essential, and working out is great. Just don’t sabotage all that weight lifting by consuming these chemicals in your shake afterwards. Lastly, make your goal better health and strength; don’t obsess with a bulky look. Being healthy begins from within, not without.
Editor’s Note: Noor Salem is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and is CEO of her own wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition, LLC. Noor specialized in women’s health, weight loss, and food intolerance versus allergies. She offers individual and group health coaching programs, and is a speaker on the topic of holistic health at workshops and seminars. The views expressed here are her own.