Perhaps you go to a gym, or maybe you’re engaged in a weight-loss or muscle-building regimen. You’re probably familiar with those oversized plastic canisters of protein powders or supplements for smoothies, shakes and energy drinks. Many of them feature pictures of seemingly impossible-sized athletes lifting enormous quantities of weight along with macho product names and taglines which might seem like they’re right out of an action-adventure movie.
Have you ever wondered what’s in these supplemental products? These substances often contain tremendous amounts of dried egg whites, whey and other protein building blocks that can actually help deliver the results they promise — for a price. Unfortunately, too many people come to rely on these products and either don’t use them correctly or, even worse, use them as meal replacements, believing that they offer superior nutritional value for a relatively low price.
The truth is that these supplements can indeed offer you some benefits, particularly if you’re on a “massive muscle mass”-building program and are aiming to bulk up fast. But the more you consume of them, the greater the danger is that you’re doing long-term damage to your liver, your kidneys and possibly other vital organs.
If you really are a “gym rat” and spend inordinate amounts of time lifting weights and working out, the nutrients and necessities in these supplemental products may help you. But they were never designed to replace real meals, and most workout guides and training experts will confirm that whenever possible, you should opt for real food instead of these supplements as substitutes.
The best sources of proteins are the foods from which many of these supplements are drawn from — egg whites, whey, soybeans and lean meat. You can get vitamins, minerals and necessary trace elements from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes as needed. While it’s true that some of these components can’t or shouldn’t be consumed raw, preparation and cooking time for them is generally minimal, and anyone serious about their weight training or fitness regimens should be willing to utilize that time.
The real problems with supplements are twofold — first, the form of the nutrients they’re trying to deliver takes more time for your body to process than the same components in the form of many real foods do, and second, all of the other “junk” in these supplements is either unnecessary, inapplicable or, at worst, harmful for your body, usually in large amounts.
Some supplements contain up to 80 grams of protein in each serving (usually one scoop), which is way too much for most people; the daily requirement for most adults is typically between 46 to 56 grams. All this added protein will make your liver and kidneys work extra hard to process it and get rid of waste products. Over time, this takes a heavy toll on your body. Beware using these products day-in and day-out for years — you can run a real risk of eventual kidney or liver failure.
These powders can also dehydrate your body, which is no good if much of your fitness routine is cardiovascular exercises like running or swimming. Signs of dehydration include headaches, fatigue, excessive thirst and lightheadedness.
Another paradoxical problem of too much protein is the risk of osteoporosis. Although it may be counterintuitive, too much protein intake causes your body to produce acid, which is released together with calcium when you urinate. Excess calcium depletion leads to osteoporosis, which is particularly a problem in older people and women.
In addition, these products often contain all kinds of additional ingredients that are preservatives, sweeteners, thickening agents and texturizers, often comprised of chemicals and artificial constituents that are no good or even harmful for your body and brain.
Beware supplements that promise to deliver “100%” or more of all your daily nutritional necessities. Remember that without these supplements, many people are already getting the 100 percent they need of these components from their diet, so adding another 100 percent on top of that most often is unnecessary and at worst, it can be harmful, especially if specific vitamins or minerals overload your body. Trace elements like chromium, selenium, zinc and iron should especially be paid attention to. Day-in, day-out use of these products can build up these elements in your body and result in nutrient absorption issues, chemical imbalances and toxicity.
One last downside to these supplements is their cost. Per gram of protein, they may appear to be priced advantageously compared to what you would get, say, in a pound of steak, fish or chicken. But as any sports-nutrition specialist will tell you, quantity does not always equal quality. The quality of protein found in fresh, raw, real food is immensely higher than that which is found in a product that’s been processed, dried, stored for long periods of time on a shelf somewhere and possibly kept in extremes of heat or cold.
So while supplements might seem like a relative bargain cost-wise (even though each container can be priced at up to $100 per unit), you can’t look at things strictly from a monetary perspective. From an analysis of what your body can actually absorb, the proteins found in food are cheaper in the long run than those found in supplements because your body can make use of them more readily and effectively.
The bottom line with supplements is that most people don’t need them, and for many, their risks outweigh their benefits. When in doubt about protein, try altering your diet first before you look to something contained in a plastic tub for salvation.
~ Health Scams Exposed