The Truth About Protein Supplements

Protein is composed of building blocks called amino acids.  Protein supplements supply these amino acids to your body that are then used to feed your muscles.  Whey protein has all nine essential amino acids which makes this a good protein supplement.  In addition, whey protein is the fastest absorbing protein available.  Like everything else, there is the possibility of overdoing the protein supplements.  High doses of protein can cause nausea, bloating, cramps, headaches, and loose bowel movements.  Remember that your body needs vitamins and minerals in addition to the protein.  So be careful when you’re on your protein supplement.  Don’t neglect your vitamins and minerals.  Whey protein is good for building muscle and also as an aid to losing weight.  You have to be careful, however, as excess intake of whey protein will cause you to gain weight in the form of fat.

Whey protein is made during the cheese making process.  When making cheese, certain enzymes are added to milk causing a solid component called curd.  The curd is used in making cheese.  The liquid that is left over from this process has the whey protein.  There is another protein, casein, which also comes from milk.

Sometimes, the whey protein will make people ill.  This could be due to the sugar alcohols which are used to sweeten the supplement.  Sugar alcohols are used to keep the calories low.  Examples are sorbitol and isolated fructose.  So you may want to switch protein supplements if your present supplement is making you sick.

A condition that can make you ill from taking the protein supplements is lactose intolerance.  You can try changing your supplement to whey isolate which does not contain fat or lactose. This could solve the lactose intolerance.   There is a third form of protein known as whey protein hydrolysate which has undergone partial hydrolysis and doesn’t require as much digestion as the two other forms of whey protein.  This may help eliminate stomach discomfort if this is a symptom that you are experiencing.

Amazingly, protein supplements have not been approved or regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration.  Research has shown that protein has positive effects on muscle building, but there is concern within the agency about potential negative side effects.

Soy protein powder has phytoestrogens which are plant based compounds that can mimic the body’s estrogen.  High levels of phytoestrogen could increase the risk of some cancers in men and women.  Specifically, breast cancer in women.  I should point out, however, that the cancer risk is unclear and research is ongoing to determine if this is the case.  For example, a report in Anticancer Research suggests that whey protein may actually help fight some cancers.

A study issued by Consumer Reports in 2010 showed that all the protein powders that were tested showed traces of heavy metals including lead, arsenic, and cadmium.  These metals can produce neurological symptoms, cancer, and death if taken in sufficient quantities.

Protein supplements are used widely especially among body builders.  Like everything else, use the protein supplements in moderation if you are going to use them at all.  Remember that you can get adequate protein from your everyday diet if you eat wisely.

Wishing you continued success with your weight loss and weight maintenance, Pablo.


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