Could my protein powder be poisoning me?
June 17, 2011 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Should I be worried about my protein supplement? Should I give it up? What are some good alternatives?

I'm getting back into working out and taking care of myself after a few years and I stumbled across this article from a July 2010 Consumer Reports. I somehow missed this when it was news and any fallout that might have resulted.

I bought some protein powder from Costco in 2010 that I'm pretty sure is EAS (I discarded the original packaging). Their liquid drink is listed as one of the worst offenders, but the powder is not on the chart. I don't know if it was tested.

What is the consensus on protein powder in light of this article? I'm sure regulations haven't changed. I've seen some people questioning their methods. Judging from the amount of AskMe questions about protein powder since then, it is either isn't a concern for most people or they haven't read the article.

My fitness routine involves weightlifting and plenty of protein; I'm spoiled by the convenience of protein powder in smoothies and shakes. Should I just resign myself to whole foods (pricier, slower) or what?
posted by entropicamericana to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I use the Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey, which according to their chart doesn't actually exceed any of the recommended limits. I also don't use 3 servings a day so I'm not too worried about it. I'm not a doctor or nutritionist though.
posted by ghharr at 8:48 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

An interesting alternative to whey protein is hemp protein powder. It's not quite as heavily concentrated in protein as whey powder is, but it has very few downsides and many upsides vs. whey. Info:
posted by mrbob14 at 9:23 AM on June 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

You bought this protein in 2010 and we are half way done with 2011. I doubt you are consuming enough protein to really matter. Sort of like it is safe to eat canned fish once a week due to mercury.

I wouldn't suggest hemp protein as a post-workout drink. Fine taken other times during the day but tt takes way too long to digest due to all that yummy fiber to be an optimal post-workout drink. There are veg proteins out there that can do you good, but hemp isn't it. (The linked article makes a few dubious claims additionally, but that is a bit of a derail. MeMail me if you like.)
posted by munchingzombie at 9:37 AM on June 17, 2011

To be fair, I only started using the 2010 protein a few weeks ago when I re-established my fitness routine. Until I read the article last night, I was having at least one shake a day.

I'm sure everybody would genuinely like to hear what claims you feel are dubious, it seems pretty on-topic to me.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:42 AM on June 17, 2011

2nd what ghharr said. The link you posted doesn't have the full article. When I first saw the article, I switched to Gold Standard Whey, and have been happy with it.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 10:00 AM on June 17, 2011

Throw your EAS, switch to ON Double Chocolate and you'll never go back.
posted by unixrat at 10:47 AM on June 17, 2011

I think you'd also be shocked by the amount of these elements in your tap water (around here one of the wells exceeds the legal limit for uranium), some whole foods (arsenic has been a problem in chicken, for instance), tons of processed foods, other dietary supplements, etc. The fact that too much lead and arsenic are in some brands of protein powder does not mean that all protein powder is bad, just as problems with some water sources don't mean that all water is bad.

Some protein powders are certainly better than others -- if you're worried about the EAS, toss it and get something from a more exacting brand.
posted by vorfeed at 11:14 AM on June 17, 2011

I wouldn't worry *too* much about it.

Look at the actual numbers; almost everything else is listed as g (grams, a measure of weight), EAS is listed a ml (mililitres, a measure of volume). The protein content per 3 servings is generally 3x (or more) than almost every other entry. It looks like they tested 3x as much material compared to the other candidates.

Lead and mercury are undetectable. Arsenic is about 3-4x everything else, cadmium is less than 3x everything else that rates.

It seems like its no worse than any other "at risk" supplement in the testing panel.

Consumer Reports is pretty dope, but I couldn't find a methodology (at the very least; which lab did the testing, or which "kit" CR used, or what).

Don't worry about it.

Also, you're probably consuming too much "protein" - if you aren't incorporating it your body's either just burning it for energy (producing smellier poop) or just passing it (smellier poop) and giving your kidneys a harder time as a byproduct.
posted by porpoise at 9:38 PM on June 17, 2011

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