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Is Your Protein Powder Toxic?

Why Bother With Protein Powder?

Many health experts argue that very few people need high quantities of protein to begin with, and Consumer Reports points out there are many protein sources from the grocery store which can supply all the protein you need that are not toxic.

Protein Facts:

  • Protein is essential in the body for our muscles but is also necessary for most cell functions since it makes up enzymes, hormones and even DNA.
  • Most protein is recycled, so unless you are growing rapidly or are breaking down the body with extreme physical exertion, there is no need for a lot of new protein.
  • More people in North America actually suffer from too much protein. Read: The Protein Myth
  • The extra calories from excess protein (more than the body needs) are converted into fat.
  • The extra nitrogen (ammonia group) from excess protein is first a big stress to the liver in the form of ammonia and then a bigger stress to the kidney in the form of urea.
  • Years of stressing the kidney can cause kidney failure.
  • Kidney failure is a common disease and cause of death in countries where lots of protein in eaten.
  • Kidney failure is very common in populations with very high protein intake (Eskimos, body builders).
  • When patients are hospitalized with kidney failure, the first thing done is to put a person on a low protein diet.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The recommended daily allowance for protein is .75 gram for every kilogram of ideal body weight. This means about 44 grams for an average 120 pound female and 56 grams for the average 150 pound male.

These RDAs are based on studies that found the actual human need for protein at .3 grams/ kilogram. A huge margin of safety was added to account for individual variability.

The International Society Of Sports Nutrition has gone a step further, recommending 1 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for endurance athletes and up to 2 grams of protein / kilo of body weight for strength or power athletes. Again this is being very generous and if you are not an endurance or power athlete, this amount of protein is way too much.

Benefits of Protein Powder

The biggest benefit of protein powders is that they are convenient and for a serious athlete they can be very useful.

For serious athletes, nutrient timing is very important. The effects of nutrition can be greatly maximized by eating it at the proper time. In almost all cases, this is just before and just after hard exercise. This allows for the body to have a ready supply of energy during activity plus the needed protein and carbohydrates to repair and build muscle right after. It is this repair and build up of muscle that is the key factor in getting greater performance and in some cases losing weight.

It is often just not convenient to be cooking after exercise.

Although protein powders can be a good addition to an already healthy balanced diet they should not be used as a substitute. That being said, if the choice for some people is between coffee and a doughnut versus the protein shake, the protein shake wins easily, as long as it is a good quality product.


At Real Food for Life, we like to remind everyone that you can get all your protein requirements from whole real foods. Every single whole plant food has protein.

Beans, grains, seeds and sprouts have high levels of proteins, but fruits like oranges, bananas and even watermelons have complete protein. You just have to eat more of those foods.

In North America, most people are generally eating a lot of food. If that food was whole food, there would be an abundance of all nutrients.

Protein Suggestions and Tips:

Quinoa: a Powerfood for You Now here is a grain with good quality protein. Its essential amino acid balance is similar to milk!

Sprouting Nuts & Seeds Get more protein and easier digestion from your nuts and seeds.

Beans, Beans & More Beans! Filled with protein – 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of beans is equivalent to eating two ounces of lean protein.

Nutritional Benefits of Nuts & Seeds Best plant sources of protein. The American Cancer Association is recommending a plant-based diet for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer.  An ounce of nuts provides 6 g of protein on average.


  • Red Lentil Soup: The lentil was named one top 5 most healthy foods on the planet!
  • Almond Milk: A healthy, dairy-free alternative


Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Food, General Health, Health, ,

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Diana Herrington

Diana Herrington turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar-free, gluten-free, eating and cooking. After testing and researching every possible healthy therapy on her delicate system she has developed simple, powerful principles which she shares in her recent book Eating Green and Lean, and as host to Care2 groups: Healthy Living Network and Healthy Cooking. She is the head chef at Real Food for Life, where she shares recipes and tips. Sign up for the Real Food for Life weekly newsletter or catch her on Facebook or Twitter (@DancinginLife).


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12:25AM PST on Jan 5, 2015

A Better Whey. By all means do your research. Not all whey proteins are the same. A Better Whey is from grass fed all natural cattle, not the like the mass produced whey protein from lot cattle subjected to antibiotic and hormone therapy and fed GMOs.

11:01PM PDT on May 30, 2013

A good nutritional powder should have more than one type of protein in it; it should have fiber, minerals, and vitamins; and it should be GMO-free. It really needs to have a pleasant taste and it needs to be affordable relative to a comparable amount of solid food to achieve the same level of nutrition. Such a nutritional powder can be safely used either as a meal replacement for weight loss, or as a supplement for muscle building. Healthy snacks and at least one solid meal a day is recommended no matter what.

8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Interesting, but I would be suspicious of a highly processed powder and prefer protein in other forms. Love tasty red quinoa not to mention kasha (buckwheat groats).

Dr. Mercola is known but is fairly controversial within medical circles. I did subscribe to his newsletter which talked a lot about toxins but gave it up as he was always flogging his own stuff for sale-things that are unaffordable on a tight budget-sticking to the conventional sources. He also goes on about how whole grains, especially wheat is toxic to mental health-everything is getting toxic to eat everyday which is frustrating. For those allergic to gluten avoiding wheat is fine but one likes breads and whole grains and now to hear these are bad?

There is a study for everything depending on what one chooses to believe, will stick to quinoa, small portions of meats, veggies-non GMO, fruits, nuts and other tasty things! Powder, no thanks!

11:52AM PDT on May 31, 2012

Thanks for sharing

6:22PM PDT on May 28, 2012

huh.., protein powder?

10:14PM PDT on May 12, 2012

Thanks, fresh and natural can't really do better than that.

2:13PM PDT on May 12, 2012

I eat good organic home grown and wild meat..never store bought. I'm 55 years old and very healthy! I believe, judging from our physiology that we are naturally omnivores but can live healthy on a variety of diets.I don't believe that we should be ingesting anything processed like these protein powders. If it's not from my garden, neighbors farm or from the wild (where I live) then I don't touch it. Here's a bit of interesting info about why I believe we are naturally omnivores.

and no matter what you kind and give thanks ♥

1:59AM PDT on May 12, 2012

Thank you for those important reminders..........
No wonder we have so many people who never experience optimal health

3:40PM PDT on May 11, 2012

Eat an egg.

12:10PM PDT on May 11, 2012

scary finding--much like the testing done on many vitamin lines. Choosing something that meets pharmaceutical standards (cleaner manufacturing environment) can help minimize risks

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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