When taken correctly, protein supplements can be a great way to help your muscles repair and grow stronger. Protein powder is a necessity for many people to bulk up, providing the raw energy they need to recover from their workouts. For most people protein supplements are a safe and easy way to supplement their nutritional intake, but you should be aware of a few risks before you start your regimen.
But what could be dangerous about protein supplements? As it turns out, there’s quite a few reasons you should closely monitor your intake. From traces of toxins in protein blends to digestive discomfort, using the wrong supplements (or taking more than necessary) can cause a host of health problems. Save yourself the trouble and avoid these seven things while you’re supplementing your diet with protein.
7 Things to Avoid When Taking Protein Supplements
1. Avoid Products with excessive sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Whey protein by itself doesn’t have a particularly memorable flavor. Most people wouldn’t consume it by itself, without some kind of flavoring. We expect you’ll choose a powder with a bit of sweetener to make supplementation more enjoyable, but be sure to check the nutrition facts and ingredients list for any protein you choose.
If your stomach is sensitive to artificial sweeteners, avoid brands made with sucralose or aspartame. These ingredients are commonly found in protein powders and can jeopardize your workout they irritate your stomach.
Protein supplements without artificial sweeteners usually contain sugar instead. A little sugar isn’t a bad thing – we all like our post-workout shakes to taste good – but too much can destroy your progress.
2. Avoid supplements with added vitamins and minerals
This may sound counter-intuitive, but you may want to avoid protein supplements fortified with vitamins and minerals – especially if you’re taking a multivitamin.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to overdose on certain vitamins. Vitamin A is famously easy to over-consume, as are Iron and Manganese. If you’re already taking a multivitamin or you eat a nutritionally-balanced diet, taking a protein supplement with additives may negatively impact your health.
3. Avoid protein products with toxin traces
Yes – you read that right. In 2010, Consumer Reports tested 15 different brands of protein supplements for traces of heavy metals. Surprisingly, they found traces of heavy metals in all 15 supplements – including lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.
Note that the study did not find enough heavy metals in one serving to harm an adult, but in large doses, heavy metals can wreak havoc on your health.
How can you avoid choosing a protein supplement with heavy metals?
Choose a brand that uses only the highest quality ingredients and protein, like RenegadeProtein. Take a look at Consumer Reports’ updated study to see which brands tested the worst, and which they recommend. (https://www.consumerreports.org/dietary-supplements/heavy-metals-in-protein-supplements/)
4. Avoid gaining unwanted weight from protein supplements
Protein powders and supplements are calorie-dense to help users recover energy after their workouts and bulk up more quickly. For hardcore gym-goers, the extra calories may not be a problem – they work it off during their routine, welcoming it as part of their daily intake.
For others, protein shakes can lead to unwanted weight gain due to their calorie density. Some protein supplements offer more than 1,000 calories per serving – an extreme amount for most people, even athletes.
Unless you’re doing high-intensity workouts or you’re a hard-gainer, be aware of unwanted weight gain from excessive protein consumption. Choose a protein powder with enough calories to help your gains without causing fat retention.
5. Avoid consuming too much protein
Believe it or not, it’s possible to consume too much protein – even when you’re working out everyday. It leads to a condition called “protein toxicity,” which can cause a variety of severe health conditions. Common side effects and risks of eating too much protein include:
- Kidney stones
- Kidney disease
- Increased risk for cancer
- Digestive issues
It can be tempting to eat 200+ grams of protein in a day in pursuit of fast gains, but save yourself the trouble and take your time. Monitor how much protein you’re eating and keep it within a moderate range. Remember – you can always start small and take more protein later, but once you’ve taken too much you can’t get rid of it until your body decides to.
6. Avoid side effects
Protein toxicity and unintended weight gain aren’t the only side effects of consuming too many protein supplements. Depending on how your body responds to certain products, you may feel unwell after consuming some types of protein. Common side effects include:
- Stomach pain
The reasons you may feel these side effects vary. Sometimes protein powders have too much sugar, leading to headaches, nausea, and fatigue, while it’s unclear why others cause discomfort.
Avoiding side effects from protein powders can be challenging if your body is sensitive. If your current supplement isn’t working for you, try another brand or a different type of protein and see if it helps. For example, if you’re getting your protein from non-vegan sources, try plant-based supplement instead. If your current powder has too much sugar, try one with less.
It make take time, but through trial and error you can find a protein supplement that doesn’t cause health side effects.
7. Avoid supplements with allergens
It’s common for protein supplements to contain dairy, wheat, eggs, or tree nuts – common allergens for millions of adults. Many times, they aren’t vegan and contain ingredients that do not meet a person’s special dietary requirements. Fortunately, with hundreds of brands on the market, there are limitless options for allergen-free, vegan supplements that are suitable for your diet.
With so many protein supplements on the shelves, it can be challenging to know which ones are right for you. By looking out for everything on this list, you can avoid the many pitfalls of protein supplement routines and achieve healthy gains without side effects.