Protein powder has become a popular addition to healthy diets and exercise regimens. Although the supplement has some benefits, it can be harmful when used improperly and should be carefully researched before use. Proper use varies greatly depending on your gender, age, weight and fitness level, so it is important to speak to a health care provider before beginning use, rather than simply following the serving suggestions on the label.
There are a wide variety of protein powders on the market, giving customers a range of flavors, potencies and bases to choose from. Soy-based protein powder is a popular supplement, but also a potentially dangerous one. Soy has high levels of a chemical that imitates the female hormone estrogen. When soy is taken in high amounts, such as with soy protein powder, it can wreak havoc with both male and female bodies. In males, it can lower testosterone levels, as well as sperm production. It can increase the buildup of fat in females, as well as heighten the risk of breast cancer, according to Mercola.com, which provides a monthly, natural health newsletter. According to Healing Daily, the Swiss Health Service published research in 1992 showing that 100 grams of soy protein contains the same level of estrogen found in the birth control pill.
For individuals with a lactose intolerance, the use of protein powder may have some unpleasant side effects because of lactose content. However, there are certain protein powders, such as those made for vegan diets, that are lactose-free. According to the Whey Protein Institute, lactose intolerant individuals should look for pure Whey Protein Isolate.
Real Food Replacement
Eliminating whole foods and making protein shakes the bulk of an individual's diet is never healthy. Besides the health problems that can arise from the lack of proper nutrition, this imbalanced diet results in a host of side effects, such as the production of too much stomach acid, nausea and kidney stones. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that the majority of a person's daily protein requirements come from whole food protein sources, with protein shakes being used only as a small supplement.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, problems also arise if too much protein is ingested into a person's body. Loading up on protein is not a magic formula for rapid muscle development, and, if too much protein powder is a regular part of a person's diet, it could result in kidney, liver and gastrointestinal problems, as well as a calcium deficiency, which could lead to osteoporosis. Rather than strengthening bones for strong muscle building, excess protein can actually weaken the body. According to the Institute of Medicine, as quoted in The Harvard School of Public Health's online information, an appropriate daily protein intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.