FAQ: Should I use a protein powder? How can I pick a good one?
FAQs - Did You Know? Nutrition
Morgan Medeiros MSc
July 18, 2018

should y you use a protein powderTrying to decide between the $45 tub of soy protein powder at your neighborhood supplement store or the five star review for the $32 whey protein on Amazon?

You’re not alone: protein powders and supplements are a booming business as millions Americans hit the gym and generally try to eat healthier, lose weight, and muscle up. The global supplement industry – of which protein powders are a part – is expected to surpass $230 billion by 2022.

Scrolling through your social media feed, strewn with pictures of fit-bodied guys and gals, it’s easy to assume that the those bodies were achieved- in large part, thanks to a concentrated nutritional regimen that includes protein powders and other supplements.

However, that’s not the case.

For most consumers, protein powders and supplements are entirely unnecessary. In reality, protein powders are a less desirable form of nutrition, ones that appeal to consumers largely thanks to marketing.

Unlike whole food sources of protein, protein powders are pretty one-note. Whereas whole foods contain a blend of nutrients identified and well-digested, absorbed, and utilized in the body, supplements and protein powders do not. Studies have shown that – in many cases – whole foods are better used by the body than supplemental nutrition products, protein powders included.

So does that protein powders are a completely useless investment?

Not always: for certain individuals, protein supplementation may be a good idea.Professional athletes, for example, may benefit from protein supplementation to meet the demands of hours of vigorous exercise. Note that we said professional athletes- not the average gym goer.

In general, if you’re among the rest of use regular folk, it’s best to avoid protein powders and other nutritional supplements unless your personal physician recommends otherwise. It’s a far better idea to save your money for nutrition from real food.

Still intent on using a protein powder?

If you do plan to go the route of supplementation, always talk to your doctor first: some supplements may interact with other supplements and medications, so it’s important to consider how a whim purchase might impact your current health status.

If your physician gives you the green light, choose a fairly simple powder: whey or soy, and stay away from powders and supplements that tout “fat burning” boosters and effects, as many of these supplements have been shown to contain dangerous, undeclared ingredients that have caused seizures, hepatotoxicity, renal dysfunction, arrhythmias, heart attack, and potentially fatal outcomes.

Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).

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