Is Protein Powder Dangerous? - Your Health At Risk
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Is Protein Powder Dangerous? – Your Health At Risk

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Health At Risk

If you’re a consistent protein drinker like me, you should be proud! Why do I say that? Well, despite all the controversy that surrounds our favorite supplements, we still choose to drink it. Some people know of the hazards with protein powders, while a lot of people don’t know. This is why many people swear by protein powders, while others swear it’s made by the devil. In today’s article, we’re traveling to the darker regions of protein powder, the consequences. It’s hard to imagine protein shakes and consequences in the same sentence, but we must talk about it. So, is protein powder dangerous?

Protein Powder Consequences

We’re cutting straight to chase today and discussing harmful side effects protein powder can cause to people like you and me. Some of these side effects affect certain people more than others. It really depends on who you are and how your body reacts to protein powders. Other side effects, however, affect you no matter who you are. They’re bound to hit you sooner or later. Let’s get started.

Lactose Intolerance 

Much how I mentioned, this consequence will only affect the people who experience lactose intolerance. If you don’t, you don’t have to worry about this side effect, and not to mention, you’re pretty lucky. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, about 65% of the human population has trouble completely digesting lactose in their stomachs. Being in that slim 35% requires some good genetics and a lot of luck. For those of you who don’t exactly know what lactose intolerance is, let me explain.

Is Protein Powder Dangerous? - Health At Risk

Lactose is a sugar in milk that, depending on who you are, we can either digest entirely or partially. It all depends on the amount of lactase we can produce in our body, the enzyme that takes care of breaking down lactose. If your body produces enough lactase, you’re in the group of lactose tolerant, meaning you experience no side effects.

If your body does not produce enough lactase and trust me, you’ll know if it doesn’t, you’re part of the majority. Since lactose cannot be fully broken down, it stays in your stomach fermenting.

That means bacteria takes over, breaking it down soon to be sent to the colon. This is where you experience the common side effects of lactose intolerance. If you’ve never experienced them first hand, here’s a brief list of some of the side effects.

  • Bloating
  • Gassiness 
  • Vomiting
  • Upset Stomach

I have a full list of side effects from lactose intolerance by clicking here. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg of protein powder side effects.

Allergic Reactions 

There’s a reason why I excluded lactose intolerance from the list of allergic reactions. It’s simply because lactose intolerance isn’t an allergic reaction; it’s just a digestive problem. An allergic reaction is a response from your immune system to any substance that it deems dangerous or foreign. Lactose intolerance has nothing to do with your immune system just so we’re clear.

Is Protein Powder Dangerous? - Health At Risk

What I mean with allergic reactions is that people are allergic to milk, and popular protein powders are made from milk, such as whey and casein. Many of these side effects mirror those of lactose intolerant, which makes it easy to confuse these two when drinking milk. Some of the symptoms of being allergic to milk include…

  • Sneezing
  • Watery Eyes
  • Itchy Eyes 
  • Runny Nose
  • Fatigue

However, there is another group of allergic reaction symptoms that you don’t want to mess with. These are the more dangerous ones, so dangerous that fatally dying from one isn’t uncommon. I’m talking about anaphylaxis allergic reaction, severe immune system reactions that cause strenuous effects on the body. Milk can be a cause of anaphylaxis allergic reactions. Some of the symptoms include…

  • Hives/Itching
  • Tightness in the Throat
  • Wheezing/Shortness of Breath
  • Tingling in hands/feet 

If you’d like to see a full complete list of all protein powder allergic reactions, I’ll leave a link to an article I wrote describing allergic reactions in full.

Kidney Damage 

This is pretty debated about side effects when drinking protein powder. A handful of people say that protein powder causes the kidney the overwork itself, causing potentially severe damage to your body. While on the other hand, kidneys only affect those who already have previous damage or underlying conditions with their kidney. What side am I on? Well, I’m not one to choose sides, but I’m going with….science.

According to many studies performed by researchers, your kidneys are built to filter out tons of stuff in your body. If you don’t know exactly what your kidney does, I’ll leave an article on the functions of kidneys.

However, if you’d like just a quick run down, the kidney’s main job in the body is to filter out any waste that lurks in our body. It does that by taking out the waste in your blood, preventing the danger of a build-up. Out of the countless things it filters, protein is one of them.

So how does your kidney feel about tons of protein? Well, actually, it doesn’t mind. Your kidney has no problem handling large amounts of protein unless it’s already damaged. Kidneys with chronic kidney disease will definitely crumble with large amounts of protein.

Your kidney needs to keep functioning to prevent an overload of nutrients throughout your organs. An overload may prove fatal to anybody, so keeping your kidney in good shape is very important.

Acne Build Up 

Just hearing the word “acne” brings bad memories to some of us reading this. Maybe you think back to your days as a teen in the mirror, bursting annoying pink pimples off your face. Maybe you’re currently going through that sort of thing now, so let me give you some of my two cents.

Don’t pop your pimples. As annoying as they may be, resist the urge, the risks of getting acne scars increases when you pop pimples. I can tell you that from experience, trust me.

However, with protein powders, the ones you want to look out for when trying to avoid acne are the dairy protein powders. They have lactose, one of the main causes of acne for anybody. The more protein powder you take, the more you’re going to get afflicted by it. The way to stop this is by taking a protein powder that is not made from lactose. They’re plenty of great vegan protein powders on this site that I’ve done reviews on, like this one by PEScience here.

Issues With The FDA

This topic I had to give it its own section entirely because one mini subsection could not do it justice. Its issues have only been taking seriously by very few organizations, which is mind-blowing once I fill you in on this.

For those of you who don’t know who the FDA is, the FDA, or Food and Drug Administration, is an organization from the government that regulates foods and drugs in the United States. They make sure the product is safe for the consumption of consumers like you and me. Knowing this, dietary supplements like protein powders should be undoubtedly checked by the FDA, right?

Well, here’s the shocker, basically, the FDA can’t really touch dietary supplements. They can technically check/regulate protein powders but under one condition. The supplement must show that it is causing harm to the consumer after drinking. There is a saying in the FDA that describes protein powders perfectly. “Protein powders are considered safe until proven unsafe.”                                                                                      

I know it’s hard to believe. Of course, manufacturers took plenty of advantage from this loophole. Companies tend to lie about their ingredient label and claims on their packaging without any repercussions. They can say they’ve used pure, high-quality ingredients, straight from God’s garden, and the FDA can’t really do anything about it.

Some groups, like The Clean Label Project, took it upon themselves to inspect what was really going on with protein powders. They took a handful of the best selling protein powders on the market and analyzed their ingredients. Take a look at the infographic they created after their studies in 2018.

The fact that some individuals consistently drink lead in their shakes without even knowing is disgraceful. For this reason, The Clean Label Project decided to start a petition for the FDA to start stepping in on what protein powder companies have been doing. Click here if you’d like to know more about their holy petition.

Are All Protein Powders Bad?

After reading this, you probably have no faith in protein powders or their manufacturers. However, that’s beside the case. Not every protein powder company is a bad egg in the industry. There are plenty of trusted protein companies that people put their 100% faith in. Long time companies like Optimum Nutrition have been around since the 80s for a reason. They have the trust of their consumers.

Not to say any of the new companies out there are bad. My favorite protein powder is none other than Bodybuilding.com’s Signature Whey Protein. It’s by BB.com, one of the hugest, maybe the hugest, supplement shops in the world. We also have PEScience who puts quality in front of everything, except their customers, of course.

Conclusion

In conclusion, is protein powder dangerous? Well, some aspects can be quite frightening. The side effects it poses can cause a lot of people to stray away from them typically. However, the side effects do not affect every single person. It depends on what you’re body can handle in terms of what ingredients are in your supplement. Some people can handle protein powders, and other people choose not to. Not every powder is made by a lying company, so there are hidden gems in the rough.

Got any questions? Leave them below, along with any questions you may have!