When it comes to supplements, in general I believe less is more.
I would always rather eat whole, natural foods than a pill or a powder.
If your doctor is recommending a supplement because of a dietary deficiency (and it’s a doctor that you trust), it could be worth considering. But in most cases, these products are falsely advertised as a “quick fix” for a diet problem that could be corrected with real food.
The fitness world in particular is full of supplements that are unnecessary, and some are even harmful.
Most of the hype is around protein powders. Listen…I promise that you do NOT need to walk around the gym with a shaker cup full of protein mix in order to see progress.
Don’t get me wrong, protein is incredibly important.
It is found in every cell of the body and it is the main component of muscles, nerves, skin, hair, and nails. While protein is and should be a large part of our diet, taking it too far and overeating it could strain our kidneys leading to things like dehydration, kidney damage, and osteoporosis.
So why should you throw away that protein powder?
1. You probably don’t need it. Believe it or not, most people already get enough protein in their diets.
-The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein for adults is 0.8 grams per kg of body weight (1kg = 2.2lbs). This means a 140-pound woman would need about 51 grams of protein per day, which equates to one medium-sized piece of chicken breast and 2 eggs.
-It’s worth noting that this recommended value is the minimum to prevent deficiency, so I would suggest more like 1.2- 1.4 grams per kg if you exercise a few times per week. This still wouldn’t be much more (add in another small piece of chicken breast).
2. It’s not sustainable. We should want to know how to eat REAL food in a way that works for our bodies. If you rely on supplements for nutrition and ignore the rest of your food labels, you’re probably missing a lot of nutrients in your diet.
3. These powders, in addition to all other supplements, are NOT regulated before entering the U.S. marketplace. Per the FDA website, “There are no provisions in the law for the FDA to ‘approve’ dietary supplements for safety or effectiveness before they reach the consumer.” That statement alone is scary, but the scarier part is that it’s easier for a dangerous product to enter the market than to be banned from it. To remove an unsafe product from the market, the FDA has to fully prove said product has caused illness or death. In other words, consumers will have to start having visible proof of bad side-effects before the product is reviewed for safety. To make things worse, the reports of these side-effects are only seen by the FDA if they are submitted by the manufacturers and distributors of the product.. So…yeah. No thanks. (If you don’t believe me, read this). Using these supplements once in awhile might not cause too much damage, but most people who use them have them at least once a day. In my opinion, ingesting a synthetic, non-regulated, potentially harmful compound every single day for months (or even years) seems insane, especially when there are so many whole food alternatives.
4. Protein powders are expensive! Some of the more popular brands cost over $100 for a month’s worth of servings (assuming 1 per day for 30 days). Chicken breast costs about $4/pound, so $100 equates to about 67 6-oz servings. Just another reason to go with real food….
5. You should know what you’re eating. Next time you pick up your protein powder, check the label and see how many of the ingredients you can actually pronounce. If it’s less than half, probably a better choice to get some meat, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, etc.
More to come on this….hop on my email list if you to hear it.