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.
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, it’s important to consider that the quality of that protein is equally as important as the quantity.
So why should you throw away that protein powder?
1. You might not need it.
Believe it or not, a lot of people already get enough protein in their diets.
-The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein for adults is 0.4 grams per pound of body weight. This means a 140-pound woman would need about 55 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 .6 – .8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. This still wouldn’t be much more (add in another small piece of chicken breast).
2. It’s not sustainable.
Ideally, REAL food is the way to go. If we rely on supplements for nutrition and ignore the rest of our food labels, we’re probably going to miss a lot of important nutrients.
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!
The higher quality protein powders cost over $200 for a month’s worth of servings. Organic chicken breast costs less than half that for a month’s worth of servings. Just another reason to go with real food.
5. We should know what we’re consuming.
Next time you pick up a 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 go with something a little more recognizable.
What do you think? How often are you having protein powders?