Protein Supplements: Benefits & Side Effects 


Are Protein Supplements Healthy?

Protein supplements help the body easily meet its daily protein needs, however, excess intake does more harm than good. In this article, we’ll be discussing the benefits and side effects of these supplements.

3 Benefits of Protein Supplements

Build Muscles

Protein supplements are made from various sources, and one of the most common is whey, which is a byproduct of cheese. Although, native whey is the better form of whey protein, studies have shown that native whey and regular whey yield the same results for muscle growth. So generally, protein supplements are effective muscle builders. Also, a high-protein shake and exercise before bedtime enhance muscle growth. The protein is digested during sleep and aids the stimulation of muscle growth.

Reduce Blood Sugar

Adding a protein supplement to your breakfast is a healthy way to lower blood sugar levels and feel full longer. High-protein breakfasts make you feel full till even past lunchtime. The protein supplement specifically slows down carbohydrate digestion, and as a result, causes the fuller feeling.

Aids Recovery

Adults confined to bed rest or hospitalized for long periods of time can consume protein supplements to recover faster, particularly when they are able to exercise. Studies have also found that these supplements help in the repair of some internal body mechanisms that may have been affected during the illness.

12 Side Effects of Protein Supplements

May Affect Kidneys

As protein gets used up in the body, it produces ammonia as a by-product. Ammonia, in turn, gets converted into urea, which gets eliminated from the body through urine. Consuming high amounts of protein leads to the production of large quantities of urea, which puts higher pressure on the kidneys as they filter out large amounts of calcium and urea from the blood.

Also, with the consumption of large quantities of protein supplements, there is an increased risk of developing renal disorders. By default, this causes kidney stones, impairment of kidneys, and renal failure, which are terrible side effects of taking protein supplements in excess quantities.

Can Disrupt Hormones

Hormonal disruption is a major challenge of consuming soy-based protein supplements. Soy is rich in essential amino acids, however, it is also loaded with phytoestrogen, which, when ingested, acts like the estrogen hormone, and can harm your endocrine system. What’s worse? 95% of soy used in making protein supplements is genetically modified. Now that’s scary, isn’t it? Wait for it! The genetically modified soy contains a chemical called glyphosate, which is responsible for miscarriage, hormonal imbalance, and even birth defects in newborns. The daidzein and genistein content in soy can also cause diminished libido, erectile dysfunction, and enlarged breasts in men.

Upset Digestive System

The most common protein supplements — whey protein and casein protein — are gotten from milk. They contain lots of lactose, which is a type of sugar naturally derived from milk. This makes them unhealthy for people who are lactose intolerant. Excessive consumption of these proteins can also cause flatulence, bloating, increased bowel movements, diarrhea, and nausea.

Unhealthy Weight Gain

ScaleIronically, this defeats the purpose of inventing protein supplements. Excess consumption of protein supplements cause weight gain. Also, when your workout regimen does not match up to your protein intake, the unutilized calories are converted into fat. This fat accumulates and causes weight gain.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Whey protein, in particular, lowers blood pressure. This may not be a side effect for people who have high blood pressure, however, if they’re on medication, to reduce their blood pressure, whey supplements may make their condition worse.

May Cause Liver Damage

Consistently consuming a diet of protein supplements, with no carbs, can get the body to the state of ketosis, and as a result, the body utilizes fat as the primary source of energy. A result of this is high blood acidity levels. Consistent high blood acidity will eventually impair liver function and result in severe liver disorders. What’s more? Consuming excess whey protein without exercising can lead to liver inflammation and increase the risk of severe liver injury.

May Lead to Heavy Metal Poisoning

Some protein powders are laced with harmful heavy metals like lead and arsenic, which after prolonged consumption, of excess protein supplements can make consumers sick. It specifically causes exhaustion and some other health challenges, most especially for people who have diabetes symptoms or suffer from chronic kidney conditions.

Drug Interactions

It is highly risky to consume whey protein if you are on medication for osteoporosis because it might decrease the absorption of the drug(s). Whey protein can also interact with anti-coagulant drugs, anti-platelet medications,  and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), and cause bleeding as a result.

These are only a few of the instances of drug interaction. Before using protein supplements, one needs to study a long list of drug interactions. This is why it is advisable to consult with a doctor before consuming these supplements. With medical counsel, there can be a recommended and supervised consumption of protein supplements. This way, consumers avoid the many challenges that could occur.

May Increase Cancer Risk

cancer awarenessThere are assumptions that heavy metals in some protein powder brands increase cancer risk. Because this is uncertain, you are advised to speak with your doctor before consuming the supplements.

May Cause Dehydration

High-protein diets generally cause dehydration. Protein supplements fall in this category. This is why people who consume them are advised to drink lots of water, to avoid health challenges.

May Cause Acne

Whey protein increases the production of a hormone called IGF-1, which spikes sebum production and leads to acne.

May Cause Hair Loss

The hair is made of a protein known as keratin. Whey protein boosts testosterone levels, and produce a chemical called DHT — which causes hair loss — in the bloodstream. DHT causes hair loss. Funnily, excessive weight-lifting can lead to an increase in testosterone levels and eventually, hair loss. This is why people are advised to do more aerobic exercise.

Some Protein Facts

  • Protein is a macronutrient that provides energy for the body. Fat and carbohydrates are also macronutrients.
  • There are nine amino acids that we should consume from protein sources because the body can’t make them. They are histidine, lysine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, tryptophan, threonine, valine, and phenylalanine.
  • The most common rich protein sources are meat, dairy products, eggs, fish, nuts, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
  • Protein is present in all cells in the body. It is the cell’s major structural component.
  • Protein deficiency can lead to a variety of health issues such as decreased immune function, kwashiorkor, edema, thinning nails and hair, weakness, with pain in the muscles and joints.
  • Some protein-rich vegetables are spinach, kale, sprouts, peas, broccoli, mushrooms, artichokes, Brussels sprouts, avocados, and potatoes.
  • Protein is required to form blood cells in the body. The human body cannot survive without it.
  • The larger, and more mature a bean gets, the higher its protein content. Mature roasted soybeans have the highest protein level, with 39.6 grams of protein per 100-gram serving.
  • Although beef is the most popular meat in America, its protein content is lower than that of poultry.
  • Without albumin, a type of protein, the entire human body would swell.

Now that you Know…

Protein is essential, and undeniably the building block of life. The challenge is in the quantity of its consumption. If you have to consume protein supplements, do so in moderate quantities.