My Problem With Protein Powder [The question no one will ever answer for me!]

by Charlotte on July 1, 2012 · 79 comments

See – THIS is the proper way to get your protein.

Over the years of writing about fitness, I still have several Great Fitness Questions that I have never gotten a satisfactory answer for:

- Why does eating one pound of chocolates make me gain more than one pound of weight? How is that even mathematically possible – doesn’t this violate the law of conservation of mass or something??

- Which is the correct way to put on a bra: Do you put it on front-ways and then clasp it in the back or do you put it on backwards around your waist, clasp it in the front, spin it around and then pull it up? (Seriously, settle an on-going Gym Buddy dispute for me! We’re split 50/50 on this one!)

- Why does no one in the fitness industry seem to consider protein powder a “processed food” even though it is so far removed from its original source that it wouldn’t recognize a cow if it moo’ed? (Or a soy bean if it squeaked. Or a hemp seed if it… smoked?)

It’s this last one that’s got me scratching my head lately. Unless you just fell off a (locally sourced, organic) turnip truck then you know that every fitness guru these days is all about “whole foods” – the comestibles, not the store chain. And I love this! I think eating foods as close to the form they come in is great advice. And delish. But what always gets me is how many of these same experts will recommend protein shakes in the very same breath. Since when is protein powder a whole food?? The last fit pro I asked that to changed the topic by yelling “Ooh shiny!” and running the other direction.

So: What I’m about to tell you may make me the most reviled person in the fit-o-spere: I don’t love smoothies (if you’re a girl). Or protein shakes (if you’re a dude). Or recovery drinks (if you’re in AA). (Kidding!). Or even drinkable yogurt. The only exception to this rule are milkshakes but even then I only like the kind that are basically candy chunks with ice cream and milk poured in the cracks (helloooo Dairy Queen Girl Scout Blizzards! (Made with Girl Scout cookies, not Girl Scouts themselves. (Specifically the Samoa cookies, coconutty caramel devils they are.))) Triple parentheses! See, I get so worked up about smoothies that I must resort to bad grammar to get my point across.

Now that you are recoiling from your screens in horror – For the love of little green apples, what serious worker-outer doesn’t love a good protein shake?! – allow me to back pedal a bit. I don’t hate smoothies. And my kids adore them (Popeye is so passe, a “Shrek” smoothie is the only way I can get the 5-year-old to eat his spinach) so I do make them with some frequency. And I even kind of learned to see the point in having one after a weight workout when I did my fave Rachel Cosgrove Female Body Breakthrough Experiment.


My first issue is that I like to chew stuff. I blame this on my father who chews ice like the Kardashian sisters chew QuickTrim. Although, to my knowledge, he has never posed in a bikini touting the curative powers of ice chewing (results not typical, spray tan not included.) When I was just a wee tot, he taught me how to make chunky milkshakes – stirred with a spoon and never blended – and it ruined me on the smooth kind forever. He also ate mayonnaise straight out of the jar using a carrot as a spoon which is another one of my secret weaknesses. Aw heck, while I’m airing all his dietary laundry, he also loves unsweetened mineral water, something else I am still preternaturally fond of.
Problemo numero dos is that I don’t like protein powder. I don’t like it in protein bars, cereals, drink mixes and especially not in smoothies. Not only does it taste funny and is often full of tons of artificial sweeteners and other chemicals but I’m leery of protein that doesn’t come from a whole food. (Holla Michael Pollan!) Plus protein powder advertisements are second only to diet pills in obnoxiousness so I feel that I must hate them on principle.
And then there’s this: Consumer Reports this month performed lab tests on 15 popular protein drinks and pre-fab smoothies. Their findings are not comforting. In an industry that is self-policed – the FDA does not regulate supplements, leaving manufacturers to set and maintain their own standards – it is probably not much of a surprise that Consumer Reports found several ingredients that were not on the label (i.e. lead, arsenic and cadmium) and found several listed ingredients to be lacking (oh, like, protein). The top three offenders for contaminants were EAS Myoplex Shakes, Muscle Milk protein powders and Muscle Milk Shakes – two of the most popular brands on the market. Especially concerning was the high levels of cadmium found. Thanks to Tommy Boy, we’re all pretty aware of the dangers of lead poisoning (I think the most popular retort in my high school was “Did you eat paint chips as a child?”) but many of us aren’t aware of cadmium, a heavy metal that infiltrates our food supply through many pesticides.
“This is a highly toxic metal, and while there are some cases where decisions have to be weighed against relative risks, accepting that you have to be exposed to any cadmium at all in your protein drink after your workout is definitely not one of them,” says Michael Harbut, M.D., director of the Environmental Cancer Initiative at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Royal Oak, Mich. “
In addition to heavy metals, other ingredients not listed on the label – like banned steroids – have been found in protein powders. Thanks to the popularity of Atkins, South Beach and other low-carb diets, protein is the macronutrient of the day with many people, especially athletes, afraid that they aren’t getting enough. Protein powder/shakes companies play on this fear with ambiguous labeling and dosing guidelines, encouraging users to ingest as many servings as possible.
“Shao, the industry trade-group official, says there is no such thing as consuming too much protein, as long as you’re getting other nutrients in your diet as well. Not so, says Kathleen Laquale, a licensed nutritionist and certified athletic trainer. “The body can only break down 5 to 9 grams of protein per hour, and any excess that is not burned for energy is converted to fat or excreted, so it’s a ridiculous waste to be recommending so much more than you really need.”
Excess protein can also have detrimental effects on your health with issues ranging from diarrhea to bone loss to kidney dysfunction. Like anything, you have to find the right balance. Protein is a necessary nutrient and care should be taken to get enough but there is such a thing as too much.
Help me out – can I get sufficient protein from food without using powders? Do you use protein powder? Do you have an unanswered fitness q? Is Tommy Boy a classic in your house too?

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda July 1, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Chocolate has sugar in it, and your body requires water to store carbs – I think it’s four grams of water for one gram of carbs. So it’s not fat – just water. No need to worry. :)


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Ahhh! That does make sense, actually. Thank you!


Amanda July 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Ps: I refuse to eat protein powder. To me, it’s no different from flour. Strip the food of its natural composition and refine it into a powder. Same thing, albeit with a better glycemic impact. I’m not doing it.


sarah July 2, 2012 at 12:17 am

I don’t think there’s any rule that says you have to eat protein powder. I usually have the equivalent of a scoop a day, so I’m not too concerned that I’ll die from cadmium poisoning (I’m frankly more concerned about things like mercury in the air that every one of us breathes). But I see no reason that a fitness-focused person needs protein powder. I also disagree that every fitness professional recommends them, even if they are also going around preaching the good word about whole foods. In fact, I am seeing the opposite trend lately. There’s still that bodybuilding crowd that eats protein powder and bars all the time, but there’s a significantly vocal group that don’t advocate for protein powder at all. I personally use it because I prefer it to eating animals, but I also know plenty of vegetarians and vegans who use none at all. Different strokes, different folks.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm

” also disagree that every fitness professional recommends them” – I’m sorry if I gave you that impression! I don’t think every, every pro touts them – I guess I’m just surprised at how many do. But yeah, you gotta find what works for you and yep, different strokes for different folks!


radioactivegan July 2, 2012 at 12:18 am

My mom and I are split on the bra thing, too. She does the backward on, then twist around. I put it on frontward and just reach around. A house divided …


Malin July 2, 2012 at 1:26 am

WOAH WOAH, just hold up for one second! Sweetened mineral water is a thing? That exists? Good lord that is depressing.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I wrote “unsweetened mineral water” but yes I do think they make sweetened too. I like the plain poppy stuff myself:)


Malin July 3, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Oops! My propensity to negative thinking got the better of me, sorry! Mineral water with anythung but carbonation always seemed a bit strange to me though. Like, if you wanted to drink something that tasted like orange, or strawberry, why not drink real juice? (Or actual soda I supposed, but I never liked soda much) Ah the things we do in the name of calorie-free beverages :)


Anna July 2, 2012 at 1:30 am

I’m not a protein shake girl either. But I do use protein powders because I feel like it’s the only way I can consume enough protein to get serious muscle (whether this is the industry’s brainwash or not, I don’t know). I do take care to choose protein powder’s that don’t contain any weird or unnatural ingredients.

My portable protein snack is this: one scoop of hemp protein powder and one scoop of Sun Warrior’s vegan protein powder. When I’m ready to eat, I add enough water to make a porridge.I top my protein porridge with a sliced banana or an apple, or add some coconut flakes or dried fruit to really have something to chew on.

Maybe I’m weird but I like the taste of my protein porridges!

I think if you’re happy with your results at the gym and you have plenty of energy, then you must be getting enough protein from your food and there’s no need for protein in a powdered form. If you feel like you are spending a lot of time at the gym and your muscles aren’t growing, then it’s time to eat more protein!


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Very practical advice! I like it!


Michael July 2, 2012 at 2:42 am

The best thing to remember is that protein powder is food. Whey protein is literally the congealed whey that’s created during cheese production. Dry it and you’ve got protein powder. It’s about as natural and “whole” as humanly possible (certainly as much so as any grain product).

Of course, unflavored whey would taste like bum, so sweetener and flavors are added. And sometimes, fat, lipids and other components are removed to create “isolate” proteins, but “concentrates” are pretty close to actual “whole” whey.

The problems arise when a manufacturer puts things other than protein into the whey, creating a food/supplement hybrid that isn’t really protein powder – it’s a supplement CONTAINING protein powder. (My problem with the media – they tend to ignore differences like that.) That’s Muscle Milk and many others. Most of the stuff they’re putting in there is unnecessary and can introduce other, unwanted substances. Myoplex and Muscle Milk, which were the “poster children” in the CR review, are not true protein powders and they each contain a large number of non-protein substances. Myoplex is in fact not billed as protein powder, but a “meal replacement.”

While I’ve sampled the supplement/protein hybrids, for my own long-term use I choose pure 100% protein (of course, with natural flavoring to make it palatable) and anyone wanting to increase their protein intake without risking unwanted substances (or paying higher prices for unnecessary ones) should do the same.

Or just eat more steak, which has protein AND creatine!


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Interesting – I had no idea how they were actually made! And the “taste like bum” line cracked me up:) At the moment I do have a bag of straight whey powder with nothing else in it and yes, it does taste awful!


Sue July 2, 2012 at 3:10 am

A few months ago, I bought a bag of Sun Warrior Vanilla. I simply wanted to try it, to find out why all the ‘cool’ blog ladies love it so much. Turns out, I’m not a fan. The ingredient list looks ok, it’s sweetened with stevia, but I only add about half a scoop to a large smoothie, otherwise it’s too sweet for me. I’m still trying to finish the bag before it expires (it’s a close call!), but I won’t buy another one. It’s incredibly expensive, too!
I also prefer to chew my food, so my smoothies are usually very thick, more like ice cream, eaten from a bowl with a spoon, topped with granola and/or chocolate chips. It’s more like a dessert in most cases.
As a vegetarian/almost vegan I’m sometimes a little worried about getting enough protein. I try to have some plant-based protein with every meal or snack (tofu, soy milk or yogurt, beans, lentils, chickpeas/hummus, peanut butter, etc.), hoping that it’s enough for a short woman who doesn’t lift lots of heavy weights.
You’re an omnivore, right? I’m not an expert, but I’m sure you get plenty of protein from meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I tried a sample of Sun Warrior once (when I was vegan) and it was okay but definitely not as enjoyable as real food for me. And yes, I’m omnivorous now (which still feels weird to say actually)


Miz July 2, 2012 at 5:03 am

I LOOOVE MY METRX but I shall spare you the love.
TOMMY BOY? I can do that whole shebang as a one woman show.
We love us some Tommy Boy.


Katie July 2, 2012 at 8:53 am

I can do Tommy Boy or Billy Madison as a one-woman show, too! Words and actions, baby.


Marcia Kin August 24, 2012 at 3:10 am

I love doing Tommy Boy shebang.


Naomi/Dragonmamma July 2, 2012 at 6:47 am

I’m still thinking about that disturbing picture at the top. I hope that poor puppy is OK!


Adrianne July 2, 2012 at 7:17 am

I do the hook in the front then spin around thing. I’m not coordinated enough to just put it on and hook in the back! I’m also a protein shake drinker BUT I searched for quite a while to find one without artificial sweeteners. I completely agree about most having that foul aftertaste and I avoid fake sweeteners in everything not just protein shakes. I use them for the convenience of carrying a shaker with powder if I know I’m going to be out. All I need is a water fountain to eat. I also play around with a “recipe” to flavor them up in my blender. Now those are the good ones. ;-)


bjbella5 July 2, 2012 at 7:20 am

Beef Jerky is my new protein supplement of choice, chewing on it brings a level of primal satisfaction.

In searching for a natural protein shake without any added sugar (can’t stand the taste of the fake stuff) I came across: Spiru-tein (the name makes me think if Nirvana’s Smells like teen spirit”, lol). I don’t use it often, but it is yummy. It is touted as being all natural, although now I am worried it has arsenic and lead in it!


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm

I’ll have to check that one out!


Patricia July 2, 2012 at 8:08 am

I am so totally with you! I hate protein powder and I’ve been pondering the same thing, how does one eat organic, grass fed, blessed by mother nature food exclusively expect for the minor addition of a completely chemical drink?
I get my protein by having either an apple or a piece of toast with peanut butter after my workout. Or if I’m too lazy for that, I’ll grab a yogurt. Maybe not as much protein as I should have, but I’m not planning on entering any competitions in my life time, so really, it’s good enough for me.


Jenn July 2, 2012 at 8:34 am

Definitely backwards, then spin on the bra! I’m not coordinated enough to have a choice in the matter.
I agree with you wholeheartedly about protein powder. Even the kind that is “natural” has been processed and it’s the processing I don’t like (along with the additives). Soy protein powder for example – just eat soybeans, the whole food version of the protein! Breaking down our foods for convenience is what got us all in this unhealthy mess.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:29 pm

“Breaking down our foods for convenience is what got us all in this unhealthy mess.” So true!!


EmmaS July 2, 2012 at 8:49 am

My son has migraine headaches, but they have become a lot better, since he stopped with protein powder and protein shakes. Several times they would arrive right after a protein shake!
But then he read an article about some NBA-player, who had migraines, but who had gotten better after he stopped drinking protein shakes. My son decided to do the same – AGAINST THE COACHES WILL, of course. And it really helps, which proves your point that it is something wicky with protein powder!
PS Now he will have peanut butter or cottage cheese after practice.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:31 pm

So interesting!! I wonder what it is about the shakes that trigger the migraines? The concentrated protein? The additives? Something else?? Glad he’s feeling better though, no matter what the reason!


Katie July 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

Snap the bra on the back. Tommy Boy is the best movie EVER. Smoothies are only good if they are thick enough to be eaten with a spoon. Protein powders taste like garbage. Michael Pollen is my hero. You can easily get enough protein from food – beef jerky and hard boiled eggs; I eat them daily.


Alyssa (azusmom) July 2, 2012 at 9:03 am

A few months ago I was on a meal plan that had me choking down a protein shake every night.
These days, if I DO have one, it’s either Vega or Spirutein. They seem a bit more natural than most of the others out there.

Oh, and I do the backwards-bra thing, as well.


Abby July 2, 2012 at 9:05 am

Eww. I never quite understood the whole protein shake thing. I’m with you Charlotte, I like to chew my food. And I think our bodies know what they’re doing. They’ll tell us what we need if we listen. Personally, as a life-long pescetarian, I find that I know when I haven’t been eating enough protein because I crave tuna fish sandwiches, lol. It reminds me to eat more hummus, Greek yogurt, etc. I don’t really see the need for protein powder as a woman who exercises moderately to look and feel her best.

Also, thank god there’s no Dairy Queen near me! That Girl Scout blizzard sounds amazing. Man I heart Samoas :D

As for the bra thing I put it on then clasp it in the back. I just scratch myself doing it the other way! And there was that House episode where that woman almost died from an infection from that…


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Haha I swear there’s a House episode for everything now! And good point about listening to your body…


malevolent andrea July 2, 2012 at 9:20 am

Eh. I use protein powder because I’ve been working on building muscle for the last year and a half+ and it’s nearly impossible for me to eat over 100g a day in meat and Greek yogurt. I don’t much like to do it by way of shakes, though. Usually I add it to my Greek yogurt or ricotta cheese to make “sludge” or oatmeal to make “proats” or bake with it. But even without it, I do use a fair amount of Splenda (my not-so-secret shame) so it’s not as if I’d be eating all non-processed non-artificial foods without it.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm

I used to have proats every morning for breakfast! These days I’m more into eggs but I go through phases.


Quix July 2, 2012 at 9:21 am

Hook in the front, spin around. I’m not coordinated enough to do it the other way. :)

I have been known to do protein powders occasionally, but I put all sorts of other stuff in there too – not a fan of just milk and powder. Except the Jay Robb brand – I can do the oreo one plain and it’s yummm.

I like to chew my food, so in general, I refrain, but occasionally when it sounds good I’ll make a smoothie with a side salad for lunch.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I keep hearing about Jay Robb but I’ve never tried it! Thanks for the reminder! Now off to read about your worst weekend ever:((


quix July 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Ha, sorry about that, I suppose I should have put a sarcasm tag in there :)


Whitney @ Whit Likes Fit July 2, 2012 at 11:55 am

Love this post! 1st, I do the put your bra on backwards and spin it around. Too hard to reach around and do the clasp thing. Also, I love sportsbras and would wear them every day. They are so much more comfortable than regular bars. 2nd, totally hear you on the fake protein powders. I use to be huge into the muscle milk protein but read a similar study a couple years ago about the arsenic and totally dropped it. I switched to peanut flour and sun warrior brown rice protein which made me feel a little closer to a whole food but still had the stevia and additives so recently I’ve cut the protein powder completely. My husband loves smoothies for breakfast so he gets his with plain greek yogurt for protein and I’ve switched up to eggs for my breakfast protein and if I really want a smoothie I just make it with berries, spinach and almond milk.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm

This sounds pretty much like my progression too! I’m an eggs-for-breakfast girl now too.


Crabby McSlacker July 2, 2012 at 11:59 am

How weird is it that I never even thought about this before? I’m a classic “eat whole foods!” person who doesn’t give a second thought to dumping a scoop of whey powder in my smoothie ever morning. (It’s the whole foods house brand, vanilla flavored with stevia). I actually like it, and it’s a nutritionally “cheap” source of protein in terms of calories, but yikes, yeah, it’s not exactly a whole food!

Must ponder…


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Oops – didn’t mean to incite a complex, lol! My brain is a noisy place…


Kim July 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I am in the “eat what you want” camp, so I say eat whatever you want. That being said, I don’t eat Protein powders because 1) They are gross (to me), and I have NEVER found one that I liked and 2) They are processed. I don’t understand why they are not on the “bad foods” list by people who won’t even walk past a McDonald’s, let alone eat in one. Whatever, to each his own.


Melanie July 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I recently read this:

and thought it was interesting because it says:
“Whey protein is insulinogenic, which means it causes an insulin spike. Because of its processed nature, it’s very quickly digested, and is best suited to be taken around your workout.”
I sometimes have smoothies for breakfast because i get bored w/ eggs & oatmeal but i noticed it doesn’t keep me full very long. After reading that article it makes sense that its probably due to the insulin spike. The last smoothie i made was w/ greek yogurt and peanut butter for protein instead of protein power and that seemed to keep me fuller longer. Interesting stuff!


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Ooh SO interesting! Thank you for the link!!


Jasmine July 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm

I dislike shakes not just for the artificiality of them, but also the texture. EW! I have tried green smoothies with loads of veggies and some fruit thrown in for palatability and I can handle those (especially since you still need to chew, I love my mastication).

As for the bra, depends on if I’ve done a hard upper body workout the day before, DOMS = reverse bra and twist method, otherwise I just wrangle my girls into place and latch from behind. I tried a front-closure style once, but the monthly swell I get in the bosom area actually snapped the clasp in the middle of a work shift, I had to rig it closed with two bent bobby pins and a piece of tape and try not to reach overhead for three hours.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Okay this: “but the monthly swell I get in the bosom area actually snapped the clasp in the middle of a work shift, I had to rig it closed with two bent bobby pins and a piece of tape and try not to reach overhead for three hours.” just sent me into the giggles. I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time but what a great story!!


Tammy July 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I put the bra on and hook in the back. I didn’t think adults did the hook in front and spin thing. Hm.

I’m with you on the protein powder. I like to eat my calories too much.


Charlotte July 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm

I’m kinda confused by the whole smoothie thing. Why would food be any better if you put it in a blender first? I like smoothies, but only the fruity kind, and they don’t need a workout to be delicious.

Usually after exercise I want either sweet milky coffee and a cheesy pastry or fruit juice and salted nuts, depending on whether or not it’s breakfast time. None of which would be improved by smoothifying!

Most kinds of protein are so yummy – cheese steak eggs yes please- so eating it in a less tasty form sounds completely illogical.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm

“They don’t need a workout to be delicious” – so true!!


KDA July 2, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I put my bra on backwards, hook it, then spin it around. I’m w/ you re: the protein powder. The oddest thing I’ve seen is water w/ protein. Huh?! That doesn’t even make sense! You’re supposed to be able to chew protein! I can’t even fathom how they put protein in water.


Rebecca July 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Bras snap in the back!

Duuuuuh. :)


Jessie Siega August 23, 2012 at 3:22 am

Well, I always do that.:)


Sandy July 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Feel the same way about protein powders. They taste artificial and I love fresh real food. Bras hook in the back.


CourtStar @ Star Systemz July 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I used to be such a protein powder junkie until I sat down read the ingredients and realized I was bloated due to stupid whey protein! I stopped making protein pancakes and all that crap and BAM bloat GONE!


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 10:04 pm

Oooh – interesting! Do you have a dairy intolerance?


CourtStar @ Star Systemz July 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Yes but I have tried others and the same thing. I think people over estimate how much protein they need #1 and its still processed whatever way you look at it.


Jody - Fit at 54 July 2, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Charlotte, like anything else, we are all different & also work out differently. I do intense workouts 5 days a week & 4 have weights hard core… so I d eat more protein BUT I also drink my water & it is important to do that especially if you are eating more protein. I use protein powder BUT I unlike when I was younger & made more protein drinks, I add the protein powder to my oatmeal or yogurt. I make homemade protein bars & muffins with it.. sometimes I have it mixed with water or almond milk & add some cocoa powder BUT I use it more to add to real food in my ls age. I like the stuff I do with it! :-) Less protein drinks & more other stuff. For many, on the go people too, it does help & you can make some very healthy protein smoothies! :-)


Heather Eats Almond Butter July 2, 2012 at 7:51 pm

front ways and then clasp in back.

DQ Blizzards. OREO. So many fond memories. :)

You can totally get the amount of protein you need from whole foods. I do get a protein powder kick from time to time, but lately it sounds way too sweet for my taste buds. The companies add to much sweetener in my opinion, but the unsweetened powders taste gross. Honestly, I’d rather just eat some beef jerky and call it a day.


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 11:04 pm

I agree with you on the over-sweetening problem! And not just with protein powders!


Cathy July 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I put the bra on backwards, then spin around. Unless it has a front clasp, of course.

Not crazy about the protein shakes, but still use them occasionally after a workout for a quick source of protein.


Becca July 2, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Couldn’t agree more! This is exactly why I don’t eat protein powders


Amanda July 2, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I’m vegan, eat very modestly, and get 89 grams of protein per day without soy or beans and without nut butters. What is everyone eating that they’re so worried they can’t get protein? Honestly, I think it’s really sad and kind of frustrating that so many perceive a plant-based diet this way. I’ve never even had a protein powder, nor do I think I’ll ever try one.


Julie July 2, 2012 at 10:08 pm

This is a great topic, I personally, always thought protien shakes were for people who wanted to gain weight. This would go with the current advice of don’t drink your calories. So I haven’t ever tried them, becuase I can’t say that I have ever been trying to gain weight. There are so many more tasty ways to get protein, but then you would have to cook real food (which I’m guessing is the hard part about eating healthy). My unanswered question is also diet related, “why don’t nutritionists just tell people to eat less food”?


Annie July 2, 2012 at 10:48 pm

First, the clasp, twist and tug was my mom’s way and is my way… moment of silence

Second, I totally agree with the protein thang! I have never understood why it wouldn’t be better to have a chicken breast or some steak (no gasps please, yes I eat red meat)… a 4 oz chicken breast is 120 calories with 24 grams of protein and I get to chew! Muscle milk light is 160 calories and 20 grams of protein… I choose the chew!! choose the chew! choose the chew!


Charlotte July 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Everything about this comment makes me grin:)) Choose the chew!


Lhizzie July 3, 2012 at 12:06 am

This is actually a great topic and a very important one for us people.. Health should be taken cared of and we should be aware with this.. Thanks!


Jess July 3, 2012 at 5:01 am

I’m not a fan of protein powder. Clients always ask me to recommend one and I recommend not drinking the stuff. I think generally most people consume too much protein. Protein is glorified as a “super” food, which has its roots in history not fact. Obviously we need it just not excessively and artificially.


JavaChick July 3, 2012 at 7:49 am

I’m not a fan of smoothies either – I don’t like to drink liquids that are thick – and not really a fan of protein powder either. It seems to me that we should be able to get the protein we need from the food we eat.

That said, last summer I was making smoothies. Breakfast is always an issue for me, so I decided to give it a try. I found one protein powder (a whey isolate) that I could manage as long as I also added yogurt to it (the yogurt seemed to hide the taste). But, that ended up being a whole lot of dairy, which I have a sensitivity to, so I had to give it up.

I think I understand the convenience factor – if you can’t get to some real food right away, or you want a quick and portable meal – but I don’t think it’s necessary if a person is eating a properly balanced diet. That is my completely unprofessional opinion. :)


Tamara July 3, 2012 at 8:35 am

I use protein powder in my smoothies. Currently it’s a pea protein by Olympian Labs, and it’s not artificially sweetened (I don’t think). I use half a serving in each smoothie, which is not very much (and I only eat these 2-3 times a week). I like the flavor and texture that it adds, believe it or not, and figure a bit of protein supplementation isn’t a bad thing.

I get the conundrum about whole foods vs. protein powder. I don’t sweat it too much, but then I’m not eating protein supplements 2-3 x a day, every day.

Oh, and the important stuff: I put my bra on front ways, lean over to fill the cups, then stand up and clasp it in the back!


Tamara July 3, 2012 at 8:40 am

Checked and my pea protein is sweetened with xylitol and stevia. So it depends on where you come down on those. I still drink 1-2 caffeine free diet cokes a day and occasionally chew Trident cinnamon gum, so I prefer to keep my aspartame intake to those sources. A girl’s gotta have standards. ;p


Barefoot Rose July 3, 2012 at 9:38 am

I clasp my bra in the front, drink regular old water, and I hate protein shakes, bars, etc. Give me steak , chicken, or fish anyday. Although, I would rather eat all chocolate, all the time. By the way, the NFL cheerleader workout is a killer. Still haven’t been able to do the whole thing properly.


Laura July 3, 2012 at 10:23 am

I have no idea how ‘natural’ this is (you are SO right that it’s completely hypocritical that I never thought about protein powder being unnatural), but I use Optimum Any Whey Protein and really recommend it. It’s completely flavorless, so I put it into smoothies/oatmeal/etc, but also baked goods, pasta sauce, whatever. I like it to add protein to something that would otherwise be low in protein / a treat food, since it helps the treat food to fill me up a bit better.


Bek @ Crave July 6, 2012 at 4:41 am

To put on a bra: You put is on backwards, clip it up, twist it round then slip the straps up! The only way to do it.


Zarine Zenfrick July 12, 2012 at 2:35 am

I have read about protein powder. I thought it is good for the health since it can add protein to the body. Probably, if it is artificial it can be bad to the health.


KdDooks April 1, 2013 at 12:20 pm

The Consumer Reports piece was ridiculous. Why? Because the amount of heavy metals and other impurities they found in the products were actually MANY times lower than the same heavy metals and other impurities found in much of our vegetables. In other words, compared to how much of things like cadmium we are consuming through things such as spinach, it’s actually pretty insignificant compared to the amount found in typical servings of spinach. Should we just not eat our spinach any more?

Now, on to the next point, why consume protein powders if we can get our proteins from whole foods:
#1 we need whole proteins so that means mostly animal products
#2 when under a serious fitness regimen, we are going to be building a lot of new muscle fibers and it has been shown that .75-1.5 g of COMPLETE protein per pound of goal body weight is optimal to either maintain or build muscle mass
#3 it’s impractical to eat that many eggs, that much milk, that much meat for most people (milk has roughly 10g per glass) is impractical, for example, I weight 162 right now at 12.5% bf and aiming for 165, do you have any idea how much meat, eggs, milk, etc. I have to eat to reach my protein requirements for the day? it’s impractical unless I make eating a full time job

Last point I wish to make is in regards to the “but if you take in so much protein, your body will just excrete it or turn the glycogen into fat!” Here goes:

1) Your body is not going to waste protein unless you’re a competitive eater or something. When was the last time you’ve excreted entire chunks of non-digested meat, eggs, cheese, etc?
2) Your body will break down all the protein you feed it and it will either go towards muscle protein synthesis or be converted to glycogen but be 110% clear that it will use all those aminos from the protein in one form or another (some are actually converted to ketones as they are ketogenic only, those ketones in turn actually does not convert to fat)
3) Protein isn’t just this singular blob, it’s aminos that are peptide bonded. Your body will make use of the aminos in one way or another.
4) Protein powders are usually blends of different protein sources, so the digestion rate is actually going to last a couple of hours, if you combine taking them with proper workouts, your body will make good use of much of that protein either to restore glycogen levels due to what you have used up working out or to use in muscle protein synthesis to repair the muscle you have broken down due to working out properly. So this notion of “OH MY GOD! So much protein at once, my body is going to just waste it all!” is actually not correct due to the fact that most protein powders have prolonged digestive rates thus it’s going to trickle those aminos through your body as it digests the protein.

Lastly, I would like to say that I’m not disagreeing with you, but there’s a lot of benefits to protein powders especially to the target demographic they are aimed at (people who train hard and have the .7-1.5 g per pound of goal bodyweight requirement). Not to mention whey by itself has many neurological and autoimmune supporting benefits which you will simply be lacking in diet of whole foods alone due to the fact that whey is what is mostly DISCARDED through the processing of dairy.


Charlotte April 1, 2013 at 12:33 pm

You make your case quite well! I appreciate the added info and I’ll definitely be thinking about it. You’re certainly right in that the convenience factor alone makes them worth looking into.


KdDooks April 1, 2013 at 12:50 pm

All this is of course based on goals. Some people don’t need to take in that much protein (but .7 g per pound of body weight to to maintain is a good idea, the US recommended values based on a 2000 calories diet is simply the minimum one needs to prevent malnutrition, it’s not actually the optimum values as those ultimately really depends on body weight mostly).

I do like your site though, digging through the posts/stories right now :)


Ktrp May 18, 2013 at 8:13 pm


For shakes its pretty easy:
~4 egg whites
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
Handful of berries

Comes in close to 30g/protein. Tastes better. Probably costs more and requires refrigeration though.


casey August 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Hello Girls,
Stumbled accross this article/site in researching protien suppliments and possible side effects/unwanted ingredients. I am experiencing. some weird things at the moment which started off my research.

A lot of interesting view points with some facts thrown in here an there, very informative. And changed my viewopint on protien drinks/shakes.
On the bra , a little story.
I was recently stopped in my training session at my loca swimming pool to be informed that it was a womens only session from now on at this time. I replied does that mean I f I put on a bikini I can continue swimming to which the lifeguard and the women near me burst out in fits of laughter. I dutily left the pool though..

Thanks for a very informative and throughly enjoyable read, again :)


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