Here are the results of research on protein shakes and how they impact your health.
The Downside of the Protein Shake FadProtein shakes are easy which is why we like them, but when products like these get popular, big name companies rush in for a share of the profits. This often results in cheaply made, low-quality goods that rely on mass marketing for sales.
Marketing experts know that if they advertise correctly, the company will make millions before the fad fizzles out or the public realizes the product is ineffective. They’re actually counting on it.
When it comes down to it, protein shakes are not real food. They’re also completely unnecessary if you’re eating enough raw fruits and vegetables. However, if you’re adamant about using them for whatever reason, it’s important to know what’s in them.
What’s In Your Protein ShakeThe following ingredients are commonly found in the most popular protein shakes today.
Maltodextrin Maltodextrin is used to produce an artificial dietary fiber. It’s made from corn that has most likely been genetically modified (GMO) and cannot be broken down by digestive enzymes. It’s really just a useless additive that does nothing but make you feel full.
This may not seem as horrible as other artificial ingredients found in food these days, but it’s not something you really want in your body.
Food ColoringYou most likely don’t realize that food coloring is made from petroleum. Yes, the same petroleum that powers your car. It’s also used to make asphalt and tar. The FDA recognizes that many food colorings are carcinogens (cause cancer), but does nothing about banning them to protect the public.
What’s worse is that the biggest consumers of food dyes are children.
Mac-n-Cheese, Fruit Roll-Ups, M&Ms, Lunchables, Cheetos, lemonade and punch, and even yogurt, are among the thousands of products that are artificially colored.
Food dyes do nothing in terms of nutrition, either. They’re used only to make foods pretty and appear appetizing. The extent of health issues that result from a lifetime of consuming these chemicals cannot be known, but I am convinced they contribute to more cancers than anyone will ever admit.
Soy Protein In its unprocessed state, soy is a very healthy source of protein, also containing natural forms of near-perfect amino acids and fiber.
Unfortunately, almost all of the soy in the US is genetically modified (GMO) and the amino acids are rendered unusable during processing.
This makes the end-product often a catalyst for digestive issues, soy allergies, thyroid imbalances, and a number of other illnesses.
It’s important to mention that soy can upset hormonal balance in both men and women because of the excessive estrogen it contains. When broken down to just its protein state, it can have horrible effects. Soy also contains phytic acid which has been shown to leach calcium and other minerals from the body.
The only real soy products that are healthy and safe to eat are fermented. Otherwise, it should be avoided at all costs.
Whey Protein Isolate Whey protein isolates are highly processed. They begin with pasteurized conventional milk which always contains antibiotics and growth hormones, and then are processed with acids that remove naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. This creates a highly acidic effect in the bloodstream.
Continual consumption of whey protein isolates without also eating high amounts of alkalizing foods increases your susceptibility to cancer, arthritis, and a host of other degenerative diseases.
This dangerous form of whey is found in a large number of popular protein and sports drinks not included in the list below.
rBGH (Growth Hormones)In 1994, the dairy industry began using a genetically engineered growth hormone called rBGH on cows to increase milk production. As a result, the incidents of disease in the treated livestock skyrocketed. To counteract the increase in disease, antibiotics were also introduced.
Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and dozens of European countries have all refused to use rbGH because of safety concerns, but the US continues to allow its use.
It is becoming clear to many of us involved in researching food industry practices why the US has the highest rates of cancer in the world. One of the top US experts in cancer prevention has cited rBGH milk as a major cause of breast, prostate, and colon cancer.
This means that any product made with pasteurized milk (butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream) also carries this risk.
Lab animals are given carrageenan to induce an inflammatory response for testing of anti-inflammatory drugs. It’s a seaweed derivative that causes serious intestinal disease and is a known carcinogen.
The sad part is that it is allowed in many organic foods.
The Worst Protein Shake Offenders If you’re buying protein shakes at the grocery store or from your neighbor through their MLM business, chances are they will contain some or all of these harmful ingredients. The following is a list of the worst offenders.
*It would be impossible to research every protein shake on the market, so a product’s absence from this list does not automatically clear it as being safe.
Slim Fast – GMO, maltodextrin, refined sugar, antibiotics, rBGH, carrageenan
Ensure – GMO, soy protein, maltodextrin, refined sugar, artificial colors, carrageenan
Body by Vi – GMO, soy protein, maltodextrin, refined sugar, antibiotics, rBGH
It Works – GMO, soy protein, maltodextrine, whey protein isolates, antibiotics, rBGH
Advocare – GMO, soy protein, maltodextrine, antibiotics, rBGH, refined sugar, carrageenan
Atkins – GMO, refined sugar, antibiotics, rBGH, artificial colors, carrageenan
Herbalife – GMO, soy protein, refined sugar
Shakeology – Refined sugar, whey protein isolate, rBGH
Special K – GMO, soy protein, maltodextrin, refined sugar, antibiotics, rBGH, artificial colors, carrageenan
Isogen – GMO, maltodextrin, refined sugar, whey protein isolate, antibiotics, rBGH, artificial colors
Pure Protein – GMO, refined sugar, whey protein isolate, antibiotics, rBGH, artificial coloring, carrageenan
Muscle Milk – GMO, maltodextrin, refined sugar, whey protein isolate, heavy metals (arsenic and lead), antibiotics, rBGH, artificial coloring, carrageenan
*I realize that some of the products listed as having GMOs are adamantly said to be GMO-free by their companies and independent distributors. This typically means the manufacturer is using “non-GMO soy.” First, there is no regulation on labeling GMOs in the US, so unless something is certified organic, you should NOT trust this claim. And second, while the soy may indeed be free from GMOs, other ingredients used in their products are not.
*I often get asked for my sources when writing these articles. My sources are the ingredient lists of the products themselves which can be found on the company’s own website. If you’re thinking of buying these products, or are involved in selling them, I encourage you to spend some time investigating any ingredients on the label you don’t recognize (listed most oftentimes under “other ingredients”) and form your own opinion.
We can indeed stop the use of all these harmful products in our food. The answer is simple. If consumers stop buying them, food manufacturers will stop making them. Start voting with your wallet. The Non-GMO Shopping Guide is a great resource for buying non-GMO foods.
In researching, I found several protein powders that are clean and nutrient-dense. The best was Raw Protein from Garden of Life. It’s plant-based and vegan with live probiotics and enzymes, and does not contain GMOs, dairy, gluten, or synthetic or artificial ingredients.
*Original research performed and reported by Yani Hari.