It's a Bad Day to Be a Protein Powder

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It’s a bad day to be a protein powder...

Protein powders were found to contain arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead, BPA and more. 

Whether for weight loss, muscle building, or simply as a convenient quick meal on the go, many of us turn to protein powders and protein-filled drinks.

Here’s the deal: Most people are NOT protein deficient and DO NOT need protein powder! 

Despite what we’ve been told all our lives, we don’t need “more protein”. You can get all the protein you need from a whole food diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, starches like oats, potatoes, beans, peas and lentils, nuts and seeds, as well as from consuming limited amounts of organic free-range animal protein. 
Not to mention how harsh it is on the kidneys to eliminate all the waste products of protein metabolism. 

Unfortunately, many people are lacking vital whole-food nutrients in their diet and feel “protein drinks” are the quick fix answer. 

But a recent study shows that many of the top-selling powders and pre-mix protein drinks contain toxic contaminants. And this is not the first time for these findings. 
A 2010 Consumer Reports’ study detected arsenic, cadmium, lead and/or mercury in samples of ALL the 15 powders tested.

Well here’s the latest study. Clean Label Project (a nonprofit organization that examines labeling safety issues) completed a study of 134 protein powder products from 52 brands. Products were screened for over 130 toxins in top-selling protein powder products (animal-based, whey, and plant-based) which were tested and reviewed by a third party analytical chemistry laboratory. 

The results were not good and I was disappointed across the board, even with the higher scoring protein powders. 

They found levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead, and toxins like bisphenol A (BPA), and subpar quality, protein and antioxidant levels. Misrepresentation. 

Scores were then based on the findings of these categories: Toxic Metals (2 tests), Bi-product contaminants, process contaminants, nutritional superiority and antioxidant activity. 

Overall, plant-based protein powders had higher levels of contaminants than those made from animal sources, containing on average twice as much lead and measurably higher amounts of other contaminants. 

This is the result of sourcing and production practices. Contaminants can be found in soils because of pesticides and mining run-off (ex. heavy metals) and toxic fertilizer (aka bio sludge) which can be absorbed by plants. They can also be the result of the manufacturing process (ex. BPA/BPS is used in the lining of cans and containers and leach into the protein powder).

Many animal-based protein powders scored poorly as well. Even though some were lower in contaminants, animal-based protein powders are highly processed, unnatural, and elevate levels of cancer-promoting hormones, methionine and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in the body.

⚠️Another major blow was Chocolate/cocoa flavored protein powders. Chocolate protein powder had much more contaminants than vanilla. This is because the cacao plants used to make the chocolate in flavored products are more susceptible to absorbing heavy metals from the soil than the vanilla plant.

All in all, it would be very difficult for protein powders to contain absolutely no trace of any heavy metals. Therefore, it is important to verify testing performed of your favorite protein powder and to measure how different products stack up against one another. And with the findings of some protein supplements being very clean, compared to companies with high levels of heavy metals, it proves it is absolutely possible to do better and keep protein supplements clean of contaminants. 

>>The products that received the poorest overall scores in this test with 1-2 Stars:

👎🏻Garden of Life Organic Shake, Meal Replacement, RAW, and Plant formulas. 

👎🏻Nature’s Best Isopure Creamy Vanilla Zero Carb

👎🏻Quest Chocolate Milkshake Protein Powder

👎🏻360Cut Performance Supplements
👎🏻360PRO Whey Chocolate Silk Premium Whey Protein

👎🏻Vega Sport Plant-Based Vanilla, Performance Protein and 11 Other protein powders scored 1 star for purity. Only a few got 2 stars.

👎🏻Nutiva’s Nurture Vitality High Fiber Superfood and Hemp Protein 15G 

👎🏻Purely Inspired Vanilla Organic Protein

👎🏻Aloha Organic Plant-Based Protein Banana, chocolate and Mixed Berry flavors

👎🏻Nature’s Plus Spiru-Tein Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry. 

👎🏻Metagenics UltraMeal 

👎🏻Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate and Natural flavors got 2 stars but their Vanilla got 3 stars for purity.

***Getting a hair better at 3 Stars:

👉🏼Plant-Fusion (3 stars for purity but 2 star for toxic metals👎🏻).

👉🏼Wilderness Poets Homestead Stables and Superfoods Hemp Protein (3 stars for purity but 2 for toxic metals👎🏻).

The proteins with the highest scores were:

👍🏻Pure Protein Vanilla Cream 100% Whey

👍🏻Performix Pro Whey Sabor Vanilla Protein with Amino Beads

👍🏻BodyFortress Super Advanced Vanilla 100% Whey Protein

👍🏻BioChem Vanilla 100% Whey Protein

👍🏻Puori PW1 Vanilla Pure Whey Protein

Again, all in all, I’m not impressed, even with the middle to higher scoring powders, as quality was always lacking in one department, due to contaminants I refuse to have in my family’s body. 
I’ll be making changes with the frequency of using protein powders in general, along with choosing brands, and I hope you’ll modify usage and investigate your protein powder/drink sources too (that goes for pre-bottled and smoothie bars). 
I haven’t met anyone yet who can tolerate toxins running rampant in their body, no need to test that theory because of protein powder. 
Know your source or keep it simple and stick to a whole-food organic form of protein when possible.

See more brands and results here: