There has been a huge increase recently, in the promotion and sale of protein supplements. The concept of going on a ‘protein binge’ is becoming common, especially for males. However, a lot of the information that the manufacturing labels provide is tinted. This raises the common and concerned question, “Is it okay to take supplemental protein?”
What is a ‘protein supplement?’
Our body is composed primarily of protein. The building blocks of proteins, the amino acids, can be found in hair, nails, blood, skin, and even internal organs. There are 20 amino acids in total. Out of these, 12 amino acids are known as non-essential amino acids, and are manufactured within the body. The remaining 8 are essential amino acids, and are obtained from the food we eat. Whey protein supplements contain these essential amino acids, thus becoming a complete protein source. These supplements particularly contain the class of branched-chain amino acids that promote weight loss and build lean muscles.
For athletes in intensive training and workout regimes.
People who struggle with appetite loss.
People facing difficulty in chewing.
People recovering from surgery or some illness, such as cancer or kidney disease.
Improving and maintaining body composition.
Contains antioxidants, which may help enhance the immune system.
Protein supplements contain high amounts of the amino acid cysteine. This increases the levels of glutathione, which helps fight bacteria and viruses.
Whey supplements also contain leucine. This branched amino-acid helps the body lose fat.
To fulfill the dietary requirements of vegetarians. These supplements are a generous source of protein in replacement of meat, fish, chicken and eggs.
Supplemental protein drinks are usually more sugar than nutrients. Even when fortified, they are not a suitable replacement to your daily meals. Some may even contain harmful ingredients such as Selenium. Always check the ingredients and labels before buying such a product.
Aggravates conditions such as renal problems, diabetes, heart ailments and osteoporosis. The excessive protein consumed ultimately breaks down into urea and other acidic by-products. These compounds affect kidneys and trigger the release of calcium via bones.
Recent studies link protein supplements with inflamed and clogged arteries.
Such supplements are often marketed without any safety or FDA approval. Long-term consumption should thus be re-considered.
Excessive muscular development through animal-derived protein supplements increase the risk of heart attacks and other diseases later in life.
So, is it okay to take supplemental protein? Probably not. The best and safest way to consume protein supplements is to estimate your daily protein requirements. Discuss your physical routine with a physician and opt for what is right for you.