Truths About Protein Powders

Like carbohydrates and fats, protein is a necessary macronutrient. However, dietary supplement companies are brainwashing us to believe that more is better. Too much animal protein is unhealthy and consuming protein in a supplemental powder form may be dangerous to our health.

What are our protein needs?

Adults need 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you weigh 120 pounds, that’s 48 grams.

Older adults need slightly more to offset muscle loss due to aging, The recommended amount is 0.6 grams per pound of body weight– which at 120 pounds equals 72 grams.

If you are recovering from surgery or have a problem with eating then protein supplements may be useful. The average healthy person gets enough protein through a balanced diet.

How much protein is in protein-rich foods?
  • 3 ounces skinless chicken breast = 28 grams
  • 3 ounces of steak = 26 grams
  • 3 ounces of salmon = 22 grams
  • 3 ounces of scallops = 14 grams
  • 1 large egg = 6 grams
  • 1/2 cup lentils = 9 grams
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas = 7 grams
  • 1/2 cup tofu = 10 grams
  • 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds = 9 grams
  • 6 ounces of Greek yogurt = 18 grams
  • 1 cup nonfat yogurt = 11 grams
  • 1 cup of cow or soy milk = 8 grams
  • 1 cup kefir = 10 grams
  • 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella = 7 grams
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese = 14 grams
  • 1/2 cup wheat berries = 6 grams
  • 1/2 cup cooked spinach = 3 grams
Too much protein at one time is unhealthy.

Especially for older adults who may be suffering with chronic kidney disease. Research suggests no more than 25 to 30 grams at each meal.

Protein powders isolate the protein.

You don’t get the benefit of eating whole foods, which naturally provide a balance of macro and micro nutrients– the way Mother Nature intended us to eat protein! Instead protein powders are ultra-processed and often contain sweeteners, sodium and additives that are unhealthy like gums and fibers that can cause gastric distress.

The Clean Label Project analyzed protein powders in 2018.

Of 134 of the most popular protein powders, almost all of them contained heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury. Certified organic protein powders had a higher level of contaminants than conventional ones. See the chart below.

The Bottom line:

Label accuracy is not controlled or tested by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Therefore it’s safer to make your own protein drinks by blending frozen fruit with milk, yogurt or kefir and adding nut or seed butters or soft tofu.

For healthy recipes and dietary guidance read my award winning book: Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy, which follows the combined principles of the Mediterranean + Dash diets.