Protein Powder for Athletic Performance

Is Your Protein Powder Making You Sick?

What Do I Know

I competed in my first bench press contest when I was 16, powerlifting at 18, bodybuilding at 21. The last lifting competition I was in was in a 2007 IBP powerlifting event in Seneca SC. The last bodybuilding event I competed in was the 2007 Mr. Georgia over 50 competition in Atlanta. The last time I worked out was yesterday and the next time I will work out is in 2 hours, God willing. I have been an avid weightlifter and bodybuilder all my life. Along with lifting came protein shakes. I have gone from early in my career drinking 6 raw eggs in milk a couple of times a day, to every known protein powder at one time or another. I tell you this to say I have a point of reference unlike most people that write on this subject. I have been a life long consumer of protein shakes.

Recent Studies on Protein Shakes

A recent study has alarmed me greatly and has me asking “what is protein?” in that the protein you are ingesting may be not only bad for your health but could with long term use result in death! Consumer’s report recently purchased 15 brands of the most popular protein powders/protein shakes and tested each for arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. What they found should alarm you in that every sample tested contained heavy metal! Some in much higher concentrations than others. The worse offenders are:

• Eas Myoplex (Arsenic, Cadmium)
• Muscle Milk-Chocolate (Cadmium, Lead)
• Muscle Milk-Vanilla Crème (Lead)

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

Low lead levels in kids will cause the following side effects:

* Nervous system and kidney damage.
* Learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and decreased intelligence.
* Speech, language, and behavior problems.
* Poor muscle coordination.
* Decreased muscle and bone growth.
* Hearing damage.
* Seizures, unconsciousness, and death.

In adults high levels of lead in their systems can cause the following:

* Increased chance of illness during pregnancy.
* Harm to a fetus, including brain damage or death.
* Fertility problems (in men and women).
* High blood pressure.
* Digestive problems.
* Nerve disorders.
* Memory and concentration problems.
* Muscle and joint pain

Symptoms of Cadmium Poisoning

Cadmium ingested in high doses irritates the gastric epithelium. The symptoms of cadmium ingestion are:

* nausea,
* vomiting,
* abdominal cramps and pain,
* diarrhea, and
* painful straining, during a bowel movement or urination

Symptoms of Arsenic Poisoning

* headaches
* confusion and drowsiness
* convulsions
* changes in fingernail pigmentation may occur
* diarrhea
* vomiting
* blood in the urine
* cramping muscles
* hair loss
* stomach pain

The organs of the body that are usually affected by arsenic poisoning are the lungs, skin, kidneys, and liver. The final result of arsenic poisoning is coma or death.

Symptoms of Mercury Poisoning

From the Environmental Protection Agency

* Impairment of the peripheral vision
* “Pins and needles” feelings, numbness usually in the hands feet and sometimes around the mouth
* Lack of coordination of movements, such as writing
* Impairment of speech, hearing, walking;
* Muscle weakness
* Skin rashes
* Mood swing
* Memory loss
* Mental disturbance

What to do

I know you do not want to hear this but your body can only absorb 5 to 9 grams of protein an hour. If your taking more that it is either being converted to fat or taxing the kidneys and passing out of the body through excretions. I ignore recommendations on all protein labels knowing the limitations of my body. If your overloading your body with protein you not only waste your money but also risk ruining your health! I only take in 10 grams or less of protein per hour and I suggest you do the same. I try and get most of my protein through natural sources mainly eggs and nuts. They is no better source regardless of what the ads in the magazines lead you to believe. I do take protein powder but only one that has been tested and proved to be free of heavy metals. I only take pea protein, not whey protein, another subject for another blog on another day. You can go here to see the protein powder I use.

til next time,

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4 Responses to Protein Powder for Athletic Performance

  1. John says:

    Hello Gary,
    After reading your post on your website about the heavy metals in protein shakes, I have a question. I have recently been in much want to gain more weight/muscle mass. I am 18 and have to high of a metabolism and I play highschool basketball and soon college. I have been taking precisionengineered muscle and weight gainer and had seen definite difference on the weight scale. I dont believe in the creatines. But it does say it has alot of amino acids and the calories,which I need more of, is 580. I am 124lbs. at the moment. Is this a harmful substance for my body?

  2. Stu McDonald says:

    Thanks for the info.

    Very interesting indeed. I learned about max protein intake in my fitness class. But i didn’t know it was as low as 7 grams/ hour. There is obviously variables included in this number, but the point is : 30 g protein bars = fat storage.
    What would you recommend for an athlete looking to build strength and conditioning? I am of fairly thin stature, 5″10 : 140 pounds : BMI = 21
    i dont put on weight easily, and i am not looking to. Rather, I want to gain strength and tone through exercises that use my own body weight as resistance. Given my financial position as a student, combined with my active lifestyle, I don’t receive enough protein daily.

  3. george m says:

    I started drinking protein drinks at every meal with some oatmeal and flagseed for about a month and started having joint and Tendon problems (severe problems ) I was told by the doctor that it was because i was getting older and that i should not work out as much as i do ? I did not agree with that so i started to do some research on my diet since i figured that had to be it ? And found you post . thanks

  4. Murry says:

    Hello Gary,

    It’s ironic that in my search for lead toxicity in pea protein I came accross your article above in my websearching for more details on this.

    I live in China, I hit the weights hard every second day and do light cardio on the alternate days plus I also train at a pretty intense martial art 3 – 4 sessions around this.
    I began paying and arm and a leg to have my favorite health supplements bought back home and then mailed to me here by family. I also paid heap for online health supp companies that shipped to here in China..
    But then I discovered it was easier and so so so much CHEAPER, after some researching and negotiating, to buy my protein and other health products factory direct from factories that produce these ingredients here in China.

    You see, the thing is, nearly ALL of these Chinese producers sell + ship their products …..and we’re talking everything here…..proteins, aminos, plat extracts, vitmins, gel capsules –etc.etc……..almost EVERYTHING you buy on the shelf at your local health supplment supplier store…..or at your Gym…..those big name brands…almost ALL of them… my opinion –ALL of them….ALL purchase in bulk their ingredients from manufacturers in China, they then have it shipped to them by the ton to their own “factories” in the US, UK, OZ, NZ …wherever………then they mix it up a little, add some falvouring (this can also be doen by the supplier here in China)…and also, one would hope, they quality test themselves….before they repackage it in a fancy, flash container with a fancy lable and much marketing and hype……
    Don’t belive me?…….go to…….in the search box, set the country as China and then enter the name of the raw ingredient — try Whey Protein for starters and see how many manufacturers there are — then go to a specific manufacturer’s actual website — take a read at what they make – how much they ship internationally and to what countries thy ship —-
    —- you will see that they all ship tons & tons of product — to US, UK, OZ etc. These products they produce are the main ingredients in almost ALL supplments you and I like to buy and supplement with……
    someone, somewhere in your country is buying a lot of this product from these producers in China —- and if you were to take the time to ask one of the sales reps at the Chinese company –(most of whom speak good English) – just who the big name brands are they ship to — they normally will be happy (proud) to tell you (if you purport to be a prospective buyer looking to purchase a large bulk deal from them) —
    You might need to be a bit of a sleuth and you need a bit of time — but in the end, you will be highly enlightened………..
    Still dont belive me?………try ringing the BIG brand comapnies who sell all of the leading supplement products and see if you can get them to make an on the record emphatic statement “NO WE DONT BUY ANY BASE INGREDIENTS WE USE IN OUR PRODUCTS FROM SUPPLIERS IN CHINA” .
    …..It’s not possible to mention the brand names here obvioulsy…….but I have found (and it wasn’t hard….there are many…but not that many) factories that actually supply the big name brands that I once upon a time purchased when I was back home…..
    I now just buy from exactly the same suppliers the exact same ingredients (in small bulk —25-kg) shipping within China costs me very little — Whey concentrates and isolates (instantized and microfiltrated), Calcium caseintate (instantised) and Egg Albumen powder, some of these companies even sell the flavourings too and other health ingrediants — I buy ginseng extract and other …both natural and artificial — I have been buying evaporated strawberry powder concentrate and other ingredients to mix into my own formulas…….
    So, this is a long story , long…………..I was checking out pea protein suppliers just today…..becuase I had heard of the merits of pea protein over whey ..
    found a supplier …but then as I was looking at the product stats …protein content etc.
    I spotted that the Pea Protein contained Lead in the concentration of 1mg per 1 Kg..
    and I though “I would go through a couple of Kg in a week or 2” hmmmmmmm that means that if I eat Pea Protein I’m getting lean …. a couple of mg worth….????
    It turns out that pea plants really soak up heavy metals……
    so unless you can guarentee from the product compamy that makes your pea protein A) they dont use imprted pea protein pwder from China +/or B) That they have tested their product for lead content and it is completely free from ANY lead at all ….IF this cant be guarenteed ….then all the “Veggie Heads” dieters and Vaguens who only consume this type of protein —- and that would also be you too Gary! ….you are actually running the risk of dosing up on lead — a few mg per kilogram of consumption everytime you supplement with an unguarentted pea protein product…
    in closing —— it’s your health —pick up the phone and make a few calls —
    I hope what I’ve shared with you here can enlighten some folk about the true origins of most “health” products .

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