A few weeks back, I wrote a Blog post describing Consumer Reports claim of Poison Protein Shakes
. In this post
, I gave you the important bullet points on a recent research study Consumer Reports did on 15 of the most popular protein supplements sold on the market today.
At the conclusion of their study, Consumer Reports stated “All drinks in our tests had at least one sample containing one or more of the following contaminants: arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Those metals can have toxic effects on several organs in the body.”
Essentially, Consmuer Reposts told us that what we were buying was poison protein
. I have to admit, this report of poison protein
really had me questioning my own personal use of protein supplements. But, just the thought of cutting out my Bio-Test: Metabolic Drive
and At-Large Nutrition: Nitrean
was depressing because I love my protein shakes!
If it’s one thing I’ve learned about this kind of information given by Consumer Reports – It’s to always check other sources before coming to any personal conclusions. As they say “there’s always two sides to every story”. So, before I cut out my beloved protein shakes, I needed to consult with an expert in nutrition to get an informed opinion on the matter.
I called my good friend, fellow Men’s Health
contributor and nutritional research expert, Alan Aragon
. I read everything Alan writes, from his Blog
to his Research Review
. You won’t find a better resource for non-biased, evidence based nutrition information you can immediately use than what you’ll find at Alan’s website
. You’ll also get to see from his picture below, Alan is the original bro-master of the Derrick Zoolander, Blue Steel bro-pose.
Now, without further delay – Here’s Alan Aragon’s exclusive NickTumminello.com article on the Consumer Reports claim of poison protein.
Consumer Reports Isn’t Immune to Sensationalism
By Alan Aragon
A lot of people have asked me for my opinion of the infamous Consumer Reports (CR) July 2010 article on the supposed dangers (and relative uselessness) of protein supplements. For the most part I’ve responded like, “The city air is worse for you, so either move to the country or just relax & don’t sweat the small stuff.” However, when I was contacted with this same question by Nick, I thought to myself, “Holy crap, this is Nick Fricking Tumminello…it’s time to get serious.”
Let’s take a look at the danger part first.
An important thing to consider is that Consumer Reports is not the end-all authority; it’s merely a single resource to be viewed as critically as any other. No information should be taken on blind faith (even mine!). An early example of CR’s fallibility was a dog food comparison in their February 1998 issue. Iams (one of the companies under CR scrutiny) presented proof that CR mismeasured various nutrient levels. Subsequently, CR published a correction the following month. There are other examples of CR’s mistakes in other industries, but suffice it to say that CR has steered clear of testing dog foods since this 1998 debacle. Assuming that they are the final word on food safety testing would be a hasty move.
In response to CR’s recent protein supplement article, Greg Pickett, founder of Cytosport (maker of Musclemilk), made the valid point that, “…it must not be overlooked that the substances tested by Consumer Reports are naturally occurring in the environment, and it would be uncommon, if not impossible, not to detect the trace amounts reportedly found in any agricultural product, such as dairy products, fruits and vegetables.”
Also noted by Cytosport, CR slickly based its calculations of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) permitted daily exposure limits on a bodyweight of 50 kg or 110 lbs . Using the extreme low-end of adult bodyweight makes it easy to cook up a gripping tale and claim that the amounts exceed safety limits.
Optimum Nutrition (maker of Gold Standard Whey & Platimum Hydrowhey) posted a response comparing the lead, arsenic, and cadmium content of more than 3-dozen ‘regular’ foods with the protein powders tested by CR. The facts put things into perspective really quick. Many of these commonly consumed foods absolutely blow away the heavy metal content of the protein powders. Instead of selecting a few examples that stick out to me, I’d encourage anyone to have a look at the entire list, and then relax a little about your protein supps . I personally don’t see any compelling reason to sacrifice the convenience of incorporating protein powder to meet your daily requirements.
Now, let’s take a look at another protein-related claim made in the same issue.
In an article titled, “How much protein?” CR quotes a nutritionist saying, “The body can only break down 5 to 9 grams of protein per hour, and any excess that is not burned for energy is converted to fat or excreted, so it’s a ridiculous waste to be recommending so much more than you really need.”
In short, this is simply a load of bunk prone to misleading people into thinking that anything beyond 5-9 grams of protein per hour will go to waste. I have no idea where this figure was pulled, but my guess is from somewhere that the sun don’t shine. For an in-depth look at the topic of protein consumption per meal, I’ve provided a link to a recent article of mine .
Suffice it to say that the idea that protein dosing per meal should be limited to [insert your favorite mythical number here] is usually based on a gross misunderstanding of how the body works – combined with an unawareness of what’s been demonstrated in research. Those who choose to meet their protein needs with 2-3 meals will assimilate it just as effectively as those who get their allotment over 4-6 meals. Digestion/absorption is an efficient process whose duration varies according to the size of the dose (our digestive system is way smarter than we give it credit for). Therefore, individual preference should ultimately dictate protein dosing per meal. Don’t you love it when simplicity wins?
1) Greg Pickett [Statement by]. May 30, 2010. http://www.cytosport.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/cytosportstatement1.pdf
2) Cytosport. Update: Information on the Consumer Reports Article on Protein Shakes. June 3, 2010. http://www.cytosport.com/news/press
3) Optimum Nutrition. How safe is your protein? May 2010. http://www.optimumnutrition.com/news.php?article=874
4) Aragon A. Is there a limit to how much protein the body can use in a single meal? Wannabebig, Feb 22, 2010. http://www.wannabebig.com/diet-and-nutrition/is-there-a-limit-to-how-much-protein-the-body-can-use-in-a-single-meal/
Alan Aragon has over 15 years of success in the fitness field. He earned his Bachelor and Master of Science in Nutrition with top honors. Alan is a continuing education provider for the Commission on Dietetic Registration, National Academy of Sports Medicine, American Council on Exercise, and National Strength & Conditioning Association. Alan recently lectured to clinicians at the FDA and the annual conference of the Los Angeles Dietetic Association. He maintains a private practice designing programs for recreational, Olympic, and professional athletes, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Alan is a contributing editor and Weight Loss Coach of Men’s Health magazine. Alan writes a monthly research review
providing of the latest science on nutrition, training, and supplementation. Visit Alan’s blog
to keep up with his latest shenanigans.