Doctors Are Warning the Public About the Myth of Protein Shakes

Protein is in the spotlight, with supermarkets and health food shelves groaning under the weight of protein shakes and bars. It’s estimated that around 1 in 10 people eats a protein bar once a week, with a similar number regularly consuming protein powder. Cost doesn’t seem to be an impediment, with a reported $9 billion of annual revenue generated by the category. While protein is vital for energy, growth, tissue repair and maintenance of our bodies, too much protein can be harmful. The average adult is already having more than the recommended levels of protein — 45g a day for women, 55g for men — and it’s not hard to see why. Doctors are now warning that the optimum way to have protein is from whole food sources, partly because many protein-rich foods are important sources of other nutrients that are often missing from protein shakes and powders. Another concern regarding protein bars and shakes is their added sweeteners and sugars, with sorbitol and mannitol resulting in bloating and digestive discomfort. The common thickener carrageenan, typically an ingredient in protein shakes and bars, is linked to inflammation. Such ingredients also link these ultra-processed foods to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes. The bottom line: most people have enough protein in their diet and it’s a myth that we need excess amounts.