Supplementing Protein

Is excess the best?

by Rosemary Devlin
posted on October 23rd 2013

It is difficult to deny that societal pressure to be lean yet muscular is high. People of all ages are investing their time, money and energy into having the perfect body. While it is important to maintain an active lifestyle and nourish your body accordingly, the reliance on protein supplements is growing. Corporations responsible for these products are seeing annual profits in the billions while it remains doubtful that the consumer needs this excess of protein.

A safe and effective exercise routine should be accompanied by a diet that allows for optimal performance and recovery. Many people choose to supply their bodies with protein following a work out because protein allows for taxed muscles to rebuild and strengthen. Nowadays it seems that all health clubs are selling enormous tubs of protein powders and supplements (with equally enormous price tags), essentially promoting post work- out protein binges. The response is an increased intake of protein in supplement form—but are these products really necessary and safe?


We have an unfortunate fixation on the isolation of nutrients in the United States. As evidence surfaces on the health benefits of any particular nutrient we are greeted by a rush of products containing those nutrients. Evidence to this is our reliance on vitamins that many Americans take daily. Some single serving protein powders supply around 30g of protein. Protein in that quantity unaccompanied by other nutrients is a relatively new phenomenon and is quite far from the manner in which our bodies have known in regards to processing protein. The recommended daily allowances (RDA) for both women and men are under 100 g, the exact amounts vary according to age and physical activity. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the average American consumes around double the amount of protein that their body needs.


The overconsumption of protein is detrimental to health in more ways than one. To begin, consuming too much protein will lead to weight gain in the form of fat rather than muscle. Your body only needs so much protein to build and repair muscle, any excess consumption will lead to an increase in body fat.


The majority of people over consume animal products in many forms. Various red meat, poultry, dairy and even seafood contain high amounts of artery hardening cholesterol. These foods should be limited, and any diet containing just one of these things per meal is sure to provide most eaters with all the protein they need without supplements.


Additionally, eating protein causes our bodies to produce ammonia which requires our livers to work vigorously. Routine overconsumption of protein will cause a buildup of ammonia and other toxins in the bloodstream leading to undesirable consequences including a decline in brain and nervous system functions.


Despite their extensive availability, protein powders and supplements are minimally regulated. In fact, the majority of the supplemental products that we encounter regularly have gone untested by the Food and Drug Administration. This is beneficial to the companies and contributes to the multi-billion dollar a year industry. They are held minimally accountable in regards to the quality, production and outcome of their products. What is worse is that the average consumer is either misinformed or confused as to their actual protein requirements, leading them to invest in expensive products that are likely unnecessary. 


The solution? Maintaining a balanced, whole foods diet that emphasizes the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes and lean meats if necessary. These natural, healthy foods contain all the protein that the majority of us require and are cheaper and more delicious than a luke- warm substance chugged down in the car on the way home from a work out. By making a commitment to nourishment through real foods you will be more in tune with your body and environment and you can expect a wide array of benefits. Including our live enzyme juices in your day will make you feel and look energized- our almond envy is not only decadent but it will provide you with an appropriate amount of protein.

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