Let’s be real: a lot of advertisements for protein supplements are pretty ridiculous. Some jacked beyond belief dude looks like he’s about to grunt right off the page of a magazine, practically screaming at you, “LOOK AT HOW MUCH PROTEIN I GET!” That aesthetic might be appealing to some, but for the rest of the world that isn’t competing in the Mr. Universe pageant, it might be a little intimidating.
More than that, some protein supplements make claims that they can’t back up. More protein this and increased gains that without any real evidence that their product is going to work for you and help you achieve all of your fitness and physique goals.
Don’t be duped by phony claims plastered in bright letters over containers of protein powder. You’re too smart for that. Save yourself time, money and wasted effort by stopping to think about the legitimacy of flashy advertisements before you go all in on a product. Here are a few to look out for.
More protein! That must be better, right? Not necessarily. In fact, sometimes, when companies advertise that their product packs more protein, what they’re really selling is just more filler. It’s called protein spiking and it’s way less fun than the spiked punch at a party.
Protein powders can be “spiked” with amino acids like taurine, glycine and arginine to pass regulatory tests, meanwhile deceiving the everyday consumer. They are relatively inexpensive additives. It is a sneaky way to make a protein supplement appear to contain more pure protein than it does. The test actually measures the amount of nitrogen in a product, then converts that into a protein measurement. Every amino acid contains nitrogen, so the nitrogen amount is inflated by the additives, which results in an exaggerated protein content reported for the product.
The controversy over spiked protein hit a peak in 2015 when a lawsuit was filed against MusclePharm, the latest in a long line of protein supplement manufacturers accused of misleading consumers with false protein amounts.
First things first: protein alone isn’t going to help you build muscle. Chugging a protein shake or loading up on energy bars won’t result in instant biceps. Sorry, but you’re going to have to put in the work just like everybody else.
Protein expert Dr. Gail Butterfield, director of Nutrition studies at the Palo Alto Veterans’ Administration Medical Center and nutrition lecturer at Stanford University, told WebMD that the converse is actually true. A diet too rich in protein without additional calorie sources or exercise can potentially have adverse effects.
Butterfield claims that too much protein can actually put your bodily systems under stress. It can build up an excess of toxic ketones, which can push your kidneys into overdrive, putting you at risk for dehydration.
Protein along with more exercise and additional calories can help you build muscle, of course, but any protein supplement claiming it alone can make your abs ripple through your flesh like the Rockies is lying to you. Do some crunches.
Protein can help you lose weight. But protein isn’t the magic bullet you’ve been waiting for to finally shed your excess pounds. Just like with muscle growth, a diet rich in protein or supplemented with protein powders is only one part of the weight loss equation.
A study published by the New England Journal of Medicine examined the results of diets with different levels of protein for participants looking to lose some weight. Participants who were instructed to stick to a diet of 25 percent protein lost almost 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) whereas those consuming 15 percent protein lost about 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) over the course of the study.
The participants of this study were also working out at a moderate intensity for 90 minutes every week, however. Exercise was vital to the weight loss of those consuming any level of protein. Bear in mind that swapping out a percentage of your diet for protein can also cut out things like carbs and fats, which will definitely make an impact when you’re looking to lean out.
The moral of the story is that protein, as part of a healthy diet and exercise routine, can help you lose weight. Chugging a chocolate cookie blast protein powder mixed with full-fat milk three times a day won’t. Any supplement claiming that it and it alone is going to get you to your goals is trying to trick you.
Nutrition breakthrough! Protein is good for you! Thanks. We’ve known that for a very long time. Nutrition supplements are nothing new to the scene and protein powders and bars are old hat. Companies that claim their product is breaking nutrition boundaries are either misleading you or on the verge of a medical breakthrough that should probably be investigated by peer reviewed scientific journals before it shows up on your shelf.
Protein powders and supplements have been around since the 1950s. Bodybuilders started stocking up on the stuff to help them build muscle and the industry continues expanding to accommodate demand. The early protein supplements were bitter and hard to take, and in that capacity we’ve come a long way, but the basic concept remains.
In the current protein market, the most innovative and outstanding feature can actually be simplicity. Not many companies are sorting out the junk and fillers, using natural, well-tested and highly quality-controlled ingredients to help you meet your goals. Take a closer look at the products with bold claims that they’re changing the game and you might find nothing but a flashy new label for the same old protein product.
When you’re looking for a protein supplement to give you the push you need to meet your physique and fitness goals, don’t be fooled by flashy marketing. You’re smarter than that. Take a minute to think about what you need and evaluate how that product is really going to give it to you. And the best strategy may be to just keep it simple. Get your protein without all the filler and avoid those nasty artificial ingredients.