I’ve been wanting to write this article for the longest time. Protein powder use has been ingrained in my brain for my entire fitness life. Protein, protein, protein – you can’t reach your goals without it…or so I thought.
Up until about 3 months ago, I used protein powder on a daily basis to supplement my intake. It worked in the sense that I hit my protein requirement goals, but using it went against everything I believed in nutrition wise. The following are 6 reasons why I decided to give up using protein powder, and why you should consider it too.
Protein Powder is Processed
This was the main reason I decided to give it up. I’m a firm believer that processed food is the primary cause of bad health in this world, and as much as I’d hate to admit it, protein powder is a processed food. More importantly though, it’s a refined food.
That means you are taking a whole food and purifying it down to just the parts you want. That also means you are leaving out many of the essential parts of the food that are beneficial to your health. In addition, most of the powder on the market is packed with artificial sweeteners and fillers.
It Spikes Insulin Levels
I was a user of whey protein, which comes from dairy. Whey is a quick digesting protein, and I used it for this property. It was used in my post-workout shake to jump start recovery and protein synthesis. I also used it in other foods to fortify its protein content.
I always knew this to be true, but I remained in denial – whey protein can quickly raise blood sugar and insulin levels, leaving you feeling like you just ingested sugar   . I was always hungry shortly after a meal containing whey protein, and I believe it’s because the powder caused wild swings in blood sugar levels. Losing weight is about managing insulin levels, and protein powder didn’t help. While the blood sugar crash was mitigated post-workout due to the suppressed insulin response, using powder throughout the day made the issue progressively worse.
It Lacks Nutrients
This goes along with the fact that it’s processed. When you refine a product you leave behind much of the nutrition. Not only that, but we are still learning about nutrition, and I have a feeling that we are going to discover more about our food and about how all the parts of the food work together in harmony to assimilate its vitamins and minerals.
In the meantime, whole foods will always beat protein powder when it comes to providing a broad range of nutrients. We have to remember that being fit and healthy isn’t just about the macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs), it’s about the micronutrients (vitmains, minerals, antioxidants, etc) too.
I Don’t Need It to Reach My Goals
Coming from a bodybuilding background, I had it ingrained in my head that if I didn’t get 1 gram per pound of body weight in protein, I would be sacrificing muscle gains. Well, after removing protein powder from my diet, I experimented with this myself doing my own body fat and lean body mass measurements.
I ate between .8-1 gram per pound of LEAN body mass. This didn’t affect me negatively in any way, and in fact, I felt healthier as a result. I’m a firm believer that you shouldn’t sacrifice your health for fitness, and protein powder went against that belief.
It’s an Unneeded Expense
I actually spent a lot less than many people do on protein powder. I would buy it in bulk (10lbs), and the price for whey isolate was under $10/lb. Compare that to some other people that are spending $100-$200/month on protein supplementation, and it was a bargain.
However, it still wasn’t cheap, and the extra expense was unneeded. That extra money is going towards having fun or improving the quality of my nutrition by adding more veggies to my diet. Needless to say, the extra money in my pocket makes me happy.
People Were Building Quality Muscle Long Before Protein Powder
Protein powder wasn’t always as popular as it is today. In fact, many bodybuilders of old never used the stuff because it wasn’t even available. They were still able to build great physiques. Steak and eggs, and meat and potatoes were staples in their diets. Those meals provided them with protein, healthy fats, low-glycemic carbs, and nutrients needed to build all the muscle they wanted.
For people that are looking to push their physiques well beyond genetic limitations, protein powder may have its place, but for the average person looking to be healthy, fit, and build a great physique, protein powder may be doing more harm than good. What do you think?