Protein powder – do you need it? I don’t, and here’s why…

One of my awesome clients sent me this Consumer Reports article and asked me what I thought about protein powder, which is what prompted this post.

Please – do your own research!

Here’s my two cents about just about every single article, report, study, etc. published by any and all agencies to try to prove or disprove anything: only you can decide what is true for you.

After reading the article my client sent me, then digging a little deeper into the Clean Label Project who funded the study (always find out who funds any study you are reading that is trying to convince you of anything – where the money comes from is a great indicator of the bias of the findings of the study), I found what I find just about every time I dig a little deeper:

A whole lot of he said/she said, back and forth, back and forth.

To be clear – I’m not saying that the Clean Label Project, Consumer Reports, or anyone for that matter is right, wrong, or otherwise.

I am saying that, after performing my own due diligence to best serve my client that involved an intentionally short trip down a rabbit hole, which is where all research leads (I recommend limiting the time you choose to dive into said rabbit holes as it can become never-ending) I will continue to always choose to make my own assessments based on facts combined with how things make me FEEL after doing my own experiments – physically, mentally, spiritually – and using my best judgment and discretion based on the feedback my body provides.

That is what I will always recommend each person do for themselves as well.

Ever since graduating from personal training school in 2010 and obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nutrition science, I have always had my suspicions about the efficacy, safety, and necessity of protein powder supplements, but that didn’t stop me from using them consistently for a long period of time.

Back then, I was not nearly as concerned or vigilant about the quality of ingredients I chose to put in my body, however, I was crystal clear on the fact that there wasn’t – and there still isn’t – any regulatory committee that oversees the truth in labeling regarding nutritional supplements, including protein powders.

I knew this meant that protein powder manufacturers could, quite literally, put anything they wanted on the ingredient labels and nutrition fact labels of their products and that nobody was there to ensure they were being truthful.

I used protein powder steadily for more than seven years. Throughout that time I was always active – lifting weights, Crossfit, yoga, Zumba, and a variety of other exercise modalities. First I used Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard whey protein powder, then as I listened to the signs my body was sending me and chose to move away from animal products, I transitioned to both Vega Sport and MRM Veggie Elite protein powders.

Around 2015, I simply began feeling gross – mentally and physically – anytime I thought about having a protein shake. The same shake I had every day for the past seven years, sometimes two times a day, no longer appealed to me and actually made me feel ill when I thought about drinking it.

My body simply did not want me to ingest it anymore, and at that point, I had consciously and intentionally trained myself to know how to first listen to my body – to my intuitive inner wisdom that knows everything about what I need and don’t need to be healthy – and then to act in accordance with the signs I was receiving.

Intuitive eating is how I live and what I teach others to use when building their own nutritional lifestyle.

I simply stopped using protein powders. I did not become protein deficient. I did not lose any of my muscle mass. I did not gain weight. I did not worry about replacing the 25-50 grams of protein I was no longer ingesting with protein specifically – I made it up with a variety of all macronutrients in whatever ratio I felt I needed each day. I felt a lot better overall – the same way I feel when I intuitively reduce or eliminate any highly processed food-like item from my daily nutritional lifestyle.

I was fooling myself into believing two things based on “popular science” and marketing bullshit that I no longer believe to be true:

  1. Protein powder is a healthy food, or that protein powder is food at all – it’s not – it’s a food-like item.
  2. I needed a large amount of protein in my diet daily in order to remain healthy, fit, nourished, and to be able to continue to build muscle.

I know now without any doubt that both of those things are not true for me.

I can’t say what is true for you. Only you can choose to experiment and see what your body really wants and needs, not because an article or a trainer told you so, but because it makes you feel in tune with yourself, satisfied, energetic, and not like you’re force feeding yourself or restricting yourself intensely to reach a certain set macronutrient ratio.

Here’s what I know for sure:

  1. We all have our own internal, intuitive wisdom that, if honed in on, will always guide us to the right choices when it comes to how to nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits. Learning to do this is a practice that will serve you for the rest of your life in ways you can’t even imagine.
  2. I personally don’t need more than 50 grams of protein per day in order to have what I consider the health I desire, including strength, endurance, overall physical fitness, mental clarity, great blood work time and time again (including cholesterol, blood pressure, Vitamin panels, thyroid, Hemoglobin A1C, and more – I love studying my blood work and get more blood work than the average bear, and more often).
    I am a woman, currently 35 years old and weighing 135 pounds that exercises 5-7 days a week consistently in a variety of modalities. I have had type 1 diabetes for 27 years. There are some days get 50 grams of protein, some days I get 100 and some days in between – whatever I need each day, I get.
  3. Eliminating protein powders from my life caused me absolutely zero problems.

I had no plans at all of writing this as a blog post, but once I got to writing back to my client, Misi (a 67 year old highly athletic female with type 1) I realized that I wanted to share this response with anyone else who might want to hear my opinions.

For some levity, check out this short parody that another one of my clients sent me on the topic of intuitive eating. I got a kick out of it, and it drives home the point of needing to know what makes you feel good versus believing everything you read without doing your own experimentation in a lighthearted way. 🙂

I’d love to hear about your experiences with protein powder as your feedback is so helpful in forming a clearer picture on the topic.

Do you love it? Hate it? Indifferent?

Please leave a comment below to help me gather real, community-sourced feedback!

Thanks for reading!

Comments

  1. James Harless says:

    Daniele. Tx. I do drink protein prepared drinks, most with whey protein. I do not enjoy them, but I skip many meals and often minimize meat consumption, so I feel I am needing protein. I seem to lack what I see as better options. The processed drinks are no doubt worse for me but taste a little better. I do chocolate and eat almonds with them. Best to…

    • DiabetesDominator says:

      Thanks for sharing, Jim! I felt the same thing you describe in your comment – I did not enjoy them!

  2. Thanks for this! I also stopped using protein powder a while back. Whole plant based foods ( gosh has that become a trendy word now) are my staple. Loved the video you shared in the newsletter! Hysterical.

    • DiabetesDominator says:

      Thanks for sharing, Rachel! It is a trendy phrase, but one that holds the key to health in my opinion. I’m with you on the whole-foods-plant-based lifestyle! 🙂

  3. Great post Danielie. I feel a lot of the protein powder world is a lot of hype. Real food is always best vs food like items and doubt there is a shortage of protein in most circumstances and if anyone is, they are likely getting healthcare for many other problems related…and its not the protein intake that is the problem. I fear reading the labels on most canisters. If I can not pronounce it or know what it is..I tend to stay away. I do use a pea protein powder occasionally that has only about 5 ingredients on the canister and hope they are telling the truth. I seem to digest it easily and have no problems when I use it if I feel my intake of real food that day might be short. Real Food!!!! Makes life much easier!!! Hope people learn that some day.

    • DiabetesDominator says:

      I agree Jo! Real food is best! 🙂 There has been so much hype put on the “need” for high amounts of protein that it really has become more of a marketing ploy than anything else. Protein deficiency is extremely rare in the United States. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. I believe we are completely protein obsessed – it is a marketing buzzword right now. It is the “fat free” craze of the 90’s. With that being said I will use some in a smoothie but I only use Vega One about once a week. I read that plant based protein is so much easier on the kidneys so no whey for me! Other than that smoothie I do not go out of my way for protein. I just eat complete meals. I do have a question, do you still make smoothies? Do you make them without any protein?

    • DiabetesDominator says:

      Thanks for your feedback, Evamarie! I do make smoothies without protein all the time. Sometimes I’ll use a tablespoon or two of unsweetened cocoa powder to give it some body if I’m in the mood for it (which goes great with banana or strawberries, or both!), and I find using some hemp seeds also works to add texture and nutrition as well. So many options! 🙂

  5. Great post! Thanks for sharing😍

  6. E. McMullin says:

    I’ve heard good things about whey protein when baking foods that need to be gluten free and have good taste and texture. Celiac disease caused me to lose a lot of weight and strength, but gluten free foods don’t taste the same and are either too hard or too crumbly.

    • DiabetesDominator says:

      I’ve heard that too – in fact, my friend Allison made some delicious Paleo treats that had egg white protein in them. I personally don’t use protein powder daily, but am not against it as each person has their own dietary needs/likes!

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