Are protein supplements really good for you?

Apr 1, 2014 | News

By Tyrrell Meertins

Protein supplements have developed into a worldwide phenomenon that can be found in any local gym or health store around the world.

Teens and post-secondary students have turned to these enticing supplements – that come in the form of a bar or a shake – with hopes of building muscle faster. Those who partake in gym workouts are advised to ingest protein before or after a workout as it can recover and repair your muscles.

A study conducted by Euromonitor International states that there’s a global increase in the dietary supplement market.

Humber fitness coordinator, Leanne Henwood-Adam, told Humber News that protein should make up anywhere from 25 to 35 per cent of your total daily calories.

“The average person requires about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight,” Henwood-Adam said. “And more active people – athletes for example – require a range from 1.4 – 1.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight.”

While protein is essential in the average person’s daily diet, the commonly held belief is that too much protein can harm your kidneys.

“This is because eating a lot of protein can lead to ketosis – a toxic build up of ketones – a substance that is made when the body uses its own fat cells for fuel in the absence of sufficient carbohydrates,” Henwood-Adam said. “It is thought that ketones can harm the kidneys as they try to excrete these substances.”

Still, a healthy diet is the preferred alternative, as whole food sources are a healthier protein solution opposed to the aforementioned shakes and bars.

Humber personal trainer, Nelson Bolarinho, told Humber News that the media contributed to the popularity of protein supplements.

“It’s not so much that there’s an influx in protein shake consumption, but it’s becoming more popular,” Bolarinho said. “People may not necessarily know why they’re taking it, but they think it’s good for them so they use it.”

Most users tend to exceed their daily protein usage, which is why it’s important to find a proper balance between time and nutrition.

Bolarinho said people should only use protein substances to supplement meals that are missed throughout the day.

“It all depends on what you’re eating. I’m a firm believer that if you can have natural proteins – eggs, tuna, and chickpeas – then go for that. These supplements should only be used if you’re not getting enough protein in your diet.”