Many people, specifically bodybuilders, use amino acid supplements or protein powders to increase their muscle mass and promote recovery following exercise. But is it safe to consume whey protein powder? Are there side effects associated with whey protein?
In July 2010, ConsumerLab.com tested 15 different whey protein powders for contamination by heavy metals including lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium. Of the products tested, 3 of the 15 measured above acceptable limits for heavy metal contamination when assessed at the 3 serving size based U.S Pharmacopeia’s standards.
Which brands of whey protein had the highest contamination?
EAS Myoplex Original Rich Dark Chocolate Shake had the highest level of contamination with 16.9 mcg of arsenic and 5.1 mcg of cadmium per daily serving.
Muscle Milk had the second highest level of contamination, with up to 14.3 mcg of arsenic, 5.6 mcg of cadmium, and 13.5 mcg of lead in different products.
Which brands of whey protein had the highest purity (least contamination)?
Other well-known whey protein products were tested including Designer Whey, GNC, Six Star and Optimum Nutrition, all of which were found to be within acceptable levels.
The brands considered to have the highest level of purity were products made by Optimum Nutrition, Solgar and Six Star.
Optimum Nutrition Follow-Up
As a follow-up, Optimum Nutrition produced a report showing that the traces of heavy metals found in their whey protein was insignificant when compared to metals found naturally in our food. For example, the levels of lead found in an average serving of commonly eaten foods is mostly comparable or even higher than a single scoop of Optimum Nutrition whey protein.
Results from the Food and Drug Administration’s 2007 report on “Total Diet Study Statistics on Element Results which analyzes 200 foods found in grocery stores discovered the following:
Based on these results, I would still opt to consume a scoop of whey protein following my workouts, particularly from Optimum Nutrition as I feel that the benefits outweigh the risks. To name a few, antioxidant activity, enhanced muscular development and immune function support are the benefits you can expect from whey protein. As long as you are consuming whey protein from high quality sources with no artificial sweeteners (eg. sucralose, acesulfame potassium) and negligible contamination, there is no reason not to supplement to improve your performance.
Where can I get the best Whey Protein?
Now that you know Optimum Nutrition cares about its customers and produces high quality whey protein, you’re probably wondering which of their products to choose. I would personally recommend getting the following:
100% Whey Gold Standard Natural Whey does not contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose or acesulfame potassium which are harmful to your health. Also, Optimum Nutrition products have negligible amounts of heavy metal contamination, as seen from the report I mentioned above. I have personally been supplementing with this brand of protein for years and have found that it easily dissolves in water, has great taste, and is higher quality than most other brands of whey protein.
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