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Consumer Reports: Protein Bias?

Consumer Reports disputes the science-based claims of the protein supplements they tested. They stress that these claims are in "ads", as to make it seem these claims are the usual half truths and white lies that marketers are famous for. Normally, I'd agree about the marketing claims, but most of these claims sounded pretty reasonable,especially since I know first hand what a relatively high protein intake can do for your physique. However, my issues with the article did not end there.

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Massive Contradictions

CR says that you should eat 0.4 grams per body weight (200 lbs x 0.4 means I should eat 80 grams of protein a day). CR uses the average American protein intake of 82 grams to compare to their 0.4 gram recommendation, which would mean most people actually get too much protein daily. Of course, they also failed to mention the average American is overweight, inactive, chronicallyinflamedand is just waiting to get an obesity related disease and suffer well into old age. Don't you want to be like the Average American?!

But wait! CR makes sure to tack on the "take in your bodyweight in grams of protein if you're an athlete" line to pacify the athletic crowd. Of course, CR doesn't include any reasoning for this recommendation, and it flies in the face of the entire article's tone and message. This makes me wonder if an editor just inserted that little nugget after this piece was written, in an effort to seem less radical.

CR also takes aim at teenagers who are striving to build physiques that look like the people in magazines. CR claims teens "overuse" protein powder (of course, they would never accuse the general population of "overusing" grains and processed foods, but that point isn't really relevant to the article). It is not wise to confuse stupidity with the safety of a product. If a kid is drinking 6 shakes a day and not eating whole foods, that's just dumb. It says nothing to theeffectivenessor safety of a product that is intended to be a supplement . Additionally, I would bet my life that the people in the magazines take more than 0.4 grams per bodyweight in protein a day, so increasing your intake to build up your physique to resemble these people makes lots of sense. Also,CR recommended more protein for athletes,but now they are chiding kids for trying to emulate their physiques by supplementing like they did to build their bodies. Ask any bodybuilder, pro athlete or powerlifter what they do, not a biased scientist who has never seen the inside of a weight room.

False Health Claims

Apparently too much protein can cause health problems. Although according to the article's own data, the average protein consumption of Americans is 82 grams a day, which isn't high at all. I think we as Americans are doing just fine in the health problem department on low protein.Maybethat should be a clue that our national dietary approach isn't working, thus requiring changes? There is no credible study in the entire world that can back up the above quote. Protein also doesn't cause kidney problems in healthy people. According to a female expert in the article,

"the body can only break down 5 to 9 grams of protein per hour, and any excess that is not burned for energy is converted to fat or excreted so it's ridiculous waste to be recommending so much more than you really need"

Protein, along with carbohydrates and fats, areutilizedby the body for energy. If you ingested too much energy containing nutrients (meaning protein OR carbs OR fats), and your bodydoesn'tneed them right now, then YES THEY WILL BE STORED OR EXCRETED. This isn't just for protein, as the article might have you believe. This is true for fats and carbs too. It's just how the body works. She takes a concept that applies to all food and carefully crafts her statement to mislead people into thinking just protein can bediscardedfrom the body. I'd love to hear her justification for getting a meal that costs more than a $5 McDonalds value meal at a restaurant, if all you will have is an expensive toilet session. This false information is what sets people back years with their nutrition and training goals.

What really sent me through the roof with the article was the "expert" and her son. The boy was eating a lot of protein, and he suffered from diarrhea. He was eating 300 grams of protein a day. His mother claimed diarrhea was a side effect from too much protein. No, it's a side effect from a poor overall diet. Health problems rarely have a single cause. It sounds lack the kid was not eating enough fiber (which fits thearticle'stheme of "Average American" quite nicely). Most protein sources are also acidic in nature, and from the signs of it, the boy wasn't eating too many fiber containing vegetables to balance out his acids. So, instead of reaping the benefits of increased protein, he threw the baby out with the bath water and now probably still has a crappy diet and won't reach his fitness goals any faster. Brilliant.

Consumer Reports is basing their recommendations on government documents. These documents, as I explained in my dietary fat article, have a very sketchy and politically motivated history. Most of these government documents have actually led to an increase in obesity and obesity related illness since their adoption. Maybe we should think a little harder about following these documents so closely?


Although I really hated most of the article, CR was spot on with the call to regulate the supplement industry. Everyone has read a story about an athlete testing positive for a banned substance he claims was in a tainted supplement. Unfortunately, anyone can fall victim to this because there is nostringenttesting of products before they reach the market. Hopefully if people take anything from this article, it would be to be careful of taking too many products because you can never be sure what you are getting.

Other points I liked:

  • Urged readers to eat whole food sources of protein
  • Tested commonly consumed powders for chemicals

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Posted in Community Post Date 02/10/2017






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