You're Drinking Too Much Protein Powder If This Happens To You

You've probably seen an increase in the number and variety of protein supplements on grocery store shelves in recent years. They're being marketed as powders, bars, cookies, and even water supplements. But recently, health experts have been warning people that protein powders are not only unnecessary for most people, but they may even be harmful.

Protein is an essential macronutrient that allows your body to build muscle and bones, and supports many other functions (via Harvard Health Publishing). Doctors recommend that most people get between 10 and 35 percent of their daily calories from protein (via Mayo Clinic). People over the age of 40, those who exercise regularly, and those with specialized diets due to medical conditions might have different needs. Protein can come from a variety of foods, and most doctors agree that getting it from whole foods is best. And while protein powder is convenient and sometimes even downright tasty, there is evidence that you should probably just stay away from it if you can.

What's really in your protein powder?

Plant-, whey-, or egg-based protein powders contain so much more than just protein. Along with thickeners, vitamins, and minerals, many protein powders have plenty of sweeteners that can add unnecessary calories to your diet. And because protein powders are considered a dietary supplement, the FDA gives manufacturers the responsibility of truthfully reporting what's actually in their product and whether their product is safe. Unfortunately, because of the lack of regulation of protein powders, many of them contain high levels of heavy metals, pesticides, and carcinogenic chemicals. Drinking too much of these powders can lead to some unpleasant side effects.

If you start to notice digestive issues after consuming protein powder, you may have an intolerance or allergy to one or more of the ingredients. People with lactose intolerance may have problems with whey-based protein powders, since whey is a product derived from milk. Those with soy allergies should be careful to read the ingredient label of their protein powder, since soy is frequently used. Scientists also aren't sure of the long ranging effects of ingesting too much protein. There simply isn't enough data to know if it's safe or not. For now, theĀ  recommendation is to avoid protein powders unless you've been told by a medical professional that you need them as part of your diet.