Friday, June 11, 2010

Consumer Reports: Alert Protein Drinks

My Uncle Frank emailed me an article from Consumer Reports yesterday about the hazards of Protein Drinks.  Click Here to read the article or just sit back and continue reading and I will briefly summarize the finding for you .

This is an interesting piece because both my wife and I supplement our diets with Whey Protein Shakes.  We wake up and have 48G of delicious protein shake each morning.  The reason being that we both are athletes and need to take in about one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.  We have stuck to this theory and have had success with both weight loss and muscle recovery with this diet.  I figured since mostly endurance athletes read this blog you may find it interesting too.   So when Consumer Reports comes out with an article titled:
Alert: Protein drinks
You don't need the extra protein or the heavy metals our tests found

This was disappointing. Darn Consumer Reports why do always have to ruin everything?  I still remember the dark day they came out with a report that said the Mashed Potato Fried Chicken Bowl from KFC was "not healthy".

Seriously Consumer Reports, you crusher of joy ... what is next?  You going to tell me puppies are bad for my health?

Anyway, As any lover of protein shakes and committed blogger would do I sat down and read the 4 page article in it's entirety.  Yes, I am  that committed to excellence over here at the Carrot!

Here is an excerpt from the first page:

Okay, so the title says "Alert Protein Drinks" and then you go onto to report, "For most drinks we tested, levels of those contaminants were in the low to moderate range, when we could detect them at all. "

Hmmm..... so most of the drinks are not that bad but you still felt the need to title your article with "Alert"?  And then CR continues with, "Nutritionists and trainers say they commonly see people who consume three servings a day."  

Okay Consumer Reports, let us have a little talk.  You are telling me that you are going to base this entire report on the assumption that Nutritionists and Trainers say they commonly see people consume three servings per day?  Wow, that is some crack reporting if I have ever seen it.  Way to really delve in to this one guys.  Oh, Consumer Reports, Nutritionists and Trainers have been known to advise people to follow the Atkins Diet too. But I digress ....

Now to continue on with the rest of the report.  Basically if you read the next 3 pages the article goes onto say that "some" people may abuse these drinks and that the manufactures do not have warning labels that say taking too much could be harmful.  They also fear that teens maybe abusing the drinks based on the marketing   by the manufacturing companies.

The take away from the article is don't over do it.  Really that is it.  These drinks have small levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury and if you drink a crapload of Protein Drinks per day you will be exposing yourself to these heavy metals.

Here is a breakdown of the actual lab tests for each of the 15 drinks that CR tested:

In my opinion, Consumer Reports was driving the sensationalism bus down the exaggeration highway.  But by today's media standards I guess that is pretty much par for the course.

If you are using a drink a day to help supplement your protein intake because you are an athlete then this report is all smoke and no fire.  If you are the parent of a teenager who is drinking six Muscle Milks a day then this report has some use.  If you are heavy and trying to lose weight and drinking these shakes as replacements for all of your meals you need to stop and eat whole foods.

Really, just like everything in life, Protein Drinks should be used in moderation.  Consumer Reports could have saved the trees this article was printed on and just Tweeted:  Use Protein Drinks in Moderation.

Thanks for Reading,


**Disclaimer:  I am not a nutritionist, trainer, doctor, nurse, chemists or employee of a protein drink company.  Everything said here is my opinion and could be completely wrong, but since I am an American that is cool.  If you use protein drinks do your own independent research on that product..**


  1. I am so glad you read that so thoroughly - I started to read that article and got to the 3 drinks a day and just thought...ehhh, who are these folks who drink that many protein drinks?? And when do they eat stuff like...steak??? Ha...BUT really, I agree, like everything else, in moderation!!

  2. I do not heart CR at all. According to all of their health reports from coffee drinking to popcorn, to fast food warnings, i should have died long ago!! Such sensationalized journalism.

  3. I used to really respect Consumer Reports, but now after getting bombarded with subscription crap and starting to see articles like this, I am really questioning how they as a non-profit are suddenly looking out for their bottom line.

    Thanks for breaking down the article and finding the BS. I LOVE my chocolate and vanilla whey protein in my shakes and they will remain in my diet as long as I am an athlete.

    Still waiting for the CR report, "Breathing oxygen gives you cancer! Switch to Helium."

    I prefer sulphur hexaflouride, it! (the anti helium gas)

  4. Wait, so the KFC Mashed Potato Fried Chicken Bowl isn't healthy? WTF? I've been eating six of those a day to lose weight.

  5. I have selective ADD. So thanks for reading this for us all, you'd have to put a gun to my head for me to get past the headline.

    Just remember that today's media standards include a 24 hour news cycle so by Sunday morning you'll be drinking liquid life extender again.

    Just to be that guy, have two servings on Saturday. Rage against the machine in your own healthy, lean muscle building way. I'll do it too.

    Sorry for rambling I'm tired.

    By the way, was it the first part or second part of your comment on the granola contest you want considered as your haiku?

  6. HAHA, as I was reading I kept saying, wait for the sensationalism to appear and voila!

    I hate news today. They make everyone paranoid to even take a shower... people its OK TO SHOWER!

    Good post though! I started taking protein supplements (pills) since the whey protein messes up my stomach. Don't have the cash or patience to test out tons of drinks because the ones that do work for my stomach usually taste like donkey balls (don't ask HAHA!).

  7. Thanks for cutting to the chase. My shake with 24 grams of GNC's Soy Protein every day is safe. Whew!

  8. Wait--those chicken/mashed potato bowls aren't healthy???

    Good for you for reading the whole thing and getting the real message out of it. Interesting stuff.

  9. I read this too when it came out, I think its a bunch of BS, I drink one to two a day, we are trying to be healthy, meal replacement, adding protien after a wrokout for faster recovery instead of waiting 20 minutes for a steak or chicken to be grilled up. We are all going to pass away some day, I am just trying to stay healthy while doing it. Oh well. I can go on and on, but I am stopping

  10. This is what happens when some journalists have nothing to report so they take some small and insignificant report and sensationalize it.

  11. This is what happens when some journalists have nothing to report so they take some small and insignificant report and sensationalize it.

  12. I really loved your blog. It appears that you have put a lot more work into it. I will keep your blog in my twitter so I can come back and see it again when it has some new information. Thanks a lot!

  13. Your blog was really interesting! I came across it whilst doing some research on protein shakes actually. I understand where the article is coming from though as there are some people who are consuming too much believing it will make them musclier and stronger HOWEVER there is only so much your body will use before it is only excreted as urine, therefore the extra shakes is just a money scam for the protein shake companies.

    HOWEVER, yes I am all for protein shakes they are a great meal on the run (pre, during and post training) to give you the extra energy when you don't have enough time to consume a meal. ALTHOUGH protein shakes should NOT be used as all replacement meals to lose weight, as your body will become malnourished and is in fact detrimental to your health.

    Its interesting also that it has a lot to do with the timing of when you take the protein shakes that can make the biggest difference!