3 Protein Powder Myths

Protein powders have increased in popularity over the years, partly due to an increase in supplement companies and the allure of a convenient post-workout option. We are inundated with research about how high quality protein can help build muscle, so many of my clients see protein powders as a “necessity” to their training. As a Registered Dietitian, I do not believe protein powders are necessary for everyone. We can get all the high quality biological value protein through food choices throughout the course of the day. I’m here to break a few protein powder myths.  

Whey protein powders are the only way to build muscle. 

Protein powder isn’t a magical substance that helps us with muscle gain. It is usually a concentrate or an isolate of a protein found in milk – whey.  Whey protein is one of two proteins found in milk, the other being casein. This is why so much post workout research has been completed on chocolate milk – it has fluid, carbohydrate, and protein (whey and casein), all of the things our muscles need to recover from damage during exercise. If you would like to get your whey protein from natural food sources (a food-first approach), you can easily drink regular milk after workouts, or eat any other high biological value protein, including eggs, meat, poultry, and fish within 1 hour after your exercise and skip the powders altogether.

More protein = more muscle gains

There is a big myth, especially in weight training, that more protein = more muscle. This is 100% a myth. Yes, while we need adequate protein to help build muscle, most individuals eat enough protein per day through meals and snacks. For individuals who are actively working out, I usually recommend around 1.0 g/kg of body weight (equates to about 60-70 grams/day for a 140 lb female). We can only utilize about 30 grams of protein at one time, so your 50-70 gram protein shake may be too much. 


All protein powders are safe, it’s just a matter of taste and preference. 

This is one of the most important things to remember about protein powders is there is NO regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. The supplement companies have no responsibility to show that their products are safe and effective. The problem with this is that many of the protein powders on the market today are adulterated with steroids and metabolism boosters. I am very wary of any “miracle supplements” that help people “lean out” or “gain muscle fast”. These can be very dangerous to our health, and if you aren’t careful you can easily be ingesting a banned substance. In fact, a study by the International Olympic Committee reported that of 634 supplements tested, around 15% contained undeclared anabolic steroids. If you are looking for a supplement that has been third party tested for banned substances, the following websites provide this service to the supplement companies: Informed Choice and NSF for Sport.

If you have questions on supplements, contact me at Christine@womenssportschicago.com

Christine Steinmetz