Protein smoothies are delicious and convenient. They provide a quick way to get in a balanced breakfast full of healthy fats, carbs, and protein. They also replenish our bodies with essential amino acids after a tough workout. But, are they a risk to our health?
Two Scoops of Heavy Metal
A recent study conducted by the Clean Label Project showed that nearly all protein powders and drinks tested contained traceable levels of at least one heavy metal. While ingesting minute levels of heavy metals and BPA are not dangerous, continued exposure can produce adverse effects.
As reported by Jesse Hirsch on consumerreports.org, “The contaminant levels were measured in a single serving of the products. Those amounts varied, so the lab used the serving size listed on each product’s label (e.g., “two rounded scoops”). However, Jaclyn Bowen, executive director of Clean Label Project, points out that many consumers use protein products multiple times per day.”
Plant vs. Whey Protein
Not surprisingly, plant-based proteins contained higher levels of contaminants than whey protein. Since soil contains high levels of arsenic and other contaminants, plants high a higher level of exposure. Whey protein is exposed due to the plants and grains eaten by animals.
The Best and Worst
While all protein powders and drinks contained traces of heavy metals, some fared worse than others. Not surprising, most of the bottom group of proteins are plant-based. If you are using one of these, limit your usage or consider another brand.
The 5 Worst
- Garden of Life Organic Shake & Meal Replacement Chocolate Cacao Raw Organic Meal
- Nature’s Best Isopure Creamy Vanilla Zero Carb
- Quest Chocolate Milkshake Protein Powder
- 360Cut Performance Supplements 360PRO Whey Chocolate Silk Premium Whey Protein
- Vega Sport Plant-Based Vanilla Performance Protein
The 5 Best
- Pure Protein Vanilla Cream 100% Whey
- Performix Pro Whey Sabor Vanilla Protein with Amino Beads
- BodyFortress Super Advanced Vanilla 100% Whey Protein
- BioChem Vanilla 100% Whey Protein
- Puori PW1 Vanilla Pure Whey Protein
Don’t let this study scare you into thinking that you need to ditch your protein smoothie. Remember, plant-based protein drinks fared worse than whey protein powders. All vegetables, especially rice and leafy-green vegetables, contain trace levels of arsenic. But, you’re not going to give up eating vegetables, right?
Keep drinking that healthy protein smoothie. Just don’t make it your meal replacement for every meal.