Importance of Protein: Best Whey Protein Powders and Side Effects of
Question for Dr. Leia: I have been buying protein powders from my local grocery
But I am hearing there are side effects to eating low quality protein supplements or eating to much protein.
Yet, I am a vegetarian who doesn’t eat meat, but I will eat dairy as I am not vegan. And since I don’t eat
meat I know I need to supplement.
Can you tell me how to find the best whey protein, or what whey protein side effects I should look for. Also
is it smart to buy textured soy protein for recipes, and what are the side effects of soy protein. I really
want to understand what protein powders are best for women. I am 48 if that matters. Thanks, Marley
Dr. Leia’s Answer: Protein powder is a wonderful way to add protein to one’s diet
for people who do not get enough in their diet, especially vegetarians, and vegans. It is also important
for people who have hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, athletes, body builders, and children or invalids who
do not ingest enough protein or who rarely eat meat in their diets to supplement.
Research shows that the need for added protein intake is important during psychological stress, and disease
processes, severe injuries, burns, and digestive and gastrointestinal malabsorption syndromes.
Protein powders can help to improve the glucose tolerance curve of people who eat too much sugar, snack foods,
high carbohydrate or simple carbohydrate foods, and low protein diets.
Usually a high quality protein powder will supply the complete essential amino acids necessary for the body.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and this means essential amino acids are necessary for the
body to function properly and to stay strong and healthy. Essential amino acids are amino acids which are
indispensable to the body, but are not manufactured by the body, therefore it is important that these amino
acids be obtained from the food which we eat.
It is also important that the body be supplied with all of these complete essential amino acids in the correct
balance in order for the body to stay healthy. There are 11 essential amino acids which the body cannot manufacture.
Non-essential amino acids are amino acids which the body can manufacture inside the cells, without having
to ingest them. There are nine non-essential amino acids. Together this makes twenty amino acids or building
blocks of protein which are utilized by the body.
The amount of total protein ingested by the average adult should never be less than 45 grams per day, but
also depends upon the weight of the person, with a greater need for an adult who weighs more. Also, the more
active the person, the more protein is needed by the body. Usually, the normal American diet consists of
several meals of meat based products, usually two or three times each day. On the average, if a person eats
little or no meat product each day, then protein powder supplementation can be helpful, especially in vegans
If you are a daily meat eater, be careful not to get too much protein in your diet. Research shows that eating
excessive meat each day can also contribute to an elevated risk of colon cancer. If you go the other direction
and desire to cut back on the meat intake in your diet, it may be important to supplement with a protein
There are many protein powders now available in most health food stores. My favorite is whey powder, which
is a milk product derivative. A good quality whey powder is micro-filtered and hydrolyzed (partially digested)
and contains all of the essential amino acids in the correct proportions, and is lactose free, meaning that
the individual who is lactose intolerant can easily digest and use this product. It is also important to
find a whey powder which is not manufactured from cows treated with bovine growth hormone and antibiotics.
Whey protein is probably not acceptable to some vegetarians and vegans. Other sources of protein powders include,
rice, hemp, and soy. I caution people about using concentrated processed soy products such as protein powders,
soy milks, ice creams, cheese, and capsules because of its highly allergenic qualities and its toxin phytate
which is present in most unfermented soy products, excluding tempeh and soy sauce. Much research has been
done on soy products to show its benefits, however, my motto is “everything in moderation”, so
if you need a daily supplement, I would recommend a good quality whey or rice protein powder.