Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Grocery Store Lessons: Protein powder

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As with all foods/supplements, all protein powders are not created equal. Protein powder isn’t something that I consume much of. I find it’s often gritty and overly sweet and I’m confident that I can get adequate protein from consuming whole foods. However, for the sake of product knowledge, I do occasionally try a protein shake as part of my breakfast.

I always look at the protein content of each protein powder. As an aside, most tend to be about 24 grams per serving, although, some, such as hemp protein powder, can be considerably lower (8-15 g). Something I never considered looking at was the sodium content until one day I just happened to notice it on the package shown on the above left. I was shocked that a serving of protein powder would contain half a day’s worth of sodium. It is a “sport” protein so maybe that’s why; to replace electrolytes lost during an exceptionally sweaty workout. Still, I’m sure that most people wouldn’t expect to be getting so much sodium from a protein shake and I imagine that there are others out there like me who never even thought about looking at this information. I started looking at the nutrition information labels on other protein powders in the store. Most were similar to the much more reasonable 130 grams seen in the whey protein powder (pictured above right).

If you do consume protein powder regularly you might want to check the label to ensure that you’re not getting more sodium than you bargained for.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

7 thoughts on “Grocery Store Lessons: Protein powder

  1. Wow! That is shocking – I often ask my patients to look for carbohydrate/calorie content because lots of protein powders have added flavouring, but never sodium. I will definitely remember to note that too!

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  2. Its very important to actually check how much protein you’re getting per serving or scoop. So many companies claim its 30g per serving, but put in the small print that 1 serving is 2 scoops, so you burn through it twice as quick :(

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  3. My sons, ages 17 and 20 are weight training and are convinced that protein powder provides a much higher and “purer” form of protein. I tried to tell them that even Clara Hughes gets her protein from food only, and they dismissed her needs as purely endurance, not muscle building. One son is so skinny, he is desperate to pack on some “manly” bulk. Who is right here?

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    • You are. Most of us get more than enough protein from food alone. That being said, protein supplements can be useful for weight loss and professional body builders as well as some other medical conditions. Protein alone will not help him to bulk up. If he wants to gain muscle mass he will need to consume more calories and lift heavy weights. Unfortunately, the fitness supplement industry has done a fantastic job of convincing people that protein shakes, powders, and bars are necessary for building muscle.

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    • You might want to suggest that your sons check out this post by my friend Tanya who is also a registered dietitian as well as a body builder: http://dinedashdeadlift.com/2014/07/16/protein-bars-vs-whole-food-meals/

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