Protein Supplement — What are its Ingredients and Is it Safe to Consume?

China leads the world in the race of patenting compositions and machines for protein supplementation. This is due to the fact that there are numerous factories and manufacturing units of protein supplements owing to the great flexibility and incentives provided by the authorities and the government bodies. Europe and US are some other areas where industrialization is at its peak.

One of the fundamental pillars of good physical and mental health is nutrition. We truly “be what we eat,” as the saying goes. The nutrient with the most nutritional myths surrounding it is protein. It is one of the three primary macronutrients that comprise the human diet (the other two are carbohydrates and fats). India, as a developing nation, struggles with undernutrition due to a lack of protein and calories. The most recent poll conducted by the renowned international market and opinion research organization IPSOS (2018) found that about 68% of Indians are protein deficient, and 71% have poor muscular health.”

Between elite athletes and individuals who are too busy to eat a complete meal, protein supplements have grown in popularity in recent years. Protein powder is a popular nutritional supplement and a crucial macronutrient that aids in the production of enzymes and hormones, muscular growth, and tissue healing. Using protein supplements may help people lose weight and tone their muscles.

What is a Protein Supplement?

Protein supplements come in a wide variety of forms, including dairy- and plant-based alternatives. It aids in muscle regeneration after a strenuous workout or just gives your body the nutrition it needs to start the day. Protein powders are ultimately cloaked in mystery, and in this article, we go over a few of the ingredients of the protein supplements, some health advantages and disadvantages of protein supplements and the various kinds of patents in the said domain.

You can see some recognizable ingredients on the labels of protein supplements, such as whey, casein, pea protein, or soy if you take a cursory glance at it. However, as you read on, you might come across a few more ingredients, many of which sound more like they should be found in a scientific lab than on your shelf!

Let’s look at some of the most typical ingredients in protein powder, which range from fillers to food thickeners to artificial sweeteners and beyond.

Whey/Casein

Two of the proteins found in milk are — whey and casein. They are among the most common sources of protein in many dietary protein supplements. Casein is absorbed significantly more slowly by the body than whey protein. Both, however, have a lot to offer in terms of muscle growth and tissue regeneration. Having said that, these milk proteins include a lot of lactose, a milk sugar that many people find difficult to digest. Protein powders with whey or casein can have negative effects on persons who are lactose intolerant, including gas, bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea. If you discover that you cannot stomach milk-based products, plant-based protein powders derived from ingredients such as hemp, pea, brown rice, or chia seeds may be a viable substitute.

Dairy Derivatives

The non-liquid components of milk, such as proteins, lactose, and some minerals, are referred to as “milk solids.” Protein supplements frequently contain milk solids as a bulking ingredient to help keep prices down. This is especially true of low-quality goods.

The milk solids present in protein supplements, for the most part, offer limited health advantages. Lactose can be problematic for people who are unable to digest it, and the protein is not adequately absorbed or utilized by the body. This is why you should avoid items that contain milk solids whenever you can.

Synthetic sweeteners (INS 900–999)

Artificial sweeteners are being more widely employed in many goods now on the market as a quick approach to improving the flavour of protein powders without dramatically changing the nutritional profile. Non-nutritive sweeteners, including saccharine, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, and acesulfame-K, are regarded as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration despite the fact that their use is still highly debatable. Some artificial sweeteners, however, may have negative impacts on gut health, blood sugar levels, and body weight, according to a number of human and animal studies. As a result, it’s advisable to use them sparingly or choose natural sweeteners like stevia.

Read more to know about INS (International Numbering System (INS) for Food Additives)

Fillers (INS 400–499)

Many protein supplements have fillers like psyllium, cellulose, or coconut flour added by producers trying to increase revenues by reducing costs. While not inherently hazardous, these components may indicate a lower-quality product. They may also cause digestive problems for certain people, such as gas, bloating, or belching.

Food Thickeners (INS 400–499)

Many food products, including protein powders, are given a better texture by adding thickening agents such as xanthan gum, dextrin, arrowroot, or gelatin. However, these nutrients can have an effect on digestion, gut health, and regularity when consumed in significant quantities. Some are made using ingredients that are frequently sources of allergies, such as wheat, soy, dairy, or maize, which might be problematic for people who are sensitive to these substances.

Vegetable Oils (INS 400–499)

Vegetable oils are a common ingredient in protein supplements because they enhance flavour and texture while also adding richness to the finished product. Unfortunately, these oils are frequently highly processed, and it’s possible that they include trans fats (also known as hydrogenated fats).

Protein is a crucial component for a variety of body processes, including fluid homeostasis, the generation of enzymes, and tissue growth and repair.

Health Advantages of Protein Supplements:

Weight control

People may feel satiated for longer by consuming foods high in protein and taking supplements. Smaller portion sizes and fewer snacking sessions are typically brought on by feeling full, which can assist someone in maintaining a healthy weight or, if necessary, shedding some pounds.

Whey protein supplements may help overweight or obese adults lose body weight and total fat mass. Additionally, it may lower blood pressure, total cholesterol, and other cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Strengthens Immunity

Daily consumption of protein powder can aid in strengthening the immune system. It is the perfect supplement to speed up the healing process after an illness or injury. Additionally, it aids in speeding up the healing of wounds or other conditions.

Maintains a Healthy Skin Condition

Protein deficiency has been linked to skin that wrinkles and sags more quickly than usual in many people. Additionally observed is a loss of muscular tone and drooping skin on the arms and legs. A diet with greater protein content, such as one that contains protein powder, can aid in delaying and even reversing the effects of aging. Additionally, it might aid in repairing any harm brought on by illnesses or a diet deficient in protein.

Encourages the Formation of Healthy Hair and Nails

Additionally, protein powder supports the maintenance of stronger hair and nails. Brittle, split, broken, or torn nails are frequent indications of a protein shortage. If you notice that your nails do not grow quickly, a protein supplement may assist in promoting healthy hair development that is more resistant to breakage. It may also help to promote healthier nail growth.

Protein supplement use has advantages and disadvantages. For instance, you may face an increased risk of diverticulitis, vitamin deficiencies, heart or renal issues, and diverticulitis if you consistently exceed your daily protein requirements on a long-term basis. Incorporating supplements into your regular diet also adds calories, which could result in a weight increase that isn’t necessarily made up of muscle. Consult a certified dietician or your doctor before starting to take supplements.

Disadvantages of Consuming Excessive Protein Supplements

Contaminants and Toxins

Unfortunately, sometimes just reading the ingredient list isn’t enough. Early in 2018, the findings of research in which over 130 of the most popular protein powders were tested for levels of pesticides, heavy metals, bisphenol A (BPA), and other dangerous chemicals were published by an independent, nonprofit group called Clean Label Project. About 75 percent of the powders tested had detectable levels of lead and cadmium, both of which can have long-term negative effects on health, including harm to the kidneys and the brain. BPA, which interferes with hormones and has been linked to a number of health problems, was present in detectable amounts in about half of the powders. It was discovered that one product had more than 25 times the legal limit of BPA in just one serving.

Extra Calories and unnecessary sugars

There are different levels of added sugar in different protein powders (as much as 23 grammes per scoop). Some protein supplements end up adding more than 1,200 calories to a glass of milk. Gaining weight and a dangerous increase in blood sugar are the risks. A daily intake of no more than 24 grammes of added sugar for women and 36 grammes for men is advised by the American Heart Association. So we need to check our sugar intake!

China leads the world in the race of patenting compositions and machines for protein supplementation. This is due to the fact that there are numerous factories and manufacturing units of protein supplements owing to the great flexibility and incentives provided by the authorities and the government bodies. Europe and US are some other areas where industrialization is at its peak.

The talk around nutrition and health began around the mid-2000s and gained impetus around 2015. This was the time when maximum research and development were being carried out in this particular domain.

Nestle and Jiangnan University are the top two players in the domain of protein supplements. Nestle is one of the world’s leading food production companies and the world’s biggest players in the supplement industry. Second, in line is Jiangnan University. Recently, ADM, a leading international supplier of food for people and animals, announced the inauguration of its first Science and Technology (S&T) Center in China. The center is housed in Jiangnan University’s Future Food Science Center in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. In order to create cutting-edge food technologies, ADM’s S&T China Center conducts research centered on three crucial strategic growth platforms: fermentation, microbiome, and foodomics. A special emphasis is placed on research projects that are directly related to sustainable development, such as plant-based food technology. In keeping with the goal of creating an open innovation center, the center will meet local needs through localised technological innovation and technology optimization, utilising local R&D resources and local raw materials to better satisfy the rapidly growing demand in the Chinese market while supplying the wider market.

Conclusion

Proteins should be considered a foundation nutrient of any nutrition program, regardless of the health objectives. It goes without saying that having enough protein is beneficial for people who are physically active and participate in sports or weight training. Sometimes getting the right amount of protein through diet can be challenging. Additionally, it can be helpful when eating protein is difficult owing to schedule conflicts or poor appetite. For every kilogramme of body weight, 0.8 grammes of protein are advised daily intakes (RDA). In general, protein supplements lack the vitamins and minerals that you would obtain if you satisfied your demands for these nutrients through meals. As an illustration, eating steak would provide you with considerable amounts of iron, zinc, B12, potassium, selenium, niacin, and other nutrients. Unless it is fortified, protein powder falls short of that.

Further, contrary to popular opinion, eating a lot more protein than is advised can actually be bad for your bones, kidneys, and liver. It could seem like an easy method to improve your health to mix protein powder into a glass of milk or a smoothie. Protein is necessary for many bodily processes, including the growth and maintenance of muscle and bone mass. Additionally, many senior citizens under-eat protein due to diminished appetite. These powders frequently include potentially dangerous compounds in addition to protein, and some of them may even be tainted with toxins and metals. Whatever the case, consumer discretion and awareness are important when it comes to protein supplements. So we ought to keep an eye on what we are having as a source of protein nutrition.

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