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Proceed with caution: Experts on protein drinks

They don’t recommend using them for more than three months.
Last Updated : 14 May 2024, 23:21 IST
Last Updated : 14 May 2024, 23:21 IST

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In its latest dietary regulations, the Indian Council of Medical Research has cautioned citizens against the daily consumption of protein supplements. However, gym trainers in Bengaluru continue to recommend them to fitness enthusiasts for muscle development.Metrolife finds out why.

A gym trainer at a fitness centre in Rajajinagar suggests protein supplements to clients who come with quick fitness goals, like if
they want to compete in a fitness pageant soon. But he asks his
clients to get a health checkup done before suggesting muscle-strengthening and body development supplements. This helps him assess their deficiencies. “We don’t recommend protein supplements for more than one month though. We review their fitness goals after a month and, if satisfied, we put them on to a good and rich-protein diet,” he adds.

Even Mohammad Rafi, fitness trainer and owner of a gym in Nagarbhavi, doesn’t recommend having such supplements for more than three months. He prescribes protein drinks to customers who aren’t able to consume a protein-rich diet for reasons such as their busy lifestyle. “These act as a meal replacement in such cases,” he says.

Natural sources

He customises a dietary plan for such individuals, depending on whether they are vegetarian or non-vegetarian. “If someone weighs 70 kg, their protein intake should be between 105 gm and 140 gm. We ask vegetarians to have a scoop or two of whey protein and eat lots of vegetables,” he shares. Whey protein is the watery part of milk that gets separated when making cheese.

If Rafi’s clients don’t have a quick fitness goal, he asks them to consume protein via their diet. “Protein is essential for a good muscular body and good hair and nails,” he adds.

Fitness trainers like Akshay Kumar N favour supplements approved by the US Food and Drug Administration over the Indian varieties, as they are “safe”. For him, the quality of the product matters the most.

“It takes a few hours for the body to absorb proteins and amino acids from natural sources like egg whites. However, when one is consuming protein supplements, these protein and amino acids get absorbed faster,” he adds.

Vegetarians and those who do not have time to prepare and consume meat or diet-based protein (eggs, chicken, etc) are prescribed these supplements. “This is much-needed for muscle recovery or development,” Kumar reasons.

Doctor’s POV

Edwina Raj, senior dietician at a private hospital, says that an
overdose of protein supplements with branch-chain amino acids can lead to non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. She also questions the quality of the supplements flooding the market. “Many of them include fillers, toxins, high maltodextrin (a type of carbohydrate), additives and artificial sweeteners, which can affect liver or gut health. They could also have high potassium and phosporous content, which can affect the kidneys,”
she adds.

Individuals should assess if they need supplements. “People with critical illnesses or those who want to do high-intensity workouts might need them but this needs to be determined via medical tests,” she explains.

It is ideal to consume protein from natural sources like milk, eggs, sprouts, nuts, fish, and meat. “For 10 gm of protein, consume around 50-60gm of paneer or a whole egg with an additional egg white,” Edwina adds. 

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Published 14 May 2024, 23:21 IST

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