The Truth About Protein Powders

The truth about protein powders

Australia, America, and the UK spend billions of dollars on nutritional products with the most popular being protein powders. They are purported to be the magical ingredient for building muscle mass and also assist with fat loss and weight loss. Health and fitness practitioners abundantly promote its usage but is this another out of control money-making fad or is there truth to all the highly-publicised claims?

Many protein powders unfortunately contain MSG, as well as a multitude of additives, sweeteners, and other chemicals! So it is not really the health food it is often thought to be.


MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a flavor enhancer and preservative often added to processed food, and yes, protein powder is a processed food! MSG is the salt form of the amino acid glutamic acid. Glutamic acid (and not MSG) is found naturally in our bodies and in food protein sources. MSG is made when a salt combines with a hydrolysed glutamic acid molecule, which occurs during many food manufacturing processes.

Unfortunately, many protein powders contain hidden sources of MSG. How do companies get away with not listing MSG on the ingredients label? If an ingredient is less than 99% pure glutamate, then the FDA does not require the manufacturers to list MSG on the label! If MSG is produced as a result of protein hydrolysis or a byproduct of protein processing, the FDA does not require MSG to appear on the label. Moreover, a product labeled “No MSG” may still have MSG or free glutamic acid as a result of protein processing, as long as pure MSG was not added. The truth is that protein-hydrolysis-based glutamates or MSG are found in just about every highly processed food. Even “health foods.”

Click on the following link to see a full list of Hidden names for MSG and free glutamic acid

If you feel you cannot live without your protein powder (I come from a weight-training background so I know protein powders are like oxygen to most body builders) then look for one that is ‘undenatured’ or ‘cold processed’. Most protein powders are exposed to extreme heat when they are being processed. Protein powders contain the normally healthy glutamic acid, which becomes a problem when it is exposed to heat. When protein powder is manufactured, it is generally exposed to extreme heat, which converts glutamic acid into free glutamic acid or MSG.

Look at the product’s ingredients list. Do a bit of research and check to identify what it actually contains. Many have neurotoxins and other undesirable additives. If it has a long ingredients list full of confusing names then avoid it! Also try to find a protein powder where the milk comes from organic grass-fed animals. Grass-fed milk has an impressive 5X more conjugated linoleic fatty acid and contains more vitamins than its grain-fed competitor. Lastly, a protein “concentrate” is healthier than a protein “isolate” which are devoid of many nutrients.

I personally do not recommend taking protein powders and have never done so myself, BUT if you must consume them then be selective and do your homework. I have researched a few and the following “seem” to be healthier options for those who cannot do without them: One World Whey, Upgraded Whey Protein Powder, Mercola Pure Power Protein, and Miracle Whey. Unfortunately, many protein powders contain forms of soy and whey protein that will always contain processed free glutamic acid so it can be difficult to find a protein powder that does not potentially contain them. So focus on one that has lower concentrations of glutamates.

“At the end of the day protein supplements (including bars and drinks) are a processed food product and many of the ridiculous claims made on the ones with a whole load of extras added have no scientific backing. Often a glass of milk would be just as good.” Dr Joanna McMillan – Dietitian

Try not to be conned by products where the marketing is ahead of the research. My tip? Eat your protein from proper food sources and keep them as natural as possible.