How protein shakes might threaten health.
Protein shakes are increasingly a common part of many people’s diets, whether to bulk up muscle or in some cases even to replace food rather than to supplement it. Yet new research from Australia suggests health risks.
Protein powders typically consist primarily of whey proteins containing high levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs, which are three essential amino acids called leucine, valine and isoleucine, are meant to help increase muscle mass, yet while some scientists believe this claim to be “unwarranted”, a new study in mice suggests a diet high in BCCA-containing protein, but relatively low in other essential nutrients, can have many negative effects on long-term health and lifespan. Indeed, University of Sydney researchers suggest consuming excessively high levels of BCAAs may have adverse effects on mood, lead to food cravings and weight gain, and even shorten lifespan.
The research emphasised that amino acid balance is important, so rather than depend upon supplementation, it’s best to vary sources of protein to get the best amino acid balance. So not only is variety important in the component parts of our diet – proteins, vegetables, fruits, healthy carbohydrates, legumes and healthy fats – but within each of these subgroups too. Yet another reason to embrace and increase the proportion of real food in our diet.
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