Is Protein Powder FDA Approved?


Adding protein powder to a glass of milk or water can be an easy way to supplement your diet with as much protein as you need. However, there are a few hidden facts about protein powder that you may not know about. So, is protein powder FDA approved?

Protein powder is not FDA approved. It is up to the manufacturers to decide how to advertise the components of their protein powder. While this does not mean protein powder is inherently bad, it does pose the risk of you ingesting things you may not be aware of.

Down below, I’ll talk more about why protein powder is not FDA approved. If you have been or are planning on taking protein powder as a supplement to your diet, you are going to want to know what exactly you are putting into your body. Is protein powder right for you, or should you get your protein from other resources?

Is Protein Powder FDA Approved?

Protein powder is not FDA approved. Although there are very few cases of protein powder causing or instigating harm, it is still worth considering the potential dangers of protein powder. Depending on your physical health, you may be more or less inclined to supplement your diet with protein powder.

As mentioned, just because protein powder is not approved by the FDA does not mean it is bad for you. There are useful benefits of taking protein powder in certain cases.

Although lack of FDA approval could be a sign of foreign substances, it is not always harmful aspects that can be concerning when considering protein powder; sometimes, you simply may not be getting as much protein as you want or need.

For another example, if a protein powder brand says it’s gluten free, the FDA isn’t there to back up those claims. Fortunately, I wrote another article on whether or not protein powder is gluten free, so check that out next!

Many other things that you ingest are not FDA approved or regulated, so this really shouldn’t alarm you.

Why Doesn’t the FDA Approve Protein Powder?

This begs the question: why is protein powder not FDA approved?

Protein powder is considered a dietary supplement, meaning that it is believed to have benefits when applied to one’s diet. With this vague description, it can be difficult to understand why protein powder is not FDA approved. The bottom line is that the FDA does not approve dietary supplements because they simply cannot.

A dietary supplement such as protein powder is not considered of the same level as other over-the-counter drugs, meaning that regulations do not deem it necessary of being inspected.

The poor truth of the matter is that, unless a certain protein powder has proven harmful in a specific circumstance, the FDA does not even have the authority to inspect the company’s manufacturing process.

Put more simply, protein powder is not considered a drug, yet is neither an actual food product. So, the FDA stays away from approving protein powder. As you will learn, this can have serious consequences. 

Though there are certainly numerous manufacturers on the market that are honest with the advertisement of their protein powder, the lack of requiring FDA approval influences some manufacturers to refrain from labeling ingredients or mislabel included ingredients in the nutrition facts.

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The Best Protein Powder

If you want a protein powder that you don’t have to worry about, check out Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard Whey Protein (link to Amazon)Opens in a new tab.

I buy this one every time, and they’re a great company. The company is big enough that they wouldn’t mess around putting harmful ingredients in their supplements and risk losing all of their business. Seriously, check it out!

Risks Of Protein Powder

It is important to note that the findings discussed below are not located in the majority of protein powders experimented with. However, if you choose to buy protein powder as a supplement to your diet, you must do your research on the manufacturer. 

Studies have shown that select protein powders may contain components unaccounted for on the nutrition label. One common finding throughout multiple tests showed traces of substantial amounts of lead in protein powder. Obviously, any amount of lead is dangerous, as it can lead to lead poisoning. Along with some heavy metals, toxins have been found in select protein powders. Cancer-causing components and other contaminants were also revealed.

In other instances, manufacturers were accused of putting more components in their protein powder than they had listed. Whether it is excess sodium, sugar, or anything else, realizing that you are supplementing your diet with nutrients you may not want or need can be both disappointing and harmful.

Perhaps one of the most common problems found with some protein powder manufacturers is that they claim to have more protein in their products than there actually is. From people following a strict diet to those simply looking to build muscle with as much protein as possible, dishonest labels can lead to a lack of results, unwanted, extra calories, and more.

It is worth revisiting the fact that these risks are not found in all protein powders. Most manufacturers that have been found guilty of dishonesty have either lost their manufacturing privileges or simply changed their products or labels to show the truth. Products found to be unsafe for ingestion can be taken off of shelves by the FDA, but again, something harmful must actually be found beforehand.

Fortunately, if you go with a well known brand for your protein powder, you shouldn’t have a problem.

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Should You Take Protein Powder?

Seeing the risks of protein powder is not meant to scare you away from dietary supplements. In fact, some protein powders can be an excellent source of protein and other components to add to your diet.

Studies have shown that protein powder added to milk or water can be an immensely effective dietary change for people trying to lose weight. So, should you take protein powder?

The first thing to consider is your comfort level and trust with protein powder now that you know its potential risks. If the risk does not outweigh the reward, you may not think it is worth buying protein powder anymore. As you will learn shortly, there are plenty of other protein options.

Another thing to consider is the lack of regulation for other things in your diet.

Yes, all companies are required to register with the FDA, but particularly with newer products, some meats, and more, FDA approval is not always concretely expressed. You cannot always be sure that your entire diet is void of any and all harmful components, so if that is a risk you are willing to take, protein powder may just be another factor on the list.

Protein Powder Essentials
Gold Standard Whey ProteinOpens in a new tab.
Blender Bottle Shaker CupOpens in a new tab.
BPI Sports Micronized CreatineOpens in a new tab.

If you have experience with protein powder and have found a product that has presented you with no problems, apparent results, and other signs of effectiveness, you should not worry too much about your protein powder. Especially if you have done your research, it is easy to find manufacturers who are honest about what goes into their protein powder.

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Other Protein Alternatives

If you are simply wanting to find large sources of protein, opt for protein powder, and are shocked by what you have learned, there are so many food options out there with extensive amounts of protein. You do not have to use dietary supplements to add protein to your diet.

Grilled chicken, which is a great alternative to protein powder.

Nuts, beans, fish, eggs, and meat are all great sources of protein. You can even get most or all of your daily protein requirements from your everyday meals if you plan them well. At the end of the day, protein powder is not necessary – hence the label of dietary supplement. If you are uncomfortable with the unknown components of protein powder, that is a perfectly valid reason to stay away from it.

With that said, hundreds of thousands if not millions of people take protein powder every year despite it not being regulated. Chances are, you’ll be just fine.

The Bottom Line

Protein powder is not FDA-approved, but that does not mean it is inherently bad. Some manufacturers have been found guilty of being dishonest when advertising their products, and this is a serious thing to consider. However, you can find reliable protein powder manufacturers on the market. Still, if you are wary of the idea, you have no obligation to supplement your diet with protein powder.

Pete Schenkel

My name is Pete Schenkel, and I've been into weightlifting since I was a teenager. Now, my main focus is growing Powerful Lifting and putting more information out there. In fact, I'm also currently working on becoming a certified personal trainer.

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