Is Protein Powder Bad for Your Heart?


Have you thought about using protein powder and have found conflicting information concerning whether protein powder is healthy? The response to that issue is that it could be beneficial if you exercise, take the right amount of protein powder, and eat healthy otherwise.

Protein powder itself is not bad for your heart. However, other sources of protein are better for your heart. You also need to consider the amount of sugar the particular protein powder you are using contains and how many calories are in each serving.

There also may be a few good benefits to consuming protein powder. If you want to know more about whether protein powder is bad for your heart, keep reading the article below.

Is Protein Powder Bad for Your Heart?

As a general rule, protein powder can be bad for several organs, including your heart, when misused. There are hidden dangers because of the ingredients in the supplement.  If you want to incorporate protein powder into your diet, make sure you exercise and get proper nutrition.

Man doing a chest exercise.

There is conflicting information about protein powder and whether it is good or bad for your heart. Some research suggests that it can benefit your heart, while other sources, many of them reputable, reveal that it may be detrimental to your health.

What Are The Benefits of Protein Powder?

When protein powder is used correctly, it has some benefits which could help with your:

  • Muscle building
  • Weight loss, if used correctly
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood pressure
  • Liver Function

These are a few benefits of using protein powder combined with a safe diet and exercise program.

Protein Powder Could Help Lower Your Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, known as hyperlipidemia, you are at a higher risk for many health problems, including the following:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke

Some research has suggested that whey protein may be linked with lowering the bad type of cholesterol, which is LDL. This news is potentially good for those who drink a protein shake before or after their workout.

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Your Blood Pressure Could be Better Controlled

High blood pressure is frequent in individuals who do not practice good habits to maintain optimum health. Some of the risks for high blood pressure include the following:

  • Age (older people tend to have higher blood pressure)
  • Poor eating habits
  • Not enough exercise
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Family history
Weights, running shoes, and a yoga mat.

High blood pressure can have a negative impact on heart health. It can have serious cardiovascular consequences like angina or even heart attack. Some research has demonstrated that whey protein consumption could help decrease blood pressure in those suffering from high blood pressure.

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Amino Acids Are Important to Life

Protein powders typically contain amino acids that can help improve heart health. One of the primary amino acids often found in protein powder is L-arginine. This amino acid facilitates your body in building protein. It is a vasodilator that helps blood vessels relax and enhance circulation.

Supplementation of L-arginine has been known to benefit those who have heart failure. It also facilitates exercise tolerance in those with stable angina. It also assists with the delivery of oxygen during aerobic exercise.

Another amino acid commonly found in protein powder is L-carnitine, with many cardiovascular benefits. Some of the conditions it helps with include the following:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Myocardial infarction
  • LDL cholesterol
  • Diabetes

Individual amino acids have many health benefits. Some of the other amino acids commonly found in protein powder include the following:

  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Proline
  • Tryptophan

Whey protein is jam-packed with amino acids, which help with muscle growth and recovery. There may also be a link between amino acids, lowering blood pressure, and improved cardiac function.

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Good Liver Function is Essential for a Healthy Body

A healthy liver is essential to the following body processes:

  • Vascular system
  • Heart health
  • Blood purification
  • Hormone function
  • Immunity
  • Waste elimination

Regarding whey protein, research has shown that if you consume whey protein but do not exercise, the protein is absorbed by the liver instead of being utilized for the muscles. Over time, all that excess protein can damage the liver.

Whey protein is often found in many diet products making false promises to consumers of weight loss without the need for exercise. It is one of the most dangerous claims made by the companies who manufacture these products.

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What Are The Dangers of Protein Powder?

There are some potential downsides to protein powder if not used correctly, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Liver Problems
  • Heart problems
  • Diabetes

These are essential issues for a healthy lifestyle, and the incorrect use of protein powder could compromise your health.

Some Protein Powders Have Too Much Sugar

Some protein powders can have as much as 23 grams of added sugars. The American Heart Association advises having no more than 25 to 36 grams of sugar per day.

Having almost the maximum amount of sugar recommended per day in one sitting is unhealthy and could lead to diabetes and obesity. Creatine, a popular ingredient in many protein powders, increases the amount of water in your muscle cells, leading to weight gain, but not fat itself.

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Obesity Fosters Many Health Issues

High quantities of sugar have been associated with obesity, an epidemic in our country. Your body may process that sugar similar to how it processes a can of soda. Some of the health risks that obesity can pose include the following:

  • Heart attack
  • Gallstone and liver problems
  • Bone and joint problems
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Sleep apnea
An obese man holding his stomach.

Because of the excess calories in certain protein powders, you could put your health at risk if not used correctly.

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Unused Calories Stored as Fat

Another factor to consider is that many protein powders are loaded with calories, which can cause unwanted weight gain. If you decide to go with protein powder, you need to ensure that you measure it correctly and not consume too much.

Read the nutrition information on the label carefully. Sometimes the scoop that comes with it is small, and it is easy to overload. Be careful when it comes to serving size.

You could also be fostering inflammation by consuming a protein that your body cannot process. Weight gain is a side effect of high amounts of inflammation. It may not be worth the health risk to pack in this type of protein.

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A Risk for Heavy Metals

Reports indicate contaminants present in protein powders that can harm your health and even cause heart damage. Research demonstrates that there are many different heavy metals found in protein powders. Some of these include the following:

  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Mercury

BPA has been found in protein powder. BPA has been used to make:

  • Pesticides
  • Plastic containers
  • Linings for tin cans

This listing just scratches the surface of a chemical that has been linked to cancer and other illnesses.

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There Are Better Sources of Protein for Your Heart

If you are choosing to consume protein powder for your meals, you are missing out on healthy proteins that have the good type of fats in them, which could raise your HDL. Some of these proteins include the following:

  • Fish like salmon, tuna, cod, and sardines
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Soybeans

It is protein sources like these that can help your heart. They have omega 3’s and omega 6’s, which are outstanding for heart health.

Nuts, which are good for the heart.

Salmon, in particular, is good for the heart and brain. It also helps maintain proper thyroid health, essential for your heart and overall health.

If you do not cash in your calories with wisdom, you could be spending them on foods that are not nutrient-dense.

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Conclusion

Everyone’s diet requires a certain amount of protein per day, depending on how much they weigh and if they are active. With much conflicting information about protein powder, it can be challenging to determine if it is indeed a healthy staple in your diet.

Whatever the case, you should not get all your protein from protein powder. If you want to help your health, try to eat more healthy proteins like nuts and fish.

Other Sources

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-hidden-dangers-of-protein-powders

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2016-10-protein-supplement-heart-disease.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-whey-protein

https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/diseases-linked-high-cholesterol

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5118733/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-l-arginine/art-20364681

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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