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5 Hidden Protein Powder Side Effects You Should Know

As a quick and effective way to increase dietary protein intake, protein powder has become increasingly popular in recent years.

However, like with any supplement, it’s important to know the potential side effects of protein powders so that you can fully understand what you’re putting into your body.

In this article, we will explore the potential side effects of protein powder and provide tips on how to minimize them.

Let’s get started.

What is a Protein Powder? An Overview

Protein powders are dietary supplements made from various sources of plant or animal proteins. They come in a variety of forms, including whey, casein, egg white and vegetable protein sources such as pea and soy.

Protein powders are a popular and effective way to increase dietary protein intake. Protein powder supplements typically provide between 20-30 grams of protein per serving and are low in carbohydrates and fat.

Although they are generally safe to consume and provide some benefits, it is still important to be aware of the potential risks associated with consuming protein powders so that you can minimize them.

5 Potential Hidden Protein Powder Side effects You Should Know

Consuming too much protein powder can lead to a range of side effects including dehydration, muscle cramps, fatigue, headaches and nausea.

There may also be hidden risks with protein powders such as food allergies or intolerances that could trigger severe reactions when certain ingredients are consumed, or heavy metal contamination can remain present even after manufacturing processes have taken place.

Long-term exposure to heavy metals can lead to serious health problems so it’s important to choose a high-quality protein powder from a reputable brand.

Here are the 5 hidden protein powder side effects you should know:

  1. Dehydration
  2. Muscle cramps
  3. Heavy Metal Poisoning
  4. Insulin Spike
  5. Allergies and Intollerances

Related Article: How Much Protein Do You Need Per Day?

1. Dehydration

One of the many mistakes people make when consuming protein powder is not drinking enough water throughout the day.

Whether you consume a protein powder or eat a high-protein diet, your body requires more fluids for it to be fully absorbed and digested. Make sure to drink plenty of water when consuming any protein powder supplements.

Studies suggest that increased protein intake more than required may place a strain on your kidneys. Your kidney is responsible for removing waste products of protein in the form of urea. Therefore, it requires more water to help eliminate the associated waste.

As a gym goer, you may know that dehydration can affect your performance in the gym.

So if you want to minimize dehydration while consuming protein powder to build muscle, make sure you drink enough water throughout the day.

2. Muscle cramps

One of the most common protein powder side effects is muscle cramps. Too much protein can cause dehydration, which in turn can lead to electrolyte imbalances.

Electrolytes are important for muscle function, and an imbalance can lead to painful cramps. Additionally, if you take in too much protein without consuming enough carbohydrates and fats, this could also lead to cramping.

And in the long term, possibly other health problems because your body needs all three macronutrients regardless of what your gym goals are.

To avoid this as a gym goer, it’s important to stay hydrated and consume a balanced diet that includes enough carbs and fats in addition to your protein intake for optimal performance.

The ratio of each macronutrient matters too. Eat a high-protein diet, with some carbs and fat if you want to recover faster from your workout and minimize potential side effects.

Lastly, consume only the amount of protein powder that is recommended for your age, weight and activity level. Excess dietary protein can be difficult for your body to process, leading to dehydration, cramps and reduced physical performance.

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3. Heavy Metal Poisoning

The nonprofit organization Clean Label Project carried out a report that revealed the hidden toxins found in protein powders. Some protein powder products were found to contain (arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury).

It’s very hard to determine which protein powder includes heavy metals or other contaminants which can cause adverse on your health. But the Clean Label Project has done a great job of compiling the best and worst protein powders that may help you make a better choice.

These heavy metals can cause a range of health issues if consumed in large amounts, such as digestive discomfort, nausea, vomiting and headaches.

In cases of extreme exposure to these contaminants, long-term effects like kidney failure and even cancer can occur.

The problem is that many protein powder brands are not tested for these heavy metals, making it impossible to know if they’re present or not.

If you choose to use a protein powder, look for one that is tested for safety and has been verified as safe by an independent third-party governing body.

Additionally, make sure you don’t use too much protein powder or over-rely on it as your only go-to protein source as this can increase your risk for contamination and it’s not healthy.

To keep yourself safe from heavy metal poisoning, it is best to stick with a high-quality protein powder that has been thoroughly tested for heavy metals and is safe for long-term use.

4. Insulin Spikes

According to a study from Pescience, simply supplementing 100% whey protein causes a significant insulin spike.

When taking protein powder, bare in mind that certain types of proteins can cause an insulin spike in your body, like whey protein.

But if you incorporate a slow-digesting protein like casein protein, you will lower the overall insulin response.

If your blood sugar is already high, this can put you at risk for diabetes, high cholesterol levels and other metabolic issues.

To avoid this, always read the label of any protein powder you consider taking, and select one that is low in added sugars and has a balanced amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates and fibre.

Additionally, be mindful of the portion size you’re consuming to ensure your body is not ingesting too much whey protein at once.

Taking these simple steps will help you maintain a healthy balance between insulin levels and protein intake.

Related Article: Is Protein Powder Necessary for Muscle Growth?

5. Allergies and intolerances

Protein powder supplements can contain hidden allergens such as gluten, dairy, egg and soy that could cause severe reactions. Make sure to check the ingredients list before consuming any protein powder supplement.

If you have an allergy or intolerance to any of the ingredients, it is best to avoid these supplements altogether and opt for plant-based protein powder.

Plant-based protein powders are naturally free from gluten, dairy, egg and soy and are therefore suitable for those with intolerances or allergies.

Moreover, if you’re looking for a hypoallergenic protein powder, opt for one made with pea protein.

Pea protein is considered hypoallergenic and is easily digested by the body. Also, it is suitable for people following a dairy or gluten-free diet.

So, it’s important to check there are no artificial sweeteners, flavours or preservatives in your chosen protein powder supplement.


By being aware of these potential side effects, you can make sure that you’re taking the right kind of protein powder for your needs and avoiding any adverse health problems.

FAQ: Everything You Need To Know About Protein Powder Side Effects

What protein powder side effects should I be aware of?

Protein powder side effects can vary depending on the type of protein powder you are using, but generally speaking, other potential side effects could include bloating, constipation, nausea and indigestion. Certain protein powders may also interact with medications or have other health risks involved, so it is important to speak with a doctor before taking protein powder.

How can I gain the benefits of protein powder?

The primary benefit of taking protein powder is that it supports muscle growth and recovery through the high amount of amino acids found in proteins. Protein powders can also help people reach their recommended daily intake of essential proteins quickly and conveniently.

Where can I find recipes with protein powder?

You can find many delicious recipes that incorporate protein powder into meals like smoothies, oatmeal and more on our diet page. If you want to increase your protein intake, take a quick browse on our high protein recipes section on our website.

How much protein powder should I take?

The amount you should take varies depending on your age and activity level, as well as any dietary restrictions you may have. Generally speaking, it’s best to start with 1 scoop per day (1 scoop equals about 28 grams) before increasing the dosage as needed. I would recommend not consuming only protein powder as your protein source. It’s better to get protein from 2 to 3 sources per day, especially from food.

Which protein powder is best for muscle gain?

Whey Protein is typically considered the most effective type when looking for increased muscle gain since it is quickly absorbed by the body and provides an abundance of amino acids required for muscle growth and repair. Other types such as egg white proteins or plant-based proteins can still provide beneficial nutrients but may not be as effective at building muscle compared to whey protein.

What is the best way to use protein powder for muscle gain?

For optimal absorption and digestion when taking protein Powder for muscle gains it’s important to mix it with water or other liquids such as whole milk or almond milk instead of drinks containing caffeine or sugar which would slow down digestive processes. Additionally, having a well-balanced diet while working out regularly will help maximize results from taking protein powders. It’s best to limit your intake to once daily if possible – overdoing it can cause more harm than good!

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