Is Your Protein Drink Making You Fat?

Gaining weight from protein drinks

The world market for protein bars, drinks, and other supplements is estimated to reach $12.4 billion (yes, billion with a "b") by 2017, according to Food Product Design. Manufacturers are churning out brands of protein drinks faster than we can sprint home from the gym to make these post-workout beverages. This should lead us to be weary of simply choosing any protein drink and be aware that many of these brands are focused on cashing in rather than building muscle. Brands in this rising industry are loading their products with excess synthetic ingredients, calories, sugar, and fat.

What should you look for in a protein drink? We looked to Nutrition Coach and Therapist, Jenny Giblin for answers on decoding the abundant variety of misleading muscle-building beverages and choosing the right brand to meet our goals.

Most protein powders are highly processed and refined, which depletes them of their nutritional value, fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. What does this mean? You consume empty calories that may contain protein, but still leave you hungry which can promote weight gain. Giblin goes on to explain that protein powders often contain unnatural chemicals and ingredients that cause acidity in our bodies, leading to even more health issues, skin issues, wrinkles, etc.

proteinguide copyWhey vs. Soy

You may ponder the protein powder shelf and wonder which is better, whey or soy? What you may not realize is that neither are quite as healthy as they may seem. Whey contains gluten. While you may not have a gluten allergy, you may still benefit from eliminating it from your diet.  Giblin states, "Wheat today is manufactured differently than in the past, with added proteins that do not digest well in our bodies, and are converted to fat. In fact, all of the cases of IBS with "unknown" causes are now believed to be linked directly to this. If you find that you are doing everything right but still can't lose those few extra pounds (especially around your tummy area), gluten may be to blame! Soy is also a tricky culprit. It is usually derived from genetically modified (GMOs), which have many detrimental side effects, including digestive issues, weight gain, and even cancer."

GreenMonster2_horRESIZEDProtein Alternatives

The solution, Giblin suggests, is rather than looking to protein powders to bulk up your fiber intake, choose smoothie ingredients that are healthier alternatives. You can add vegetables to your own smoothie to easily amp up the protein count. For example, 100 calories of spinach or kale has roughly twice as many grams of protein as 100 calories of steak. There are many more beneficial, plant based supplements that contain just as much protein, while keeping their nutritional value (and your ideal weight!) in tact.


Jenny Giblin , MFT C.N. has recently been featured internationally as a health & wellness expert in Real Simple, Refinery29, LiveStrong, MindBodyGreen, Well and Good NYC, She Knows, Prevention magazine, FitSugar, Ok!Magazine, the Latin Times and more.