Doctor's Note

This is the second of my three-part video series on some of the latest regarding the safety of dietary supplements. For part one, see Dietary Supplement Snake Oil. In part three, I explore why Some Dietary Supplements May Be More Than a Waste of Money. Also, check out Plant Protein Preferable, which explains why beans and other legumes are the best source of protein. What about gas? See Beans and Gas: Clearing the Air. And see my other videos on leadmercury; and arsenic for other ways to avoid exposure. 

For further context, check out my associated blog posts: Lead Poisoning Risk From VenisonAvoiding Cooked Meat CarcinogensRaisins vs. Energy Gels for Athletic Performance; and Probiotics and Diarrhea.

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    This is the second of a three-part series on some of the latest regarding the safety of dietary supplements. See yesterday’s video-of-the-day Dietary Supplement Snake Oil for part one. Plant Protein Preferable explains why beans and other legumes are the best source of protein. What about gas? See Beans and Gas: Clearing the Air. See my other videos on lead, mercury, and arsenic for other ways to avoid exposure. There are also more than a thousand other nutrition topics to choose from in our topics list.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Leave the Heavy Metal to the musicians and whirl up a protein rich (quick silver free) green smoothie!
      Cheers to CR for turning up the volume on Heavy Metals!

      • John

         I have heard some concern that smoothies might break down the fiber and one could get more fiber by eating the plants whole.  In addition chewing whole plants may be beneficial.  I can see the advantage of smoothies  but was unsure what is better in the long run.

        • AlexanderBerenyi

          Digestion begins with chewing, releasing digestive enzymes in the saliva to help better digest and assimilate the nutrients in food. I’d say if you want it soft and mushy, make it so; then pour it in a bowl and eat it like oatmeal.

        • HemoDynamic, M.D.

          Sorry it took me a bit to get back to you.  Here is a link to hopefully answer your question from Dr. Gregor.  I hope it helps.

    • Thunderslam

      As a doctor can you do the ethical thing and name those 8 protein supplements and “keep the lead out” of teenagers and young adults who are taking these supplements?

  • Stefan Juhl M.D.

    I think it was Jay Gordon MD who said: Eat food, not food like things…..

    This is just another example of “artificial” food, wich is not good for you – this time because of lead (!). I dont recall that lead should be a part of a co-enzyme :-)

    What to learn: Eat food that looks like food. If you think you need more protein, then eat your beans, lentils, oatmeal etc.

  • How the heck did lead get into powdered drinks? Are they just being careless or are they trying to limit population growth? For sure we don’t need as much protein as the meat and dairy industry or their surrogates at the USDA tell us. There are some people in remote areas of this world who seem to do just fine on much less than that; with as little as 15 gm of protein a day. You’d probably get that much eating mostly jelly beans. Seems when it comes to protein, less is more since the body has to get rid of the ammonia excess protein produces before it can be used for energy and it can also stimulate cancer growth in the quantity meat-eaters consume it. However I’ve read that the amino acid leucine, which is part of protein, can help us maintain muscle mass as we age- something I’d like to do. I also read that it’s good at regulating blood sugar and as a workout recovery supplement too. Seems to be perfectly safe in doses of under 5 gm. Of course, I only know what I’ve read, and if what I’ve read is wrong, then I actually know less than nothing. Anyone have any experience with leucine?

    •  I agree with your comments about the amount of protein we need. As Dr. McDougall has pointed out in his newsletter articles on protein it is impossible not to get adequate protein if we consume adequate calories with whole food plant based diet. The best evidence based series of articles I have seen on protein were
      done by Dr. McDougall and published in his newsletters which are
      available free on his website. These “title”(month/year) are “Protein
      History”(12/03),”Protein Overload”(11/04) and “Protein Sources”(4/07). You might find the 4/07 article of particular importance as it shows the amount of leucine in certain foods… asparagus and broccoli for instance have high amounts of leucine. I would continue a plant based diet and add appropriate exercises to help maintain “muscle” and good functioning as we age and not add protein supplements.

  • MiMi McGee

    Oh NO! I just started using Brendan’s product. We can’t eat enough in the day let alone proteins so I was supplementing with smoothies and then I saw VEGA so I thought it would be the answer I mean, I realize whole plant foods are best but I was getting worried because although we have not had our blood work done recently, many people whom I’ve trained to eat a whole-foods vegan diet are reporting low protein levels in their test results. Its tough to eat and chew all of that food each day if you are busy and burn lots of calories.:-(

    • Stefan Juhl M.D.

      Hi mimi. Test showing low protein levels? Thats sound a little strange. Is it tests performed by a licensed doctor?

      • MiMi McGee

        Yes, these were regular labs done ordered by medical doctors. The MDs in these cases where suspect that the vegan diets were the cause of low “normal” or below the normal range for blood protein levels. I wondered if our so-called “normal” range is actually on the high side given the idea we need less protein than we think or thought. These women had levels at 6 g/dl or lower.

        • I have not seen any articles to the effect that dietary protein effects serum protein or that vegan diets lead to lower protein. In looking across a population remember that normal is defined as where 95% fall… that means a small percentage of patients are normally either a bit high or low. It also matters what population was used in the studies done to support whatever test is being run by the lab. I certainly wouldn’t take additional protein. To comment on specific levels you need to look at the normals for that lab. Even if there were studies showing plant based diets lead to lower serum proteins than those of a SAD I would tend to view that as a good sign. At a recent presentation by Doug Lisle PhD he mentioned that well over half of the protein our body needs comes from our own protein that is broken down and reused. Couple that with the facts that given adequate calories from whole foods it is impossible not to get enough protein and that protein in excess of needs is viewed as a toxin by the body I certainly wouldn’t be taking any steps to get protein especially with supplements.

  • Emilyc615

    I don’t think any of the supplements listed are vegan supplements. Most of the supplements are more”mainstream” brands. I’d like to see an analysis of certified organic vegan protein powders. I do think that I need a little more protein than average as I am very sensitive to blood sugar swings.

  • Strix_1

    I’d also like to know which protein powders are being referred; and if they are animal-sourced, and organic or not,

    •  As Toxins has pointed out when you consume adequate calories you will get more than enough of the protein and essential amino acids that your body needs. Your body can’t store protein or amino acids and excess has to be excreted. Animal proteins generally contain more sulfur based amino acids and put a greater acid load on the body. Plant proteins are preferable see… The best evidence based series of articles I have seen on protein were done by Dr. John McDougall and published in his newsletters which are available free on his website. These “title”(month/year) are “Protein History”(12/03),”Protein Overload”(11/04) and “Protein Sources”(4/07). After reading these newsletters you will realize why it is not necessary to supplement with protein powders. Even ultramarathoners like Scott Jurek use whole foods for training and recovery and don’t use supplemental protein powders.

      • nathan ellison

        If it puts more acid load onnour bodies then get more trace minerals. This will balance everything out. It will keep our body a at a perfect ph kevel. Anyways, your body doesnt let yourself get to acidic or alkaline. Your body is able to leveln itself out. But when you put too much stress on those in charge ofbkeeping our bodies ph level correct, they get over worked and need minerals

      • I do not believe this is correct. I don’t know whether protein powders are good or bad (that’s why I’m here reading). But Scott Jurek explains in his book that he uses protein powders (plant) extensively.

  • Etinamax

    Yes, I am wondering if this applies to vegan protein supplements also.  I include a pea powder protein in my morning green and fruit smoothie.  I was going to discontinue anyway as the taste is god-awful miserable.  

    • Toxins

       There is no dietary need to supplement additional protein into a whole food plant based diet as protein and energy needs satisfy energy and protein expenditures. Might as well go with your plan and discontinue its use!

    • Lomac

      Lol. I use pea protein powder too and it is indeed god awful tasting! However I bake with it, vegan low carb things from time to time. I have been wondering is it really a good idea. I’ll stick with coconut flour perhaps (low carb!).

    • luvmypug

      I’m interested in knowing about pea protein too. I actually love it in my morning smoothie. I had some issues with muscle fatigue and thought it would help. My protein levels tested in the 6 range.

      • beccadoggie10

        What about using Mori-Nu certified organic silken tofu in your morning smoothie along with a frozen banana and some fresh or frozen berries. I purchase mine at

  • Alexander Berenyi

    What about the myriad of antinutrients / limited digestibility of traditional plant protein sources (beans/grains/nuts/seeds), leading to reduced absorption of nutrients, etc.? Could supplementation of complete (amino acid), easily-digestible plant-based protein—minus nutrient-detracting factors—not be beneficial for those seeking to limit their intake of meat?

    •  Anti-nutrients don’t seem to be a problem if history has anything to say about it. After all, people have been successfully eating all the plant protein sources without any problem for thousands of years. In my case, since I switched to them from meat, I lost weight, sleep better, have less depression,  and don’t get that terrible pain in my gut any more. Plus, I almost never get a cold or sore throat any more. I say, the closer a food is to the way it came out of the ground, the better.

    • Stefan Juhl M.D.

      The Barley men (vegan gladiators) didnt seem to lack protein despite their source of protein: Plants. Our need for protein is probably much less than most of us think.

    • Toxins

       There is not a digestibility issue with plant proteins. All plant foods, from bananas, to leefy greens and starches have complete proteins and are easily used by the body, and complimentary proteins are not needed. Yes, it is true that not all the calories are used when eating nuts or seeds but with every other food, the plant proteins are fully utilized. As far as antinutrients go with beans and oats, when you cook these foods, the antinutrients are eliminated. 

      • AlexanderBerenyi

        I’m sorry; there was a time when I believed everything natural and plant-based was our friend all of the time, but this is not necessarily true. Many plants have defenses against herbivory—this may on one hand be a powerful antioxidant, and on another a powerful anti-nutrient.

        • Stefan Juhl M.D.

          Interesting. But: Humans do not need much protein. People who get their protein from plant sources live better and longer – thats a fact. If you get your protein from animal products it comes with cholesterol, saturated fats, hormones and acidic amino acids. I think the question is how much protein you think you need. By the way animal protein raises LDL, not only the fats.  

        • Toxins

          The study mentions phytates and legumes as the sources of antinutrients. I had already said that cooking deactivates these antinutrients. Phytates are found in oats as well as some other cereal grains. My previous position remains valid.

          • AlexanderBerenyi



            It’s more complicated than “well, just cook it.”

          • @Toxins:disqus , I am grateful that you are such a vital member of this online forum. It seems like in your effort to explain and prove to folks that plant-based is the way to go, you get your share of resistors. I’ve been on this forum for quiet a while, and it seems to me that arguing with this particular resistor will get you nowhere. Still, I greatly appreciate your efforts since it makes us all that much wiser. As Ocean Robbins has recently said, “In a world where genetically engineered, pesticide-contaminated, highly processed pseudo-food is considered normal, choosing real, healthy, sustainable food can be a revolutionary act.” Thank you for being a “food revolutionary” to us all.

          • Toxins

            Thanks Mr. Chomper, I post more so that others will read it and use the information rather than posting just because I have a bone to pick with someone. These debates are enlightening as well for me, as I learn more how people think about food and what information is out there. I do admit I get frustrated with certain people, at which point I feel i have sufficiently posted enough evidence for others to see my side of the argument, in that case i cease posts.

          • Keep on keeping on! Indeed, we do get enlightened in the process as well.

      • beccadoggie10

        Leafy greens and bananas and such have complete proteins? I thought complete proteins were only in soy. That you need beans, legumes, lentils and rice, quinoa, millet and other grains to make complimentary proteins.

        • Toxins

          Firstly, I would like to quote the American Dietetics Association on their view of vegetarian diets and protein.

          “Plant protein can meet protein requirements when a variety of plant foods is consumed and energy needsare met. Research indicates that an assortment of plant foods eaten over the course of a day can provide all essential amino acids and ensure adequate nitrogen retention and use in healthy adults; thus, complementary proteins do not need to be consumed at the same meal ”

          Many say that plants foods are incomplete

          If “incomplete” means not containing all the essential amino acids then…. (the incomplete protein theory)

          1) All plant foods are complete as they contain all the essential amino acids.

          2) the only food that is not a complete protein is an animal food, gelatin.

          If “incomplete” means lacking in sufficient quantity of one or more amino acids…(the limiting amino acid theory)

          1)Getting all the amino acids in at once at the same meal, or even in the same day, as some may suggest, is not necessary due to the amino acid pool, which is a circulating level of amino acids in the blood, that the body can draw from if needed. As long as one follows a whole foods plant based diet, the amino acid pool will maintain a sufficient stock of any potentially needed (or limiting) amino acids.

          2)However, as long as one consumes enough calories, eats a variety of food, and limits junk foods and refined foods, and is not an all fruit diet, then they will get in enough protein and enough amino acids in sufficient quantity. There will be no limiting amino acids

          3)there is some evidence that the amino acids that are slightly lower (but adequate) in plant foods, may actually be a benefit to health and longevity and not a concern. This evidence stems from the fact that eating foods that resemble the protein structure of humans causes the liver to release the growth hormone, IGF-1, which accelerates aging and promotes tumor growth.

          Most every major health organization including the NAS, the WHO and the ADA all recognize these statements to be true.

        • Jay M

          The government has analyzed the amino acid content of many foods.
          This info is available via many websites.
          For example take a look at
          Although bananas do not provide a great amount of amino acids or in optimally balanced ratios, it does provide all them.

  • Guest

    Was there any information on protein powder supplements from plant sources (e.g. hemp)? Just curious since I’m vegan and we add this to the morning ‘green smoothie’. Thanks!

    • NickyC

      While protein powder supplements derived from plant sources are a better option than those derived from animal or dairy, it is actually best to use the whole plant source. For example, think of hemp protein, an excellent plant derived source of protein. When you use the protein powder, you actually lose much of what makes the plant so healthy and beneficial in the first place: excellent source of essential fatty acids, high amounts of minerals and antioxidants just to name a few. Why not throw in a few tablespoons of hemp seed in your smoothie, instead of a processed powder; your body will thank you.

    • Kman


  • Greensubmarine

    Hemp protein all the way!

  • Matt_basile

    Are there any organic veggie protein powders that would NOT somehow have a negative effect on us?  Hemp protein? 

  • Kman

    I eat a scoop of whey with oatmeal every morning and I love it. I use the Optimal Nutrition (ON) brand that was tested in this study and passed with flying colours. I enjoy your website very much Dr Greger, could you please do a clip on the health benefits (or otherwise) of Whey Protein? I have read about elite athletes that consume a plant based diet with the only exception being whey. Another interesting topic might be whey versus pea protein supplements.

    • Toxins

      Taking protein supplements can lead to increased levels of IGF-1 which can cause cancer.

      According to the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine

      “The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for both men and women is 0.80 g of good quality protein/kg body weight/d and is based on careful analysis of available nitrogen balance studies.”

      For a 150 lb person, this would equate to about 55 grams.

      As a percentage of energy From the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine,National Academies
      Protein 10–35% of calories.

      On an 1800 calorie diet, 10% would equate to 45 grams

      From, The World Health Organization

      “Furthermore, recent detailed balance and body composition studies
      have shown that with a suitable program of resistance exercise
      sarcopenia (muscle loss) can be reversed and muscle strength increased on a protein intake of 0.8 g/kg per day (68 ). This intake is similar to the 1985 safe allowance and lower than usual intakes in this

      For a 150 lb man, the .8gr/kg is around 55 grams. For a 200 lb man it is around 72 grams

      From the USDA…

      “The typical American diet is rich in protein, cereal grains and
      other acid-producing foods. In general, such diets generate tiny amounts of acid each day. With aging, a mild but slowly increasing metabolic “acidosis” develops, according to the researchers.

      Acidosis appears to trigger a muscle-wasting response. So the researchers looked at links between measures of lean body mass and diets relatively high in potassium-rich, alkaline-residue producing fruits and vegetables. Such diets could help neutralize acidosis. Foods can be considered alkaline or acidic based on the residues they produce in the body, rather than whether they are alkaline or acidic themselves. For example, acidic grapefruits are metabolized to alkaline residues.

      The researchers conducted a cross-sectional analysis on a subset of nearly 400 male and female volunteers aged 65 or older who had completed a three-year osteoporosis intervention trial. The volunteers’ physical activity, height and weight, and percentage of lean body mass were measured at the start of the study and at three years. Their urinary potassium was measured at the start of the study, and their dietary data was collected at 18 months.

      Based on regression models, volunteers whose diets were rich in
      potassium could expect to have 3.6 more pounds of lean tissue mass than volunteers with half the higher potassium intake. That almost offsets the 4.4 pounds of lean tissue that is typically lost in a decade in healthy men and women aged 65 and above, according to authors. The study was published in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”

      And here’s the study

      “Higher intake of foods rich in potassium, such as fruit and
      vegetables, may favor the preservation of muscle mass in older men and women.”

      And this can be confirmed by Dr. Gregers video on protein status in
      vegans , showing that those on a plant based diet has 20% higher
      albumin protein levels.

      Here is a study where people on a low protein diet not only increased
      strength, but also built muscle. As you will see, the difference
      wasn’t in the protein but in the exercise.

      In both groups, the subjects were maintained on a very low protein
      diet due to kidney disease. One did strength training, one did not.
      The one who did the strength training, despite the very low protein
      diet,….” total muscle fiber increased by 32 percent, and muscle
      strength increased by 30 percent after 12 weeks of strength training”

      The diet was .5 gr/kg

      Also I would recommend this video

      • Kman

        Toxins, that figure is now consider too low, I would refer you to a video made by the good doctor:

        The amount recommended by the study discussed there, and by Dr Greger, is 1.0-1.2g/kg of body weight. And that’s just for an average person, presumably athletes and those doing resistance exercise will have increased protein intake needs. Presumably this is why Dr Greger subsequently researched if nuts – which are high protein but also have high caloric density – proteins sources such as nuts promote weight gain (fortunately they don’t seem too, thanks Doc).

        As a 183 cm, 85kg (187 pounds for the backwards parts of the world) man, that means 85-102g of protein per day, which is a significant amount, and if I use a conservative figure like 1.3g/kg bodyweight to address the exercise factor, its 111g per day. More serious bodybuilders than I would probably use a ratio greater than 1.3g/kg bodyweight.

        A single scoop of whey protein, an extremely concentrated source of protein, is adding 30 grams of protein to my diet every day, with the protein in the oatmeal, this is giving me roughly a 1/3 of my daily needs.

        I would love to see Dr Greger comment specifically on Whey protein. I have never seen any good negative studies of whey protein. Has Dr Greger?

      • Kman

        Excuse me! Why was my response deleted!?

        • Toxins

          Increased whey consumption leads to increased levels of IGF-1. This is this is what happens at the physiological level with any amino acid profile that resembles our own is consumed in greater then necessary amounts. Dr. Greger presented a study, which is interesting, but does not mandate the totality of evidence. The evidence I shared is from very credible institutions, and is not outdated, so lets not be so quick to dismiss.

          • Kman

            From the article in question:

            “Traditionally, total protein requirements for humans have been determined using nitrogen balance. The recent Dietary Reference intake recommendations for mean and population-safe intakes of 0.66 and 0.8/g/kg/day, respectively, of high-quality protein in adult humans are based on a meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies using single linear regression analysis. We reanalyzed existing nitrogen balance studies using two-phase linear regression analysis and obtained mean and safe protein requirements of 0.91 and 0.99g/kg/day, respectively. The two -phase linear regression analysis is considered more appropriate for biological analysis of dose-response curves.”

            That’s quite damning – the previous recommendation was based on an incorrect choice of statistical procedure, which is the consensus view among the statisticians. It’s a miscalculation.

            Doubly damning is that in the same paper that use a completely different way of calculating of recommended daily protein intake, and come up with a very similar mean daily intake and and even higher population-safe requirement.

            “Considering the inherent problems associated with the nitrogen balance method, we developed an alternative method, the indicator amino acid oxidation technique, to determine protein requirements. The mean and population-safe requirements in adult men were determined to be 0.93 and 1.2g/kg/day”.

          • Kman

            Dr Greger is an excellent researcher and he finds high quality articles. The is a reason that, since he posted this, he has done a lot on nuts – a high quality vegan source of protein. For dinner I had almonds and a punket of blueberries (which contained about 30g of protein).

          • Toxins

            I am not an “enemy” of Dr. Greger’s, in fact, I have been assigned by him to answer to comments on and I agree with 98% of his videos.

            Regardless of these protein recommendations, they are not practical and they are irrelevant. We have no dietary need to supplement protein, nor must we seek protein rich foods. If we consume enough calories of whole plant foods and we are not on a strict fruitarian diet, then there is no need to concern oneself with getting enough protein. It is a non issue unless you are in an improverished third world country.

            Taking a whey protein supplement is excess, because it is not a whole plant food, which Dr. Greger would not advocate. Like I said, eating whole plant foods is completely satisfactory to reach energy and protein goals. Supplementing whey protein on top of this diet would only be harmful.

            I would not say that eating almonds for dinner, a very rich source of omega 6, is healthful.

          • Kman

            Not practical? It is easily achieved, even with purely Vegan sources. But I’m going to stop right here. I’m getting a real zealot vibe here, I don’t argue with zealots. If I post in future I’d appreciate comments DIRECTLY related to my question. My original question concerned health benefits or otherwise of whey (and expressed curiosity about pea based protein supplements). All the above discussion, was simply beside the point. Because you didn’t have anything to say specifically about whey, you vomited stuff about protein in general. You don’t HAVE to comment on every single post you know. If you don’t know, or can’t find out, leave it for someone else.

          • Toxins

            You seem to be missing the point entirely…


          • Kman

            Toxins: “This is this is what happens at the physiological level with any amino acid profile that resembles our own is consumed in greater then necessary amounts.”

            Since you yourself consider the problem excessive consumption of “high quality” protein, I’m not sure what point I’m missing. I have watched all videos tagged IGF-1. The problem seems to be related to excessive consumption – even of plant based sources such as Soy.

            I’m afraid this whole area of research is still very unclear, and thus I don’t use it in my decision making (yet). Since 1999 it has been well established that this link between IGF-1 and certain cancers (breast, colorectal) exists in a Vitamin D deprived state. Also, the risk is only increased about 2.5 times and that’s only with the very highest measured levels of IGF-1 in the blood. And this risk almost completely disappears with adequate intake of Vitamin D.

            Since this thread as been detrailed, I will post a new comment stating precisely what I want to know about whey.

          • Kman

            I found an article giving recommended protein intake guidelines for athletes:

            Opinion on the role of protein in promoting athletic performance is divided along the lines of how much aerobic-based versus resistance-based activity the athlete undertakes. Athletes seeking to gain muscle mass and strength are likely to consume higher amounts of dietary protein than their endurance-trained counterparts. The main belief behind the large quantities of dietary protein consumption in resistance-trained athletes is that it is needed to generate more muscle protein. Athletes may require protein for more than just alleviation of the risk for deficiency, inherent in the dietary guidelines, but also to aid in an elevated level of functioning and possibly adaptation to the exercise stimulus. It does appear, however, that there is a good rationale for recommending to athletes protein intakes that are higher than the RDA. Our consensus opinion is that leucine, and possibly the other branched-chain amino acids, occupy a position of prominence in stimulating muscle protein synthesis; that protein intakes in the range of 1.3-1.8 g · kg(-1) · day(-1) consumed as 3-4 isonitrogenous meals will maximize muscle protein synthesis. These recommendations may also be dependent on training status: experienced athletes would require less, while more protein should be consumed during periods of high frequency/intensity training. Elevated protein consumption, as high as 1.8-2.0 g · kg(-1) · day(-1) depending on the caloric deficit, may be advantageous in preventing lean mass losses during periods of energy restriction to promote fat loss.

  • Kman

    I consume a product from Optimum Nutrition that completely passed this test for heavy metal content with flying colors. I have a question for the researchers out there, professional and amateur alike:

    Does anyone know of any good articles investigating the health effects – positive or negative – of (uncontaminated) whey protein?

    I am only interested in studies that have investigated whey protein specifically. I am not interested in studies that are about protein in general or animal proteins in general. I have found several concerning positive health effects but I have not found any about detrimental effects. I put out a friendly challenge to anyone reading this to try.

    • Veganrunner

      Hi Kman,

      Toxins is amazing and one of Dr Greger’s volunteers. He has a deep understanding of nutrition. If you are new to the site you may have missed the overall message that has been discussed. I would recommend reviewing Browse Topics. This is a vegan site and whey is a byproduct of cheese.

      But I think the point you are missing is that if you eat enough calories throughout the day, you will be getting more than enough protein. It isn’t necessary to supplement. If you are eating it because you like it, that is a different story.

      IgF1 has been a well covered topic on this site so you will find videos and very long conversations in the comment sections. Many of the readers here are interested in overall health and nutrition so if there is evidence that excessive protein increases IgF1 and that leads to cancer most here will choose not to partake.

      Go easy on Toxins–he is our buddy.

      • Kman

        I don’t mean to be rude but that has nothing to do with my question:

        Does anyone know of any good articles investigating the health effects – positive or negative – of (uncontaminated) whey protein?

        Surely one of the people with a deep understanding of nutrition can provide at least one?

        • Veganrunner

          Did you look on Medline?

          • Kman

            I have done my own searching. I am requesting what others have found on the subject. I have found many studies showing posiive effects of whey consumption. I have uet to find a single negative study. This should be the place to find it. As I said a friendly challenge. Feel free to try yourself.

          • Veganrunner
          • Kman

            Wow. I hope you can do better than that!!

          • Veganrunner

            Wow you are quite argumentative. It is dairy. Look under dairy in Browse topics. And take a chill pill.

            With few exceptions (Vit D and b12). Dr Greger will recommend whole foods over supplements.

          • Kman

            I’m not looking to argue. I’m looking for someone to challenge my consumption of whey. This is what rational people do – they open themselves and their practices up to criticism. If you can’t, that’s fine, leave it for someone else to – if they can ;-)

          • Skeptic

            Actually, most of us eat known safe and healthful foods and don’t use our lives as Guinea Pigs to test unknown substances. In general, dairy products are known to be unhealthful, in general stuff not containing anti-oxidants is unhealthful, in general excess protein is known to be unhealthful. Good luck putting junk that has lots of red flags in your body and seeing if your “assumptions” work out! Get a clue!

  • cityboy

    I want to ask the same question that “PaulC” asked:

    How the heck did lead get into powdered drinks?


  • Br

    ok, 8/15 are bad. What are the 7 that are not so bad?

  • Br

    And what are the numbers? Are there some companies whose products are ok, and what is the % of bad stuff in them, and what is the level that considered bad? Out of the 15 maybe there are some that are ok. 4/15?

  • Derrek

    Was now sports tested? That’s scary? I had lots of protein powder. What would you recommend instead to put on size? What foods and what amino acids help build muscle the best?

    • Toxins

      Its not about how much you eat, but the level of intensity.

      All whole plant foods contain all the essential amino acids so if you eat when your hungry, till your full, you will always be getting more then enough protein.

      • vardarac

        With all due respect, and with all the study-informed science on NF, I think this comment is neither well-researched nor properly reasoned.

        First, studies tracking protein consumption in individuals of varying activity levels (linked to in Bayesian Bodybuilding) found that protein intakes do make a difference in building muscle.

        Requirements are higher for inexperienced bodybuilders and people engaging in higher levels of activity. While activity level obviously matters in gains, there are (up to a point) higher bodybuilding gains with higher levels of protein consumption, even when there is a caloric deficit. Nitrogen balance matters.

        Second, your comment assumes that a person will have sufficient and proper appetite or can actually eat to satiation on a plant-based diet. I have not found this to be the case for some plant foods; I always abandoned my salads early or grew tired of my plates of vegetables, eating them because I felt that I had to and not because they were doing anything to satisfy my hunger.

        Suppose the appetite is sufficient for whole plant-based foods, however, there is no guarantee that the food the individual chooses will contain sufficient levels of protein for bodily maintenance, much less what is necessary to build muscle.

        Nuts and legumes will contain fair amounts of protein, but even eating to satiation may not provide the amounts at which significant or maximal benefits to gains will be seen (topping out I believe at .75-.83 g/kg for heaviest activity levels). And then at levels where they do provide this amount of protein, they may also provide excessive calories.

      • Craig

        I’d like to believe this, but this 50 yo is never so exhausted then when he tries to lead an active lifestyle on a vegan or vegetarian diet. I feel tired and weak all the time! For example, I’ll eat a large bowl of beans and rice with onions, I’ll feel ok, but if I really need a true energy boost I need to follow it up with a can of sardines. Only then do I have sufficient energy to accomplish moderate physical projects of more than 2 hours.

        • Craig

          Oh, and sex more than twice a month at 50? Forget it on a vegan diet!

        • Toxins

          I find that surprising. I am a competitive rock climber and can climb 5 hours with high energy and no problems. I refuel with raisins during the activity.

      • Lokesh Soni

        Hi Rami,
        I know this thread is from a long time back so I hope you might read it and be able to provide a little advice.
        I am a firm believer in plant based nutrition and the bodies ability to heal given the right conditions. I myself am vegan and have refused standard treatments for a kidney tumor, preferring to eat low fat plant based and have never felt better or more confident of its efficacy.
        My mother, however, has liver cirrhosis, has been told this is now end stage without many treatment options other than paracentesis ‘drains’. Although it goes against my belief, we recently decided to increase the diuretics, against our consultants advice, to avoid the procedure which has seemingly affected her profoundly. She has become very weak and lost a lot of muscle mass in just a few months.
        One of the main recommendations by the consultants have been to consume massive amounts of protein in the form of Fresubin protein drinks (from animal sources). This appears to have affects on her mental acuity – hepatic encelapothy.
        I’m here today looking for ideas on vegan protein supplements that may get around that problem if it is true that she requires much more protein due to the liver not working properly. I understand protein supplements are not required for most healthy people, but in this case perhaps it is? Any thoughts you may have would be greatly appreciated.

        • Rami Najjar – NF Moderator

          Hello Lokeshi, this case extends beyond my knowledge base, but there are some healthy plant-based protein powders that are whole food based. Garden of Life raw meal replacement is one that comes to mind, and is one that Dr. Baxter Montgomery (a plant-based cardiologist I work with) recommends for cases in which extra protein is needed. Not only does this product provide 20 grams of protein per serving, but there are a variety of vegetables, whole grains and other whole foods in it.

  • Aty
    • baggman744

      As to lead, you’ll most likely find some in all veggies, rice, grains, etc., either naturally occurring, or from contaminated soil.

  • tate

    Is there a list of powders that are safe to take?

  • Skeptic

    The CR report goes on to advise getting daily protein from “milk, eggs, and grilled chicken.” A person would likely be less worse off with the protein powder!

  • k

    What brands of protein powders were tested and which ones had lead? Thanks.

  • Derrek

    Would about vegan sources? Any studies on them?

  • jeff walker

    I personally don’t like beans, but after watching the whole video I must say that beans are the important part of our meal. Usually I eat Simply Raw Bars as the source of protein, but from now I will try to add beans into my meal as well.

  • nathan ellison

    Beans and legumes arent complete proteins. They dont contain all amino acidsm you need to combine multiple vegan fiod sources which costs more. I eat my meat medium rare or rare which is the healthiest and least carcinogenic

    • You’re wrong about beans not being complete proteins. That’s a myth that was created in a book back in the late 70s.

      Good luck with the saturated fat, naturally occurring hydrogenated fat, cholesterol, heme iron, lack of fibre and antioxidants and increases in IGF-1 from your medium/medium rare animal flesh.

      • nathan ellison

        I actually don’t eat meat anymore and If I do I have killed chickens myself. Saturated fat is necessary for the body actually and as a weight lifter it helps with testosterone production. Lack of fiber? I eat more greens and fruits than anyone I know, so my fiber content is good sir. Stop judging me lol.
        Legumes amino acid profile does not have all the aminos that complete protein does. Which is why I have hemp protein mostly and fish I catch. I eat tuna too and luckily tuna actually if you research negates its mercury and other toxins in its body.
        I get so much antioxidants fromy everything I eat and certain mushrooms I use as tea. So I don’t think I have to worry about lack of fiber and antioxidants. As a matter of fact, I shit usually around two to three times a day depending what I eat. I healthy human should actually have multiple bowl movements everyday

        • Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

  • Saved1973

    I noticed that all the listed protein supplements which indicated the source of the protein was from dairy products which aren’t healthy anyway, but what about soy protein supplements? Thanks in advance for your replies.

    • EvidenceBasedNutrition

      Thanks for the question, Saved —- Dr. Greger ends the video by saying ‘athletes can get the lead out by choosing whole food sources of nutrition.’ The general idea is that we can get all the nutrition we need (macro and micro) from eating whole food plant based.

      I came across this arcticle which is an account from an individual who worked with Dr. Essylstyn and Dr. Campbell in the film Forks over Knives. A Vegan Athlete: From Vegan Protein Addict to Whole Foods. He discusses his transition from protein supplementation to whole-foods.

      Personally, I ocassionally use a protein power that is made out of a number of sprouted whole-grains and pledges to be free of heavy metals. If you are interested in protein supplementation and heavy metals are your concern, there are brands that focus on this and ensure the quality you are looking for. Perhaps some of the brands listed here may be worth considering.

      I hope this helps!

      • Saved1973

        Your post certainly DOES help. Thanks for posting it : )

  • David

    If you look at the report shown for the first 28 seconds of the video, under the heading “HITTING THE LIMITS”, it says:
    “FOR MOST OF THE DRINKS WE TESTED, LEVELS OF THESE CONTAMINANTS WERE IN THE LOW TO MODERATE RANGE, WHEN WE COULD DETECT THEM AT ALL! But with THREE of the products, consumers who have THREE SERVINGS DAILY COULD be exposed to levels that exceed the maximum limits ..” ‘Dr’ Greger doesn’t mention that. The video tries to mislead you into thinking all protein powders are bad. Clearly they are not.

  • David

    Thank you EvidenceBasedNutrition for posting a more unbiased apprasal. And also for mention the movie, “Forks Over Knives”, an excellent documentary about food and diseases that everyone should watch.

  • William Dwyer

    As I said in response to the video on soft drinks, according to California’s Prop 65, everything under the sun causes cancer. In fact, virtually all the dietary and nutritional supplements being sold today have warnings that the supplements are potentially carcinogenic. As a resident of California, I’m having trouble ordering nutritional supplements out of state, because according to that proposition they are alleged to cause cancer, thereby preventing the sellers from shipping to California. That Proposition should be repealed, because it’s denying consumers freedom of choice.

    I recently moved into a new apartment complex. On the front of the building is a sign that, according to Prop 65, the building itself is carcinogenic. A health club that I go to also has such a sign.

    How does the government justify this kind of bureaucratic overreach? California is the only state that has this law. What is the basis for the studies justifying these cancer claims? Did the researchers feed the rats huge quantities of a substance, which because of the sheer volume caused the animals to get cancer, and then extrapolated the results to humans? Who knows?

    In any case, the government should stay out of people’s private lives. REPEAL PROP 65!!! RESTORE CONSUMER FREEDOM OF CHOICE!



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  • progun49

    Where can I see the list of supplements that were tested??