Can You Get Too Much Protein?

Posted 15 September 2021

Protein has achieved a venerated status in the dietary world for everything from building muscle to preventing weight gain. But can you get too much of a good thing?

Protein powders that come in chocolate, strawberry, and cookies and cream flavors are doled out by the scoopful and mixed into smoothies, making it possible to effortlessly consume protein in amounts that far exceed dietary recommendations. A canned protein drink can contain almost as much protein as an eight-ounce steak, and snack bars or a small bag of protein chips can pack more of the macronutrient than a three-egg omelet.

But while some nutritionists have encouraged the protein craze, a number of experts are urging caution. They point out that protein powders and supplements, which come from animal products like whey and casein (byproducts of cheese manufacturing)

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Sports nutrition position paper backs dietary protein over supplements

There is no physical reason for athletes to increase protein intake with supplements, says the German Nutrition Society (DGE), who recommend a balanced diet to achieve all protein requirements.

In the last of seven position papers by the society, the paper recommends that protein intake depending on training conditions and goals should be at approx. 1.2-2.0 grams per kilogram (g /kg) body weight.

Regarding supplementation. Dr Helmut Heseker, professor of nutritional science at the university of Paderborn states, “In the everyday nutritional routine of athletes there is no physiological reason to supplement protein intake with supplements and a balanced diet is usually superior to supplements.”

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South African Whey and Casein protein powders lack important amino acids

Posted 07 November 2019

This South African study found that  the the majority of 100% Whey or Casein protein powders, e.g. made by USN, Nutritech, Evox , do not contain the levels of protein as indicated on the label. But more seriously, these products claim to build muscle – but have been stripped of essential amino acids so they are not “proper proteins” and therefore, cannot do so, but can only be utilised as fuel.

Subject: 12th IFDC 2017 Special Issue – High protein sports supplements: Protein quality and label compliance


12th IFDC 2017 Special Issue – High protein sports supplements: Protein quality and label compliance⋆ Hettie C.Schönfeld Nicolette Hall BeulahPretorius Journal of Food Composition and Analysis Volume 83, October 2019, 103293


  • International harmonization of food-type supplement regulations is limited.
  • Protein supplements are not distinctly regulated in S. Africa by local food control.
  • Commercial high-protein sport supplement label
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We do not need nearly as much protein as we consume

Posted 03 January 2019

USN, Evox, Nutritech and others claim that sportsmen and those wishing to tone their body, or lose weight, require 100% whey or supplementation with additional protein. BBC News reviewed these claims.

Many of us consciously eat a high-protein diet, with protein-rich products readily available, but how much protein do we really need? And does it actually help us lose weight? 

23 May 2018

This story is featured in BBC Future’s “Best of 2018” collection. Discover more of our picks.  

In the early 20th Century, Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson spent a collective five years eating just meat. This meant that his diet consisted of around 80% fat and 20% protein. Twenty years later, he did the same as part of a year-long experiment at the New York City’s Bellevue Hospital in 1928.

Stefansson wanted to disprove those who argued that humans cannot … Read the rest

Sports supplements sold to children

Posted 12 May 2017

This article was published in Huisgenoot. The article tackles the serious issue of companies such as USN targeting children to sell supplements to. This deplorable issue. We addressed this issue in CamCheck on the 21st April 2016.

In this previous article, we highlighted Elaine Swanepoel’s article, published in Die Rapport, where she wrote: “Yet says Albe Geldenhuys, head of USN, to Die Rapport, that primary school children should not under any circumstances be using supplements”. Yet the Sportsmax website clearly advertises and markets to children. SportMax products include MassMax (SportMax recommended dose is only for people older than 12 years) and Vitamax (12 years).  As we noted in the original posting, the product, ToneMax, contains Garcinia cambogia, an ingredient never tested in children, and associated with reports of liver failure!

The article is reproduced below, but available in PDF format

Part A
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Protein hype: shoppers flushing money down the toilet, say experts

Posted 28 December 2016

USN, Evox and other ‘sport-supplement’ sellers, have been making a range of unsubstantiated claims for high protein products, e.g., “100% Whey protein”. These vary from claiming to build muscle, make you bulk up, and “USN’s new 100% Whey Protein Plus provides the highest quality protein per serving for rapid uptake and its conversion into amino acids and muscle mass by your body” and “maximises muscle recovery & development”. CamCheck has constantly pointed out that these claims are unproven and rubbish (USN/Albe Geldenhuys is suing Dr Harris Steinman for R2 million for pointing out the falseness of his/their claims, among other, these).

An article published in The Guardian now also weighs in on this issue.

Some extracts:

“Consumers fuelling demand for high-protein products unlikely to see any benefits as people already eat more protein than they need, say dietitians. Experts have warned … Read the rest

Muscle-building shakes don’t always have as much protein as they claim to

Posted 10 July 2016

In a report in The Conversation, researchers elaborate on their research into whether protein supplements available in South Africa contained the level of protein indicated on the label.

The researchers report:

[quote]In our study we found a difference of up to 80% in the labelled protein content and the value determined during analysis. From the 70 products included in the study, 65 products – or 93% – fell within the regulations.

In 21 products the actual protein in the product was more than 10% less than that stated on the label, but five products over-reported protein content by more than the acceptable limit of 25%.

These five products had between 42% and 80% less protein in the tub than what they declared on their product labels.[/quote]

In this study, Nutritech, BPI and Supplements SA fare extremely poorly. USN previously laid a complaint with the Read the rest

New consumer site casts doubt on (USN) supplement claims

Posted 24 March 2015

This previous article published in the West Cape News came to my attention recently. Although published in June 2013, it gives another perspective on one of USN’s products (100% Whey) and how USN will spin a yarn. It also quotes Prof Tim Noakes and his approach to protein supplements.

Discovery Health Professor of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Cape Town, Tim Noakes, said the difference in protein amount would not have notable effect for athletes. 

This, said Noakes, was because the product is “not working anyway”, the 17 percent difference was “17 percent of nothing”. 

Not a fan of supplements, he said people should be eating real food. 

If athletes wanted more protein, they should eat more eggs, fish and meat, not “falsified nutrients”. 

“We need to eat real food to get all the nutrients we need, not what the manufacturers decide we

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USN 100% Whey Protein

Posted 13 October 2014

This complaint appears to have slipped between the cracks in that I did not post it to CAMCheck.

In essence, USN’s 100% Whey protein was tested for truthful claims and found to be wanting. The amount of protein in the product was not as indicated on the label. Consumers were being lied to, cheated and ripped off.  A complaint was laid with the ASA. As usual, USN simply claimed that the label was not current and that they had changed the labels and so the ASA had no right to consider the complaint.

Why is this in particular relevant? Well USN recently complained about the untruthfulness of a competitor’s label!

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Protein supplements give no benefit to athlete’s performance

04 July 2011
Posted 11 July 2011

Researchers in the Department for Health conclude that protein-based sport drinks are of no benefit to the performance of athletes.

The sports drink industry makes millions of pounds from selling drinks and other supplements to people who want to increase their energy and stamina while exercising.

But when scientists reviewed the effects of the supplements they found they offered no more benefits than the protein found in a normal balanced diet.

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