Family Practitioner Questions Proteins

Is protein powder safe for a protein deficiency?

I just found out I have a protein deficiency. Can I rely on protein powders alone, should I supplement them with natural sources or protein, or should I not use powders at all?

12 Answers

You should rely on natural sources of protein. You can supplement with protein powder as long as you exercise regularly.
The real question is what is the cause of the protein deficiency? If it's isolated (no particular), I would attempt natural sources for protein supplementation. However, not in excess of your normal dietary habits. The goal is to get to 100% of your daily requirement of protein. Supplementing with protein powder may help get you there.

...Sorry for the late response.
Typically, it is always better to get your nutrients from whole food sources as we absorb and use the nutrients better in that form. However, there are many protein fortified sources of food available now to supplement a deficient diet.
Protein powders are not all the same. Protein can come in different forms such as animal and plant. Plant protein powders are the best when supplementing an already healthy diet. Look for complete protein in a natural food store, such as pea protein. This form is readily absorbed. Add a scoop or two to your smoothies. Otherwise eat a diet rich in veggies and fruits, whole grains and lean protein, including legumes and fish. Limit alcohol which can deprive the body of absorbing nutrients.

Dr. Kelly Walker DNP, FNP-C, APRN
It would have been good to know the specific protein deficiency. The next question is why do you have a protein deficiency? Is it because there is a lack of intake or your body is not making this particular protein or you are losing this protein from your body? You have not mentioned any medical condition or illnesses that would create this scenario. Assuming you are "normal" otherwise, then the sources of protein can be had from suppliments in powder, liquid or solid forms and foods that we eat. A combination of any of those will suppliments you quite well.

Unfortunately, I don't have enough information to answer this question. Your physician should be able to discuss this with you.
Correcting protein deficiency is very important, otherwise you will develop multiple symptoms. Protein powders are fine as they are usually simple proteins and easy to absorb. I would recommend protein supplementation with dietary proteins including animal and plant proteins which will include a variety of essential amino acids and fiber along with protein powder. Although you need to monitor your protein intake to no more than 30% of your daily calorie intake.

Vyas Dake, MD
Protein powders from reputable sources are typically safe, but should be used in moderation in combination with a healthy diet. Relying only on protein supplements as a source can lead to significant health issues.
Use of protein supplements not prescribed by a physician have many downfalls. One of the most important issues is that these compounds are not overseen by any governmental or independent health authority. Therefore their constituents need not be what is said on the label and otherwise unregulated. Use of fillers, high carbohydrate or sugar content are not unusual making them unhealthy for diabetics, borderline diabetics or people with obesity. These supplements can also cause stress on the kidney in patients with kidney disease or even in otherwise normal kidney function.

These unregulated compounds make dosage recommendations and monitoring of therapy difficult. Protein levels are so dependent on many medical issues such as liver function, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes malabsorption and other metabolic conditions.

The best avenue for protein supplementation is to have your lab values monitored by a physician and then receive advice from a registered dietitian upon consult from the physician. There are regulated protein supplements recommended by health care professionals that are designed for various disease states.

The bottom line is always consult a physician before starting any type of supplementation.
If your daily protein intake from food is adequate and your levels are still low, it's okay to supplement with a good quality protein powder. If you aren't eating much protein (this doesn't need to be red meat - poultry, fish, tofu and plant-based sources are even better from a health standpoint), I usually recommend optimizing your diet rather than relying on powders alone.
It all depends on the person and the particular protein powder, and also WHY the person is deficient in protein. Some people can be deficient because they don't take in enough protein in
their diet. Others can be deficient because although they seem to be taking in enough protein, they are not absorbing it, due to not having enough digestive enzymes or their stomach
not working properly.

Also, not all protein powders are best for everyone. Some people are good with whey protein, for example, and others are best off with a non-dairy, plant-based protein powder.
I would use natural sources of protein.