Don’t Fear The Reaper

I really wish I knew why some so-called journalists feel the need to promote fear mongering among the masses, and how to stop them from being idiots without trampling on their First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Literally, the two screenshots above are the entire meat of the story under the the headline at the top which I happened to scroll to on my news feed this morning.

By reading those few lines, what have you learned? If you are a critical thinker, you have learned nothing, nada, not a damn thing as the information provided is seriously lacking in details. The headline read that Protein Shakes may lead to weight gain, depression, and shorter life spans according to a study.

Guess what? The reporting on some studies is not always correct or complete.

Of course what also happens is you may have a study which is complete and very detailed and then some hack journalist takes a few key sentences to use in a report while skipping over the the actual context of the study. Words without full context are meaningless, utter non-sense. Words without context do not convey an entire message. The simple ommision of a single word can completely alter the context of a message. And this is where the problems lie;

Not everyone who reads headlines and reports are critical thinkers. Not saying that as a put down, it is just the simple truth. You take an individual who just takes a few sentences at face value and they repeat what they have read to others, and the next thing you know, a myth has been created that may be somewhat based on truth while being factually incorrect.

Lets break down this article since it is so short:

1. People looking to bulk up may want to cut back on protein shakes.

Why? Does the author believe that people live on protein shakes and nothing else? Let’s be real, most people use protein shakes as just a supplement as a part of their health initiative to maintain or build upon their lean muscle mass. Most people who are health conscious also consume a well balanced diet in order to achieve their fitness goals. You will encounter some who may put on too much weight when consuming shakes, but you will also find that a lot of them are consuming high sugar “weight gainer” shakes that contain protein. These are also the individuals you can find on any weight training forum who subscribe to the “GOMAD” method of weight gain. GOMAD is where you drink a Gallon Of Milk A Day. Young men desparate to get big and jacked in the weight room in order to lift heavy are bad about this. The reality is, these young heads full of mush have much larger problems than drinking a couple of shakes, they need to learn to moderate everything else in their lives too. The person who wrote this does not have a full grasp of what is happening in gyms around the world. The issue with many who want to bulk up to be big and muscular is these types need to learn about discipline, patience, the value of hard work, and to quit looking for instant gratification. Building muscle requires each of those values. Those who lack them either have, or will have larger problems than drinking protein shakes. Those without these values are also largely the individuals who resort to steroids, SARMS and other performance enhancing drugs.

2. Protein shakes may lead to weight gain, depression and shorter life spans.

Well duh, weight gain is kind of the point in that most people who consume protein shakes intend to gain weight from building upon their lean muscle mass. News flash, building upon your lean muscle mass helps to rev up your metabolism in order for your body to more efficiently burn off body fat. You should want your body to have a low body fat to lean muscle mass percentage for good health. While carbohydrates give you fuel to exercise, it is protein and amino acids which produce and build on your lean muscle mass. For good health, you have to ensure that you consume all nine essential amino acids which your body does not produce on it’s own.

The above line does not address the fact there are many great sources of protein that shakes are made from. Which protein shakes are they referring to? This is a pretty broad statement when you consider that you can purchace shakes, either powder or pre-made that come from whey, casein, soy, rice and peas for example. Each one of these protein sources have their role in a good health intitiative. Blanket statements are not helpful, now are they?

Lead to depression? Get out of here. More on this below.

Lead to shorter life spans? Fear mongering at it’s finest with this part. If you follow the popular weight loss forums, the topic of consuming too much protein is often brought up. The problem is you can not find anywhere exactly what constitutes too much. You can find the dangers of consuming too much all over the place, you can learn about the effect of too much protein on your kidneys. Yet, no matter the sources, Mayo, Harvard Health, Yale, and more, you will never find exactly how much protein is considered too much for the healthy individual. I challenge any of you reading this to find how how many grams per day of protein in your daily diet is too many. If you find something specific, please share this information along with reference sources.

My only caveat in agreement about too much protein is in the case of renal patients who require specalized diets as a result of their kidney failures/problems. If you are a renal patient, you have likely already been placed on a special diet by your physcian. And of course, if your renal problems have resulted in the neccessity of dialysis, you have to be mindful of every aspect of your diet, not just the amount of protein you consume.

I am not a doctor, therefore my articles are solely focused on those who do not have compromised health which requires highly specialized diets.

3. Scientist involved in the study say the branched chain amino acids found in many protein powders can stay in the bloodstream and disrupt serotonin production in the brain.

Damn, if anyone has a good scientifically sound argument to support the above statement, please share this with the rest of us. How much of branched chain amino acids would you have to consume in order to disrupt the serotonin production in your brain. The average amount of BCAA in any given protein shake which may include them is 5 grams per serving.

This from Oxford Academic:

Branched chain amino acids influence brain function by modifying large, neutral amino (LNAA) transport at the blood-brain barrier. Transport is shared by several LNAA’s, notably the BCAA’s and the aromatic amino acids (ArAA’s), and is competitive. Consequently, when plasma BCAA concentrations rise, which can occur in response to food ingestion or BCAA administration, or with the onset of certain metabolic diseases (e.g. uncontrolled diabetes), brain BCAA concentrations rise, and ArAA concentrations decline. Such effects occur acutely and chronically. Such reductions in brain ArAA concentrations have functional consequences: biochemically, they reduce the synthesis and the releaseof neurotransmitters derived from ArAAs, notably serotonin (from tryptophan) and catecholamines (from tyrosine and phehylalanine). The functional effects of such neurochemical changes include altered hormaonal function, blood pressure, and affective state.

This sounds like some scary information to be sure that some journalist may or may not have read and understood in it’s entirety before reporting on it. The author may not have even read this for themselves, who knows… Now for the rest of this article:

Although the BCAAs have biochemical and functional effects in the brain, few attempts have been made to to characterize time-course or dose response relations for such effects. And, no studies have attempted to identify levels of BCAA intake that might produce adverse effects on the brain. The only model of very high BCAA exposure is a very rare genetic disorder, maple syrup urine disease, a feature of which is substantial brain disfunction but that probably cannot serve as a useful model for excessive BCAA intake by normal individuals.

Friends, every where we turn we are bombarded with simplistic yet terrifying headlines which are meant to draw you in. Like the old saying goes; If it bleeds, it leads. Please, do yourself a favor when you find any type of news report that puts out blanket statements that are obvously incomplete, do your due diligence and look foruther into the topic before you either begin or quit the action in which the author is promoting. As in all professions that require a degree of education, there is always going to be the students who were at the top of the class academically, and there is always going to be the person who came in at the very bottom who still go on to work in their course of studies. The person who put together this article of bullshit was very likely the bottom of the class student. Be very careful of who and what you believe.

4 thoughts on “Don’t Fear The Reaper

  1. I have been a Chemistry major and a Physics major. I changed my major more than once and Nursing and Nutrition/Wellness Consultant are what I completed. All if my studies have been in the sciences.This incomplete, outcome based, quite often biased by funding type of reporting on a study is my greatest pet peeve. Much more information is necessary before publicizing research that has the power to affect people’s lives at such an important level. I eat large amounts of all kinds of protein and this incomplete, inaccurate reporting on this study is not my experience. I’m healthy. Good work, David. Keep shining the light.

  2. Don’t you just love the way journalists can put their own spin on thhings? I loved your closing, it reminded me my mother’s favorite saying, “They didn’t all graduate first.”

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