The latest issue (October 2010) of Triathlete Magazine, features an article by Trismarter.com sports nutritionist Rebecca Marks Rudy. Featured in the Eat Right column on page 122, the article addresses reports of the presence of heavy metals in high-protein drinks. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Nutrition professionals have long criticized packaged and processed foods, including those marketed towards improving sports performance. And supplementation has come under scrutiny again, this time for presence of heavy metals in high-protein drinks. The July 2010 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine exposed 15 high-protein drinks and powders that contain varying levels of toxins such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury.
Just weeks before the report hit newsstands, a May 2010 article in Pharmaceutical Research cited the obvious: setting limitations for toxic metals in foods, drugs and supplements is appropriate but difficult to carry out, given the two-fold challenge of the toxins’ presence in the environment, as well as lack of analytical procedures. What then does one do with the information that is built both on scare tactics as well as inexact science? The simple answer: moderation.
Take a closer look at the message from Consumer Reports. The troubling levels of metals came in when individuals were taking in three or more servings of the supplement drinks per day. Who would even need to consume that much? For athletes taking in 96 grams of protein in those three servings (as in Muscle Milk Chocolate, which contained the highest level of lead at 13 µg*), this is overkill assuming they are able to eat a variety of “real” foods. To put this in perspective, an athlete involved in endurance sports such as triathlon can aim for .45 to .75 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So, for the athlete who weighs 150 pounds, even the upper recommendation of approximately 112 grams of protein can be achieved without the additional metals of protein drinks by fitting in choices such as the following:
8 oz Greek-style yogurt: 15 grams
1 cup Kashi Go Lean cereal: 13 grams
1 ounce roasted almonds: 6 grams
1 Boca veggie burger: 19 grams
1 cup Amy’s Kitchen Lentil Soup: 8 grams
6 ounces grilled chicken breast (skinless): 45 grams
½ cup brown rice: 3 grams
½ cup Stonyfield Farms Minty Chocolate Chip frozen yogurt: 4 grams
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