Protein Powder and Its Negative Side Effects  

A man drinking a protein shake.

Protein powder has many benefits, however, it also has some side effects. (Image: Syda Productions via Dreamstime)

Protein powder is a must-have in most health and fitness programs. There are many different protein powders available — each with its unique benefits. It’s important to consider the specific type of protein powder you will use because certain products may not be designed for your goals. 

Protein is essential for helping your body repair, strengthen, and gain muscle mass. But how much protein do you need? The fact remains that despite being touted as beneficial protein sources, they may not always be completely safe enough for you to consume. Keep reading this article to learn about the side effects of protein powder.

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What is protein powder?

Protein powder contains a high concentration of protein, the benefits of which have been studied over several years. It’s an important supplement for anyone who is trying to build muscle or lose weight, and many people include this supplement in their diets.

There are many different types of protein powders on the market. Some allegedly boost testosterone, increase amino acids, block carbs from converting into fats, speed up fat loss, help restore hair growth, and others — the list goes on.

Protein is an important nutrient that can help fuel your body. However, most people know that protein intake should not be overdone to prevent side effects and other negative consequences. To make it clear, protein supplements aren’t a magic bullet that will make you fit and healthy. But you can use protein powder to optimize your diet or lifestyle by adding more lean proteins to your diet.

A man making a protein shake.
Protein powder contains a high concentration of protein, the benefits of which have been studied over several years. (Image: Monkey Business Images via Dreamstime)

Why is protein intake important?

Human beings don’t have specialized cells that store large amounts of protein. There is no such thing as ‘locker’ cells for protein storage. As a result, the human body requires regular protein intake to maintain lean muscles and to support growth in children.

You can still consume protein if your goal is weight loss. There are many methods for using protein to lose weight, and most weight loss diets will include some sort of high protein diet at some point.

How do you determine protein intake?

To determine your daily protein intake, you’ll want to know how many grams of protein you should eat daily. You’ll also want to know how many calories you need to eat to reach the recommended daily intake of protein. As you age and lose muscle mass, your protein requirements might increase.

Are protein powders harmful?

Protein powders are an option for those looking to build muscle, lose weight, and specifically help with muscle recovery after an intense workout. While there are certain benefits that protein powders offer, there is another side to the story. Protein powders can be harmful, depending on the type and quality of the product.

An array of high protein foods laid out on a table.
There are many methods for using protein to lose weight, and most weight loss diets will include some sort of high protein diet at some point. (Image: Artem Evdokimov via Dreamstime)

The dangers of protein powder

Everyone knows protein powders are often recommended for different diets, but do you know their side effects? There are several side effects that can be caused by protein supplements. If you consume protein powders, then you should take care to avoid any of these negative side effects. And if you have already experienced any, it is high time to get rid of them once and for all!

Gastrointestinal problems

If you have dairy allergies or are lactose intolerant, it’s safest to avoid using milk-based protein powder. Milk proteins may be too difficult for your body to break down, so they can cause gastrointestinal discomfort or symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.


Consuming protein has been associated with an increase in acne. Drinking protein shakes, especially those containing whey, can increase sebum production, which means more oil on the skin and, therefore, more pimples.

Body odor

When you eat a lot of protein, especially if you don’t drink enough water, your body will produce excess ammonia as a byproduct. This indicates that your body is trying to rid itself of the excess protein you’ve consumed. When this happens, it can lead to excessive sweating and body odor.

Highly toxic metals

Bodybuilders and gym goers who take protein powder supplements should buy the highest quality product. Many companies make protein powders, but not all are made equally; some contain toxic metals like lead, cadmium, arsenic, and mercury. These metals can cause headaches, fatigue, constipation, and pain in muscles and joints.

A man with abdominal pain clasping his abdomen.
Avoid milk proteins if you’re lactose intolerant as these may cause you gastrointestinal discomfort. (Image: Suttipun Degad via Dreamstime)


Protein powders are most often made from a range of ingredients. The safety and quality of these products are largely unregulated. Check the label for hidden ingredients. If side effects arise, it may be time to stop using the product, consider using other protein sources to achieve your nutrition requirements, and if you feel it’s necessary, consult your physician.

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