Article by: Woosuk Kim

Protein supplements are currently everywhere in the athletics world. They can be bought at many grocery stores and even online, and athletes around the world are replacing natural proteins from their diet with flavored shakes. These protein powders come in various forms, the three most common being whey, soy, and casein protein. Whey is the most popular of these types as it can be dissolved in water as a shake, while staying a complete protein containing all nine of the amino acids necessary for human dietary needs.

While these protein supplements are not widely used by the athletes here at ISM, some have experienced the advantages and disadvantages of these drinks. Varsity swimmer Dias K. (11), drinks protein shakes because “coaches recommended it to him.” With his rigorous training program in the pool and on land, Dias stated that it helps him with “muscle recovery” for the next day’s workout. However Dias also said that “there are other alternatives for muscle recovery rather than consuming protein shakes, such as stretching.”

However, many athletes around the world do not agree with Dias, as there has been a constant debate online regarding the healthy consumption of protein shakes. According to Paz Etcheverry, a professor in the University of Kaplan, protein supplements have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that protein supplement manufacturers do not require the FDA’s approval before selling their products. This lack of regulation may consequence in some unwanted results, such as contaminated protein supplements. This has indeed occurred in 2010 with two brands of protein supplements found to contain high levels of hazardous chemicals such as lead, mercury and arsenic.

On the other hand, professionals within ISM have highly recommended protein supplements for our athletes. Varsity swimming and P.E. coach Hazel B. strongly believes that “[they] will help the athlete and serve as an asset to their performance.” She believes this because protein supplements are “researched by professionals and designed to help the athlete.” She advocates that protein shakes provide “a more complete intake of protein compared to foods like chicken, which is the most commonly eaten protein food.”

Additionally, consuming protein supplements has been linked to better health. According to a study conducted by US Marines, the protein supplemented group had an average of 33% fewer total medical visits, 28% fewer visits due to bacterial/viral infections, 37% fewer visits due to muscle/joint problems, and 83% fewer visits due to heat exhaustion compared to the group not intaking these supplements.

Thus, while protein supplements may not necessarily be needed in order for an athlete to succeed, each individual should carefully research both sides of the argument to make the decision that is best for them.

Sources:

http://healthandwellness.kaplan.edu/articles/nutrition/Protein%20Supplements.html

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/features/protein-powder

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