Nutrition and Fitness with Randa

Protein Powder: What To Look For

Some protein powders contain harmful heavy metals

A while ago I posted on Facebook about an investigation that Consumer Reports had done revealing that some of them may pose health problems over time, especially at a consumption level of three or more servings a day, due to the potential to consume harmful heavy metals and excessive protein.

All of the protein drinks tested by Consumer Reports had at least one sample containing one or more of the following contaminants: arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury, which can have toxic effects on the body, including several organs.

As I, and many of my clients, use protein powder on a regular basis, this was worth looking into. Studies found that "levels in three of the products were of particular concern because consumers who have three servings daily could be exposed to levels of arsenic, cadmium or lead that exceed the maximum limits for one or two of those contaminants in dietary supplements proposed by the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)." These three products are ones that are very commonly used:

  • Ready-to-drink liquid EAS Myoplex Original Rich Dark Chocolate Shake
  • The samples of Muscle Milk Chocolate powder contained all four heavy metals.
  • Muscle Milk Vanilla Crème

The concern regarding excessive protein consumption is also valid - I find that people either eat too much protein (think an 8 oz steak) or not enough (think bagel and cream cheese for breakfast). A general "rule" to follow in determining how many grams of protein you need is to multiply your body weight by .4.  For athletes, the general rule of thumb is about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.  So for an average, 130 pound woman, 52 grams of protein a day would be a sufficient baseline protein consumption.

So what protein powders are safe? Until more reports are released to tell us otherwise, many of my clients enjoy cost-friendly Designer Whey Protein Powder*, Jay Robbe's Whey, Egg or Soy based powder, or plant-based Life Basic Plant Protein Powder in vanilla, chocolate or non-flavored. Two things to look for when choosing a protein powder are: 1) I should have at least 15 grams of protein per serving and 2) It should contain 5 or less grams of sugar.

*After looking at the more extensive list, I need to clarify that the Designer Whey 100% Whey Protein in Chocolate is on the list, though the amounts are very minimal. They did a study on 15 powders, and this was one of them. Whether that means because it made the list it should be avoided, or it was simply chosen at random, I don't know. It does not mention the vanilla.

Please share this information with anyone you know who uses protein powder, especially those who consume three servings daily. And if there is a protein powder that you love, please share it with us.

Source: Consumer Reports Investigation: Tests Reveal Contaminants in Many Protein Drinks- Release Date: 06/01/2010

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Healthy Chocolate Raspberry Parfait

Parfait is a French word literally meaning "perfect" that began referring to a kind of frozen dessert in 1894.

So what do you eat when you want something chocolatey but want to feel good about making a healthy choice? Being summer, I wanted something cool, refreshing and light, but also rich with chocolate goodness. What I created was so good I decided to serve it at a party I threw, and it was a big hit! And what chocolate dessert can you eat that is low in fat, sugar and calories, and high in protein (at least 20 grams!)?

Dessert so delicious and fun to serve!

Oftentimes, I believe we do well making healthier choices for ourselves, but when it comes to our family or friends, we give them food we know isn't healthy. Maybe because it is cheaper or takes less time and thought, but I have come to realize that is makes ME feel good when I share health with others through food. My 'tagline' is "Sharing health, one person at a time", and this is one great way of doing so.

As always, you can modify this dessert according to your tastes, but here is my recipe for 20 individual servings. You could easily make this as a snack for you or your kids on a smaller scale.

Healthy Chocolate Raspberry Parfait

  • 64 oz. plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • Chocolate protein powder (up to 60 grams of protein total) or 2 cups of powder
  • Splenda, stevia, or organic sugar for sweetening (optional based on sweetness preference)
  • 2 bags frozen or fresh unsweetened raspberries or other fruit of choice
  • 1.5 small bars of dark chocolate* (Choose dark chocolate with at least 60 % cocoa content - this ensures less sugar. If you don't know what the cocoa content is, choose a chocolate that is highest in fat compared to sugar or carbohydrates.)

1. Blend together yogurt and chocolate powder until very smooth and creamy. Mix in sweetener of choice until desired sweetness is achieved.

2. Place berries or fruit on bottom of cup or glass, and layer chocolate yogurt blend on top.

3. Grate dark chocolate bar and sprinkle shavings on top of yogurt.

4. Enjoy!

*Trader Joes sells a variety of great dark chocolate - try their organic dark chocolate truffle bar!

LOVE THIS! Nutrients per serving (20 servings): 167 Calories, 2.5g Total Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 10g Carbs, 1.5g Fiber, 6.9g Sugars, 25.8g Protein

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Secret Super Smoothie

You would never guess what two super healthy ingredients are in this protein smoothie. My kids like to call it Molly's Smoothie, because our friend and babysitter recommended we try it and now they are hooked - they ask for it. Thanks, Molly!

As with any smoothie, you can change the ingredients based on what you like - so you use milk or juice instead of water, or add a banana or some mangoes if that pleases your taste buds!


Smoothie with two super ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or 2 scoops)
  • 1 cup water (you may need more or less depending on the consistency you prefer)
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1 tbsp organic sugar, splenda or natural sweetener (optional)
  • Secret Ingredient #1 (2 cups)
  • Secret Ingredient #2 (1/2 -1 tbsp)

Blend together first six ingredients in a blender. When blended, add in secret ingredients and d continue to blend for 10-15 seconds. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Nutrients per serving-2 servings: 218 Calories, 2g Total Fat, 0.5g Saturated Fat, 26g Carbs, 11.5g Fiber, 20g Sugars, 13g Protein

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