Could Lead Be in Your Protein Drink?

A recent study found toxins in popular protein drinks. Should you be concerned?

low key scoop up whey protein, selective focusShutterstock/petejerkk

There are many reasons why people turn to protein drinks—muscle building, meal replacement, as a treat while dieting or as a high-protein snackA recent study administered by Clean Label Project had some surprising results that might just have you thinking twice about your favorite brand of protein powder.

The Study

Clean Label Project tested 134 powder drinks among 52 of the most popular brands according to Nielson and the best-sellers list. They were tested for more than 130 toxins including heavy metals, pesticides, BPA and other contaminants that are known carcinogens.

The Findings

Of the powder drinks tested, 70 percent of them had detectable levels of lead and 74 percent had detectable levels of cadmium. Since heavy metals can exist in water and air, it’s virtually impossible to remove all of the heavy metals from the foods we eat, from fresh produce to highly processed foods like protein powders. But breathe easy: The FDA has created guidelines for safe levels for human consumption.

Of the products tested, the ones that used eggs as the protein source generally tested cleaner than the plant-based products. (Seventy-five percent of the plant-based products tested positive for lead.) What might be surprising to some is that the certified organic products tested had, on average, two times the amount of heavy metals as opposed to the non-organic ones.

What should you do?

If you’re concerned, the best thing you can do is compare levels between brands to find those with the lowest heavy metals and BPA. Look for your favorites on the list and find out where they rank—are they your best options? Or, if you’re not loyal to a specific brand, go for the top-rated ones in the study: PuoriBioChem and BodyFortress.

If you want to know more about what’s in our foods, the Clean Label Project is a good place to start. You can find info on all kinds of ingredient studies, from baby food to pet treats.

This post is brought to you by Taste of Home editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Submit your thoughts, here.

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Kaila Harmon
Kaila Harmon is a California native who has a deep passion for writing that has been with her from a young age. She owns a small business in which she creates various handmade home decor pieces and novelties that showcase the beauty and humor in everyday life. Before owning her small business, she obtained a Yoga Teacher Certificate and has taught both yoga and meditation off and on throughout the past ten years.