9 Side Effects of Protein Shakes

In order to get a toned and fit body, most men and women hit the gym every day, eat a healthy diet and also consume protein shakes to build muscle and lose fat rapidly. However, not everyone is aware of the fact that protein shakes though beneficial in some ways also have a plethora of side effects associated with it which can cause severe damage to the human body; some of which becomes irreversible in the long run. It is important to know about the side effects of protein shakes.

9 Side Effects of Protein Shakes

9 Side Effects of Protein Shakes

Here are some of the major and dangerous side effects of protein shakes which need to be understood by you before you opt for it. Your trainer might advise you to drink it regularly but use your own discretion before doing so.

  1. Digestive System Gets Upset

    Whey and casein protein are the two most widely used protein shakes in the United States. Both these supplements have been derived from milk and are quite rich in a type of sugar found in milk known as lactose. This is why protein shakes are not ideal for people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to it. It can cause stomach bloating, excess abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in such individuals for a really long time. Hence, the commonest side effects of protein shakes include a disturbed tummy, which can cause bloating, flatulence or diarrhea in some people.

  2. Fluctuating Blood Sugar Levels

    Several protein shakes and powders are sometimes flavored to offer variety to the user. Many such shakes contain artificial sweeteners and additives. This is one of the other common side effects of protein shakes, as some shakes can tremendously increase the blood sugar level in the body. Some protein shakes can also bring down the blood sugar levels with regular use. So if you change your protein shake brand constantly, the blood sugar levels in your body might start fluctuating too much which may affect your health in the long run.

  3. Sudden Weight Gain

    Protein shakes were invented in order to help individuals lose weight rapidly. However, when protein shakes are consumed in excess, they result in sudden weight gain and excess accumulation of fat. If your workout regime is not at par with your intake of protein shakes, the calories which are unused get converted into fat which pile up gradually and result in weight gain. This is one of the most shocking side effects of protein shakes, as it takes away the major purpose of drinking protein shake and in fact causes more weight gain.

  4. Loss of Bones

    Adequate intake of protein helps in proper bone development and growth. However, protein shakes which have been derived from a non-vegetarian source is quite acidic in nature, which can greatly affect your bones. In order to neutralize the excessive acid in your blood, your body releases calcium, phosphate and other alkaline substances by taking it from your bones! This means loss in bone mass every time you consume a highly acidic protein shakes, which is an important side effect of protein shakes.

  5. Kidney Issues

    This is a common side effect of protein shakes. The body produces ammonia as a by-product whenever protein gets utilized in your body. This ammonia is then converted into urea and slowly eliminated in the form of urine. However, excessive consumption of protein results in excessive production of urea which then exerts a lot of pressure on your kidneys to filter it all out. Prolonged pressure on your kidneys increases the risk of kidney disorders like renal disorders, kidney stones, kidney impairment and even renal failure in some major cases.

  6. Disruption in Hormones

    If you are consuming a protein shake which has soy in it, there are increased chances of hormonal imbalance. Soy-based shakes contain phytoestrogen which mimics the estrogen in our body and can cause havoc in the endocrine system. Soy also contains glyphosate which is a chemical known to cause birth defects in newborns, miscarriage and hormonal imbalance in the body. These side effects of protein shakes can prove to be quite dangerous.

  7. Loss of Hair

    Keratin forms an essential part of our hair which is a type of protein. People normally think that excessive consumption of protein in the shake form will help in good hair growth. This is absolutely false as excessive consumption of protein causes you to reduce your carbohydrate, fat, vitamins and minerals intake which are also extremely vital for maintaining healthy and good-looking hair. Focusing only on protein consumption in the form of shakes leads to hair loss and even balding in severe cases.

  8. Metal Poisoning

    This is one of the most dangerous side effects of protein shakes. Studies suggest that most of the protein powders and shakes contain heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic which can prove extremely dangerous and even fatal for the human body. Excessive and repeated consumption of such protein shakes can make you ill and give rise to problems such as aching joints, digestive disorders, excessive exhaustion and painful muscles.

  9. Damage to the Liver

    If you continue consuming protein shakes without any carbohydrate intake then it results in a state known as ketosis. In this state the body makes use of the fat for all the energy required thereby causing high levels of acid in the blood. These high levels of blood acidity have been proven to hamper liver functioning and also give rise to liver disorders.


Now that you know what the major side effects of protein shakes are, it is strictly advisable to consult your doctor before starting consumption of the same. Make sure you discuss with your doctor the need for protein shakes in your case and also analyze how much protein shake your body truly requires.

Avoid too much consumption of protein shakes, instead focus on food items such as dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, eggs, chicken and fish which are some of the highest natural sources of protein easily available in grocery stores and supermarkets. After all, consuming natural protein is the best way to get sufficient protein for your body.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 26, 2017

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