Protein Powder for Building Muscles and Unwanted heavy metals, and bisphenol A (BPA)?


  • Get your protein intake from food – not supplements!
  • A safe protein requirement calculation is achieved by multiplying your lean body mass in KG by 1.9 (if an athlete) or 0.8 (non-athlete) grams of protein.
  • A reasonable estimate for where protein toxicity begins is between 150 to 200 g/day.

Protein powder can be a helpful and harmful supplement.  In this article, I will explain how to satisfy the adequate amount of daily protein intake while avoiding unwanted heavy metals and bisphenol A (BPA) that can be harmful to your body.


The protein requirements for your body largely depend on your fitness goals and your lean body mass.  The average person (non-athlete) will need a moderate-protein diet (15% of total daily calorie intake or 0.5 – 1 lb of animal protein-rich foods a day) which can easily be obtained from a combination of eggs, dairy, poultry, meat, fish, or pork.  An athlete, on the other hand, could benefit from a slightly higher protein intake as referenced below [1]:


Alternatively, Jaminet in a piece dated in 2011 writes:

“Those who are content with maintaining an ordinary person’s muscle mass can get by with relatively low protein intakes of 0.8 g/kg/day or less. But muscle-building athletes need high protein intakes, around 1.9 g/kg/day, to maximize the rate of muscle gain. If they eat low-carb, they may need even more protein. Such high protein intakes are likely to exceed the threshold of toxicity.” [2]

Dr. Mercola recommends “about one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass [and] if you’re aggressively exercising or competing, or pregnant (or lactating), your daily protein requirement may be 25 to 50 percent higher.” [2A]

Combining both Jaminet and Mercola’s recommendations would, therefore, give us a range of about 0.5 – 0.8 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass which seems reasonable since Mercola, a D.O. and Jaminet, a Ph.D. seem to share the valid concern of protein toxicity based on thorough research. [3, 4]

Let’s assess my personal protein requirements (for muscle-building) as an example:

I will need to figure out my lean body mass first in order to figure out what how much protein I need per pound of lean body mass; I recommend visiting your local Walmart or another nearby supermarket where you can find a blood pressure machine that often includes a comprehensive assessment including a weight and body fat reading.

The easiest way to uncover your lean body mass is by simply entering your body fat percentage into the lean body mass calculator at,

At 17% body fat, my lean body mass is 131 LBS.  One serving of protein powder (ideally post-workout) will give me anywhere between 25 – 35 grams of protein.

Using Jaminet’s suggestion to consume protein mainly from fatty meats, let’s take a closer examination of protein in the following sources:

  • You will get between 29 and 36 grams of protein from 4 ounces of cooked beef round or chuck roast. [5]
  • A 4-ounce roasted chicken breast gives you just over 25 grams of protein. [6]
  • You’ll get about 36 grams of protein from five ounces of cooked salmon. [7]
  • 4 ounces of cooked pork tenderloin provides about 30 grams of protein. [8]

Here’s an example of what an ideal day of protein intake may look like for me to build muscle:

  • Jaminet’s suggestion (2014): 131 LBS x 0.8 = 104.8 grams protein
  • Jaminet’s alternative suggestion (2011): 59.42 KG (131 lbs. lean body mass) x 1.9 grams of protein = 113 grams protein
  • Mercola’s suggestion: 131 x 0.5 = 65.5 + 25% = 82 grams protein  or 65.5 + 50% = 98.25 grams protein

– 30 grams of protein from eggs

– 45 grams of ground beef (6 oz.)

– 37 grams of chicken (6 oz.)


112 Grams of total protein intake

Reaching the required protein intake for muscle-building individuals is easy and even easier for average (non-athletic) individuals!


During my previous bodybuilding days, the advise consuming 1 gram of protein for every pound of lean body mass was not only erroneous but, destructive!  The scientific community is certain that excess protein destroys healthiness.

Jaminet notes [9]:

“At a protein intake of 230 g/day (920 calories), the body’s ability to convert ammonia to urea is saturated. This means the nitrogen from every additional gram of protein lingers in the body as ammonia, a toxin.  Clearly marginal dietary protein is toxic, via ammonia poisoning, at this intake level. A reasonable estimate for where toxicity begins is between 150 to 200 g/day.[Emphasis mine]

According to a recent article from Harvard Health Publishing [10]:


The advice from Harvard seems to go right along with Jaminet’s alternative suggestion to use 1.9 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight; therefore, I would use either Jaminet’s alternative suggestion or Mercola’s suggestion shown above since both approaches seem to be credible and reasonable.


After hours of research, I have decided that it is more reasonable to side-step any kind of protein powder in place of food.

Jaminet notes: [11]


Dr. Weil notes: [12]

“I do not recommend whey protein powder, or any protein powder, for vegetarians or anyone else. It is just not necessary…The main protein source I recommend for vegetarians is whole soy. Whole soy foods, including tempeh and tofu, are excellent sources of protein that are nutritionally equivalent to the protein you would get from meat, chicken, fish or eggs. My favorite ways to consume soy include snacking on edamame (green soybeans), adding tofu to stir-fries, and using smoked tempeh strips as an alternative to bacon. Substituting soy protein for animal protein is a healthy change I would like to see more people make, although you should use only organic, whole soy foods and avoid soy isolates and supplements.”

Harvard Health notes several risk factors when using protein powders: [13]

  • A protein powder is a dietary supplement. There’s no way to know if a protein powder contains what manufacturers claim.
  • We don’t know the long-term effects. “There are limited data on the possible side effects of high protein intake from supplements,” McManus says.
  • It may cause digestive distress. “People with dairy allergies or trouble digesting lactose [milk sugar] can experience gastrointestinal discomfort if they use a milk-based protein powder,” McManus points out.
  • It may be high in added sugars and calories. Some protein powders have little-added sugar, and others have a lot (as much as 23 grams per scoop). Some protein powders wind up turning a glass of milk into a drink with more than 1,200 calories. The risk: weight gain and an unhealthy spike in blood sugar. The American Heart Association recommends a limit of 24 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams for men.
  • Toxins in protein powders. Earlier this year, a nonprofit group called the Clean Label Project released a report about toxins in protein powders. Researchers screened 134 products for 130 types of toxins and found that many protein powders contained heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA, which is used to make plastic), pesticides, or other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions.

WebMD notes: [14]

“In 2010, Consumer Reports tested 15 protein drinks for heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, arsenic, and mercury. Three of them had potentially harmful amounts of contaminants, based on federal safety guidelines.

That same year, ConsumerLab, which independently tests supplements, said nearly a third of 24 protein supplements they tested for quality assurance failed. Two of them had a potentially risky amount of lead. Others had more cholesterol or sodium than was listed on the label.”

Let’s face it, if you’re using the suggested protein consumption calculations from Jaminet and Mercola, I believe it is realistic to consume enough protein from food during 3 -4 daily meals. 

Protein powders seem to carry too much uncertainty when it comes to transparent and consistent manufacturing and labeling along with other concerns. 

Instead of relying on reports (in this case, from Consumer Labs or more recently from the Clean Label Project) regarding the safety of protein supplements, I’d rather depend on what humans have long lived on for thousands of years – a wide variety of animal and plant-based foods!



 [1] Jaminet, P., 2014. The Case of the Killer Protein. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[2] Jaminet, P., 2011. Protein for Athletes. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[2A] Mercola, J., 2016. Precision Matters When It Comes to Protein. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[3] Jaminet, P., n.d. Category Archives: Protein. [Online]
Available at:…0.1131j306391j7..1ac.1.2
[4] Mercola, J., n.d. Health Articles Tab. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[5] Anne, M., 2018. How Much Protein Is in 4 Oz of Beef?. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[6] Anne, M., 2018. How Much Protein Is in 4 Ounces of Chicken?. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[7] Anne, M., 2018. How Much Protein Is in Five Ounces of Salmon?. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[8] Anne, M., 2018. How Much Protein is in Pork?. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[9] Jaminet, P., 2011. Protein for Athletes. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[10] Anon., 2018. When it comes to protein, how much is too much?. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[11] Jaminet, P., 2017. Q & A. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[12] Weil, A., 2013. Whey Better Protein?. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[13] Anon., 2018. When it comes to protein, how much is too much?. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].
[14] McMillen, M., 2017. Protein Powder Can Provide Boost But At What Cost?. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 13 Sept. 2018].

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