Are Protein Isolates Dangerous?

Diet & Nutrition Inspiring People
by Cliff Harvey, 12 December 2016

A quick online search for Are Protein Isolates Dangerous? in a search engine provides a lot of links that suggest various risks of taking a protein isolate. But how valid are these claims? And are protein isolates dangerous, or not?

Table of Contents

Most of these claims about the dangers of protein isolates are based on three supposed risks of protein isolates:

  1. They are denatured

    The rebuttal to this comment could be, “Umm, Yeah…so…?” Whether there is some denaturing of protein during the isolation process is a non-issue. While it sounds scary, protein denaturing is a normal process, and many of the foods we eat contain denatured proteins. Denaturation is simply the process in which proteins lose the structure that is present in their native state. This occurs when acid, base, a concentrated salt, solvent or heat is applied to a protein chain. Of course, denaturing a living protein in your body is a very bad thing! But in the food we eat, it is not so. The protein chain will be denatured and digested by stomach acid and gastric enzymes and broken down to its constituent amino acids which are then absorbed into the body. This occurs whether it is ‘denatured’ or not. Remember that when you cook food, some of its proteins become denatured. A visible example of this is the change in color and opacity when you cook egg whites, which results from the proteins being denatured.

  2. They are acidic.

    Another common claim is that isolates lack ‘alkalizing mineral co-factors’ and thus, acidifies your body. The body has a remarkable ability to preserve its acid-alkaline balance. The usual ways the body preserves normal acid-base balance is via changes in respiratory rate and volume and by excreting acid compounds via the kidneys and reabsorbing alkaline compounds. In most people, most of the time, these functions work to keep the body’s acid-alkaline balance within normal, healthy ranges. In fact, if the body were truly ‘acidic’ it wouldn’t last very long because a very tight range of pH is required for enzymes (the little proteins that help life-sustaining chemical reactions to take place) to do their job properly. There can be some ‘tapping into’ bone and muscle tissue to free up alkaline compounds to help buffer the blood if the diet is extremely acidic or if the other processes are somehow impeded. But this isn’t necessary if you are trying to eat a good diet that contains lots of vegetables and berries. It should also be noted that some isolates like Pea Protein Isolate (PPI) are inherently alkaline.

  3. The body doesn’t ‘recognize’ protein isolate.

    This is one of the most bizarre claims that I hear regularly.

    Think about it this way; It would be nice if any food were not recognized… because then you could eat as much as you like of it and you couldn’t ever gain any weight!

    However, that contention defies any semblance of logic. In the case of protein isolate specifically, we have good data showing high absorption rates of pea protein isolate from the digestive tract (over 89%),¹ and there are an enormous amount of studies showing that these proteins improve muscle protein synthesis and support muscle growth and maintenance.²

    If they weren’t ‘recognized,’ there is no way they could do that. So, by extension, we must conclude that protein isolates are digested and absorbed easily, and effectively used.

Protein isolates, and specifically Pea Protein Isolate, are well absorbed and have a myriad of functional benefits that include improved satiety, and facilitating fat loss and muscle gain. The claims that protein isolates are dangerous or detrimental to health are without any credible evidence. Pea Protein Isolate offers a high-quality, high-protein option for vegans, vegetarians, those with a dairy allergy or intolerance and others looking for a protein option free-from anti-nutrients. Nuzest's Clean Lean Protein is made with high-quality pea protein, so you are getting the very best source to keep you performing at your best.


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