Nutrition Advice

Protein Powder

15 messages
03/03/2006 at 13:28
Any nutrition experts on here? I am becoming increasingly worried about a friend whose diet is becoming increasingly erratic. He goes to the gym 3 times a week and runs occasionally but takes protein supplement at least twice a day. He is on an ultra-low-fat diet, and seems to survive on sweet potatoes, sushi, fat-free laughing cow cheese (really!) and pasta (which he eats with protein powder). It reads like an amusing list, but I am becoming worried about him. He is already showing signs of an eating disorder, but I was wondering if the body-building protein powder intake will start to have any harmful effects if he continues like this? Any advice gratefully received!
03/03/2006 at 13:32
There's no reason the protein powder specifically will cause harm, but such a narrow range of foods is not a good idea. No fruit or veg apart from sweet potatoes?
03/03/2006 at 13:37
I've challenged him on this before and he insists sweet potato is a vegetable and he sees it as some sort of wonder food. I've also tried to encourage him to eat tuna instead of taking the powder but apparently he ate tuna and not much else for a whole year so has gone off it. He seems to obsess about one item of food at a time and eat nothing else.

The only time he gets fruit and veg is when I invite him round for dinner. Then he stands over me when I'm cooking to check I'm not adding any fat!
03/03/2006 at 13:44
It doesn't sound like a healthy diet.
I am NOT qualified to comment on the more complicated subject of eating disorder.
03/03/2006 at 13:44
... however there is a good thread on that...
03/03/2006 at 14:00
The body needs some fat to exist. Olive oil is a good form of fat - try to suggest that to him. (Reduces cholesterol, good for the heart, lubricates joints etc.).

What's in the Sushi that he eats? And how much of it does he eat. Some of the fish oils could be helping.

You could also suggest a session with a dietician - hopefully an "expert" opinion on a balanced diet would carry more weight with him than yours, which although sound, he can choose to ignore as you are an "amateur".
03/03/2006 at 14:20
Gosh, that's a scarily restricted diet.

Would he eat nuts or seeds? These are also good sources of fats and might be less scary to him than actually adding oil to his food.

It would definately be a good idea to get him to visit a dietitian / nutritionist... particularly one who is sports-orientated, as he might see this as a way to achieveing a diet tailored to his exercise regime.

I had a google and found this one:
but there are no doubt loads around. Just be sure that they are properly qualified.

Also plenty of books out there, for example 'Nutrition: A Practical Approach' by Suzanne Reed-Le Quesne (ISBN: 1861529082) is quite good - I believe she's one of Patrick Holdfords graduates from the Institute of Optimum Nutrition.

(and get him to read/post on here!)
03/03/2006 at 15:13
Nessie: the sushi is the small packets you get as part of the Boots meal deal - only 6-8 pieces. But, yes, at least it means he's getting some fish in his diet.

He won't go and see a dietician/nutritionist because he thinks he knows what he is doing (he could tell me exactly how much iron, what vitamins etc are in a sweet potato, for example). But he doesn't seem to understand that a healthy diet should also be a varied one, or that we actually need fat.

As I said in my original message, my main worry is that taking more than the recommended amount of protein powder, even on days when he is not training, is going to be bad for him, so thanks to MikeFrog for putting my mind at rest about that.

03/03/2006 at 16:55
Hi beckylou - I am a human and sports nutritionist and member British Dietetic Association.

Its hard to establish how big the portions are but it seems he is following a fairly high protein diet. This can lead to dehydration and calcium being leached out of his bones. These are fairly serious side effects of a high protein diet. Fat is essential for many reasons and as Nessie mentioned above - essential fatty acids are the good fats. Low variety can also lead to innadequate vit/min intake which can also be a problem. What are his training goals?
03/03/2006 at 17:22
Hi Jason
Not sure if he has training goals - if so, they mainly involve weight-lifting but he runs as part of his cario workout.

He must be getting at least 90 g of protein per day just from the supplements (he weighs 85 kilos at the moment). He does fall off his strict diet wagon from time to time, mainly because I think he's really hungry a lot of the time. But even on nights when he allows himself a burger or something, he still has the same amount of powder.

He considers olive oil as evil as butter purely because it is still fat. Doesn't seem to distinguish between the good and the bad. Anyway, all the info provided on here will be used next time I manage to discuss this with him, so thanks for your help.
03/03/2006 at 17:23
PS. Should have added that he doesn't do excessive weight training. Only 30 mins 3 times a week, so I really don't think he needs the extra protein!
03/03/2006 at 19:19

Even if he was achieving an intake of 2000 kcals (which I doubt very much), his protein intake should be 75g (15% of total energy intake), so 90g is nearing 18%, add to that the sushi and cheese and I wouldnt be surprised if it got close to 25%/30% of his actual intake. Does he know that excess protein can be used as energy in addition to being converted to and stored as fat? Some protein supplements can also have fats added to increase energy level of the product. A high protein supplemented diet is only necessary if someone takes anabolic steroids due to the high volume of training allowed by this product which means a high protein turnover. However, as anabolic steroids are illegal, a high protein intake is no longer required (covering all the bases). On the topic of fats also, the fat soluble vit (A,D,E,K) require fat so that they can be absorbed. So there again, his diet is risking health.
03/03/2006 at 19:54
Thanks for that - it will all be used as ammunition next time we talk!
03/03/2006 at 20:09
Jason - I was taking it that the protein powder was instead of meat, rather than additional, so that the total protein would not be excessive.

(A protein intake of up to say 130 grams might be more than is needed but would not actually cause harm.)

I think the thing to look at is the mental attitude of someone who needs to eat such a narrow and controlled diet - not a healthy relationship to food.

03/03/2006 at 20:15
Got it in a nutshell, MikeFrog! His whole relationship to food is v odd and has to be seen to be believed!

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