10 Ugly Truths I Wish I Knew Before Buying My First Protein Powder

| by Truth Seeker |

”I’ll take it,” I said to the pharmacist with a tone exhibiting no traces of decomposure even though my heart was inflamed by hope gradually charging the deepest layers of my spirit. I took the powder and carefully placed it in my backpack as if it was the cure I had been searching for my entire life. I headed home, and with each step, I felt more and more connected to the deeper rhythms of life. I passed by the same places, but I wasn’t the same. I saw the same antagonists, but my fear and hatred were muted. I was glowing inwardly. I had found a way.

Moments later, I was behind the locked door of my room. I unzipped the backpack and carefully took out the box that was going to elevate my being to the upper echelons of human existence. Upon removing the cap, a heavy odor of vanilla emitted by the magic dust imported itself inside of me. Little did I know that I was about to enter just another chamber of the same old misery.

Today, I present you 10 ugly truths I wish I knew before purchasing my first box of protein powder.

1. The marketing mechanism has not changed

In the past, the major ingredient of protein powder were dehydrated soybeans mixed with kelp, wheat germ, dextrose, plants, herbs and flavorings. According to many old-timers, it took a special kind of dedication to drink the old Weider and Hoffman protein formulas due to their brain-melting taste.

Nowadays, the industry offers a large variety of protein powders based on super advanced formulas that make the old stuff look and feel like cat food. And while the taste and the production process may be different, the marketing mechanism has not changed – men carrying physiques built with the help of steroids and growth hormone are still the poster boys.

Ironically, or not, the effectiveness of whey is also pretty similar to what it was 40 years ago. I’m sorry, but you can’t expect magic. Protein does not have a significant impact on your male hormones – the actual key to more intense protein synthesis [muscle growth].

2. People force protein powders to work

What if I told you that my first Adidas shoes made me run faster? Yes, I am serious. My grandmother bought them for me when I was a kid. I can’t tell you if they were original or fake, but as soon as I put them on my feet, I felt lighter and quicker. I had to be. I was wearing Adidas after all. Ha-ha. Of course, it was all an illusion inhabiting the brainwashed head of a child.

Protein powder does the same to souls yearning muscle mass. Many lifters start to train harder and eat better after buying expensive supplements. When you add in the placebo effect so common for naturals you have a recipe for gains.

In short, supplements work because we ”force” them to.

3. Protein powders stab you in the stomach

Processed nutrition carries a nutrient composition that differs significantly from that of whole foods. The artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols that make your protein powder taste like cherry are not completely digested and hang out in the intestines where they become fermented by colonic bacteria. The side effects are all kinds of stomach discomfort. The situation worsens if your body does not tolerate dairy products.

There are two solutions – quit or find a product that doesn’t cause similar reactions. Can you guess which one I chose?

4. Pro bodybuilders don’t take whey protein

The professional assassins of atrophy better known as bodybuilders and fitness models take very little if any supplements because they are clearly ”red pilled” and understand how the game works.

The big guys don’t waste their time searching for the perfect protein blend and the purest form of creatine. They are too busy figuring out their next steroid cycle and diet plan – the pillars of bodybuilding and fitness modeling.

Yet the system inflames your imagination with photos of hardcore muscle constructors meant to convince you that every pro is obsessing over powders. Can you imagine Phil Heath calling Jay Cutler to discuss the best whey protein for a post workout shake? Funny, I know.

The same holds true for all popular supplements. Unless they are filming a commercial, professionals don’t waste their time with BCAA, fat burners, multivitamins, weight gainers, pre-workouts, muscle milk, carbohydrate blockers and other forms of hallucination-inducing substances.

5. Fast absorption is overrated

The industry relies on sexy terms to confuse you. ”Protein absorption” is one of many. It’s true that whey protein isolate is absorbed very fast, but who cares? Assimilation speed has no impact on the end result.

French researchers did the following study: 26 y/o women were separated into two groups. One group took protein evenly throughout the day while the other consumed 80% in a single meal. There was no difference in nitrogen balance, whole body protein turnover, whole body protein synthesis, or protein breakdown.

Back in Arnold’s era, there was no quickly absorbed whey. Most protein supplements were garbage. The only one tasting fine was Reo Blair’s Milk & Egg protein, but it was super expensive. Most bodybuilders were not even considering supplements other than vitamins. Yet they were exceptionally big. How? Genetics + steroids + training. Modern times ain’t much different.

Bottom line: Satisfying the daily protein needs of your body is more important than fast absorption.

6. The target audience of protein powder are kids

The people who buy the largest quantity of protein powder are 15-year-old teens with easy access to their mom’s purse. Younger people, carrying a spark of naivete and innocence, are more likely to invest trust in the system. Experienced men know that if something is too good to be true, it’s probably part of a crafted lie.

7. The labels lie

How do you know that the label of a protein box is accurate? How do you know what’s in the powder? How do you know that the magic dust contains as much protein as the promo says?

Yes, if you are buying expensive products from respected brands, you are probably getting what you think you are getting, but not everyone can afford to purchase high-end powder.

I bought my first box of protein when I was sixteen years old. I didn’t have a lot of money so I went for the cheapest possible solution that I could find locally. Years later, I read on a bodybuilding forum that my choice had been quite poor since the products of this particular brand were known to contain impurities and too much soy.

”Real” food often contains poisonous elements too, but you have a higher chance of knowing what you are consuming. When you are eating eggs, you know that you are eating eggs. When you are eating fish, you know that you are eating fish. When you are eating peanuts, you know that you are eating peanuts.

8. Extra protein does not equal extra growth

As a result of intense brainwashing, many lifters develop protein OCD inducing profound self-hatred and guilt when an arbitrary quantity of protein has not reached their veins.

”Oh, no! I lost track of time and forgot to take my shake,” screams the maniac.

Calm down, soldier. First, the body is not as fragile as you think. Your muscles will not evaporate if you skip a meal or two. You will have to starve for days for catabolism to begin. Past a certain point, extra protein does not equal extra growth. Once the muscle has received the supply of amino acids it needs, everything else is invested in funds other than MPS [muscle protein synthesis].

9. The studies say whatever the industry wants them to say

The modern religion is called scientism. People believe that every conclusion made in a lab is the highest form of truth. I understand. After all, the world has never been more visual. We want pictures. You know what people say today – ”Pics or it didn’t happen!”

The problem with science is that it needs sponsors. This leaves us with two possibilities – government-funded science and private company funded science. In both situations, there are possibilities for manipulation.

Supplement companies take advantage of the aforementioned dynamics and interpret the findings in their favor. Whenever a study concludes that an activity or a substance can have even the slightest positive impact on growth, the discovery is extracted out of context and amplified to epic proportions to serve the current agenda.

I am not against studies, but since there are so many of them these days, you can always find one supporting your thesis. Studies are not dogma – just supplementary information.

10. You don’t need supplements to reach your maximum muscular potential

The goal of the industry is to alter your perceptions by filling your head with irrational ideas and fears. The industry wants you confused and scared to act on your own. Your desire to build muscle mass makes you dependent. To the industry, you are what an addict is to a dealer – a man in an unconscious state of mind with money.

The images, the articles, the videos…and the rest of the content pushed in your face has one goal – to make you feel inferior and open you to crazy suggestions. One of those suggestions is that you can’t reach your maximum muscular potential without supplements.

We’ve all heard the classic sales pitch: ”In the modern, stressful world it is impossible to supply the body with the nutrients it needs for proper recovery and growth.” Not the case at all. You can reach your maximum muscular potential without touching a single supplement, but you think you can’t because they told you so. Even if all protein powder disappears from Earth, the size of natural and unnatural bodybuilders will not be affected one bit.

P.S. Potential: How Big Can You Get Naturally is out.

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  1. Alex Lito

    Hey bud Happy New Year to you, wish you best of luck, health and success. Thank you for your words of wisdom amid these confusing times, it’s difficult to admit that we have little potential as naturals, despite having lesser price to pay and greater acquisition of wisdom, specifically how the world and the human body works.

    Truth be told, I would like to resort to real food only, but only after training do I blend some whey and fruits together, simply because it is less time consuming and it is quite inconvenient to have a meal after tiring lifting session, especially during this busy schedule of active duty and family care. Otherwise all other days (I train every other day) I eat only whole real foods and fast once in a while. So in my case, a smoothie down the hatch, shower, then actually enjoy a meal few hours later.

    Perhaps when I am out of service with much more flexible schedule I’ll resort to food only. What is your current nutritional regimen?

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Happy New Year, Alex.
      I just eat food – a lot of eggs and fish.

  2. franck

    happy new year my hero. great article. i hope to read more from you this year. greetings from Germany

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the support, Franck. Happy New Year! There will be more.

  3. Me

    Happy New Year, The Truth Seeker.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Happy New Year, Me.

      Thank you for the support.

  4. swabbie

    In my earlier lifting years I was practically ready to buy whey protein and creatine, but all of sudden It crossed my mind to actually check other side of the coin
    I typed in Google “whey protein scam” and stumbled on your site – talking about destiny haha
    As for studies – there is a interesting one showing that practically almost half of the whey protein powder ingested, simply runs through your intestines because every but every protein in nature come in combination with some form of fat
    This can be partly “fixed” if you mix whey with some real food
    Yes, you read that right – half of your expensive protein magic dust ends up in the toilet, but you will never hear that curious detail from supplement sellers
    I used to say that whey protein is just food in powdered form, but as you can see its even more worse
    Happy New Year bro – be smart, stay healthy, strong and happy

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the support, swabbie.

      Happy New Year 🙂

  5. Joos Liftsteen

    Come one, come all!

    Dairy industry by-product and caffeine addictions for one and all!

    Muscles sold separately*

  6. Rob

    I use WPC because its cheap and makes it easy to get enough protein. I know it isn’t going to make me grow huge muscles. It also stops me pigging out on carbs on rest days. The stuff I buy is $20AUD per kg, is pure and tastes like paste. Even better for killing an appetite so I don’t get skinny fat.

    But I also squat because I’m bad at it and its fun to feel that weight crushing me down instead of believing it will make me grow huge arms 😀

    So I guess so long as I’m not deluded about what it will acheive I’ll keep taking it. Thanks for your work, its very liberating to see someone keeping it real.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Yes. Good luck!

  7. Angel

    Another incredible article! Keep up the good work!

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the support, Angel. Happy New Year!

  8. Jeff Popoff

    Nice post to kick the year off!
    In terms of ‘scientism’ it always helps to with your own eyes for counter examples — ie the ‘sniff test’.
    For instance: old time strongmen (1870-1920) did just fine on plain old food with no supplements.
    And lifters in the penal system seem to be pretty strong just eating prison food.
    Why believe some lab pencil-neck dweeb when I can see the evidence with my own eyes? lol

  9. twp

    Thanks God I spend only 600-700$ until a realized this is all bullshit. Great article.

  10. Veyron

    Regarding 7. (Labels lie)

    MyProtein doesnt, since I took sample to lab and label is true.

  11. Adi

    I like your articles very much. Greetings from Romania.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the support, Adi.

  12. MB

    I think there are 2 reasons why protein powder can be not bad:
    1. You can keep your protein intake high enough (my coach advices 240 gr / day or about 40 gr / meal).
    2. It’s handy to adjust your macro’s

    1. joe santus

      Unless you naturally weigh over 225 lbs at 12% bodyfat; and/or you’re taking over 600 mg per week of exogenous anabolic steroids, your coach is misinformed and giving you erroneous information about how much protein you require.

      For optimal hypertrophy, approximately 1 gram of protein per each pound of your lean bodyweight mass has been evidenced by science to be enough for a drug-free bodybuilder or athlete. For simpler computation, aim for 1 gram per each pound of your total bodyweight (which will supply more than enough).

      Extra protein isn’t “bad”; it won’t hurt you (not even hurt your kidneys as is often claimed, unless you’re eating over a thousand grams of protein in a day!) However, it won’t build any more muscle nor build muscle any faster. Your body can only rebuild and build muscle at a certain rate, and consuming extra protein can’t make the body build muscle any faster. The surplus protein will not be used for muscle-building — it will be used as calories for energy and even stored as bodyfat if the calorie surplus is above metabolic/anabolic needs.

      Yes, protein supplements are useful as a convenience source of protein. But, for the average drug-free bodybuilder or athlete who typically weighs under 200 lbs @15% bodyfat, obtaining 150 to 190 grams of protein each day from food is very practicable, and protein supplements are unnecessary. I’ve obtained almost all my protein from food on a lower-than-average-US-income for decades, resorting to protein supplements (the cheapest isolate I can buy) only very occasionally when pressed for time or under unusual circumstances.

      I’ll repeat: unless you weigh over 225 lbs or are using steroids (which DO enable more protein to be used by the body), your coach is misinformed and giving you erroneous advice.

      1. Jeff Popoff

        Very well said Joe!

        I am an older lifter (mid-fifties) and would like to point there is some clinical evidence that protein utilization efficiency drops as we age (reason unknown at this time) but this can be remediated by increasing protein intake.
        Most studies are dealing with sarcopenia, so caution is warranted in that what works for unhealthy populations doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in healthy populations (this has been my experience).

        1. joe santus

          I’m age 62, and started PED-free iron-mongering forty-five years ago at age sixteen (which was before Schwarzenegger and the “Pumping Iron” book then movie made bodybuilding pop-friendly again in the US. Some of us just don’t know when to quit, do we, LOL?

          And, yep, I’m familiar with the evidence for slightly increasing protein intake to offset decreasing protein utilization efficiency for those of us over age fifty-five. I omitted that discussion since it’s inapplicable to 90% of the people reading these comments.

          You and I have observed through our bodybuilding decades is that one thing never changes: whether it’s a Hoffman, a Weider, a Lurie, or a contemporary marketeer, he knows how to persuade us when we’re an eager-yet-uninformed nineteen-year-old that we need mega-protein to grow and, that coincidentally, his protein powder can supply it to turn us into Mr Olympia, LOL

      2. MB

        Thank you for the explanation. But then it’s still handy to adjust macro’s.

        1. joe santus

          as a convenience, yes, protein supplement is useful for adjusting macros. But, for myself anyway, usually no more handy for adjusting macros than opening a container of plain greek yogurt or a can of tuna-in-water.

          1. MB

            That’s possible. Thank you.

  13. tommy

    240 gr is ok when you lift hard, I mean on an almost professional level and have bodyweight of 140 Kg. For the average Joe of 80 Kg, 240 gr is big bullshit… just saying. Your decision.

    Thanks for this blog. I Enjoy reading articles every now and then.

  14. Yukio

    Without protein isolate I wouldn’t be able to take in the required protein to make muscle gains. I just don’t have a big enough stomach to take in enough solid food. The amount of solid protein I can take in in one sitting is quite limited.

    I have worked out without the protein isolate and I didn’t make much gains. So I think at least for some people, whey protein supplment is necessary.

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