Monday, February 12, 2018

"How Protein Conquered America"


Since the 1980s, most protein supplements have been made with whey, a byproduct of the cheesemaking process which went to waste until companies realized the opportunity to repurpose it as a muscle-building powder supplement. Flavoring whey, which has a naturally acrid taste, is an uphill struggle, and the industry standard appears to be “just barely not disgusting.”


Most protein powders are thin in your mouth, yet clang with aggressive artificial sweetness and bewildering notes of metal, plastic, chalk


the health outcomes of consuming protein supplements are downright murky. Since both are sold as supplements, the FDA only requires that they be safe for consumption, and the FDA does none of its own testing — rather, it collects self-reported lab results and waits for something to go wrong. In July 2010, Consumer Reports found significant amounts of heavy metals, including arsenic and mercury, in certain protein products. Three servings of EAS Myoplex Rich Dark Chocolate ready-to-drink shakes together contained more than the recommended limit of arsenic by the US Pharmacopeia. Three servings of Muscle Milk Chocolate powder had more than the recommended amount of lead, and nearly as much arsenic. The FDA never challenged the company on this, but Cytosport did settle a $20 million class action lawsuit on the claims two years later.


The Muscle Milk brand also seems to have lowered its testosterone across the board, going from fat, thick block type to a taller, leaner, more even font. The company used to rely on male spokespeople for major campaigns, but starting in 2017, three different national campaigns aimed at women featured female athletes. One commercial stars pro-soccer player Julie Johnston Ertz along with women doing Crossfit, spin, pilates, jogging, and yoga, ending on the tagline “Stronger Everyday.” The condescending narration about drinking Muscle Milk to get men is gone.