While I strongly believe in the use of supplements for optimal health or performance, I am totally against using dangerous ingredients. These can be a lot of things, from GMO, to known allergens, to artificial sweeteners.
Because of our busy schedule, some of us tend to heavily rely on protein and weight gainers to get enough/good calories for our nutrition. However, due to my extensive and constant research I am already aware of the damage linked with these dangerous compounds.
Aspartame and Sucralose are pretty much found everywhere these days. So I needed a way to get rid of anything that could harm my body. One good example to follow is to use protein powders with Stevia. As for all the fear mongers out there complaining about stevia: IT IS STILL BETTER THAN ANY ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER!
Here is a list of dangerous ingredients in your supplements that you should avoid at all costs:
Table of Contents
White sugar or refined sugar is the common villain. I do not need to elaborate on this topic. If it has sugar in it, do not buy it. Not only is it going to be probably GMO but it leads to obesity, diabetes, weight gain, heart problems and suppression of the immune system.
It also affects the body in the following negative ways:
- Increases the risk for heart disease,
- Promotes obesity and belly fat,
- May be linked to cancer production and cancer survival,
- Can impair cognitive processes and brain function,
- Can shorten your lifespan.
You might want to consider the following long list of alternative names that you would find sugar under. These include:
|Common Names of Sugar found on Food Labels|
|Brown Sugar||Turbinado Sugar|
|Molasses or Molasses powder||Fructose|
|Confectioner’s Sugar||Chicory syrup|
|High fructose corn syrup||Fruit Sugar|
|Brown rice syrup||Maple sugar|
If you want to add sweetness to your shakes or food, go for natural solutions such as maple syrup, date syrup and honey.
And by the way, the fact that the above types of sugar are natural, does not mean that you can eat them by the bucketful.
White or refined flour is a highly processed product that should not be consumed by humans. I strongly believe that your carb consumption should come from products that have only 1 or 2 phases of production. White flour has multiple side effects as it is unhealthy and unfit for human consumption:
- Can cause obesity,
- Insulin spikes,
- Leaky gut syndrome,
- Influences blood sugar levels,
- Food cravings and metabolic slowdown,
- I disorders,
- Digestive problems,
- Multiple food allergies,
Brown or whole wheat flour could be a good replacement but I still do not recommend it.
Brown or white rice flour, or alternative flours such as almond or pea, would be great replacements as they do not cause the same damage as white flour.
White salt or sodium chloride is not your normal sea salt. It is a chemical product that has been chlorinated and is the cause of many evils such as:
- High blood pressure,
- Weight gain,
- Heart disease,
- Circulatory system strain,
- Gallbladder and kidney stones,
- Digestive problems.
And yes, you will be surprised that salt can be in anything. From protein bars, to protein powders, even sweets. Why add it to sweets? Because salt enhances the sweet flavor!
When it comes to adding it to food, a little salt goes a long way. But you have to be careful about how much salt you add to your food and what kind of salt you use. Pure sea salt is a good substitute. Another good suggestion is himalayan salt.
Note: Iodine, often found in regular table (white) salt is important for thyroid health. It is also very important for people who have thyroid conditions. When it comes to nutrition, a bit of white salt that contains iodine is not as dangerous as some people think, however a little can go a long way. Still, white salt has no place in your supplements.
Trans-fat or hydrogenated oils
Trans-fat are made through a process called hydrogenation during which a hydrogen atom is added to the carbon chain of fats.
The end product is a fat with a long lasting shelf-life but unfortunately, it is not meant for human consumption. Not only does it have 0 health benefits, but it can also lead to:
- Raising of bad LDL cholesterol and lowering of good HDL cholesterol,
- Heart attacks,
Mind you that the FDA allows for trans-fat if they are under 1% or 0.5 gram. So always check the labels and make sure you always get 0 trans-fat (and still check the label).
Choose to consume monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil, polyunsaturated fats such as fish oils and vegetable oils and a small portion of saturated fats (such as animal fats, coconut oil or butter) despite their bad reputation.
Why would someone add coloring to a food? To make it more enticing or more ‘natural’ (would you eat a strawberry that is not red?).
While food colorings are approved by the FDA and found everywhere, it doesn’t mean they are safe. Some of them actually come from tar and have been linked to a lot of evils including cancer.
Here is a list of colors and dangers associated with each one:
|Color name||Health Concerns||Banned|
|Blue #1: Brilliant Blue||Chromosomal Damage||Yes – in France and Finland|
|Blue #2: Indigo Carmine||Brain tumors||Yes – in Norway|
|Red #2: Citrus Red2||Bladder tumors||Yes in US.|
|Red #3: Erythrosine||Thyroid Tumors, Chromosomal Damage,|
|No, FDA tried to ban but failed.|
|Red #40: Allura red||Chromosomal Damage,|
|Green #3: Fast Green||Bladder tumors||Yes in EU.|
|Yellow #5: Tartrazine||Thyroid Tumors, Chromosomal Damage,|
|Yes – in Finland|
|Yellow #6: Sunset Yellow||Thyroid Tumors, Chromosomal Damage,|
|Yes – in Norway and Sweden.|
Magnesium stearate is found mostly in pills to keep them from sticking to each other (such as multivitamins or amino acid pills). While there is no proven research to show that this specific substance can cause damage to humans, it is only a matter of time and it has been already flagged as harmful.
Thus far, it has been shown to create a suppressed immune system or create a biofilm in the gut that does not allow for proper nutrient absorption.
Titanium Dioxide is another common ingredient for pills, but I have seen this in a couple of protein powders as well.
While this ingredient is a naturally occurring oxide of titanium, research has shown that exposure to this metal can compromise the immune system.
Avoid as much as possible.
This is something usually found in vegan products or anything that uses yeast extract which is actually a cleverly disguised form of Monosodium glutamate (a.k.a MSG).
MSG has a series of side effects, including but not limited to:
- Flushing and Sweating,
- Facial tightness,
- Numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas,
- Heart palpitations,
- Chest pain,
So it is quite obvious that MSG is something you definitely need to avoid.
Other ‘clever’ disguises for MSG on labels include: autolyzed yeast extract and hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
This is actually a natural ingredient, derived from seaweed and is used as a thickener or emulsifier in various foods, especially ice creams and various types of milk.
Despite its natural origin, this ingredient has been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation and colon cancer and anyone who has a history of gastrointestinal problems should completely remove this ingredient from their diet.
Time and time again, I have advised everyone I have worked with to avoid soy products for the sake of their health.
Soy contains isoflavones that actually activate estrogen in the human body and disrupt hormonal balance.
Excess estrogen can lead to excessive fat storage in both men and women, but for men specifically, estrogen dominance means that their testosterone takes the backseat so you can kiss your muscles and mood goodbye and say hello to fat gain and marathons of ‘Sex and the City’.
As if that wasn’t enough, most of the soy is either GMO (genetically mutated) which is proven to cause cancerogenesis among other health problems or is extracted by using a highly explosive chemical called hexane, traces of which can remain in soy!
So if hexane can be harmful to the environment, imagine what it can do to the human body!
Soy lecithin is an ingredient which is very often found especially in chocolate protein bars or protein powders. However, its dangers are much less than the rest of the soy products. That being said, I am not aware if the lecithin is extracted by using the hexane method and I would still advise people to stay away from soy lecithin products. If you wish to add lecithin in your diet for its amazing benefits for fat burning and cardiovascular support, go for sunflower lecithin instead.
Artificial sweeteners were initially introduced in order to help with the side effects of sugar consumption and help weight control however, the damages they introduced were more serious than the ones from sugar.
I have covered artificial sweeteners in another article titled ‘Dangers of artificial sweeteners’. Make sure you take the time to read it as it contains important information for your health, especially if you consume a lot of protein or peri-workout supplements.
Did you ever happen to find any of the above mentioned ingredients in your supplements and foods? Which ones did you find and what did you do after finding out? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
I hope you enjoyed this small guide as much as I enjoyed writing it. Make sure you share this article with the people you love by using one of the social media buttons below. If you have any comments or questions, leave them in a comment below and I will answer back asap. Until next time, live your life: strong, healthy and free!
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200