When we arrive at the protein chapter in my college nutrition class, my male students routinely tell me about their protein supplement use; then, I routinely lecture on the unknown world of supplements.
This year’s discussion will be different. I will talk about the recently published article in the British Journal of Cancer. A Yale study of nearly 900 men suggests a link between muscle-building supplements and testicular cancer.
The ingredients that come in to question are creatine and androstenedione. However, long time readers know that the most basic of complaints about supplements is that we don’t truly know what is lurking in these bottles because they are so casually regulated.
Even after adjusting for known risk factors, the lead author suggests the increase may be 65% and is most damaging in men who: 1) take the supplements before the age of 25, 2) take them for long periods or 3) use multiple types of muscle builders.
The good news is that the solution is quite easy. Drop the supplements and eat food! The Dairy Council of California has some wonderful references (here) but some quick advice pulled from their Protein: Powerhouse Performance downloadable:
Including protein evenly throughout the day is best for muscle building and repair. Start your day with high quality protein such as an egg, a carton of yogurt or milk in cereal. Protein at breakfast helps you focus more clearly and be alert at school.
16 – 22 grams protein = 3 ounces beef, chicken, pork, turkey; 6 ounce Greek yogurt
11-15 grams protein = 1/4 cup beans/lentils; 2 eggs
6-10 grams protein = 1 cup milk; 6 ounces regular yogurt; 1 1/2 ounces cheese; 1/4 c nuts; 1 TBSP peanut butter
A balanced diet does NOT require supplements. In Hippocrates words: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. And I’m sure he’d add…to be well.