Protein shakes are all the rage among fitness fanatics and social media fitness influencers. However, researchers have found consuming excess amounts of it can have negative side effects.
Organic compounds known as amino acids that make up proteins are important for our bodies and essential if you are someone who wants to bulk up. However, a new study conducted on mice found that consuming too much of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which is found in protein shakes and supplements for weight gain, can have an impact on your mood, cause extra weight gain and may even lead to premature death.
The authors of the study say their findings show why it is important to have everything in moderation and consume a variety of protein sources to get the amino acids our bodies require. Red meat, dairy products, poultry, eggs and fish contain BCAAs. You can also get good levels of it from lentils, nuts, soy and beans. Natural sources of protein contain a range of amino acids that is important for our health and can help build muscle.
"While diets high in protein and low in carbohydrates were shown to be beneficial for reproductive function, they had detrimental effects for health in mid-late life, and also led to a shortened lifespan," Dr Samantha Solon-Biet, from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia, told a news portal.Adding, "What this new research has shown is that amino acid balance is important – it's best to vary sources of protein to ensure you're getting the best amino acid balance."
For the study, the team fed mice a diet that contains various amounts of BCAAs - some mice were given double the normal amount, some were given astandard amount, some half the normal intake, and the rest were given a fifth of the normal amount. Those mice that were given more than the normal amounts of BCAA in their diet were found to have a shorter lifespan or become obese.
Researchers also note that supplementation of BCAAs can cause tryptophan deficiency, which could cause a host of issues. "Tryptophan is the sole precursor for the hormone serotonin, which is often called the ‘happiness chemical’ for its mood-enhancing effects and its role in promoting sleep. But serotonin does more than this, and therein lay the problem," Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, told a news portal. Adding, "This then lowered serotonin levels in the brain, which in turn was a potent signal to increase appetite. The serotonin decrease caused by excess BCAA intake led to massive overeating in our mice, which became hugely obese and lived shorter lives."
The study's findings were originally published in Nature Metabolism.