Protein Supplements: Pros and Cons

J Diet Suppl. 2018 May 4;15(3):365-371. doi: 10.1080/19390211.2017.1353567. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


To provide a comprehensive analysis of the literature examining the pros and cons of protein supplementation, various articles on protein supplementation were obtained from Google Scholar, PubMed, and National Center for Biotechnology Information. Over the past few years, protein supplementation has become commonplace for gym-goers as well as for the public. A large segment of the general population relies on protein supplementation for meal replacement, weight reduction, and purported health benefits. These protein supplements have varying pros and cons associated with them, which are often overlooked by the public. This review aims to assimilate existing studies and form a consensus regarding the benefits and disadvantages of protein supplementation. The purported health benefits of protein supplementation have led to overuse by both adults and adolescents. Although the pros and cons of protein supplementation is a widely debated topic, not many studies have been conducted regarding the same. The few studies that exist either provide insufficient evidence or have not employed proper conditions for the conduct of the tests. It should be considered that protein supplements are processed materials and often do not contain other essential nutrients required for the sustenance of a healthy lifestyle. It is suggested that the required protein intake should be obtained from natural food sources and protein supplementation should be resorted to only if sufficient protein is not available in the normal diet.

Keywords: dietary supplements; metabolism; protein; protein nutrition; protein safety.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism
  • Dietary Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements / adverse effects*
  • Elder Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Muscle Development
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / administration & dosage
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / adverse effects
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / therapeutic use
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Resistance Training
  • Sarcopenia / diet therapy
  • Sarcopenia / metabolism
  • Sarcopenia / prevention & control
  • Societies, Medical
  • Sports Medicine
  • Sports Nutritional Physiological Phenomena


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances