Report - There is less protein in your protein powder than you think

Most makers of the protein powders that you can buy in the Netherlands exaggerate the amount of protein in their products. Wageningen food scientists reached that conclusion, who examined more than fifty different casein and whey supplements. Especially the discounters on the supplement market put less protein in their powders than they tell on the label. That doesn't belong of course.

For circa seventy percent of the readers of this website protein powders are more than an addition to their diet. For them protein powders are basic foods, to guarantee that their body is supplied with sufficient nutrients for muscle mass. For them, the measurements done by Mark R in the spring of 2014 are without more interesting.

Protein labels

Rothuis, an amateur powerlifter, still studying Human Nutrition at Wageningen when he read about a study that a diet student had performed abroad at a bodybuilding board. "He had the protein concentration measured in a number of protein preparations in stores in his country," says Rothuis. "The student discovered that the vast majority of businesses are not completely honest about the amount of protein in their powders. Which was almost always lower than the label indicates. "

Rothuis wondered if that was the case in the Netherlands, and won through virtual and brick shops and dieticians samples, which he had analyzed supervised by Wageningen professor Renger Witkamp by a Wageningen university laboratory. And so Rothuis discovered that in the Netherlands, most supplement companies are not completely honest about their products. "Most manufacturers overstate the amount of protein in their product," sighs the researcher. "The average Dutch protein powder contains six percent less protein than the label."

Price Fighters

Well, there are exceptions. A few producers reported the correct amount of protein on their label, and there were also a few that even had delivered a little bit more protein than they had indicated. But that was diffrent for a quarter of the analyzed products, where more than ten percent of the indicated amount of protein was 'lost'. Rothuis even found a product which contained 21 percent less protein than the label promised.

"The products that are exceedingly under-dosed, came all from the low-cost carriers in the market," says Rothuis. "The expensive brands have often more correct labels than the cheap brands."

Legio bodybuilders and avid exercisers buy their protein powders in shops of the discounters. They save a lot of money because the proteins are significantly cheaper per kilo with them. A consumer who buys an expensive protein supplement can spend three times more money than a consumer who purchases are proteins through an inexpensive shop.

"Those price differences are so large that even if you take the exaggeration into account, the discounters still bring the best proteins," says Rothuis. Certainly, the discounters are the biggest swindlers with regard to labeling. Yet they deliver eventually the Protein with biggest bang for the buck.

Dry and wet

Rothuis discovered that many producers of protein powders also give a rosy picture of affairs in a different way: the amount of protein that they mention on their products is that of dry powder. The powder in their pouches or pots also contains a little water, most companies are quite clear about that. "If you take that water in account, the average protein product in the Netherlands does not contain six percent less protein than the label says, but eleven percent."


The difference between the amount of protein on the label of a product and the actual amount of protein not only varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but also depends on the taste, Rothuis discovered. "Natural Powders without flavorings are by far the cleanest," says the researcher. "In second place comes protein with banana flavor, in third place protein with vanilla flavor, in the fourth protein with strawberry flavor. Then comes the proteins with tropical flavors, and dangling at the back are the proteins with a chocolate flavor. "

If you buy a protein powder with chocolate flavor, the chances are bigger that this product contains too little protein than for a protein powder with banana flavor. This is probably because the creation of a chocolate flavor needs more additives than required for a banana flavor, and the manufacturers often fail to take this account when they compose the labels.

Further investigation

Rothuis' research is done. "Alarmingly or 'shocking' he does not call the results, but decent in regard to consumers it is not of course." At the moment he is thinking about a future in sports nutrition. "I'm thinking about a more thorough investigation into the quality of protein powders. Where you not only look at the amount of protein in the products but also in its composition." We look forward to a new comparative study.

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Article Publish Date: 
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
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