Why You Should Not Use Ready To Drink Protein Shakes

You’re hungry, you’re trying to pack on muscles, you leave the gym and head out to the local convenience store and grab one of the ready to drink (RTD’s) protein shakes.  You open it up and chug it down and smile that you just fed your body 30, 40 or even 50 grams of protein.  Well, hold your horses Tanto, because I have some bad news about those Ready To Drink Protein Shakes and other related drink that comes in those convenient cardboard packages at your favorite convenience store.

Tetra Pak is the official name for the way the liquid protein is packaged.  Therefore from this point on I will refer to RTD’s as Tetra Pak’s.  Tetra Pak’s are made up of cardboard and aluminum foil.  After the cardboard and aluminum packaging is sanitized with heat and sometimes hydrogen peroxide, it is folded and ready to be filled.  But before the liquid protein is filled it needs to be pasteurized.   HEAT pasteurized to be exact.  This is done to ensure that when you drink this RTD you are now swallowing dangerous bacteria that could make you very sick or might even kill you.  The heat pasteurization is when things go wrong and the product goes from mediocre to what I feel is unhealthy and carcinogenic.  These Tetra Paks are nothing more than a marketing ploy.  The companies distributing them are selling you based on the consumers WANT to consume protein.  Obviously, they dont care if the protein they are selling you has some serious problems.

Problem #1

Aluminum Foil

The cardboard containers or Tetra Paks,  that contain the liquid protein have an inner liner of aluminum foil.  You don’t want to put aluminum foil anywhere you have food.   Exposure to aluminum foil has been linked to several health problems including Alzheimer’s disease.

1Mohammad FS et al. “Effect of Aluminum Leaching Process of Cooking Wares on Food”. Int. J. Electrochem. Sci., 6(2011) 222-230.
The other problem is that heating causes leaching of aluminum.  The liquid protein is heated to a high temperature and then put into the cardboard/aluminum cartons.  At what temperature, I do not know, but I’d rather not take the chance.  On top of that it is being STORED in these cardboard/aluminum containers, this also creates a big health problem.  Over time the aluminum may leach into the liquid.

Problem #2 

Let’s Denature The Protein Even More!!

The less denatured a protein powder is the higher the quality of the protein powder.  All protein powders, like whey protein, micellar casein, egg white etc,  are denatured somewhat because heat pasteurization is required to kill the harmful bacteria and microorganisms that could be dangerous to your health.  The Food and Drug Administration always requires that certain foods be heat pasteurized.  In order for a Teta Pak protein shake to be made it has to be heated AGAIN, which is another denaturing step.  According to the Tetra Pak website, several different methods of heat pasteurization can be used like Ultra and Extended shelf life. heat pasteurization.

Ulta and Extended Shelf Life pasteurization are conducted at very high temperatures to kill all the microorganisms.  The temperature of the liquid protein goes to almost 300 degrees!!  This is NOT a choice, this is the basic science required to kill the microbials AND what is the FDA requires.  Talk about denaturing the protein.  I highly doubt any bioactive peptides would survive this high heat.  I would love to see the immunoglobulin content (a protein subfraction naturally occurring in whey protein) of the liquid proteins after this heat treatment.

Problem #3

Heating Sucralose Makes It Carcinogenic

Most of the protein shake RTD’s contain sucralose and acesulfame, that when heated become very BAD for your health.   A study found that when sucralose is heated at and over 98 degrees celsius bad things happen..

Remember the liquid put into the Tetra Paks are heated to over 120 degrees Celsius!

“Previous research had shown that sucralose degrades at high temperatures not typical in daily life, but we found that this also occurs at 98°C, a temperature that can easily be reached when cooking food. This finding was a surprise,” said Rodrigo Ramos Catharino, a professor at UNICAMP’s School of Pharmaceutical Sciences (FCF) and head of the same university’s Innovare Biomarker Laboratory.

Take a look at what happens when sucralose is heated.  Picture A is before and Picture C is after.


Here is the part of the study that scares me.

“Chlorinated derivatives, including polychlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons (PCAHs) were also confirmed by HRMS. These findings not only corroborate the suspected instability of sucralose to high temperatures, but also indicate that even exposed to mild conditions the formation of hazardous polychlorinated compounds is observed.

There is no way that I am going to drink a HEATED sucralose product.  And I highly recommend that you do not either.

In conclusion, I would recommend staying away from Tetra Pak Protein Shakes.  In my opinion, I feel you’re sacrificing your health, by opting for convenience.