Family

Protein powder might be behind increased eating disorders in men.

More and more men are using more and more supplements.

Protein powder might be behind increased eating disorders in men.

Protein shakes: I know, you can get them everywhere. But those seemingly healthy workout supplements you're consuming (or, if you're like me, have been telling yourself the past five years you're going to start consuming) might do more harm to your mental health than good for your body.

Don't take it from me, though — listen to the experts.


Pictured here: not an expert. All images from Thinkstock.

New research suggests increasing consumption of workout supplements might actually be fueling eating disorders among men.

A study presented at the American Psychological Association's 2015 conference in Toronto analyzed online responses from 195 men aged 18-65 who'd recently used workout supplements like whey protein and creatine — essentially, things that are supposed to help you get a more muscular, leaner body. The researchers asked questions on topics like self-esteem, gender roles, supplement use, and eating habits.

The study found more than 1 in 5 men admitted to substituting meals with supplements that should not replace regular meals. It's likely a growing problem, too, as more than 40% of respondents said their use of supplements has increased over time.


This is serious business, fellas. Because while you may be aiming to bulk up in all the right places, whey protein (commonly used in such products) has also been linked to kidney dysfunction and liver damage, among other medical issues.

Abusing these sorts of products can certainly lead to health problems, but from the looks of it, many are already aware of that.

The researchers were most alarmed by the fact that nearly 30% of respondents were concerned about their own use of workout supplements.

"These products have become an almost ubiquitous fixture in the pantries of young men across the country," said researcher Richard Achiro, Ph.D., of the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. Achiro, who presented the findings, noted how easily men can find such products in America — everywhere "from grocery stores to college book stores."

A product's easy accessibility might add to the idea that men shouldn't worry about its effects on their bodies or self-esteem (after all, if it was dangerous, wouldn't it be harder to find?), while also reinforcing the idea that eating disorders and body image are women's issues.

And that couldn't be more wrong.

Eating disorders can affect anyone. And society's expectations based on gender aren't helping.

While eating disorders may disproportionately affect women, we don't talk nearly enough about the fact that many men deal with those same conditions, too.

And while supplement abuse might look differently than, say, anorexia does, Achiro's findings touch on a driving force behind many conditions that deal with a person's relationship to food and their body: gender expectations.

"Body-conscious men who are driven by psychological factors to attain a level of physical or masculine 'perfection' are prone to use these supplements and drugs in a manner that is excessive and which was demonstrated in this study to be a variant of disordered eating," Achiro said, also noting that marketing efforts for such products often go after men's insecurities associated with stereotypical masculinity.

Guys, I know muscles and abs are in right now. But they're never worth sacrificing your mental and physical health to obtain.

Need help? Learn more at the National Eating Disorders Association's website, or give them a call at 1-800-931-2237.

True

Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less