28 In Wellbeing

I Made Myself Sick from Drinking Protein Shakes

How the hell did I get here? I feel like such a sucker. Some people approached me with a possible solution to my fatigue, a solution that doubled as a way to make money (MLM scheme… I’m such a sucker).

I’ve tried to come to terms with the fact that my fatigue is something I need to learn to manage and that there will never be a ‘cure’ but with so many people telling me that this solution would do amazing things and that I had to try it as people had had miraculous results. Add to that I trusted and had professional respect for the head honcho, well. ‘What the hell’ I thought to myself, ‘let’s give it one last shot – it can’t hurt right!?’

Sometimes I feel like I’m the Queen of ‘famous last words’, and by now I really should have learned to listen to that niggling voice of doubt creeping up inside of me, rather than being swayed by promises of a fix. The ‘solution’ in this case involved a swag of supplements, a tonic, whey protein shakes, as well as a weekly cleanse to rid the body of built up toxins. I’d never bought into this stuff before, as was against the whole concept of ‘diets’ after years of body dysmorphia issues and borderline anorexia when I was younger BUT as a solution to my energy problems – well, I could give it a go. And if so many people believed in it, were super-pumped, and professed to its success because they had seen results…well…it could work!

I Made Myself Sick from Drinking Protein Shakes

Deep down I knew I was playing with fire

I was adamant I was doing it for increased energy BUT I knew in the back of my mind that I needed to be incredibly careful that I did not get hooked on the whole weight loss / body image thing, especially when I could see everyone’s before and after selfies showing how hot they were now, so I made sure that I ate, didn’t do the full cleanse, and kept hydrated. I also avoided weighing myself and taking my measurements. I would not be getting hooked on numbers as I believe that really fucks with your head (scales are EVIL).

I also knew that I needed to be careful with my antidepressants as some supplements could interfere with them, but I was a good girl and did a lot of investigation but could find no warnings or no advice aside from the standard ‘consult your Doctor’ message. I also delved into the ingredients and chemical makeup of the supplements and my antidepressants but couldn’t identify any issues.

After the initial week of caffeine withdrawals where I wanted to curl up in a ball and die, I experienced a surge of energy and was feeling less fluidy and trimmer – I had a flat stomach and slimmer elsewhere. In hindsight, this is probably because I wasn’t drinking caffeine, alcohol, and was actually drinking a load of water, thus flushing my system and rehydrating my body. I felt great – although hungry and with the constant need to pee – and thought that I was on to something.


After a month I felt like I had been hit by a bloody steam train

Hit by extreme fatigue, which I initially associated with a bout of gastro that seemed to go on forever, I was also experiencing these insane chills in the middle of the day where I just could not get warm, as well as dizzy spells and increased moodiness.

I intensively researched via Google, asked around, and delved into the company’s portal to see if I could find anything, but mostly came up trumps (unless I went so far as page 20 on Google search). I also read the back of the supplement bottles again and noted that 2 bottles referred to those with allergies and asthma avoiding them…so I quickly eliminated them from my diet. With my years of IBS issues, as well as hay fever and minor asthma, I thought that would be a wise mood, plus I had the increasing suspicion that something was messing with my antidepressants. I knew the feelings, and it felt like I kept missing a dose even though I was taking my daily dose, so on further deep thinking I ditched the other supplements which were for ‘flushing’ your body and aiding digestion. My belief is that those supplements were causing my body to flush out the meds faster than my brain could process, thus messing with my serotonin levels. This kinda helped, but I was still feeling off and my stomach issues were becoming increasingly worse – something that was really upsetting since it had taking me years to get them right in the first place.

Sometimes you should listen to your man

D had been telling me all along that the protein shakes were no good for me but I insisted they were fine and that they were working. I loved them! Through drinking the protein sakes I made sure I had something for breakfast (over the nothing I was having previously). I was also keeping hydrated and feeling leaner and liking the way I looked. Sure I was feeling like shit…

I really want to slap myself for being so stupid! On chatting to people on Facebook I found out my sister was allergic to whey protein and that whey protein can be really bad for some people! i.e. ME! Whilst trying to detox my body I had in fact increased it’s toxicity and made myself incredibly sick.

It’s taken me 2 months to start feeling any better, with a real low point before Christmas where I was incredibly fatigued, hated everything about myself and just wanted to give up on everything. This was as a result of some intense body bashing myself – the likes I haven’t experienced in a very long time. I was also still feeling sick so I had some blood tests and my iron levels were through the roof.

So now I’ve gone back to basics. I’m eating real food, drinking real drinks, having my treats and exercising. I’m also striving for balance, decreasing stress, getting back into mindfulness and meditation, resting, and most importantly, learning to love myself as I am all over again as I don’t need to be skinner or prettier. I am perfect the way I am.

I believe there is no other long-term way to live other than real food and balance. What I’ve learned is that I should have stayed true to myself but also that by tuning in and listening to my body, I knew the answers to my problems.

If you are tempted to go down a path for anything to improve your health, my advice to you is this:

  • Do your research
  • Ask around
  • Consult your GP
  • Don’t take what someone says, or what the company says, as gospel as they simply may not know!
  • Investigate, investigate, investigate
  • Question, question, question
  • If it’s not working for you that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It just means that it is not right for YOU.


Do you need to dig a little deeper into what your body is telling you? Download my free workbook to guide you through self-reflection and discovery.

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  • Mary Burris
    January 2, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    wow! I really feel that you wrote this for me! I could share a similar story that happened to me. I’m still on the road to recovery from that mishap. Much like you, I don’t buy into the diet hype – I just wanted to feel better again. Instead, I just felt worse. Way worse. Here’s hoping you feel better again soon!

    • Janine Ripper
      January 5, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Hey Mary, how are you managing your recovery? What are you doing now?

  • Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA @ Cerebrations.biz
    January 2, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Glad you saw the light!

  • Liz J
    January 2, 2015 at 11:18 pm

    I am so sorry you had to endure the reactions and side effects to discover the right way for you to be healthy! I had made the decision to follow the trend of the protein shake and fortunately for me the first shake I ever had left me with the feeling of a bowling ball in my stomach knowing it was too much for my system to handle. I also tried a wheat grass shot with a friend on a health kick once and wound up with bad bathroom reactions for 2 days (no detail needed there I am sure). My behavior now is food and water because it’s what works.

    • Janine Ripper
      January 5, 2015 at 6:03 pm

      Hey Liz! Im glad – in a way – you had the instant reaction! Wheat shots are just gross hehe. What are your fave recipes/foods to eat?

      • Liz J
        January 5, 2015 at 11:33 pm

        I agree — the stories I read of people who don’t feel any side effects for a while are truly bothersome because, as in your case, by that time you body is already absorbing the toxic stuff so even when you stop, you still feel the effects for some time. My personal favorites are sushi and the pulled pork my husband makes that has turned me off of every BBQ place we can find! :o)
        I have been trying to eat healthier but it is difficult because, honestly, I am very lazy and I do not like to cook. Fortunately my office supplies very healthy snacks at no cost to the employees so I get my share of fruit in during the day. Unfortunately my laziness tends to lead to me not eating at all at times and that send my blood sugar on a frenzy. At 42, I really need to start listening to my body and not give into the excuses.

        • Janine Ripper
          January 6, 2015 at 1:29 pm

          Oh you hit the nail on the head. I started the shakes to make sure I was getting something in my body due to my bloody sugar ‘frenzies’ where I would get moody because I’d been too lazy to make myself to eat (and I work from home!). In australia we call it ‘hangry’ (hungry/angry). So now Im trying not to be so lazy and get off my butt and make some salads that I can keep in the fridge so that all I need to do is go to a bowl an dive in. Sounds like a good plan hey!

          The more I read/hear about the protein shake (whey) thing the more irritated I get, especially when some people really ram it down your throat as the ‘right thing’ to do. Grrrr.

  • Mackenzie Glanville
    January 3, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Wow, what a powerful read! Glad you are back to eating healthy! It is such an important message, I will Tweet this and share with my friends for sure!

  • Muriel
    January 3, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    thanks for this post! Friends of mine swear by protein shakes but I have to say that I am not warming up to them. I will pass now!

    • Janine Ripper
      January 5, 2015 at 10:32 am

      No Im definitely not a fan anymore!

  • Teresa (embracing the spectrum)
    January 4, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Oh wow. What a horrible experience! I am really sensitive to what I eat too, so I have to be careful. #ibabloggers

    • Janine Ripper
      January 4, 2015 at 11:19 am

      thanks for stopping by Teresa. I should have known from my previous sensitivities!

  • Maureen
    January 4, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Wow I’m so glad you finally figured it out. I’ve read how bad whey protein can be and vegan protein is so much better for us and I’ve tried both. My D also tells me to get off my whey protein but vegan protein is just so freaking expensive here lol anyway, I’m so glad you are feeling much better!

    • Janine Ripper
      January 5, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Ive heard mixed things about vegan protein, mostly that it tastes disgusting! I agree with the pricing though – still shopping around although have mostly decided to just eat real food now and to stop being so lazy re: breakfast!

      • Maureen
        January 12, 2015 at 12:32 pm

        Pea protein taste horrible hahaha but I’ve heard great reviews about Vega protein just haven’t try them yet 🙂 All the best, girly! Rooting for ya!

  • Anne Aleckson
    January 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Great article Janine and I’m so sorry you had so much trouble. I watched my 73 year old mum go through one of these programs with weekly fasting and watched her become increasingly angry and mean-spirited. At the same time I watched 2 of my sisters-in-law reduce their post-baby bodies to horribly thin and even despite that I have been considering doing something similar the past week or two. I’m glad I read this post and remembered why I swore I never would. It’s back to more water and natural foods for me.

    • Janine Ripper
      January 8, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      I’m glad my experience/post was a good reminder for you! I tell you this, I felt like CRAP this morning so it’s taking me a while to recover. Im sorry that you have had to watch your mum and sisters go through it. Just remember that you are beautiful as you are!

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  • Marie
    January 12, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Sometimes you have to relearn what you think you already know in order to really know it.
    Kudos for getting back on track!

  • Joy
    January 13, 2015 at 3:14 am

    My Mom always told me this phrase: “There’s no such thing as one size fits all” (in relation to health: meds, supplements etc). I’ve always been curious about protein shakes and I was SO close to trying them for weight loss and then I read this. Wow! This is scary, but glad you caught it early enough and listened to YOUR own body. Thanks for sharing this, Janine!

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  • Tina Marie Ernspiker
    January 20, 2015 at 4:01 am

    I am featuring you this week at Let’s Make Your Blog Awesome 🙂 It will go live on the IBA blog on Friday morning. #ibabloggers

    • Janine Ripper
      January 20, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      That’s wonderful news! Thank you for your support. I will swing by the IBA blog 🙂

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