Whey protein. Feel lost? Feel like “protein is protein?” Feel tired of the protein farts? Is YOUR SPOUSE tired of YOUR protein farts?
If so… THIS is the blog article for you!
Whey protein is the most popular supplement in the world… and for good reason! Whey protein has an enriched amino acid profile that is perfect for helping with muscle recovery after a workout or supplementing to hit overall daily protein requirements.
The quality of whey protein is HIGHLY dictated upon…
How it is processed
“But does the quality of whey protein even matter??”
Of course it does! Lower quality whey proteins are going to be less biologically available (harder for your body to put to use) and will also cause gastric distress (remember your spouse doesn’t like the protein farts!)
Let's start with purity… Whey protein is graded from 35% protein by weight, up to 97% protein by weight. Anything that is 80% protein by weight and below is considered a whey protein concentrate and anything that is 90% protein by weight and above is considered a whey protein isolate.
So what is the other % comprised of? Lactose and fat.
Whey protein concentrates are typically found in more “meal replacement” shakes while whey protein isolates are typically used for after workouts.
“But how do I know if a whey protein is full of more crap than protein??”
An easy equation can let you know! If you look on the nutrition label of the whey protein…
Total grams of protein per serving / Total grams of powder per serving = Purity
Now… You will also have to take in to account that flavoring factors into this BUT if you are looking at a protein and it’s not ~60% or more protein by weight… you can assume that the company is not concerned with quality.
Next, let's talk about processing.
To keep it very simple… there are 2 ways to process whey protein.
Chemical processing causes protein to be denatured. Denatured protein is when the amino acid chains that make up a protein are folded in half and cannot be used by the body in the same way.
Chemical processing should be avoided when picking out a whey protein because denatured whey protein does not stimulate muscle protein synthesis and also leads to gastric distress.
Natural processing or Micro-Filtration is the processing method of choice. It yields a much more biologically available protein that your body can put to use and NOT cause an upset stomach while doing so.
“But how in the world am I going to know which it is???”
This is VERY simple. If a company does micro-filtration – It will be on the label under ingredients or in the description. If they do not have a processing distinction listed… It is always chemical processing. This is because micro-filtration cost more money and the companies that use it want their customers to know!
Think of it like this… If a farmer goes through the trouble of growing something by organic standards, they are going to put it on the packaging! It is a selling point! The same thing goes for protein manufactures when it comes to micro-filtration…it is a distinguishing factor for people who truly care about their results and what they put in their body. These manufacturers are proud of their processing method and you WILL find it on the label.
“Ok… now I know I need a cross-flow micro-filtrated whey. I will head over to Sam’s, Costco or Wal-Mart and pick it up!”
Not so fast! Believe it or not… the guys who are in charge of purchasing at these big box stores DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR RESULTS. But do you know what they DO care about? Making money!
…and a little secret about whey protein? There is not a lot of money to be made on GREAT quality whey’s. BUT there is certainly plenty of money to be made on LOW quality whey.
These big box store purchasers give companies margins they must hit for their products to be picked up. Companies then use lower purity whey’s and chemical processing to give the big box stores the margins they demand.
A good way to think of it …
A competitive runner isn’t buying running shoes at Wal-Mart. They would go to a running store.
An avid hunter isn’t buying his riffle at Costco. They would go to Cabella’s
A car junkie isn’t buying his stereo system from Sam’s. They would go to a car audio store.
All of these people would go to stores that specialized in the product because they know that quality is higher and they will be speaking with someone who is more educated in what they are looking for!
So… hopefully this helps to shed some light on what whey protein is, how it can help you and what specifically you should look for when purchasing a whey protein!