Protein 101 – Things You Need to Know When Buying Whey Protein
Protein is the building block of our body. Athletes need extra protein to build muscles and recover from exercise.
Whey protein digests very readily. It has the highest biological value(highly usable by the body) which is why it has now become a widely used supplement by athletes of all disciplines, shapes, and sizes.
When used in conjunction with weight-training it aids in building muscles. It also aids in fat loss, has antioxidant benefits, and boosts immune function.
It starts supplying a good portion of its amino acids to your muscles in less than 20 minutes after you take it, and that speedy release of amino acids to muscle cells is important for muscle protein synthesis.
Take whey protein at the right times of day and it will make all the difference in your workout and recovery. It will help you in building an extra half-inch on your arms and hit more personal bests!
I have limited my intake of whey protein to before and after my workout; which is the time your body needs protein the most. Both for preserving the muscle mass during strenuous training and afterward for a quicker recovery. It even allows me to train every day, no more sore muscles.
There are many supplement companies and many whey protein products in the market.
Among them, there are first-rate products that actually deliver results and then there are not so good whey protein products, you’re actually throwing your money away if you’re buying the latter.
How do you choose a Whey Protein Powder?
These are serious questions:
- Do you go on the recommendation of your trainer or buddy at the gym?
- Do you go on the recommendation of the sales guy at the supplement store? Or you pick the one with the fanciest label?
- Or you buy the product which is available for sale on Amazon?
The variety of protein powders can be overwhelming. And every label promises numerous benefits of the product whilst listing different ingredient that you don’t recognize.
I practice the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. I don’t believe in most ingredients. It’s all a part of a marketing gimmick and they fail to deliver results.
As a buyer, I want a product that offers the best bang for my buck. I look for a product which has higher protein content (percentage per scoop) and is of superior quality.
Why spend money on a product that has no biological benefit? Why shell money on products that just aren’t up to the mark?
Buying the right product can be critical to your gains..
Many of the supplement companies even mix unwanted compounds to enhance muscle growth and are full of toxic heavy metals and chemicals.
Supplement companies aren’t the manufacturers of Whey Protein
Whey is a byproduct of milk; cheese making to be precise. It is extracted from the fluid which is left over once the cheese has been extracted from the milk using filtration process.
There are a ton of manufacturers of whey protein. The supplement companies like Dymatize, Muscle Pharm, Scitec, etc buy raw material from manufacturers like Glanbia, Hilmar which are a leader in the industry (Optimum Nutrition is owned by Glanbia).
- Whey Protein Concentrate(WPC)- Not so pure protein, it goes through less filtering, which means it contains a high amount of lactose, fat, carbs and under-natured protein. The result is a whey product which can have anywhere between 30-80% protein content.
- Whey Protein Isolate(WPI)– Whey protein isolates are the purest form of protein you can get and are much easily digested. Protein content >90% with minimal lactose and virtually zero fat.
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate- High-grade whey which is pre-digested into smaller protein fragments (smaller chains of peptides and amino acids) for even faster digestion and absorption. Protein content >90%.
- Casein Protein- The protein in cow milk is 20% whey protein and 80% casein protein (slow digesting protein).
The supplement companies then add fillers and other ingredients like amino acids, digestive enzymes, coloring, flavoring to produce their final blend.
Quality of Whey Protein depends on
Manufacturer – Quality of milk that the manufacturer uses and the filtration process to separate concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate.
Supplement companies – The limiting factor of a whey protein is the other ingredients supplement companies add to it and also the quality of protein they buy. Not all supplement companies buy from a reputable supplier.
Tip- The easiest approach to spot a protein powder that is using cheap raw protein is its cost. If it’s much cheaper than the leading brands, that protein powder likely contains far less protein and far more carbs and fat than claimed on the label.
Always read the label
The tricky part– Label dressing: The FDA’s has no set definition of protein
- The pure amino acid products (taurine, glycine, glutamine) are not counted as protein. But the loophole here is that nothing is stated regarding protein that includes extra amino acids.
- To save money supplement companies add extra amino acids which are inferior and very cheap such as taurine, glycine, glutamine, and creatine to protein powders.
- Some companies even add nitrogen-rich ingredients to inflate their protein claims. Protein content is calculated on the basis of 6.25 times the nitrogen content.
Yet if we go by big brands, there are fewer chances that they’d put an inaccurate label. Keep scanning down the label and the ingredients list. The information contained on the label is the key to knowing whether a protein powder is worth it or passable.
Always look for…
Type of whey protein and the amount of each type present in a product.
Most protein powders contain more than one type of whey i.e. they’re a blend of whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate.
A first-rate whey protein powder must list whey protein isolate or hydrolyzed whey protein isolate as the first ingredient.
If a product lists whey protein concentrate first on the ingredients list, followed by whey protein isolate and/or whey protein hydrolysate, then it only has a minuscule amount of whey protein isolate and/or hydrolysate in it.
Look at the label below of Allmax Whey and ON Gold Standard, both products are roughly of the same price(30-35$ for 2lbs). Now, look at the protein content(percentage) per scoop, fats, and carbohydrates.
Allmax All Whey – 30 grams of protein in a scoop of 43 grams. That is 69% protein per scoop (mostly concentrate) approximately.
Gold Standard Whey – 24 grams of protein in a scoop of 30.4 grams. That is 78% protein per scoop (mostly isolate) approximately.
Allmax whey is a shitty product, I bought it once and I experienced excessive stomach bloating and diarrhea which most probably was because of inferior quality ingredients or whey protein concentrate, I don’t know.
If you are not getting results from your whey protein, it can be because of poor quality whey or protein spiking. Watch carefully the ingredients list and look for cues.
Whey Protein Amino Profile- Whey is one of the richest sources of BCAAs, which are a set of three essential amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. They are absolutely vital for muscle growth and for supplying energy during workouts. Look for a product that has higher BCAA content.
Calcium- It’s important for athletes or weightlifters to monitor their calcium intake. One should make sure they get 1,200 -1,500 mg of calcium daily from food or supplements. Drinking a cup of milk, for example, provides about 300 mg of calcium.
Whey protein primarily can have 100-200mg calcium per scoop. But there are a few products in the market that tot up additional calcium. For a vegetarian cutting down on dairy, a product with higher calcium content would be ideal.
Why is calcium important?
- To prevent possible risk for calcium loss – Large amounts of protein (amino ACIDS) intake results in increased acid production. Because of the increased acid load calcium is released from bone as a buffer.
- High calcium diets inhibit parathyroid hormone which is responsible for fat accumulation and also promotes increased fat breakdown for energy.
Sodium- Look for a product with lesser sodium content. Quite unethical but most companies lie about the sodium content. It could be anything 200-400% higher than what is stated on the label. Higher the sodium content, the more water retention in your body.
- Keep in mind that not all whey protein powders are of equal quality; read the ingredients list on the label before buying anything.
- Never buy a product that has listed WPC as first ingredient and WPI as the second ingredient. Some supplement companies add minuscule amounts of whey protein isolate just to claim their products contain them.
- Look for a product that has higher Calcium content and less Sodium and cholesterol.
- As in life “You get what you pay for.” Be suspicious of protein powders that are not major brands and are incredibly cheap. Low-cost proteins might be using inexpensive protein blends that may not be doing any good to your body.
ON Gold Standard is the best product out there in the market; it’s owned by Glanbia which itself is a manufacturer. So they’ve been consistent with the quality of product and do not cut corners for profitability.
I was extremely pleased with the results I got from Scitec Nutrition 100% Whey Isolate. Solid product, no fillers.
Update – I have now been using Isopure Zero Carb and I have found the product to be super-effective. The price per serving may be a bit on the higher side compared to other products in the market. But it will give you results.
With that said, I hope it will be easier for you to pick the right whey protein powder for your goals!
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Good luck and have a nice day,