Proteins are the building blocks of your body. They are found in every cell. Complex amino acids, proteins are responsible for cell growth and maintenance. Many people take protein supplements as part of their fitness regimen. If you do, here are some facts about whey protein you might not know.
1. Other countries have stricter rules about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in food than the USA. If your whey comes from New Zealand, for example, all cows are raised without GMO and are free range. Know the origin of the supplement before paying extra for fancy labeling.
2. All whey protein sold in the US is required to be pasteurized. The pasteurization process requires heat which will change the molecular structure of the food, however slightly. The term “undenatured” on a milk product, therefore, is not entirely accurate. Even if it’s “cold filtered”, it has still been through the heating of pasteurization. In fact, the “cold-filtered” variety has probably been through “flash pasteurization” which uses the highest heat to work in the shortest time. If the same brand of “undenatured” protein sells a separate product of bioactive whey peptides, consider another brand. What this means is that the naturally-occurring peptides have been stripped from the whey during processing and are collected to be sold as a different product, thereby letting the manufacturer double-dip.
3. Twenty grams of protein in a serving is enough. More than that is extraneous.
4. The nutrition information on protein bars labeling isn’t always accurate. Often the protein is overstated and the carbohydrates are understated.
5. Hydrolyzed collagen as a protein source doesn’t do much for building muscle. In fact, it has little, if any, nutritional value. You’ll find this in gels and protein “shots”.
6. There is no such thing as 100 percent hydrolyzed whey protein. The labels on products saying so are misleading; what it really means is that everything in the canister is hydrolyzed. “Hyrolyzed” means the peptide bonds have been broken; if a protein were totally hydrolyzed, there would be nothing left.
7. As far as whey products go, there are no definitive studies that show that the dairy from grass-fed cows as used by athletes is any different than grain-fed. Generally speaking, grass is better because that’s what cows naturally eat. There is plenty of research to indicate that the animals and their meat are healthier if grass-fed; specific to use in a whey supplement, however, there is no direct evidence of any difference.
8. Amino acids are the foundation of proteins. Many athletes take supplements to get additional amino acids to aid in recovery and decrease the risk of injury. The most popular source of amino acids is keratin. The gruesome fact is that the keratin found in most amino acid supplements is from animal fur. Gulp.
9. An amino acid on its own is not a complete protein. In order to skim in its whey supplement production, some manufacturers will replace some of the complete protein with aminos because they are cheaper. Unfortunately, unless the amino is listed on the ingredient label (most common are creatine and glycine), you won’t know what you’re really getting.
10. As with many food products, there are only a handful of whey protein manufacturers who market under different labels. Before you pay a premium for one brand, check out its maker and that of its competitor—the stuff in the canisters may well be identical.