The number one purpose of every fitness magazine, commercialized workout routine and lifestyle changing pyramid scheme is to sell you something… to sell you a product or an often unattainable ideal. The majority of the aforementioned productions have extras to upsell. Bought our magazine on fitness? Get ready for 60 plus full-color ads on every supplement known to man. 60% of these ads will be selling you that one thing every routine tells you that you cannot make gains without… protein. But which is the best? Which will give me the results I so sorely need? Which is better? Whey? Brown Rice? What the hell is hydrolyzation and why is it more expensive than the powder at Walmart? Keep reading, I’ll get into the details and comparisons of this widely used substance and whether or not you actually need to use it to create the body you want.
Let’s start with the basics… The majority of protein supplements you will find on every shelf, fitness website and even Whole Foods stores contain protein derived from Whey. Whey is a waste product of milk from animals, usually cows. You know that old nursery rhyme we were all taught back in the day? This is the very same stuff minus the curds and Miss Muffett. The most widely produced and arguably the most popular protein supplement on the market, Whey powders commonly come in two forms, Isolate and Hydrolyzed.
Hydrolyzed whey refers to a whey supplement that has been broken down into it’s amino acid components through a “boiling” process. The process is often used to modify the allergic properties in baby formula but has found its way into protein supplements because it breaks down the protein molecules and allows for easier digestion especially if one has trouble breaking down cow milk proteins. Isolate refers to a protein purification process where protein molecules are isolated from the rest of the source of protein. It’s a description used to address how “pure” the protein in the supplement powder may be but is often used as an advertising gimmick.
Many whey blends offer a complete immune supporting nutrient profile with the added benefit of proper amino acid content which when combined with proper training will promote protein synthesis to create new muscle. Others are chock full of fillers like dextrose, sucrose and plain old sugar derivatives and substitutes to promote their “mass gaining” attributes. Over the years, many studies have suggested that this by-product of milk and dairy products gives little to no added nutritional benefits. So as a supplement, one could determine that whey protein is inferior to protein found in natural whole food sources like meats or even beans and certain vegetables. With so many options available for this widely used supplement I’d suggest finding one that suits your protein needs if bulking and if cutting or losing fat is your goal, stay away.
Next up is beef protein…
A relatively new type of protein supplement, beef or bone broth protein powders are derived from animal sources. Some studies claim that this type of protein supplement surpasses absorption rates of whey proteins and may be better absorbed and utilized by the body than protein derived from milk sources. Supplements often have sugars or fats added in order to taste better or offer a wider nutrient profile to its consumers by adding creatine or other supplements. That’s all well and good until you realize the more sugar a supplement has the slower the body will be able to absorb the protein in the supplement and the more substances you add to a protein powder drives down the.production value of that powder. Many beef derived powders have zero sugars and less saturated fats than whey protein making it a better option. But with pluses come the minuses… Many of these supplements are costly in comparison to whey due to their relatively new existence on the market. Also, those animal sources I mentioned are the “throw away” parts of the cow, not any actual cuts of meat but rather the parts you can’t really eat on their own. In short, this supplement is essentially made of hotdog powder.
In a pinch, protein powders can help you bridge the protein gaps you may not be able to fill using whole foods. It’s more convenient at times to drink your protein but when you can, get this macronutrient from natural whole food sources. Always quality over quantity when it comes to macronutrients.
I’ll discuss protein powders derived from plant and soy sources in part 2 so stay tuned…
Hydrolyzed protein is protein that has been hydrolyzed or broken down into its component amino acids. While there are many means of achieving this, two of the most common methods are prolonged boiling in a strong acid ( acid-HVP) or strong base or using an enzyme such as pancreatic protease to simulate the naturally occurring hydrolytic process.