As with most anything else, not all brands of whey protein are created equal. If the protein is coming from an inferior source, many of the possible health benefits will be lacking. Here, we will look at what to look for in a product to ensure that you are getting a quality product.
First, it is important to get whey that is all natural coming from cows that are pasture fed. If the cows are grass fed on pesticide free grasslands, then they are getting the necessary nutrients from the grass. On the other hand, grain fed cows do not receive the same nutrition and not only that, they are often given grains that are pesticide treated. Furthermore, grain-fed cows usually are treated with antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals that leach into our food supply. Compared to grain fed, whey protein that comes from grass fed cows has a higher amino acid profile, has nutrients that supports immunity, and contains healthy fats such as lipoic acid and CLA.
Next, it is important to look for products that do not contain GMO ingredients. GMO foods have been strongly linked with cancer and other such health problems and should be avoided as much as possible. This is another reason why whey protein from grain-fed cows should be avoided, since most, if not all of the grains fed to cows are from GMO crops.
Look for whey that is minimally processed or low-temperature processed. This type of processing that avoids high heat helps to maintain the nutrient density and quality of the protein, and does not destroy many of the immune-boosting immunoglobulins, vitamins, minerals, or enzymes found in the whey. Exposure to high heat for a prolonged period of time as previously discussed in parts 1 and 2 of the series makes the whey acidic, deficient in nutrients and worthless.
Avoid whey that has been acid processed, usually known to have gone through an ion exchange processing. This type of processing creates a protein powder that is toxic, not healthy, and causes the amino acids to become denatured. In addition, this type of processing also makes the whey acidifying to the body because it uses acids and chemicals to separate the whey from the fat.
When buying a protein powder, also note if any sweeteners are used. If so, make sure that a clean, pure, natural, non-acidifying sweetener is used. Many whey protein powders use artificial sweeteners to lower the sugar content, or high fructose corn syrup. These sweeteners can cause a number of negative health effects and also cause acidity in the body and should be avoided.
And of course remember to always look on the label for whey protein concentrate, not the isolate, which has been stripped of its nutrition!
Lastly, avoid any protein powder that contains any binders, fillers, or other unnatural ingredients. The longer the ingredient list is, the more likely it is to be an inferior source. As a rule of thumb, if you don't recognize what an ingredient on the label is, the chances are that your body won't either and is best avoided.
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