Ever wonder what the difference is between all the types of whey protein powder available? Its one of the mostcommon questions I get asked in nutritional consults. The answer is simple. Ingredients and quality.
Whey protein can be made from either milk or cheese. Most people believe whey protein powders are madefrom milk. This is actually a misconception. High qualitywhey isolates or hydrolyzed whey isolates do come from milk. However, whey concentrate comes from cheese mostly. In terms of quality, hydrolyzed whey isolate is tops, followed by whey isolate then whey concentrate.
Lets examine how whey protein powders are made. It all starts at the dairy. Cows are milked and then the milk is pasteurized to kill any bacteria. Milk is comprised of both casein and whey proteins which are then separated. Thewhey is then filtered to remove the sugar (lactose) and the fat. This leaves us with whey concentrate. If whey concentrate is the desired product, then this whole process would start at cheese. But, we want high quality whey isolate or hydrolyzed whey for our bodies. So nowthe whey concentrate is dried. The powder is then filtered again using methods such as cross-flow microfiltration, micro filtration, or cold-filtering. These methodsremove impurities and large molecules leaving us with the whey isolate which is then dried to form the powder.
If we want the best, hydrolyzed whey isolate, wehydrolyze the whey via a chemical processes to break the whey molecules into smaller pieces. This makes them easier and faster for the body to digest. The product is then dried to form hydrolyzed whey isolate. This is the highest quality of whey you can get. At this point, thepowder is shipped to companies that add their ingredients such as enzymes, peptides, vitamin and mineral mixes, and flavorings. Then its put in the package, sealed, and to the stores shelf.
Now that we have an understanding of how whey is made, how do we read the label to determine quality? Simple. Pick up the bag or bottle and rotate it to find the ingredients and the nutritional facts panel. Lets start at ingredients. The first ingredient listed should be whey protein isolate or hydrolyzed whey isolate. If not, its a lower quality whey protein. Next, look on the bottle and see if it listss micro fractions such as alpha lactalbumin, glycomacre peptides, immunoglobulin, lactoferrin, and various other growth factors. Make sure that it has anamino acid profile panel that shows what amino acids are contained in the protein. These should include leucine, isoleucine, valine, glutamine, and arginine.
Lastly, determine the percentage of protein per scoop.High-quality protein powders contain 90% or more protein per scoop. So if one scoop contains 30 total grams of powder weight, we need to see how many grams of protein that contains. Youre looking for 27 grams of protein or better in order to have a high-quality protein. Anything less, is just good.
These are some basic points to help keep you informed on how to identify differences in whey protein powders. Dont fall prey to powders that taste like desserts or milkshakes. Thats just what they are! Yes, they contain whey but they are more like snacks than protein supplementation. Use those products as substitutes for treats. Just dont forget to treat yourself.