When you shop for whey protein, you may notice some brands sell for $10 per pound, while others sell for more than $30 per pound. Why would allegedly homogenous products be priced so radically different? The difference is in quality, and we’ll tell you how to spot both high-quality and low-quality whey protein powders so you can give your diet with a protein punch!
Whey protein is particularly popular in the fitness world because of its strong amino acid profile. Whey is naturally high in leucine–a major catalyst in initiating protein synthesis. The more leucine a protein has, the faster it will be absorbed.
Why is this important? As a bariatric patient, absorption of nutrients is key. The faster or more efficiently nutrients can be absorbed, the better it will be for your overall health.
What’s more, this study evaluated 19 men and 21 women with a BMI of 28-50. It revealed that during a calorie-restrictive diet, muscle protein synthesis is better maintained by whey protein, compared to soy protein and carbohydrates.
But “whey protein” is really a general term. There are three forms of whey protein: Whey Concentrate, Isolate, and Hydrolysate.
Whey concentrate is the least processed form and cheapest to manufacture. It will normally contain some fat and lactose. Whey concentrate can have anywhere from 34%-82% protein by weight, depending on the quality.
Whey isolate has been processed a bit more to remove the fat and lactose. Whey isolates are normally 90%+ protein by weight. Compared to whey concentrates, whey isolates are more expensive to manufacture and for consumers to purchase.
Whey hydrolysate is considered a “predigested” form of whey protein. By putting the whey through partial hydrolysis, solubility and digestibility are improved. The extra processing makes hydrolysate the most expensive form of protein.
As you can imagine, manufacturers are proud of their isolates and hydrolysates and promote them as superior, although there is not enough evidence out there to claim this definitively.
As previously stated, you can get a high-quality concentrate that is up to 82% protein by weight, but a lesser and cheaper concentrate could carry as low as 32%. What does this mean? For the lower whey protein concentrate, the remaining 68% is made up of something other than protein. What’s even more unnerving is that you will never know exactly what that 68% is consists of.
Compare this to a quality whey isolate, which contains 90%+ protein. Another benefit of using whey isolate is that with the removal of the extra fat and lactose, this means better digestibility.
So ultimately, a safe way to look at protein is that you get what you pay for.
HOW TO USE WHEY PROTEIN
For athletes and bariatric patients alike, pure whey protein isolate is the best choice. It is absorbed quickly, and because all the lactose is removed through the process, it makes it easy on your stomach–especially if you are lactose intolerant.
A common practice amongst protein manufacturers is to use chemicals and other additives in their products. This may help with taste, cost, or both. So finding a product that is limited in potentially harmful additives can be difficult to come by.
- Natural Whey is 100% whey protein isolate, not a “blend” of various forms of whey
- Natural Whey is derived from milk from cows that are free of recombinant bovine growth hormones (rBGH)
- Natural Whey is naturally sweetened, using extract from the stevia plant
- Natural Whey is free of any harmful additives like MSG and food dyes
- Natural Whey is un-denatured and uses cross flow, ultra-cold microfiltration process, so all proteins remain intact
- 24 grams of protein
- 1 gram of carbohydrate
- 0 grams of fat