Proteins are arguably the most essential macronutrients found in the body, as they are vital for the health, formation, and function of our cells. As we are basically a giant cluster made up of billions upon billions of microscopic cells, this is obviously very important. Because proteins are basically the individual building blocks of our bodies, getting enough protein each day is absolutely vital. Protein is also vital for muscular growth and repair, which is why bodybuilders and athletes looking to increase their muscle mass, tend to supplement their diets with protein powders. Protein powder supplements are the most popular form of supplement currently on the market, and have been for many decades now. If you’re a regular protein supplement user however, there are a few things you may not have known about these powders. To help broaden your mind and expand your knowledge on all things protein-related, here’s a look at a series of interesting and surprising facts about protein supplements.
New Zealand whey protein is genetically superior
Whilst any good quality protein from a reputable manufacturer will be beneficial and will certainly provide numerous benefits, if you can, you should always look for protein derived from New Zealand. The reason for this is that New Zealand has very strict rules regarding the use of GMO ingredients used in their supplements. This means that the cows that provide the milk for the whey, are free from genetically modified organisms, they are grass-fed, and they are not injected with hormones and harmful antibiotics. The end result is a much purer and far more nutritious whey protein powder, which means you will likely enjoy much more impressive muscle gains and health benefits.
All whey protein must be pasteurised
To ensure that the milk used to create the whey protein is safe, it must first be pasteurised by law. Pasteurisation is a process in which the milk is gently heated to help destroy any harmful bacterium that many be hiding inside. The problem with pasteurisation is that it can cause the protein molecules in the milk to become denatured. Some companies will try to market a whey protein as being ‘undenatured’ which is misleading as it will still have been pasteurised as it is the law.
Beware of flash pasteurisation
Many companies now selling whey protein will use the fact that they use flash pasteurisation as a key selling point, when in fact, it is detrimental. Flash pasteurisation is basically the same process as regular pasteurisation, except the milk is exposed to much higher heats to speed up the process. Whilst this will almost certainly guarantee that the protein is free from bacteria, it will also mean that there are far less protein molecules, so you will be getting less protein per serving.
You do not need 40g of protein per serving
Another thing you often see with some protein manufacturers, is the fact that they rave about the fact that, per serving, their protein provides 40 – 50g of protein. To some this is seen as a good thing, but in reality you do not need more than 40g of protein per serving, as the body can only process so much at a time. Ideally you need between 20 and 35g of protein, so when it comes to protein serving sizes, less is generally considered more.
100% hydrolyzed whey protein is not possible
If you come across a company selling 100% hydrolyzed whey protein, you may wish to question their math, or congratulate their marketing team, as 100% hydrolyzed whey protein cannot possibly exist. Hydrolyzation is a process designed to help break down the protein to help it be absorbed and digested quicker when you consume it. However, if a company claims that their protein is 100% hydrolyzed, they are essentially saying that the protein has been 100% broken down beforehand, meaning that you would have nothing to consume. If you imagine a fully digested slab of meat, how would that look in a packet on store shelves? Now, if you apply the same principle to protein powder, it is physically impossible for it to have been 100% hydrolyzed, because there would literally be no protein left.
Protein spiking is a real problem with inferior brands
Have you ever wondered why some discount websites and grocery stores are able to sell whey protein far, far cheaper than other leading brands? Whey protein manufacturing is a very expensive business, and in order to turn over a profit, companies have to price their products accordingly. If a company sells their product for much, much less than everybody else however, you have to ask why that is. They aren’t doing it to be competitive – if they were they would sell it marginally cheaper, not excessively cheaper, they are doing so because they are saving money by using cheaper ingredients. You see, whey protein is made up of amino acids, so technically if you bulk a whey protein out with amino acids, you are not breaking any laws. Some companies therefore are using less pure whey protein, and are bulking their powders out with cheap and inferior amino acids such as glycine. This is why cheap and inferior brands of whey concentrate may only provide as little as 60% protein per serving, compared with other companies, who generally provide around 80% – 85% protein per serving in their concentrate blends. When it comes to protein powders, cheap isn’t always cheerful.
You can’t always guarantee protein serving labels are accurate
Though there are countless methods of working out how much protein per serving a food or drink item will provide, you cannot always trust nutritional labels. In protein powders this isn’t necessarily as bad, but with protein cookies and bars, many companies are notorious for over valuing how much protein their bars provide at a time. Many bars will claim to provide 20g of protein per bar, when in actual fact the numbers may very well be closer to 18g. 18g is still respectable, but it isn’t 20g, and nobody appreciates being lied to.