4 Things You Should Know Before Buying Any More Whey Protein

If you are like many amateur fitness enthusiasts in the UK, whey protein supplements are as much a part of your monthly shopping expenditure as chicken breasts, brown rice and broccoli. Most people purchase their whey protein supplements from the same supplier without much thought or variation: after all, aren’t all brands of whey protein essentially the same?

Before you buy your next month’s supply, we’d like you to take a few minutes to consider whether or not you’re getting the best nutritional and fitness value from your whey protein. This article explains four little-known truths about whey protein supplements that may induce you to reconsider your purchasing habits:

1) Not All Whey Protein Supplements Contain The Same Amount Of Protein

Many consumers purchase protein supplements indiscriminately, presuming each product will contain pure or almost pure protein content. This is unfortunately not the case. The extraction process means that a supplement will never be 100% protein, but it can aim pretty close. Some cheap ‘sports nutrition drinks’ contain as little as 30% protein by volume, which makes you wonder what constitutes the other 60%. The norm is 85% to 90% for whey protein isolate (WPI) products, but even then it raises questions about what that last 10% to 15% actually is. Some brands bulk up a protein supplement with powdered oatmeal, but much of the time the lost weight is made up of fast acting carbs – i.e. sugars. So for each 100 g of whey protein supplement you consume, 10 g of that could be unwanted sugars. Not good at all for someone who wants to reduce fat.

Look for a protein supplement that packs a minimum of 95% protein by volume, and try to avoid those with excessive added sugars or sweeteners.

2) Some Whey Proteins Are Less Bioavailable Than Others

When we say a supplement is bioavailable, what do we mean? Simply put, bioavailability is the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in a food. If something has low bioavailability it either takes a long time to digest, or some of the components aren’t digestible at all. Some whey protein supplements, unfortunately, are difficult to digest or take a long time to do so.

This is bad news for athletes, especially when accepted wisdom means people take whey protein drinks 30 to 60 minutes before exercise. Some whey proteins don’t kick in – i.e. the protein becomes available as muscular fuel – for as long as 48 hours, making them useless for increasing fitness performance or speeding up recovery. Worse still, due to many of the natural milk enzymes that aid digestion being destroyed in the production process, a lot of the protein content in some supplements is flushed out of your body before being absorbed.

3) Some Supplements Contain Unwanted Antibiotics And Animal Hormones

Whey protein is an extract of cow’s milk, which incidentally means it is unsuitable for vegan athletes. It also makes whey protein supplements vulnerable to the inherent problems of the milk industry – such as the presence of antibiotics and added hormones in animal feed, which filter through to the milk. These additives have been linked to a range of health problems in humans, including higher oestrogen levels in boys, milk allergies, increased body fat and poor bone density. To minimise this risk, choose a whey protein supplement that uses milk only from rBST free farms. These producers have pledged to avoid the use of unnecessary hormones and antibiotic treatments in cattle feed.

4) Some Supplements Are Easier To Consume Than Others

This point will come as no surprise to regular users of protein supplements! Try and mix a powdered supplement into a drink in a hurry – using a glass, water and spoon – and the invariable result is a poorly mixed, greyish gloop. It is hard to drink, hard to get off your teeth, and hard to clean off your glass! It’s enough to put many people off entirely. Choosing a supplement with high protein content will help, because you will need to use less powder by volume to get the protein you need. Also steer clear of added sugar supplements, as this makes the granules stickier and prone to bind together.

Find Out More

These factors are all explored in greater depth in our latest guide: The Native Whey Protein: Why You Deserve Better From Your Whey Protein Supplements. Download a copy for free today by following this link.