Protein powders are a hot topic and can stir up some controversy. Many people use protein powder as a meal replacement or a way to refuel the body after intense exercise. However, it’s important to understand that not all protein is created equal.
While some protein powders can certainly benefit your overall health, there are also some we will want to steer clear of. If you are looking to add protein powder to your supplement routine, a whey protein powder is an excellent option, and we are going to talk about why and how to find the best option for you.
What Is Whey Protein?
First, let’s start by talking about what whey protein actually is. Whey is one of the proteins found in milk and is separated during cheese production. You will find whey protein in three different forms. Whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate with whey protein concentrate being the most readily available.
Here’s how these different types of whey protein are different from one another.
Whey Protein Concentrate: This is the most common form of whey protein and likely the kind that you will find when shopping in your local health food store. Whey protein concentrate is typically made up of roughly 80% protein.
Whey Protein Isolate: This is the purest form of whey protein and contains 90-95% protein. Since it contains less lactose than whey protein concentrate, it may be a better option for those sensitive to lactose.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate: This form of whey protein is broken down into peptides, so it is easier to absorb. This is the type of whey generally found in medical nutritional foods since it is easier to digest.
The Benefits Of Whey Protein
Whey protein is one of the most talked about and readily available protein powder options. One of the benefits of whey protein is that you can find some really great clean protein options that are free from added ingredients. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of whey protein and why it may be a great option for you.
Whey protein is considered to be a complete protein meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids. This makes it an excellent high-quality protein to help refuel your body after exercise or to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
Whey protein is generally well tolerated as it is easy to digest and absorbed quickly.
Whey protein contains a high level of nutritional value making it a better option than other protein supplements.
Whey protein can help support healthy muscle growth and may help combat inflammation.
Whey protein can help support glutathione levels, the biggest and most powerful antioxidant in the body.
Not All Protein Is Created Equal
As with any other supplement, it’s important to remember that not all protein is created equal. While whey protein contains some impressive health benefits, there are some ingredients in certain powders you will want to avoid. Here are some ingredients to watch out for.
Artificial Sweeteners: Some protein powders will contain artificial sweeteners in place of sugar, but these can be inflammatory and can lead to a number of unwanted side effects like digestive complaints and even headaches. Watch out for things like aspartame, NutraSweet, and Equal on the nutritional label.
Vegetable Oils: Vegetable oils are often added in order to make the protein powder creamier. However, many of these oils come from hydrogenated and trans fats which are extremely detrimental to our health. They can lead to inflammation, weight gain, and high cholesterol.
Gums & Thickeners: Certain gums like xanthan gum are added to powders and act as thickeners. The problem with these thickeners is that they are known to cause digestive distress.
Disodium Phosphate: This is an ingredient that is also found in cleaning products, but is also unfortunately found in certain protein powders. This is often used as a thickener and should be completely avoided when choosing your protein supplement.
How To Find The Best Protein Powder For You
So, now that you know about the health benefits of whey protein and some of the ingredients you will want to avoid, how do you go about finding the right powder for you? The best way to make sure you are consuming a powder free from harmful ingredients is to look at the back of the nutritional label. If possible, you will want to choose a whey protein that is simply 100% grass-fed whey protein. When you choose grass-fed, you can be certain that the cows were fed a natural diet and not a diet full of grains and corn. It also solidifies that the product is likely of higher quality than non-grass-fed options. You will also want to choose a protein that is non-GMO and rBGH/rBST hormone-free if possible.
The most important piece is that the powder does not contain artificial ingredients or added chemicals, so check the label carefully before choosing your protein powder.
After you narrow down the best protein powder for yourself (whether it's whey, plant-based, vegan, etc) and you're in need of a way to store and funnel your protein with you while you're on the go, make sure to check out our line of OnMyWhey supplement keychain funnels. #bringit
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