Protein powder has long been the obsession of bodybuilders as it is one of the best weight gain supplements. Whey Protein comes in the form of whey concentrate, whey isolate, or whey hydrolyzed in particular and is the #1 selling source of protein powder. However, through the mass marketing techniques of the companies that distribute their versions of whey protein, it makes it very difficult for the users of whey protein to determine if one company’s product is actually better than anther companies product. For example, does a huge company like Twinlab have the capability to make a better whey protein than a smaller company? This article will make it easy for the bodybuilder who chooses to use whey protein to determine which companies sells high quality whey protein and which companies try to sell you on “hype”.
To understand the quality of whey protein one must first have a
little idea about how whey protein is made. Whey protein comes from cow
milk. Certain cow’s product is better quality milk than others. Most of
the exceptional higher quality milk is used for baby formulas (The #1
use of whey protein). The rest is used for nutritional formulas such as
The whey, casein, and other milk by-products are separated from the
milk and converted into powdered form using certain technical
procedures. These procedures are as follows and in order: diafiltration,
concentration, isolation, and hydrolization.
The first step in the process is diafiltration. This is the beginning
phase of making whey protein powdered. The powder is high in lactose
and possesses a protein % of approximately 35%. NO supplement companies
use this version of protein.
The next step is concentration (whey concentrate/WPC) This process
converts the whey powder to possess a protein percentage of anywhere
from 35% to 85%. A few years ago, this CONCENTRATION process was the #1
choice of supplement companies to use. The price of making this whey
protein with a protein percentage of about 80% is about 3 dollars per
pound. The supplement companies were making a huge profit and robbing
consumer’s blind. Now keep in mind that a higher protein percentage the
higher the cost. Thus if a supplement company wanted to make more money
they would buy a lower percentage protein. This version of whey protein
(concentration) is also to be blamed for the digestive problems
associated with lactose, such as gas and diarrhea.
The next processing step after concentration is isolation (whey
isolate/WPI) This process separates all of the lactose and fat from the
protein. The protein percentage is brought up to over 90% and highest of
96%. No whey protein is 100% protein. This process cost twice the
amount to make compared to whey concentrate. Thus it is the main reason
supplement companies did not use it at first until consumers realized
this version of whey protein existed and they were forced to use it.
The last step in the process of whey protein is hydrolyzation. In
this process an enzyme is added to the powder to break down the larger
peptides molecules and form smaller di and tri peptides to make the
protein more digestible. The #1 reason the manufacturer use this process
is to make hypoallergenic baby formulas. If you don’t believe me go
look down your grocery store aisle and take a look. This version of whey
protein is rarely used because of several reasons: price and taste.
This process is very technical and hence the reason it’s most expensive.
Versions of whey
All of the processes described above are the steps in extracting the
protein from the whey. But the extracting techniques can differ. They
are as follows: Ion-exchange, ultrafiltration, and Cross-Flow
Microfiltration. That’s it. Some supplement companies will try to
enhance the description of their whey protein by using fancy scientific
words. For example: Quadrafiltration, peptide containing, low-molecular
weight, and whey complex etc.
The highest quality whey protein for bodybuilders would be a combination of CFM whey isolate and a small amount of hydrolyzed whey protein. If you’re looking for good value for money I like the Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein which contains 24 grams of protein with every scoop. ON is a blend of whey protein concentrate, isolate and hydrolyzed whey peptides to make it faster acting with fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, lactose, and other carbohydrates removed so you get more of what you want!