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Not All Whey Protein Is Created Equal

Food Maters

23 July, 2013




When you hear the words WHEY PROTEIN you might often think of the bulk muscle building powders in many bodybuilding stores. The truth is that many of these brands (and even many of the natural brands in health food stores) are using an inferior source of whey protein which has resulted in giving this nutritional powerhouse a bad wrap.


In this article we want to set the record straight on whey protein plus offer some tips on what you should be looking out for in order to gain its maximum health benefits.


Whey protein is derived from milk during the making of cheese through a natural fermentation process. Cow’s milk contains two types of protein, one that consists of 80% of casein protein and the other 20% of whey protein. When cheese is created, the casein is the part of the milk that makes up the cheese, and the whey protein is the liquid that is left over after you separate out all the milk solids.


You might have also noticed the liquid on top of natural yogurts when you open them at home. That is whey protein in its original form and you can separate it using a cheese cloth. The liquid whey then goes through a drying process to remove all the water to turn it into powder.


The RAW Processing Difference


When whey protein is low-temperature-processed (raw or cold-processed) it retains many of its fragile immune factors and nutrients leaving it loaded with the ideal blend of easily-absorbed amino acids, anti- inflammatory immune factors and metabolism-boosting peptides, along with potent antioxidants and alkaline minerals.


Naturally produced whey is loaded with protein and when it is kept as pure and unprocessed as possible and made from the milk of pasture-fed cows, it is also loaded with antioxidants and important amino acids. 

Most commercial whey powders are high-heat-treated, acid-flushed, and stripped of vital nutrients, creating an imbalanced, acidic “whey isolate” that’s frequently contaminated with synthetic additives, chemical detergents, and heavy metals. It’s no wonder that many of these whey products are hard to digest and have to cover up their acidic aftertaste with unhealthy sweeteners and artificial flavors.


It is important to use a brand that is free from pesticides and is made from the milk of cows that have not been treated with hormones and antibiotics. Plus, some popular leading brands of protein powder may contain dangerous levels of heavy metals. A Consumer Reports’ test showed that 3 of the 15 protein drinks tested contained risky levels of arsenic, cadmium, and lead. All these factors render them inferior from a health perspective.


Protein Isolate Vs. Protein Concentrate?


Most commercial whey protein powders are made from protein isolate, which means that it goes through more processing and filtering. The manufacturers like to claim that this results in almost pure protein content, which they say makes it a better product. The problem is that the extra filtering and processing removes a good deal of the important immune factors from the whey protein.


Whey isolates remove the fat, which actually removes important components of its immunological properties, such as phospholipids, phosphatidylserine and cortisol. Additionally, all of the IgG immunoglobulins, which are an excellent source of glutamine and cysteine, are also bound to the fat globule. Fat provides not just calories. In fact, most food rich in healthful fat, including nuts, seeds, chia and almonds are carriers of antioxidants, such as vitamin E and phytosterols. Dairy also contains lipoic acid, which is a carrier of enzymes and immunoglobulin. Therefore, if you take the fat out you’re left with a clearly inferior whey protein. That’s why it’s important to select a protein concentrate over a protein isolate product to receive the maximum health benefits.


The Essentials To Look For In Your Whey Protein Powder




All-natural, pasture-fed cows’ whey, NOT pesticide-treated, grain-fed cows’ whey. Compared to grain-fed cows, pasture-fed cows produce whey that:


  • Is nutritionally superior to grain fed

  • Contains an impressive amino acid and immuno-supportive nutrient profile

  • Is rich in healthy fats–lipolic acid and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)

  • Grass-fed cows are good source of Protein




Choose whey made without GMOs.


3. RAW


Look for raw or cold-processed as most whey is heat processed which:


  • Makes the whey acidic and nutritionally deficient

  • Damages the immuno-supportive micronutrients and amino acids

  • Makes whey inadequate for consumption

  • Cold processed whey protects the nutrients in their natural state




Acid / Ion Exchange Processing is cheaper than acid-free processing, but it denatures the amino acid profiles by using acids and chemicals to separate the whey from the fats.




Protein isolates are proteins stripped away from their nutritional cofactors.

There are three problems with that:


  • All isolates are exposed to acid processing.

  • Your body cannot assimilate proteins in isolated form.

  • Due to over-processing, isolates are deficient in key amino acids and nutritional cofactors.




Most whey products are artificially sweetened making them useless if you have sugar sensitivities, or just don’t want to put artificial sweeteners or flavors into your body. Your whey should be low glycemic, low carb and should not contain any artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohol, glycerin, fructose, sugar or gluten.




Many protein powders both whey and non-whey could contain dangerous levels of heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic. A Consumer Reports’ evaluation showed some leading brands of protein powders exceeded United States Pharmacopoeia’s (USP) recommended safety limits for certain heavy metals. You want to avoid these products at all costs because any high concentration of heavy metals taken over time could lead to serious health consequences.


Editor’s Note: not all the information is entirely correct in this article. However, there is a lot of good points. It is imperative that you do your own research. 


Do You Use Whey Protein And What Have Your Experiences Been?


Whey Protein Comparison


Many companies attempt to mask their product or only tell you the partial truth. I know it is easier to just grab the largest container for the cheapest price and hope for the best, all the while subjecting your body to unknown and most likely unhealthy substances.


We will talk about the different protein supplements later, but right now let’s discuss whey protein. And, to break it down even further, specifically the differences between organic and non-organic. Yes, non-organic and not standard. Yes, it is true that the vast majority of whey protein supplements are non-organic and thus are referred to as “standard.” However, I would like to believe the standard should be that which is best and the rest are compared to that standard.


Non-organic, a.k.a. standard, whey protein has its foundation in a mixture of chemicals. Read the ingredients of your “standard” whey protein powder. Consumer Report found heavy metals in some of the most popular whey protein supplements.  Even the small amounts of actual whey protein comes from cattle that are lot fed and subjected to high doses of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Not what I would consider the best choice for high quality nutrition.


Organic whey protein has its foundation in actual whey, a cow milk product. Again, read the label. You will most likely be able to not only pronounce the words, but also understand them. Furthermore, true organic whey protein comes from grass fed cows. Now, this is where A Better Whey goes a step further. Not only is A Better Whey organic by this standard, but also A Better Whey is a product of cows that for generations have been grass fed year around. That means not only is there no pesticides, or hormones, or antibiotics, but also this standard has been applied for decades. Some of the “grass-fed” cows even in the U.S. are only on grass for a short period of time. A Better Whey imports its raw organic all natural whey protein powder from New Zealand, where the cows have been organically grass fed for generations. There is the standard. A Better Whey is the standard.


There are a few whey protein supplements that met A Better Whey standard and we applaud them for wanting to provide the very best whey protein product to their customers. Now it is up to the people to take a few minutes and read the label and demand the best. You want something better than the non-organic, “standard”, whey protein? Then choose A Better Whey.


Why is Organic Whey Protein better than the average whey?


Taylor, a physical trainer in England wrote:


Organic Whey Protein Vs. Whey Protein


‘Organic’ is the cultivation of chemical free food manufacturing. It is the process of which the quality of the soil for a period of 3 years, is not contaminated with any chemical, pesticide, herbicide or fungicide residue involvement.


Organic whey protein ensures this top quality nutrient dense food is top of the range. Whey protein without the ‘organic’ does not have to meet the same environmental standards as what organic whey protein does, therefore, it is likely it is not giving the body the same health benefits as what organic does.

Various whey protein powders on the market contain soy lecithin (a genetically modified organism), artificial flavors, sucrose and many other sugars and chemicals that just aren’t needed to give you the benefits of a top quality whey protein supplement.


Organic whey protein with ingredients from Mother Nature is the healthiest choice you can make. The chances are, if you are ingesting a protein powder with ingredients on the label you can’t pronounce, or don’t know what they are, then it could be doing more harm than good to your insides.

The quality of whey protein will depend on the diet of the cows which it is sourced from. Cows that have a grass based diet have a higher concentration of healthy fats and proteins compared to cows fed on conventional feed. Cows that feed on organic grass pastures are not fed conventional feed.

Cheap whey protein brands may contain antibiotics, hormones and heavy metals, which all have a negative effect on our health. If the whey is labelled organic then it definitely will not.


When purchasing whey protein, it is important to note that every individual is different, and whilst quality organic whey has many health benefits, it is intended to be used as a supplement to your daily meal plan, and not a meal replacement. Organic whey protein may just be your answer to achieve your fitness goals and peak performance.


Some very good points to consider when you are determining which whey protein is good for you. A Better Whey is that all natural organic whey protein from grass fed cows. 

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