Whey Protein Supplements: Why You Should Avoid Cheap Whey Protein Powders and What You Need to Know Before You Buy Whey Protein Supplements
Dec 11th, 2011
I don’t know about you, but for most of my bodybuilding career I have paid very little attention to which brands of whey protein supplements I was using. To be honest, I rarely considered any factor besides the price tag and usually opted to purchase whichever brand just happened to be the cheapest.
I eventually began to ask myself whether the cheapest whey protein supplements were the ones I should be using, and I began researching to find if there really were any significant differences between the cheap powders and designer whey protein powders.
What I discovered was actually quite disturbing and I will never again base my decision on which whey protein supplements to buy on price alone.
In this posting I am going to share with you why anyone even loosely following a fitness or bodybuilding nutrition plan will want to consider using a whey protein supplement.
I will also explain the reasons you should avoid cheap whey protein powders like the plague, give you some advice on how to choose the best whey protein supplement for you and provide you with a cheap and all-natural alternative to using whey protein supplements.
Let’s start with an explanation of what whey protein is and go over the benefits you can expect to receive from using whey protein powder…
What is Whey Protein
Whey protein is actually nothing more than a derivative of dairy protein that is taken from cow’s milk. The protein in a cow’s milk is composed of approximately 80% casein protein and 20% whey protein. In order to separate whey protein from the milk it must go through a process of filtration and dehydration.
Depending on how effective this separation process is, the end result can be anywhere from around 90% protein (considered pure whey protein isolate) to as little as around 30%.
I wish I could tell you that determining the purity of a protein powder was as simple as referencing its nutritional label, but the truth is that many supplement companies are less than truthful with the nutritional information they are disclosing to the unsuspecting public.
More on this in a minute…
First, I want to briefly go over the reasons bodybuilders use whey protein supplements.
Benefits of Whey Protein Powder
There are many benefits that supplement companies claim for their customers who use their whey protein products. I would like to look at a few of the following claimed benefits of using whey protein powder supplements in detail to help you have a better understanding about what whey protein supplements will, and will not, do for you:
Benefit #1: Better Immune System Performance
Benefit #2: Enhanced Metabolism
Benefit #3: Faster Muscle Growth
Benefit #4: Convenience
Whey Protein and Immune System Performance
According to the Whey Protein Institute, whey protein contains immunoglobulins and antioxidants that can enhance the immune system and help fight off disease-inducing free radicals in our body.
While I don’t doubt the accuracy of this information as it specifically pertains to whey protein, this does not take into account the fact that most whey protein powder supplements are made with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame that have been shown to retard the immune system and also greatly increase the risk of developing many different forms of cancer.
As such, I wouldn’t rely on most whey protein supplements to boost your immune system or guarantee your long term vitality.
Although, there is an alternative to whey protein powder that I use that is perfectly healthy and natural that I will share with you in just a few moments…
Whey Protein and Enhanced Metabolic Response
One beneficial property of protein is that it takes more energy for the body to digest than any other nutrient. Therefore, diets that contain significant amounts of protein naturally lead to a greater caloric deficit per calorie consumed.
Pure whey protein in particular contains approximately 90 calories per ounce with only a gram or two of fat which makes it a very lean, low-calorie source of protein.
On top of that, the Whey Protein Institute also points out that whey protein is abundant in the amino acid, leucine, which has been shown to effectively preserve lean muscle mass while also encouraging fat loss.
These metabolic benefits are not limited to whey protein alone as all lean protein sources contain a nutritional profile that will provide a boost to your metabolism and preserve muscle mass
Whey Protein for Faster Muscle Growth
There has long been a debate about whether or not whey protein is actually more effective at building muscle mass than other forms of protein. My experience has been that whey protein is no more effective at building muscle mass than any other form of complete protein.
However, because whey protein does digest faster than other protein sources, it is an ideal form of protein to consume with your post workout meal to make sure your strained muscles immediately receive a rush of protein-rich nutrition to start the process of repairing and rebuilding as soon as possible.
Using Whey Protein Supplements for Convenience
The convenience of whey protein supplements is the number one reason that so many bodybuilders use whey protein today. In fact, this is really the only reason that I use whey protein as I am not convinced that natural forms of complete proteins do not provide the exact same muscle building results.
However, we all have extremely busy schedules and having a tub of whey protein powder readily available is a necessity for those times when there simply isn’t time to prepare a meal, or when you just don’t feel like cooking.
So, while whey protein supplements are not necessary to build significant amounts of muscle mass, they can sure help you to stick with your daily protein requirements by giving you a convenient way to quickly ingest a large amount of complete protein by easily mixing a scoop or two of whey protein powder with water or milk.
I apologize if my expounding on the benefits of whey protein supplements was a lot of stuff that you had heard before, but I want to make sure that you understand the truth about the benefits of using whey protein supplements.
I am now going to move on to explaining the less than honest tricks that supplement companies use to cut costs (and quality) when manufacturing their whey protein products.
I will also explain what the best protein powders are (whey and otherwise) and give you some tips to help you know what to look out for when you’re shopping around for a whey protein powder.
Supplement Companies & Whey Protein Powder Deceptions
I recently watched this video interview with a supplement company CEO which really opened my eyes to some of the deceptive tactics used by supplement companies when selling whey protein supplements to unsuspecting customers.
Some of the ways that supplement companies deceive their customers include using fillers such as fats and sugars that are much cheaper than whey protein, spiking their products with amino acids that form incomplete proteins that are completely impotent at building muscle mass, and just plain lying on the nutritional label.
So, this begs the question, “How can we know that we are buying a quality whey protein supplement?“
I will tell you.
I am going to give you a few tips that you can use to make sure that you only purchase high quality whey protein supplements and don’t get tricked into wasting your money on ineffective protein supplements…
Only Purchase Whey Protein Supplements Manufactured in Certified Production Facilities
The best way for you to ensure that you are using a quality whey protein supplement that has an accurate nutritional label is by only buying whey protein powders that are manufactured in a government certified (or third party certified) facility. Facilities that are certified by a third party will have likely had their product tested for nutritional accuracy, and repeatability, and will be held to the highest of production standards.
I will warn you that protein supplements that are produced in a certified facility will carry a larger price tag because there are significant costs associated with maintaining the high level of standards required to receive and maintain the necessary third party certifications.
However, the peace of mind that you will receive from knowing that you are getting a quality whey protein product is well worth the difference in price. Here are two brands of whey protein that are manufactured in facilities that are third party certified:
3rd Party Certified by NSF: Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein
Government Certified (CGMP):
Blue Star Nutraceuticals Iso-Smooth Protein Powder
Stay Away from Protein Powders with High Fat and Carbohydrate Content
Another way that supplement companies minimize the cost of their whey protein supplements is to dilute the protein content by adding ingredients that are much cheaper than whey protein, such as fats and sugars.
This is why you never want to buy protein powder that contains more than a few grams of fat and sugars per ounce (28 gram serving size).
These protein supplements can usually be spotted fairly easily because their protein content per ounce will usually be much less than the 24g per ounce contained in pure whey protein isolate. So, if you see a whey protein supplement that has 20g of protein (or less) per 28g serving size, you will know that you are getting a diluted whey protein product and should walk the other way.
Avoid Whey Protein Supplements Containing Glycine
Glycine is the simplest naturally occurring amino acid and is the cheapest for supplement companies to buy. Because glycine is an amino acid, if tested, it will show up as a protein in the nutritional profile. However, this is deceiving for consumers because glycine, by itself, is an incomplete protein and cannot be used by the body for building new muscle tissue.
Certain supplement companies will add glycine to their whey protein powders as a way to spike their products with additional protein content. Whey protein powders containing glycine are a rip-off and cannot be trusted.
The good news is that the government requires that supplements containing glycine to disclose this ingredient in the “other ingredients” section of their nutritional labels. If you see glycine on a whey protein supplement’s nutritional label, this is a red flag that you need to look for a different product.
When Buying Cheap Whey Protein Powder, You Get What You Pay For
I told you at the beginning of this post that I used to base my decision on which whey protein supplements to buy solely on price. Well, after learning these truths (and others), I had to get over my stubbornness to not pay any more than bottom dollar for whey protein powder because I found that the cheap whey protein powders all gave me reasons to suspect that their purity was less than optimal.
After some struggling to find a whey protein supplement that I was completely comfortable with, I finally settled on two reputable manufacturers of whey protein supplements – Optimum Nutrition and Blue Star Nutraceuticals.
The Best Whey Protein – Whey Isolate Protein Powder
Whey protein isolates are the most pure form of whey protein you can buy and is the only form of whey protein that I use anymore. That being said, pure whey protein isolate powder can be fairly expensive. For instance, Blue Star Nutraceuticals produces a line of Iso-Smooth pure whey protein isolate powders that I use, but a 5lb container runs about $90.
While I will continue to use Iso-Smooth protein (when it is in my budget to do so), because it carries a rather high price tag I have been forced to look at other more cost-effective methods of conveniently preparing high volumes of pure complete proteins as well. Luckily, a friend of mine recommended a much cheaper, high quality, all-natural protein powder alternative.
Egg Protein Powder: A Cheap and All-Natural Whey Protein Alternative
Until my friend recommended it, I had actually never heard of egg white protein in powdered form, but I am really glad I discovered it because I now have the ability to quickly prepare a ton of great tasting healthy shakes that are entirely natural – and for a fraction of the cost of pure whey protein isolate.
In fact, my opinion is that egg white powder is such a cost effective and healthy alternative to whey protein supplements that I drink over twice as many egg white powder protein shakes as I do whey protein shakes.
The cost of egg white protein powder is about half as much as pure whey protein isolate and it is all-natural which makes using it a no-brainer for anyone who is looking for a cheap and healthy complete protein source. A 5lb container of Rose Acre Farms Egg White Protein Powder runs about $55 and contains 24 grams of protein per ounce, which is the most you will find in any source of complete protein powder.
If you want a pure, cheap and natural alternative to whey protein isolate, I cannot recommend Rose Acre Farms egg white protein powder enough. Here are a few examples of shakes that I make in my blender for my pre and post workout nutrition:
• 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
• 5oz. of orange juice
• 6 Tbsp. of egg white protein powder (30 grams of complete protein)
• 5oz. of skim milk
• 4 Tbsp. of egg white protein powder (20 grams of complete protein)
• 1/2 of a banana
Fruit & Yogurt Protein Shake
• 1 cup plain yogurt
• 1 cup of skim milk
• 6 Tbsp. of egg white protein powder (30 grams of complete protein)
• Fruit of my choice added to taste or carbohydrate requirements
I have been making about 5 different recipes like these for years and they never get old…
The only negative aspect about using egg white protein powder is that it can give you gas if you ingest too much of it. I only notice this affect when I drink two shakes in the same day that each contain a relatively high amount of protein.
Nevertheless, I wanted to give you a fair warning that if you drink too much egg white protein powder, you may get gassy.
A Final Note on Whey Protein Supplements
I hope that you have learned something from this posting and that you will no longer be deceived into buying cheap and ineffective whey protein supplements for the sake of saving a few dollars.
I wasted enough of my own money on low quality whey protein powders over the years and hope that the information I have shared will allow you to avoid wasting your own hard earned money on questionable whey protein supplements.
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