Using Whey Protein For Body/Muscle-Building: The Good, Bad And The Ugly
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The Good, Bad And The Ugly
Let’s face it, anyone who has attempted to make sense of the various whey products by reading labels has ended up confused and bewildered. Trying to decipher the difference between a $20 product and a $40 product will leave anyone with less than a degree in chemistry and nutritional science shaking his or her head as the choices are literally mind-boggling. Allow me to provide you with a crash course in terminology that can go a long way in clearing up the confusion.
Rest assured of one thing: whey works. Every serious progressive resistance devotee needs supplemental protein and whey is the Rolls Royce of protein supplementation. Once you arrive at a brand that works, try consuming a whey shake at the conclusion of every intense weight workout. You’ll be supplying traumatized muscle tissue with exactly the amino acid profile needed to speed recovery and accelerate the repair and rebuilding process.
WHEY PROTEIN: Whey is the waste product that occurs in the manufacture of cheese and, while loaded with high biologic value protein, it is also loaded with lactose. Removing lactose from whey requires heat. Filtration is one popular method and handled correctly can result in all but 15% of the lactose being successfully removed from the whey. The ion-exchange process is more expensive and can result in a final product that has all but 5% of the lactose removed.
When It Comes To Assessing Value, There Are Two Issues of Consequence…
1. How pure is the final product? Is it 80% pure? 90% pure? Whey protein contains impurities such as lactose milk sugar and ash. Whey protein filtration concentrates average around 80% purity while ion-exchange isolates may reach purity levels that are 90% or better. Consequently, filtrated whey protein and whey derived from lactalbumin are cheaper than ion-exchanged isolates.
2. To what extent have whey protein’s vital sub-fractions been compromised? Whey protein contains biologically active peptides, which have weight loss and muscle-building properties. These vital peptides are present in miniscule amounts in pre-processed form and, unfortunately, are filtered out of the final product or damaged (denatured) by a high heat or acidic filtering process. A denatured protein no longer displays any biological activity. What does this mean to the consumer? Even though ion-exchange whey protein is considerably more expensive, the process preserves peptides.
Ion-exchange whey protein isolates contain the smallest percentage of impurities of any whey protein on the market today. That’s the good news. The bad news is even this product is not perfect. Ion-exchange whey protein isolates tend to contain almost none of the vital peptides – lactoferrin, alpha lactalbumin, immunoglobin, beta lactoglobin. These peptides contained in raw whey protein have amazing health properties. Though ion-exchange whey contains fewer impurities than a whey concentrate, it is lacking in biologically-active peptides present in the lesser-processed whey concentrate.
Micro/nano-filtration whey proteins are slightly higher in purity than ion-exchange isolates and leagues ahead of whey protein concentrates in terms of purity: 90% to 94%. These are cold-processed, cross-flow and probably the finest (and therefore the most expensive) whey protein on the market today. Special efforts are taken to ensure that the vital sub-fractions remain intact and biologically active peptides remain present. The protein is processed using low heat and the moderate temperature eliminates acidic chemical conditions that damage and dilute protein potency. These expensive filtration techniques are specifically designed to remove impurities without filtering out the vital sub-fractions. What you’re left with is a whey protein that contains little in the way of impurities and offers the additional health benefits of a fully intact whey protein. This process ensures a higher percentage of critical branch-chain amino acids.
Hydrolyzed whey protein is the most expensive of all. Extremely pure whey protein created from the micro/nano-filtration process is run through a hydrolysis process to break the protein down into much smaller groups of amino acids, or peptides. The benefit of hydrolyzed protein is that it is assimilated at an incredibly accelerated rate and, as a direct result, a far greater amount of protein is assimilated. On the downside, hydrolyzed whey protein is denatured and possesses no biological activity. Hydrolyzed proteins are often described as predigested. Though potent, the cost is prohibitive and the taste is extremely bitter.
To make matters more confusing, most whey proteins tend to be a blend of several different types of filtered whey. For example, a cheap concentrate might be mixed with a small amount of isolate or ion-exchanged isolate whey. Is this the best or worst of both worlds? The benefit to the consumer is lower cost. Once you decide on a budget, purchase a product and put the products to the test. I measure my clients’ body composition frequently using skin-fold caliper and have them keep a food journal. If they are hitting everything exactly the way they should and things are not moving, this indicates the supplements they are using are ineffectual. I don’t like to say anyone’s product isn’t good, but if by switching brands they begin to make progress then I draw the logical conclusions.
To me, any whey protein powder is simply missing the mark unless it’s made from and follows these ‘9 essentials’ at a minimum
1. All-Natural, Pasture-Fed Cows' Whey, not pesticide-Treated, Grain-Fed Cows' Whey – Compared To Grain-Fed Cows, Pasture-Fed Cows Produce Whey That…
* Contains An Impressive Amino Acid And Immuno-Supportive Nutrient Profile
* Is Rich In Healthy Fats – Lipolic Acid And CLA (conjugated Linoleic Acid)
* Always Look For And Choose Whey That Is GMO-Free
3. Cold processed to protect the nutrients in their natural state, not heat processed – the majority of 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
4. Acid-Free processing, not acid / Ion Exchange Processing – The Bottom Line Is That Acid/Ion Exchange Processing…
* Is A Less Healthful, Cheaper Process Than Acid-Free Processing
* Denatures Amino Acid Profiles By Using Acids And Chemicals To Separate The Whey From The Fats.
5. Whey protein concentrate, not protein isolates – protein isolates are proteins stripped away from their nutritional cofactors. I have issues with isolates because...
* Most 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.
6. Sweetened naturally, not artificially, and low carb – many whey powders…
* are artificially sweetened making them undesirable if you have sugar sensitivities, or you want to avoid putting synthetic sweeteners or flavors in your body
* Tend Not To Be Low Glycemic And Low Carb
* Contain Sugar Alcohols, Glycerin, or Gluten, And Some Even Use High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) As A Sweetener
7. Maximum biological value, NOT compromised or damaged – Most whey proteins provide some benefit. But, due to the ingredients, the source of the whey, the concentration of beneficial nutrients, or the type of processing, many whey products simply don't deliver what they promise.
You want whey that…
* Retains Its Maximum Biological Value
* Contains All The Key Amino Acids, Cofactors, And Beneficial Micronutrients Present And Intact Rather Than Compromised Or Damaged
* Is Not Lacking Any Amino Acids Or Other Essential Nutrients
8. Easy to Digest, NOT Causing Digestive Stress – Many whey products contain long-chain fatty acids which are hard to digest and require bile acids to absorb.
You want a whey protein powder that…
* Contains Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT)
* Is Easily Absorbed, Digested Quickly, And Is Utilized As Energy Without Causing Digestive Stress
* Ideally, Contains Coconut Oil – One Of The Best Sources Of MCT
9. Free from Toxic Heavy Metals or at Such Low Levels NOT to be a Health Risk – You want to avoid protein powders, both whey and non-whey, that contain dangerous levels of heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic. Any high concentration of heavy metals consumed over time could lead to serious health consequences.
In fact, a Consumer Reports' evaluation showed how some leading brands of protein powders exceeded United States Pharmacopoeia's (USP) recommended safety limits for certain heavy metals.
Building Stronger Muscle, One Muscle Fiber at a Time…
Leucine is a branched chain amino acid found in certain foods.
It causes protein to be created and builds your muscle by its signaling of the mTOR (Mammalian Target of Rapamycin) mechanism.
However, you need FAR more leucine than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) to reap this muscle-building benefit. In fact, you need massive amounts…
So Where Can You Find Leucine?
You'll find the highest concentrations of leucine and other branched chain amino acids (BCAA) in dairy products – especially quality cheeses and whey protein.
Even when getting leucine from your natural food supply, it's often wasted or used as a building block instead of an anabolic agent. So to create the correct anabolic environment, you need to boost leucine consumption way beyond mere maintenance levels.
Unfortunately, to get far and away your most competitive edge by exceeding maintenance levels is challenging. Here's why…
Based on nitrogen-balance measurements, the requirement for leucine that maintains your current body protein is 1-3 grams daily.
But to optimize its anabolic pathway, you need 8g - 16g daily.
This means that to reach 8 grams for anabolic purposes, you need the following humungous amounts of food:
* A Pound And A Half of Chicken
* Three Pounds of Pork
* More Than 1 Pound of Almonds (Over 3000 Calories)
* 16 eggs
* ½ pound of Raw Cheddar Cheese
* But Remarkably, You Only Need About 3oz of High-Quality Whey.
Clearly, supplementing with whey protein can effectively allow you to get that 8g or more of leucine to build strong competitive muscle, without consuming freaky amounts of food and calories.
Why Good Taste is So Important
First of all, when it comes to developing any whey protein powder, I cannot emphasize the importance of taste enough. Despite any added benefits, if it doesn’t taste good, even athletes won’t come back for more.
Maltodextrin – Make Sure You Pick the Right One!!
Most people aren’t aware there are two different types of maltodextrin. If you don’t know the difference you could be in for a very unpleasant surprise -- so let me help explain the difference.
The naturally-occurring digestive resistant maltodextrin used to enhance flavor and provide other health benefits is a far-cry from the more commonly used synthetic varieties.
The critical distinction here is “naturally-occurring.” Synthetic variants of maltodextrin do exist and are often used as cheap sweeteners in protein powders. I purposely avoid synthetic maltodextrin because it…
* Is Artificially Created When Acid/Enzymes Are Applied To Starch
* Can Potentially Raise Insulin Levels
* May Cause Depletion Of Your Body’s Vitamins And Minerals
* Typically Is GMO (genetically Modified)
* Is Not Digestive Resistant
Instead, The Naturally-Occurring Digestive Resistant Maltodextrin Is…
* Classified As Water Soluble Fiber*
* Resistant To Digestion*
* Low Glycemic *
* Rich In Pre-Biotic Food To Support Healthy Gut Bacteria
So, you can see the significant differences between synthetic maltodextrin and the naturally-occurring maltodextrin. Not only does naturally occurring digestive resistant maltodextrin enhance the taste, it also provides other health benefits as well… a win-win scenario.
Whey Concentrate or Whey Isolate? – Pick The Wrong One And You’re Asking For Trouble
An area I feel that’s critically important whenever developing an elite brand of whey protein powder is whether to use whey concentrate or whey isolate in the formula.
This is an area that often gets glossed over and one I feel deserves more attention. And talk about an area of major confusion… many supposed experts favor whey isolate. But to me, they’ve not thoroughly done their homework on this.
And why Is that?
Here are some of the reasons I’m NOT in favor of using isolates in any protein powder… because whey isolate…
* Is Derived From Pasteurized Dairy And Processed With Heat And Acid.
* Goes Through A Process That Removes The Fat Which In Turn Removes Important Components Of Whey’s Immunological Properties… Healthful Properties Such As Phospholipids, Phosphatidylserine, And Cortisol.
* Cheats You Out Of IgG Immunoglobulins, Which Are Excellent Sources Of Glutamine And Cysteine Bound To Fat Globules.
* Hinders Your Body From Effectively Assimilating Proteins In This Isolated Form.
* Is Deficient In Key Amino Acids And Nutritional Cofactors.
The bottom line with whey isolate… if you over-process the protein and remove the fat, you’re left with clearly inferior whey protein.
That’s why I prefer whey concentrate… from raw unpasteurized milk… from pasture-fed cows… and cold processed to avoid over-processing and heat damage.
Five Additional ‘Essentials’ Take Protein Powder
to a Whole New Performance Level
Based on what I introduced above, here are five additional criteria I believe are necessary to give the ‘9 Essentials’ an added boost…
* Put Even More Emphasis On Good Taste – Natural Sweeteners Like Digestive Resistant Maltodextrin And Luo Han Fit The Bill.
* Look For More Fiber – Keeping Yourself ‘regular’ Can Be Key To Maintaining Top Performance Levels.
* Include Probiotics In The Formula – Helps To Synthesize Leucine To Enhance Building Muscle And Helps You Maintain A Healthy Gut.
* Focus On Mineral Content – In This Case, Calcium, Which Plays A Key Role In Muscle Contraction And Is Necessary For Exercise Recovery.
* Avoid Soy Lecithin – This Is A Waste Product Laden With Solvents And Pesticides And Should Be Shunned At All Costs.
When these five are added to the ‘9 Essentials,’ we now have a minimum of 14 selection requirements I believe are needed for the optimal whey protein powder.
Monty Henry, Owner
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