The Ultimate Whey Protein Guide

By Xwerks Nutrition

The Ultimate Whey Protein Guide

Not all protein is created equal, here is a handy guide to make it more clear when you are shopping for your next protein powder.

The Source

Since whey protein comes from cows, the diet, health and environment of the cows is very important to the quality of the final product. A cow raised in an unhealthy environment with a poor diet, given antibiotics and hormones does not produce a high quality milk.

Free range, pasture raised animals are stronger, healthier and more nutritious than their grain-fed counterparts. The milk from these animals also contains more immune stimulating compounds.

Whey derived from cows not treated with rBGH, antibiotics and pesticides do not pass these chemicals on to you.

Grass-fed whey is rich in protein substances, called native micro fractions. These include alpha lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, glycomacropeptide, immunoglobulins, serum albumin, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase.

The Types of Whey

Whey protein is derived from milk during the cheese making process. Cow's milk is made from two proteins, casein and whey. When cheese is made, the casein part becomes the actual cheese and you are left with whey protein. What happens next is very important, the processing:

Concentrate

The most basic and cheapest form of whey protein. It typically contains 70-90% protein per serving with the rest being lactose and fat. This is the standard for many cheap whey proteins.

Isolate

Whey protein isolate is created when whey concentrate is microfiltered removing basically everything that isn't protein. This means you are left with more pure protein without fats and even little or no lactose.

Hydrolyzed

Hydrolyzed whey goes through an addition process where the protein is exposed to heat, acid or enzymes that break down the bonds hold amino acids together. Protein makers typically claim this process 'pre-digests' the protein which enhances bioavailability.

See our article Whey Protein Isolate vs Hydrolyzed

Reading a Label

Proprietary Blends

Supplement makers use proprietary blends when they don't want you to know exactly what is in their product. 

The FDA requires ingredients to be listed by their predominance (weight) in the product. So, our label for example (below) we show exactly what you get in each 30g scoop.

In this example below, you can see this maker uses a "Proprietary Blend Matrix" - a proprietary blend. 

This means you do not know how much of each type of protein you are getting, it contains the most of whey isolate and the least of skim milk, but how much? 

By using a blend, they are able to show they use whey isolate, a high quality whey, but in reality 'blend' it with a lot of other lower quality proteins as well. 

This practice is done in all supplements, not just protein. So next time you are shopping for a nutrition product, check the label.