What Defines a High-Quality Whey Protein Powder?
There are tons of different protein powders on the market. Some are very good, others are not. What defines a high-quality protein powder?
We know all too well how it feels, not to know how to evaluate the quality of a product.
With this post, we hope to help you navigate through the whey protein jungle – so that you can feel confident when you place your order!
Whey Protein – A good choice for most of us
There are many different protein sources; milk, eggs, meat, beans, peas – The list goes on. The most popular protein powder, by far, is whey protein.
Whey is a product derived from milk and is what is called a complete protein. This means that it contains all of the essential amino acids(EAAs), amino acids that the body needs, but cannot produce on its own.
Whey protein is digested quickly and used efficiently by the body, and as a result, it has become very popular amongst bodybuilders. Whey also contains high amounts of leucine, a Branched Chain Amino Acid(BCAA) renowned for its role in muscle building.
How to Find a High-Quality Whey Protein Powder
So you might come to the conclusion that whey protein powder is right for you, but you have yet to decide between a number of brands.
To start validating whether or not it is a high-quality whey protein powder, take a look at the amino acid profile. If a product does not display the amino acid profile on the label – simply do not order it. It may or may not be a bad product, but there is no need to take any chances.
Producers of protein powders may add non-essential amino acids to increase the amount of protein. This yields a product with a high amount of protein, but a low amount of essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids. While this is not a common practice, it is worth to know about.
So how exactly do we spot a bad product? Study the amino acid profile, and check the amount of leucine. Whey naturally contains about 10 grams of leucine per 100 gram. If the protein powder has a much lower amount of leucine (several grams lower), it is not a quality product.
A lot of protein powders are processed using high temperatures. This high-heat treatment removes a lot of nutrients and minerals from the product.
Any high-quality whey protein powder should be cold processed (low-heat processing). This processing method preserves the natural nutritional value in a much better way.
Another thing to keep in mind is the use of bleach and acid in protein powder processing.
Whey has a slight orange color because it contains beta-Carotene. To make the product more appealing to customers, it may be treated with bleaching agents such as benzoyl peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.
This process gives the protein powder a bad aftertaste, and consequently, these protein powders are often filled with artificial sweeteners for better taste.
A study, performed by Clean Label Project, found that 40 percent out of 134 tested brands of protein powder showed elevated levels of heavy metals. While elevated levels do not automatically mean dangerous levels, we want our protein powder to contain as little as possible.
A lot of companies have their products tested for heavy metals and put the results on the product label. We believe this makes a company more trustworthy because they show that they have gone the extra mile to ensure the quality of their product.
Low sugar content
Whey naturally contains about 5 grams of sugar per 100 gram. Make sure that your protein powder does not contain any additional sugar – other than what occurs naturally.
A good rule is to stay away from any product filled with artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors. There is just no need for it. A cold processed, unflavored whey protein powder is usually either tasteless or tastes like milk.
Note that this is not to say that all additives are bad. Just make sure that those extra ingredients are of high quality. A lot of products are flavored with good organic ingredients.
Lastly, we want to remind you that there are a lot of products out there! This means that there is no reason to settle for a product that does not meet all of your requirements.