Article At A Glance:
In this article, we will discuss some of the differences you may find between protein powder brands, and learn that sometimes paying more gives you better bang for your buck.
Let’s dive in.
What is Whey Protein
The best way to wrap your head around whey protein is if we zoom out and look at the process of making cheese.
Cheese is pressed through many stages of the cheese-making process, and the liquid by-product that comes from this pressing process is called whey.
Usually, on the first filtration will result in Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC), and any additional filtration can result in a finer, pure protein extraction with fewer sugars known as Whey Protein Isolate (WPI).
Not All Whey Protein is Created Equal
Let’s break these down further to give you an understanding of what these areas of purchasing mean.
Raw Ingredient Quality
When purchasing a cheaper whey protein, the ingredients may be sourced from cheaper ingredient suppliers.
Although this is good for the cost of the product from a manufacturing perspective, This could lead to ingredients that contain traces of harmful compounds, such as pesticides, or whey sourced from cows raised in less-than-ideal environments or poor diet regimes.
Sometimes, cheaper protein powders contain questionable, or more so, unnecessary ingredients that could impact your health.
Some ingredients include artificial sweeteners (such as sucralose) or an array of thickeners (such as guar gum) that alter the flavour or texture of the end product.
Although these again significantly lower the cost of producing the product, some of these compounds can have a negative impact on our health.
Some studies have begun to show changes in the human gut microbiota on supplementation of sucralose (del Pozo et al., 2022), and others may even suggest sucralose’s ability to decrease insulin sensitivity, reducing our ability to process sugars in the body (Romo-Romo et al., 2018).
Poor Quality Whey
This one loops back to our first point slightly, but we’ll go into a little further detail.
Grass-fed whey contains practically zero harmful ingredients (such as antibiotics) and contains a higher quality amino acid profile, including higher levels of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) than regular whey proteins.
When looking for a higher quality whey protein powder, look at how many serves you get from the tub. Most cheaper whey products will sit under the 24g per serve mark, whereas higher quality will sit higher.
Tips on Buying Whey Protein
Of course, we can’t all afford premium quality whey protein, and sometimes it’s okay to compromise on some of the above to fit supplements into your budget.
- Look at the protein per serve – A good quality whey protein will be higher than 24g per serve, giving you more bang for your buck.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners (if you can) – Most cheaper protein powders will use artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, this drastically lowers the cost but could be harmful long term.
- Study the label – It’s always best to check the label and most importantly, the ingredients used before buying. Most companies will disclose if they use high-quality ingredients, and do not always state grass-fed (due to Australian labelling laws).
- Check the brand’s website – Things that usually can’t be disclosed on the label will end up on the company website, so it this always good to check if the label isn’t hitting the mark.
Taste it first – Always jump at the opportunity to sample a product first before buying. Most premium whey proteins aren’t overly sweet, and this is due to using less sweetener and keeping more of the protein content in the formula.
The Brand I Recommend
Full disclosure, I am affiliated with this brand and manage the operations and formulation of everything that goes on in the background.
On top of this, other key benefits of UM Sports include:
- 100% use of Natural Sweeteners in all UM Sports labelled products.
- Gluten-free tested and labelled.
- Manufactured and produced in Queensland, Australia.
- Tried and tested formulas for over 15 years, used by world-class bodybuilders and sports athletes.
To reduce overwhelm, always take your time and consider the ingredient quality, protein content and ingredients used in all formulas.
Using the tips provided above, you can begin to find the protein powder that works for you. If you want to jump the gun and try a premium whey protein that ticks all the boxes, I highly recommend UM Sports Platinum Blend or UM Sports Whey Protein Isolate.
Clarity is here to help, so please use the resources we offer, and if you have any questions, do reach out.
- del Pozo, S., Gómez-Martínez, S., Díaz, L. E., Nova, E., Urrialde, R., & Marcos, A. (2022). Potential Effects of Sucralose and Saccharin on Gut Microbiota: A Review. Nutrients, 14(8), 1682. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14081682
- Romo-Romo, A., Aguilar-Salinas, C. A., Brito-Córdova, G. X., Gómez-Díaz, R. A., & Almeda-Valdes, P. (2018). Sucralose decreases insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 108(3), 485–491. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy152
Former drinker, Nutritionist, Biohacking enthusiast, self-experimenter, research fanatic, and self-taught writer, Stephen immerses himself deep into the literature of human optimisation and better understand the nature of addiction. His goal is to help people take control of their addiction, reset their cravings, unscramble their broken brain circuitry and use actionable strategies that work ten times better than anything else.