Choosing the right Whey Protein

I have written a few posts about protein powder in the past, but I haven't done one on choosing the right whey protein. I'm doing this post after being asked this question by a client, which made me think I may as well share it on my blog to my followers.



As with any other food or supplement, I always advise to check the ingredients and nutritional content before buying. Brands these days (whether it's food, supplements, or even gadgets) will use fancy packaging, celebrity or attractive endorsements, clever colour combinations and many other sales tactics to secure a sale. Those things can overshadow what is really in the product. I have lost count how many times I have seen supplements or food in supermarkets that look extremely attractive, and then I look at the nutritional content and realise it's diabolical.

If you think there is just one type of whey protein, then think again, there are three main types. You have:

- Whey Protein Concentrate: Concentrates don't have a great amount of filtering, so they contain a few more carbohydates and fats compared to other whey proteins. This results in a lower protein concentration (ironic, considering the name) where the percentage can range from 30-80% protein. Obviously, a powder with 30% protein is completely useless, and you may as well just give your money to the brand without buying the product. Considering the poor quality (the lower percentage ones) the price tends to be lower.

- Whey Protein Isolate: Isolates are a far more concentrated source of protein. They go through a thorough filtering process which removes most of the lactose, carbohydrates and fats. This then gives you a far higher percentage of protein compared to the concentates - around 90-96%. As the quality is high, the price is also high too.

- Whey Protein Hydrolysate: Hydrolysates are not all that different to Isolates, with both having a high quality protein content. The main difference is that Hydrolysates are 'pre-digested' (no, not by humans!) which leaves less work for our bodies to do, which allows for quicker digestion. These are perfect post workout.

One of the main things that dictate what whey we buy, is price. I can completely understand why people buy cheaper brands - because it's cheap. If everyone could afford the premium brands the cheaper brands would no longer exist, but that's not the case. Because some of the cheaper brands are so poor, people are actually losing out, big time! They are spending money on protein powders that are pretty much useless, whereas they are fat better off spending their cash on food. I always say 'buy what you can afford', with both supplements and food.

I strongly advise you to look at the nutritional content of any whey before you buy some. One thing that I have seen a fair amount of the term 'proprietary blend', which is a fancy way of saying 'a mixture'. There are a couple of reasons for this; one being that they don't want other brands copying their ratios, and the other being they are hiding they're useless ingredients. Unfortunately, it does tend to be the latter. They still charge a reasonable amount of money, even though most of the protein could be from a cheaper source - soy for example.

As with many things in life, the price does tend to reflect the quality. There is a reason why Apple products are more expensive than Samsung, because they are higher quality. It's the same with supplements and food - the better the quality, the higher the price. So be sure to have a little read before you buy your protein.

Lee Gregory Fitness

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