Why whey protein isolate is so damn sexy.
Before we begin, I solemnly swear that the title is the only whey pun in this post. Promise. Ok, so, I’ll let you in on a little secret: whey protein isolate (or WPI for the acro-nymphs) is not just the best kind of whey protein, it’s the best kind of protein you can get. And it’s perfect for almost everybody.
I can hear people asking already, WTF is WPI? Well, first things first, whey is the fluid in milk which is separated from the curds when dairy farmers make cheese. Sounds yum right? But don’t worry, it’s essentially flavourless on its own. After it is separated, it’s dried into a powder and can be formed into three variants - whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate. The difference between each lies in their composition, and more to the point, the main difference is the protein content.
Concentrate, Isolate and Hydrolysate
Concentrates have the least amount of protein and a reasonably high amount of lactose, carbs and fat while also being the cheapest to produce. Nothing wrong with them - great if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind the extra carbs but not nearly as good as isolates if you’re after dem gains and dat ass.
Isolates contain a much higher percentage of pure protein and can be pure enough to be virtually lactose free (most lactose intolerant people can have whey isolates), carbohydrate free, fat free, and cholesterol free. Perfect for athletes and the activewear enthusiasts among us who’d rather spend their deposits on smashed avocado - apparently.
Hydrolysates are an extreme version of isolates and are really only used by the Ronda Rouseys of the world as it is the most processed and the most expensive of the three variants. And are you planning on taking a swift kick to the jaw any time soon? No? Planning on giving me one instead? Ok, moving on then…
How is our whey protein isolate made? Via Membrane Filtration, obvs.
It sounds complex, but membrane filtration basically filters the liquid whey at cold temperatures through tiny little holes that lets all the unwanted stuff through (ie carbs) and catches the protein. Bonus fact - there are no chemicals involved so the protein remains au natural baby (undenatured).
This process produces a really high protein product with only small amounts of naturally occurring fat, lactose and minerals. The difference between concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate comes down to how tiny the filter’s holes are which is why each have different levels of protein content (as well as carbs, lactose, and fat).
As for taste? Membrane filtration whey tastes as it should - clean with pleasant, native dairy notes. Other wheys are simply not as good as our whey.
Absorbed quicker than Trump can delete a tweet.
According to people much smarter than me, whey protein has the highest ‘biologic value’ of any natural protein source. This means it is digested and absorbed by your body better than that 3am kebab and the guilt induced kale smoothie the following morning. And we both know how badly your body needed that kebab!
Amino Acids - better than LSD.
Whey protein is a glorious source of all the Essential Amino Acids - amino acids that your body simply needs but can't produce by itself ergo you have to consume them. The best analogy I can think of is that they are just like Ferrero Rocher. We have mad love for vegans and vegetarians, but strictly speaking, a lot of vegetable sources of protein are low in one or two Essential Amino Acids, making their amino acid levels not quite Ferrero Rocher level.
This perfect storm enables whey protein to augment muscle protein synthesis, support fat burning, boost the immune system, improve insulin sensitivity, and decrease appetite. The only thing it hasn’t been seen doing is getting changed in a phone booth, but then again, nobody ever saw Clark Kent do that either!
Grass fed vs grain fed
We only use the whey from grass-fed cows and it would seem obvious that grass-fed cows are much healthier than their grain-fed bovine comrades. It comes down to two simple features - diet and living conditions.
Grass-fed cows are raised in a more traditional style, like farmers from ye olden days did it. The cows roam free on the green pastures and eat naturally grown grass, like in New Zealand where we currently source our whey.
On the other hand, a lot of cows, especially in countries like the USA, are raised in ‘Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations’ (CAFOs) - already sounds like luxury. The cows live in unsanitary and cramped conditions while eating nothing but grains from soy or corn. A lot like that backpacking trip through eastern Europe we did when we were 18 (don’t even ask). The cows also have to be injected with antibiotics to avoid sickness. Annnnd the reference to that backpacking trip is still applicable.
While it is a far more natural and humane way of raising cows, the traditional way is a bit more expensive than putting them in high-rise shoe-box apartments in Melbourne CBD, sorry I mean CAFOs. It is so worth it though as the cows are much happier and healthier and their milk and whey protein is nutritionally superior. No comparison!
Pregnancy and whey protein isolate
Disclaimer: I’m not George Clooney, so please ask your doctor before you make any changes to your diet while pregnant or breast feeding. What I do know is that whey is one of the main types of protein in infant formula and in breast milk. Whey protein isolates are commonly used in baby formula to supply a natural source of amino acids for optimal growth and development. At the end of the day, it is naturally occurring and it is real food, but you can never be too careful when bringing another human into this wild world.
If you’ve managed to read this far you’ll know two things.
- Our protein is way better.
- I lied about the puns.