When buying protein what do you consider as the most important factor, the price, or perhaps the taste? Do you even bother to check the ingredients list, or do you simply think you have purchased a bargain?
“The fact is it always pays to be informed and to buy with an open mind. It’s not about the look, the name, the taste or the price, it’s that all-important list of ingredients that count” Don’t be fooled by social media or other types of marketing hype, just look to see what’s in it as the label can’t lie!
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for, you can’t buy a Ferrari with Fiat Panda money, having said that, not everybody wants or needs a Ferrari and a beginner certainly doesn’t need to be spending top money on hydrolysed whey or whey isolate that only an advance athlete would need, so a high-quality blend would be a sensible purchase.
Whey isolate or hydrolysed whey will only be found in more classy products and will not be found in cheap protein blends from manufacturers that specialise in cheap bulk buying web sales. These companies are not even real brands, they just sell cheap commodities with little or no research and development. They do little if anything to advance sports nutrition, it’s simply a case of putting cheaply blended protein products into no-frills plain packaging(see myprotein reviews).
Are they any good? Well, anything is better than nothing as protein shakes are fast-absorbing unlike foodstuffs but you can hardly expect to see great gains from products that contain cheap sources of protein such as wheat, rice and pea protein.
If you see that a 30g scoop of your favourite protein actually contains 25g of protein do you ever stop to think of the importance of what type of protein is in that 25g? If it contains the finest most expensive proteins then happy days, but I have seen some popular brands that don’t actually contain any whey, they mainly milk proteins and soya.
One product that comes to mind has a high protein content of around 85% but when you look at the label it contains two types of milk proteins plus rice and soya protein. It was priced at a little over £20 for a massive 2.5kg tub rather than the standard 2.25kg size but is it still a bargain now knowing that it is ultra-low quality? A good quality whey would cost the manufacturer well in excess of £20 to build plus vat so if you’re paying £20-£30 for you whey delivered to your door they can’t be anything of much value in the pot.
I was recently asked by a personal trainer friend that I have known for many years if I could supply him with whey at the same price that he regularly buys from elsewhere. He said he pays £20 a tub delivered, I just laughed as our proteins cost much more than that to build without tax or delivery costs. To pay that price the build would be around £10 and for that money is going to consist of many second-class vegetable proteins such as soya, pea or rice with plenty of milk powder and a hint of whey concentrate. It’s no better than buying a fake iPhone, it’s just crap!
Another product that comes to mind is a best-selling diet whey from one of the world’s biggest brands. It contains 45% protein and the carbs per serving are close to 20g. The reason that they are getting away with it is that people don’t check the label as they trust the brand. This being the case why not lower the protein content, why not use inferior protein or load it with cheap sugar because protein isolate costs £14 per kilo as a raw ingredient, whereas maltodextrin costs just 70p per kilo and if people don’t care then why not make it cheaper and pocket the difference?
As a former bodybuilder and sports nutrition retailer, I am staggered by the number of people that had no idea about the products they were buying, but it was often down to taste or price. I always encouraged people to look at the table of ingredients on the label before buying. The rule is the ingredients must be listed in ascending order according to the amount of each one. So, if the first item on the ingredients list is maltodextrin there will be more sugar in the product than whey.
While milk and soya are cheaper ingredients, they do have their uses. Milk is good for slowing the protein absorption down but if it is used in higher quantities that will be to keep the build costs down. Soya too has many good properties, and it is often used as an emulsifier (thickener) but again if it is used in a large quantity it will be to keep the build cost low.
You may be surprised to know that the lower the build cost the more successful the product becomes. These products yield very high-profit margins which gives the companies concerned a much bigger marketing budget to seduce you into buying their products. On the other hand, a company that invests in the quality of the build has little money to advertise and they struggle to see growth in their market share.
I was involved in sports nutrition retailing for many years and I always urged the customer to look at the label rather than buy on price or taste alone. And don’t be fooled when you see things like calcium caseinate on your label, it is far from being magic beans even though it sounds exciting, it is simply a form of milk protein.
While glutamine peptides have many benefits its not an expensive commodity and they should be just enough built into the product to do its job otherwise it’s just a cheap build exercise and not for the benefit of the customer. If whey is very thick and hard to mix that is often a sign of containing gluten which is a protein that is derived from wheat. This is a cheap ingredient and it can be used for protein spiking, some protein spiking scams can be seen here. This is a way of getting a high reading on a protein analysise but it is of course a second class protein. Time4 is one of the nicest tasting proteins on the market but I know several people that stopped using it due to stomach bloating. I asked if it was hard to mix and the answer was not only was it very hard to mix but it’s lumpy so what does that tell you?
The other thing you may wish to consider before buying whey protein is the origin or source of the protein. Most UK and European brands source the best whey protein from companies such as Volac International which has full traceability for their protein. This makes European whey proteins much safer and healthier as they are tested for BGH which is not the case with many brands from the USA. Their protein is likely to contain traces of BGH (bovine growth hormone) because this hormone is widely used the United States. This hormone was genetically engineered to increase milk yields and this brings many problems. The milk is not only lower in quality but can contain traces of anti-biotic residue and a cancer-accelerating hormone called IGF-1, so people that think that Americans build the best products should think again.
Know your protein: Did you know the medi-evil nutrition whey fury contains a protein matrix consisting of 5 different proteins for sustained release? Whey Fury also contains our Trigesteze which is a blend of 3 different digestion enzymes to help with absorption and keep your tummy in good health
Best Whey Protein: Know Your Protein (See Part 2)