No Whey? No Way!

Protein copyNo Whey? No Way!

By Michael Rorick CPT, CFNS ©2014

One of the most common questions I get from people at the gym is: “What kind of protein should I get?” The answer is… It really depends on what you’d like to do with it. Let me explain. There are many different types of proteins. In order to understand them, we must also understand how our body digests them. First of all… consider your intestinal tract as kind of a screen (like a screen window). Small particles that fit through the “screen” are absorbed quickly and larger molecules that don’t fit require more time to be broken down. There are differing qualities of protein as well. Two made from milk are casein and whey. When making cheese, the casein is converted into curds and the whey is the left over liquid. So, now we know what Little Miss Muffet was eating in her nursery rhyme. She was probably a tough little kid with all that protein! Okay… back to the info. The lowest quality and most inexpensive form of protein is Calcium Caseinate. Its larger molecules take longer to breakdown and also happen to move through our digestive tract slowly. Even though it is inexpensive, the benefit of this protein is in the way its slow digestion helps keep elevated amino acids in the bloodstream for an extended period of time. Elevated amino acids have been shown to help reduce muscle breakdown (catabolism). It also helps your body in repairing muscle tissue. This slow release protein is ideal for meal replacement and due to its slow transit time, it has a longer satiety or feeling of fullness compared to faster release proteins.

 The next step up the food chain is Whey Protein Concentrate. As stated earlier it comes from the left over liquid when making cheese. In order to separate the protein from the liquid, a filtration process must be utilized. Processes include, reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, ultrafiltration and microfiltration methods. The deal is with these varying types of filtration… the actual protein yield can range from 20% to 80%. This means scoop for scoop, different brands will deliver varying amounts of actual protein. Some of the remaining ingredients include fat and lactose (sugar). The easiest way to tell the quality of your protein is to compare the serving size grams with the total protein per serving. i.e. if the serving size is 43 gr. and the total protein per serving is 30 gr. the formula is this. 30 ÷ 43 = .697 or 70%. Higher quality product will deliver at least 80% protein content. A great indicator of low protein content is in gas a bloating after taking it. This is usually due to the increased amounts of fat and lactose, but can also be due to poor absorption. The 1st 6 feet of your intestinal tract is where we absorb the protein and if the protein molecules don’t fit through the “screen” by the end of that 6 feet, then it tends to ferment in the remainder of our intestinal tract causing additional gas and bloating.

Whey Protein Isolates are the next in line for protein quality. Here, whey protein concentrates are further purified leaving or “isolating” the highly soluble whey protein. This process also leaves less than 1% of the lactose and less than 2% of the fat found in whey concentrates. The microfiltration process delivers one of the highest quality proteins because it utilizes low temperature and low pressure. This slower process produces a lower yield of product and thus is reflected in a higher price. Manufacturers that utilize high temperature dryers will yield lower quality product due to that fact that heat denatures protein.

 Hydrolyzed Whey further breaks down whey isolates by using water (hydro) to break long protein chains into smaller peptides. These small particles offer very fast absorption into the bloodstream. The fast absorption makes this protein ideal for repairing muscle tissue post workout and should be included in your post workout shake. In order to be deemed hydrolyzed, the product may contain no more than 1/10th of 1% hyrolyzation. Due to the process and the yield, hydrolyzed whey is the most expensive of proteins.

 Soy Protein is made from legumes and carries some benefits not provided by casein or whey. Soy may protect against cardiovascular disease and also prevent or relieve post menopausal symptoms in women. It tends to be an inexpensive protein.

 Soy Protein Isolates are high in branched chain amino acids, glutamine and arginine. Since it’s low in the essential amino acid methionine, it may need to be combined with other protein sources. Many manufacturers use this as part of their protein blend to compliment whey and casein.

 Soy contains phytoestrogens. It is not advisable to take more than 60 gr. of soy protein per day. This is especially true for children. Since it’s an estrogen mimicking product, usage may lead to hormonal imbalances and early development in girls as well as gynocomastia (man boobs) in boys. Estrogen is known to deposit fat in the breast and hip area of both men and women. Another challenge with soy is that its free form branched chain amino acids tend to bind with non solvent / non free form aminos. As the soy protein enters the cells lining the intestinal wall (called enterocytes), the non solvent amino acids bound to the soy tend to get ripped into the cells with it. This can actually cause tearing in the intestinal wall, commonly known as Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This further compromises gut health and suppresses the immune system.

 So here’s my recommendation. Hydrolyzed whey gets a double thumbs up as a pre and post workout supplement. Its fast digestion time makes it ideal for getting right to work on muscle tissue. Mixing hydrolyzed whey with some casein and/or whey isolates will spread out the absorption of amino acids over time. I do this on and off as part of my post work shake. Casein protein is my go to protein for in between meals / meal replacement and pre bedtime supplementation. Make certain to check the quality of the product as explained earlier and remember that too much of a good thing is not a good thing. I avoid all soy product as much as possible and don’t feel the benefits out weigh the risks. With women, this important as well. Women require testosterone for muscle tone and growth. Our food supply has set up conditions of low T in both men and women in which soy doesn’t quite help in the solution.

As usual… always check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet or undertaking a new exercise routine. Safe is always better than sorry!! Keep me posted if there are any other topics you’d like me to cover.

Until we meet again… Love your life and live it without limits!

 About the Author:

Michael Rorick is a Certified Personal Trainer at Springville Health and Fitness Center, Springville NY. He is also a Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist with a Certification in Weight Management as well. His company, Alive Without Limits was founded through his passion for helping others to reach their potentials in all areas of life. At 51 years of age, he is an avid bodybuilder, musician, audio engineer, forensic audio expert, professor at SUNY at Fredonia, life coach and father.