As an avid lifter, I’m sure you’ve consumed plenty of protein shakes in your day, and as such, have needed to restock your supply.
With so many options on the market, do you know what you should be looking for in your whey protein isolate product?
In this article, I want to provide you with the education of the factors you should demand from a whey protein isolate before you buy it.
Contrary to popular belief, all whey protein isolate supplements are not the same, and the following differences are important to be aware of!
In no particular order, here are five things which define a high-quality whey protein isolate.
1. Protein Content
Pure whey isolate is the most bioavailable variety of protein supplement, which is why it carries a premium price tag. When you scan over the label on the tub, don't just look at the protein quantity per serving, rather, you need to confirm what the protein content is made up from.
Very rarely do supplement companies use 100% pure whey protein isolate due to its high cost. Typically, you will find that the content is a blend of whey protein isolate and inferior varieties of protein, such as a whey concentrate. This is important to note as concentrates can come with higher carb and fat quantities, as well as more lactose, which some people may have difficulty digesting.
The rationale behind using a blend of proteins is quite simple: it makes the product more profitable for the company as the production and ingredient costs are lower. For the consumer, this is undesirable as it dilutes the purity, and therefore impacts the quality.
My recommendation is to ensure the entire content is purely derived from whey protein isolate, which is easy to check simply by reading through the entire nutrition label. If it isn't, put it back on the shelf and keep shopping! Don't allow a high protein content per serving disguise the fact that the source isn't pure whey isolate.
2. No Unwanted “Bad” Calories
Have you ever wondered why the protein content per serving is 30g, but the scoop size is 60g? In this case, you need to figure out what else is found in the other 30g of that measurement.
Many supplement companies use fillers such as sugars and fats in an effort to add flavor and bulk up the formula. While these may make the protein sound and taste like dessert, it may come at a cost to your health and progress.
For any athlete who is concerned with their general health and performance, or is working on building their most aesthetic physique, these numbers matter and should be diligently checked before purchasing a product!
With a high-quality isolate, the sugar and fat readings should be as low as possible, ideally less than 5g per serving. From here, if your macros call for carbs and fat, you can simply add them into your protein-based meal, in the quantity that works for you. Brands who are willing to concoct a whey protein isolate formula with cheap fillers simply do not have your best interests at heart.
3. Easy Digestion
One of the most common complaints regarding whey protein supplements is digestive upset following consumption. To avoid these uncomfortable experiences, one of the best remedies is to have a market-leading digestive enhancer with your whey protein isolate – and it’s even better if it’s already included in the supplement.
High-quality products will have this built into their supplement, ensuring their consumers are able to get the most benefits from, and are able to enjoy, their product.
4. Natural Ingredients
Many ingredients on a supplement label won't mean much to an unsuspecting consumer. Common ingredients include soy lecithin, which is a heavily genetically modified commodity in the USA. My recommendation is to select a formula which uses sunflower lecithin instead.
Sunflower lecithin is a superior, natural, and non-GMO alternative. The same goes for colors and flavors – you want to keep these items as natural as possible. Avoid ingredients such as Ace K and Red 40 as they have been found to have negative effects on your health.
Unfortunately, many whey protein isolate supplements will use artificial ingredients as they are a cheaper way to make products taste good. Nature didn't intend for these manmade chemicals to be consumed by humans, so be diligent when you shop by reading the entire ingredient list.
The supplement industry has never witnessed the number of scandals as it has lately. Numerous companies have been caught, and publically exposed for, cutting corners with their products in an attempt to boost their profit margins.
When it comes to whey protein isolate products, the most common deceptions include under-dosing the protein content, using animal urine and amino acids for nitrogen spiking, and using inferior protein sources to augment the label – an important factor I already highlighted for you.
When it comes to transparency, companies can prove their worth with third-party testing. Third-party batch testing is a voluntary measure which a minority of brands utilize to prove their products are exactly what they claim to be. The process involves rigorous, unbiased testing by an outside company, which guarantees that the contents are exactly as they're claimed to be on the label.
Any supplement company willing to subject their formulas to third-party batch testing are making a statement that they operate with integrity. After all, this is an entirely voluntary thing to do.
Companies who avoid third-party batch testing are likely more concerned about their profit margins than their product quality, or could have something to hide. Are you willing to take the risk of not knowing what is really in your whey protein isolate? I’m not, so I always look for confirmation of this testing on the label or the company’s website.
While you might think the highest quantity of protein per serving is the best indicator of quality when selecting a whey protein isolate, it’s not. There are other important factors you should consider in your supplement, including protein sources, ingredient quality, and product purity.
Years ago, it was impossible to confirm how pure a whey protein isolate was because the information wasn't available. Today, we’re lucky enough that the supplement landscape has changed dramatically and we have access to much more detailed information as consumers.
When consumers are educated and demand further information, the industry responds accordingly and quality standards must rise to meet your needs – congratulations on playing an important role in advancing the industry by putting your health first.
Don't get roped in by outlandish marketing claims which are used to distract you from the basic facts. No matter how shiny the label appears, how persuasive the marketing material is, or how large the company may be, if the whey protein isolate you're looking at doesn't meet the above criteria, I would recommend you avoid it.
Applying the principles listed in this article when you shop for your supplements can help ensure you purchase the best quality product available. Doing a little digging as a consumer can go a long way to improving your progress, along with your health.