The supplement industry is literally one of the most fiercely competitive yet highly rewarding industries on the face of the earth, generating billions upon billions in profit each and every single financial year. More and more of us are hitting the gym than ever before and as a result, not only are gym memberships up, so too are the amount of people using protein powders to help maximise their “gains”. When used correctly, protein supplements are very powerful tools to have at your disposal when it comes to building an aesthetic physique, the problem is that many of us don’t quite know how to use them effectively, and not only that, are also being lied to by supplement companies who obviously want to maximise their profits and generate as much hype around their products as possible. Before you rush out and buy your next tub of protein, here are five things you need to know about protein supplements, many of which will probably come as quite a surprise to you.
Undenatured protein is a myth
Not too long ago, some certain supplement companies, who will remain nameless, began pushing a line of protein powder supplements which they marketed as UN-denatured protein. Before we go any further, denatured protein is when protein molecules have been subjected to heat, which denatures the molecules and removes some of the protein content. Generally the hotter the heat, the more protein is lost, which is why companies pasteurise their proteins over such low heats, to minimize the amount of protein lost. All protein supplements MUST be pasteurized and as a result, some of the protein molecules will be denatured, even over very low heats. This still leaves more than enough protein, though for some companies that’s not enough. They claimed their protein was UN-denatured, making it 100% pure. However, as all protein powders must be pasteurized and subjected to heat, this is not possible, unless of course they were breaking the law and were ignoring the pasteurisation process, which is highly unlikely. Simply put, if a protein supplement claims to be un-denatured, give it a miss because the manufacturers are downright lying through their teeth.
Even cold filtered protein is still heated
Some companies will claim that as their protein is cold filtered, it can’t possibly be denatured from heat. This is another clever trick used by manufacturers to trick customers using clever words and phrases. The cold-filtering part of the process is only responsible for concentrating the protein into its final stages of protein, which is around 80 – 85% for most typical whey concentrates. This does not mean that the protein hasn’t been heated because it will still have been pasteurized beforehand, and it will often have been flash-pasteurised, which means it will be heated at an extreme temperature for a few seconds, instead of being pasteurized low and slowly. Afterwards it may very well be cold filtered, but it will still have been heated beforehand and it will still have lost some of its natural protein content as a result.
100% hydrolyzed protein is not possible
Although they may claim that their protein is 100% hydrolyzed whey, in reality, this is simply not possible, and any company claiming that it is will again be lying to you. The reason why they claim it to be 100% hydrolyzed is that the whole tub of protein may contain pure hydrolyzed protein, meaning there will be no other forms of protein in there, and that the protein itself will have been hydrolyzed around 10%, possibly 20%, so in theory it will all be 100% hydrolyzed, even though the actual hydrolyzed process will only be for 10 – 20% on average. You’re probably pretty confused just reading that, and that’s how they get you, by trying to be too clever for their own good.
25 grams of protein per serving is plenty
If you look at the labels of most protein supplements, you’ll see them making claims such as how their protein provides ’45 grams of protein per serving’! and whilst that may be true, that doesn’t make it any more beneficial than a protein supplement that provides 25 grams of protein per serving. Numerous studies have revealed that on average, we can only absorb and use around 25 – 30 grams of protein at any one time, which means if we consume 40 grams of protein, 10 – 15 grams of protein would be wasted. By going with a supplement that provides 40 – 45 grams of protein per serving, you aren’t getting any more benefits than you would with the 25 – 30 gram per serving protein, and in fact, you’re basically wasting protein as your body won’t be able to utilise it all.
Be wary of amino acid spiking
Another recent controversy to hit the protein supplement industry was when it came to light that some of the biggest names in the supplement industry had been doing what is known as “amino acid spiking” which basically meant that they would replace expensive proteins in their supplements, with much cheaper and easier to obtain amino acids to help their protein stocks go further and to maximise their profits. So, say a pound of whey protein costs $7 and a pound of a cheap amino acid such as glycine comes in at $2.50, the manufacturers may bulk their protein out by adding glycine instead of whey. What’s more, because it doesn’t have to be printed on the label as an alternative form of protein, they can still claim the protein is 100% casein or 100% whey, because the glycine may be a natural amino acid found in the protein, that just so happens to cost much less than the protein itself.