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7 Things You Don’t Know About Your Protein Powder

November 01, 2015

We all know that high-quality protein powders have numerous positive benefits on both our physiques and our health.

There’s just one problem—a recent scientific analysis of 70+ top selling protein powders revealed a startling fact:

Over 50% of tested products had misleading labels with incorrect amounts of protein and other ingredients.

Americans spend billions each year on protein powders, but few consumers actually know what they are paying for or what they should be looking for.

Unfortunately now that protein is a big, competitive business, many companies are looking to capitalize on the opportunity by promoting lower quality products that are misleading at best and potentially harmful in some cases. They do this simply because it is more profitable for them and they can typically hide poor quality from customers in a number of surprising ways.

Not to worry! Our team of industry experts is here to shed light on some common industry tricks and educate you on how to pick out a premium quality protein supplement so that you don’t waste your money on ineffective products.

Read on to find out whether or not you are using a safe and effective protein!

1. You are buying the lowest quality, cheapest form of protein

Low quality protein powder
Image: Pond5

Most of us know the many awesome benefits of whey protein. But did you know that whey protein concentrate is the cheapest version of whey because it can be filled with impurities such as fat, carbs, and lactose?

While this fact isn’t necessarily a bad thing, most consumers don’t understand that they are consuming these additional items when purchasing a whey protein powder.

Nor do most consumers understand that companies will try to hype up this basic and cheap form of protein through various tricks – promoting a “protein blend” or “protein matrix” where the vast majority of the protein included is cheap whey protein concentrate, and the other better/more expensive proteins, like whey protein isolates, are only included in minimal amounts.

If you are utilizing protein powder primarily to help build a lean physique, you are better off choosing whey protein isolate (WPI). WPI is whey protein that goes through a filtering process to remove the additional impurities such as carbs/fats/lactose resulting in a more pure protein that is more easily digestible and lactose-free in some cases.

Pro Tip: FDA labeling requirements call for ingredients in “blends” to be listed in descending order of usage. So a protein blend consisting of whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, and whey protein isolate could have 99% whey protein concentrate and only trace amounts of milk protein concentrate and whey protein isolate.

This is why our PrettyFit Whey has a fully transparent label so you know exactly what you are getting—100% all-natural whey protein isolate!

Related: The Best Protein Powder for Women: How to Choose

2. Your protein contains potentially unhealthy and harmful additives

Whey protein powder drink
Image: Pond5

If you actually take a minute to read the ingredients on some top-selling protein powders you’ll frequently find some strange sounding chemicals including:

Corn syrup solids

Acesulfame Potassium

Aspartame

Sucralose

The sole purpose of these chemicals is to improve taste, though probably at the expense of your health. While the scientific community has not yet reached a consensus, several studiesshow a link between artificial sweeteners and negative health outcomes such as weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, cardiovascular issues and more.

Let’s be clear – if you are taking protein powder to improve your health and physique, you are most likely sabotaging your own efforts by consuming large quantities of artificial sweeteners. And since most people using protein shakes drink 1 to 3 shakes daily, the unknown amount of artificial sweeteners in each serving can add up quickly.

Instead, opt for naturally sweetened protein powders which are free of these potentially harmful chemicals. Additionally, according to the scientific analysis of 70+ top-selling protein powders, naturally sweetened options tend to be higher quality than artificially sweetened options as most of the highest rated products are natural.

3. Your protein powder isn’t easily digestible

stomach pain
Image: Pond5

Pure protein can be hard to digest for some, causing them to experience some stomach ailments. Even for products that contain a sufficient amount of high-quality protein, you might not be getting the full benefit of the protein if your body lacks the necessary enzymes to break down the protein into usable fuel for your muscles.

Enzymes play a critical role in helping us digest and utilize the food/nutritional supplements we consume.

In fact, a 2008 study by Oben, Kathari, and Anderson showed that a group that consumed whey protein concentrate + digestive enzymes had 100% higher levels of amino acids in their blood and 250% higher levels of the ultra-important branched chain amino acids!

This is another reason we recommend PrettyFit Whey – in addition to being a premium, all-natural protein that contains only cold-processed whey isolate, it also contains added digestive enzymes to help enhance absorption.

Just remember – it isn’t how much protein you consume, but how much protein your body can easily digest and utilize.

That’s why digestive enzymes can be an incredibly effective way to maximize the benefits of the protein and other foods/supplements you are consuming.
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4. Your protein doesn’t have what it says on the label

In that analysis, the average protein tested had significantly different levels of protein compared to what its label claimed. The average deviation was nearly 13% with a range of -83.3% to +55.5%.

Put into practical terms, this means that a protein powder that claims it has 25g of protein per serving could have anywhere from 4g of protein to ~39g of protein!

Furthermore, one of the main findings was that ~52% of tested products contained measurable amounts of free form amino acids – also known as “amino spiking”.

While “amino spiking” protein products enables the supplement maker to claim a higher amount of protein on the label, in reality it adds little nutritional value and isn’t what the consumer thinks they are paying for.

And while the majority of proteins didn’t have what they said they had on the label, some had more of things you wouldn’t necessarily want in there…

5. Your protein has more than what it says on the label

sodium ingredient label
Image: Pond5

On average, actual sodium content of protein supplements is 70.4% higher compared to the products’ Supplement Facts labels. Labdoor notes that this “may cause water retention and fake the look of quick muscle gains.”

In addition to excess sodium, tests also revealed troubling ingredients such as potentially harmful artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and artificial colors.

Again, your best bet is to go with a premium, all-natural protein powder without all the nonsense so commonly found in today’s powders.

6. Your protein powder is processed in a way that makes it less beneficial

whey protein powder
Image: Pond5

Whey protein is a byproduct of the cheese making process. During this process, the liquid whey is separated from the curds. In order for whey protein to be turned into a powder (from the initial liquid), it must be dried.

There are a few different ways this can be done and the most common method involves high-heat drying and the use of chemicals that can burn and strip away vital nutrients and leave the protein significantly altered from its initial form.

The better method involves low temperature, cold-processing so that the proteins remain as intact as possible.

Why do most companies opt for higher heat methods that can produce an inferior protein?

Because it is cheaper and easier.

Cold processed, micro-filtering takes more time and costs more money. We don’t know about you, but we’d rather pay a little more money for a product that actually retains the beneficial qualities we are paying for!

That’s why our PrettyFit Whey is cold processed and ultra micro-filtered—to deliver the highest quality product possible!

7. Your soy-based protein powder is not a great option

soy protein powder
Image: Pond5

Some people opt for plant-based protein powders for a variety of reasons. While some plant based protein options are completely fine, you may want to reconsider utilizing soy protein if that’s one of your primary protein sources.

The main issue we have with soy is that some estimates claim over 90% of soy produced in the US is genetically modified (GMO).

Finally, some studies show that too much soy can alter hormone levels, including testosterone which can be incredibly important in helping you develop a lean physique while burning fat. The data isn’t conclusive, but it is enough to give us pause and opt for other protein sources such as whey, casein, rice, or pea.

So unless you can verify that your soy protein is derived from non-GMO sources, we recommend you try out another type of protein!




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