Natural whey protein boasts the highest biological value, net protein utilization, protein efficiency ratio, and protein digestibility rating when compared to traditionally high protein foods such as beef, black beans, eggs, milk, peanuts, and soy protein. These processes show that whey protein absorbed faster and utilized more efficiently than most protein sources.
Why Natural Whey?
The first difference between natural or organic whey and regular whey protein is that organic whey comes from cows that aren’t receiving treatment with antibiotics, growth hormones or other types of synthetic drugs. The cows also have access to pastures during the entirety of the growing season, allowing them to eat a healthy amount of grass. In the non-growing season, the cows feed with non-GMO products in their diet. Part of the certification that organic dairy farmers must undertake states that they are required to conserve their soil with various methods to keep the ground fertile. This practice is opposed to the industrial dairy farms who have little space for each cow, inadequate sanitary conditions, and lastly loading cows with antibiotics, growth hormone, and GMO feed.
From a pure nutritional stand point natural and regular whey have very close levels of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The advantage of natural whey is that you don’t have to worry about synthetic chemicals, or other elements getting into the milk and ultimately in your body. The only downside to natural whey protein is that it tends to be more expensive due to more substantial costs of production.
Improve Strength and Muscle
Muscle builds through a process known as Muscle Protein Synthesis which is essentially the process of building muscle using protein as a type of building block. Whey protein is absorbed by the body with extreme efficiency even when compared to the other top-level sources of protein making it integral in muscle growth.
Whey protein increases the release of your anabolic hormones like insulin, which in turn stimulates muscle growth.
Leucine, a unique amino acid which whey is high in, is known to stimulate muscle protein synthesis at a molecular level.
For optimal results take whey protein directly before/after or during a workout to maximize gains because this is when muscle protein synthesis is optimized.
Other Types of Whey
Both natural and regular whey also have subsets depending on how they process. These are whey powder, concentrate, and isolate, the most accessible form to take is whey powder, you see it in many foods and snacks as well as salad dressing. With protein concentrations around 12% percent an average of 70% lactose and around 1% of milk fat.
Concentrate in comparison has many biological active properties and proteins making it one of the top supplements for athletes, it has higher concentrations of milk fat (2-10%) and protein (25-89%), but lower levels of lactose (10-55%).
Isolate is the purest of all the forms and is the result of removing significant amounts of fat and lactose from the original milk. Isolate contains a good number of the amino acid cysteine which has been shown to improve glutathione levels and is associated with potent antioxidant properties. The protein levels of isolate reach +90%, while the lactose and milk fat levels are less than 1%.
Protein Efficiency Ratio
Whey protein has one of the highest protein efficiency ratios compared to known protein superfoods, but what does that mean. The protein efficiency ratio is simply the determinant given to a protein type that measures its effectiveness through animal growth. This process consists of giving rats whey protein and looking at the resulting weight gain. For reference the standard value is 2.7:
Protein Efficiency Ratios:
- Beef = 2.9
- Whey protein = 3.2
- Eggs = 3.9
- Milk = 2.5
- Peanuts = 1.8
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been the strongest correlation to human growth needs due to the experiments done on rats.
Biological value refers to the process of “measuring the quality of protein by evaluating the nitrogen used in tissue formation divided by the nitrogen absorbed from food.”
Overall it shows a result of how efficient the body is in using the protein it consumes. Foods are said to have a high biological value when that food has an abundant supply of essential amino acids. Typically, animal sources have a higher biological value than vegetables because they are deficient in a few essential amino acids. This rating system is not infallible; however, as it does not take into account factors that influence the digestion of protein and how it interacts with other foods before it becomes absorbed. The biological value can be said to evaluate the protein’s max potential quality but not its estimated quality at the required levels.
Protein Biological values:
- Beef = 80
- Eggs = 100
- Milk= 91
- Soy Protein = 74
- Whey Protein = 104
Net Protein Utilization
Net protein utilization is fairly similar to biological value except that it directly measures the retention of absorbed nitrogen. Both Net protein utilization and biological value measure the same facets in nitrogen retention. The main difference is that net protein calculates from nitrogen ingested while Biological value is from nitrogen absorbed.
Net Protein Utilization Values:
- Beef = 73
- Egg = 94
- Milk = 82
- Soy Protein = 61
- Whey Protein = 92
The Food & Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization together stated that it was possible to determine protein quality by using an advanced process related to the amino acid content to produce values of protein digestibility. Largely this the preferred technique for the value of protein and nutrition in humans.
Protein Digestibility Rating
- Beef = 0.92
- Black Beans = 0.75
- Peanuts = 0.52
- Soy Protein = 1.00
- Whey Protein = 1.00
The Final Decision
It is clear as day that whey protein is an incredible product to supplement your strength and conditioning. Whey proteins deliver protein to your body that is absorbed faster than a majority of other protein-rich foods and utilized by your body efficiently to begin the muscle building process. In addition to protein, it adds valuable essential amino acids that provide tons of benefits to your body. After you see the massive benefits that come when using whey protein It comes down to the age-old question of going for the slightly healthier product that helps the environment (natural whey) or the less healthy option that slightly degrades the environment (Regular whey).
Hoffman, Jay R., and Michael J. Falvo. “Protein – Which is Best?” Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, J Sports Sci Med, 1 Sept. 2004, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905294/.