Name: Jim Stoppani, PhD
Occupation: Creator of JYM Supplement Science, fitness coach and consultant
Is it worth paying a little extra for "organic" protein powder? Are there any additional benefits to using it?
Let me start by saying that I'm a big believer in organic dairy products like milk, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt—especially if they come from well-raised, grass-fed cows. I also like organic fruits and vegetables, which are worth the extra cash because less pesticides are used. But organic whey protein powder? Not so fast.
Some readers might find my thumbs-down on organic whey contrary to my thumbs-up on organic dairy, since whey protein comes from milk. After all, whey protein powder manufactured from organic, grass-fed milk must be better than plain-old whey, right? Not necessarily!
The Fat is Where It's at
First, you need to consider what exactly makes milk from grass-fed cows better for you. It's the fat! Organically raised, grass-fed cows have higher amounts of the all-important and essential omega-3 fats, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and vitamin E (a fat-soluble vitamin) than their grain-fed counterparts, and these nutrients are found in the milk fat.
But whey is processed to isolate the protein from the carbs and the fat. In fact, a quality whey protein isolate has close to 100 percent of the fat removed. This means that if a protein-powder manufacturer is using whey protein from organic milk, nearly all of the extra omega-3 fats, CLA, and vitamin E have been removed during the manufacturing process anyway!
When you look at it this way, there is little sense in paying more for whey protein from organic milk given the fact that all the additional health benefits are completely removed in the manufacturing process.
As for the protein content, the protein in milk from grass-fed cows has the same amino acids and structure as protein in grain-fed milk. Amino acids are amino acids.
But What About Those Pesky Pesticides?
You might have also heard that organic whey protein is free of antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides. But due to the rigorous processing that whey protein already undergoes to isolate the whey protein from everything else in the milk, none of those contaminants should be left behind to make it into the jug of protein powder you're buying.
Furthermore, none of those chemicals alter the structure of the whey protein molecules that are isolated from milk protein. So, again, there's no difference between regular whey protein and grass-fed protein in regards to any contaminants.
Are You Wasting Money on Whey?
If you prefer to use grass-fed whey protein powder for ethical reasons, then by all means, fork out a little extra cash for the stuff. If, however, you think it'll offer up superior health benefits, or you're concerned about antibiotics and hormones, your money may be going to waste.
Don't get sucked into this trap and waste your money on organic whey protein. A high-quality whey protein isn't going to contain any contaminants, and if you are at all concerned with what could be in your whey, stick with a whey protein isolate, as it contains the lowest possible amount of hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides.
For more nutrition and supplement articles, as well as full training programs to complement them, check out jimstoppani.com.