Protein shakes and supplements have formed the foundation of the gym-goers nutrition and supplementation routine for many years. Whey protein is a well-researched supplement that has been proven to be effective at promoting lean mass growth and retention, which can in turn help with fat loss. Grass-fed whey is starting to come to the forefront as an even better option for fitness enthusiasts, but what’s the difference?
Whey Protein Explained
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a protein that is extracted from cow’s milk. It is popular in the supplement world because it is readily available, making it quite inexpensive. Whey is produced by separating the dairy solids from the liquid. This produces whey (in liquid form) and casein (in solid form). The liquid is then dried and filtered, to produce the powder that you can buy in supplement stores.
Filtered whey protein is called Whey Protein Isolate, and contains very little lactose. This means that it can be used as a source of protein by people who suffer from mild lactose intolerance.
Why Use Whey Protein?
Your body needs protein to repair muscle tissue. If you don’t eat a lot of protein in your day-to-day diet, or you are exercising a lot, then you may need to supplement your protein intake. This is true even if you are trying to lose weight. A lot of people, especially women, worry about getting “too bulky” if they focus on building muscle, but this concern is misguided.
Your body uses calories for energy. Protein, carbohydrates and fats all contain calories. If you take in too many calories in any form then your body will store them as fat. If you consume fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight, then your body will turn to its own energy stores in the form of fat and muscle to sustain itself.
Muscle is denser than fat, and also burns more calories than fat even when it is at rest. This means that if a dieter can preserve their muscle mass while losing weight, they’ll lose fat more quickly. Studies into the changes in body composition of people who are losing weight on different diets found that diets higher in protein and fats, and lower in carbohydrates can help with fat loss. Whey protein is an affordable way of increasing your protein intake.
What’s the Difference Between Whey and Grass-Fed Whey?
Traditional whey comes from conventional dairy farms. Grass-fed whey comes from cows raised on organic pastures that are fed natural diets instead of being raised on corn or soy from a trough. Some people choose to eat AGN Roots Grass-fed Whey because they feel that organic farming is more ethical or better for the planet. There are other benefits to choosing grass-fed whey, however.
Grass-fed whey protein contains greater levels of immune-boosting compounds such as beta-lactoglobulin, cysteine, lactoferrin and lysozyme.
- Beta-Lactoglobulin is around 50% of the protein in whey, and it’s a powerful peptide that binds to the IgM receptors on your immune cells. This means it helps to improve your immune system, fighting inflammation and infections, and reducing oxidative stress thereby improving your overall wellbeing. This peptide is even thought to help fight against the bad forms of cholesterol, and to have some cancer-fighting effects.
- Cysteine is an amino acid that is used by the body to produce an antioxidant known as glutathione. This antioxidant collects Reactive Oxygen Species that are produced during normal metabolic processes, stopping those ROS from causing aging by damaging your cells. Cysteine can help to slow the progression of fatty liver disease, a condition that is on the rise in many parts of the western world.
- Lactoferrin is another protein that is found in large quantities in grass-fed whey and like beta-lactoglobulin it can help to boost the immune system. Lactoferrin works by stimulating natural killer (NK), macrophage and neutrophil immune cells. There have been some promising studies showing that lactoferrin can induce cell death in cancer cells and while research is still in the early stages this is promising news in the world of cancer research.
- Lysozyme is an enzyme that helps to fight bacteria, and it can even inhibit the growth of listeria, a particularly nasty food-borne pathogen. Some researchers believe that lysozyme could help to reduce intestinal inflammation, meaning it may be helpful for people with Crohn’s disease.
How Can Grass-Fed Whey Help Me Lose Weight?
As you can see, there are a lot of potential health benefits to consuming grass-fed whey protein, but what about weight loss?
As we mentioned earlier, a high protein diet helps with muscle repair, and can help encourage the body to retain muscle and preferentially break down fat when in a calorie deficit. The challenge is staying in a calorie deficit.
If you’ve ever tried to diet you will have noticed that you start feeling hungry, lethargic, and cold. This is more likely to happen if you try to run a very large calorie deficit. A sustainable goal for slow, steady weight loss is around 500 calories fewer per day than you need to maintain your current weight. Some people who are very close to their ideal weight aim for just 250 calories fewer per day. While it’s possible to aim for bigger deficits if you have a lot of weight to lose, it can be hard to stick to a stricter routine.
The quality of food that you eat is important, too. Yes, it’s possible to lose weight on a diet of just fast food or twinkies, but you will be hungry all the time. Grass-fed whey helps to increase your protein intake (important on a diet), and is highly satiating too, reducing those hunger pangs and making it easier for you to stick to your diet.
What’s the Problem With Conventional Farming?
Conventional farming practices put an emphasis on quantity, with animals crammed together and land being stripped bare and used until the nutrients are depleted. Continuous grazing is not good for the land, and feedlotting is not an ideal practice for the animals. Rotational grazing, which is something that many organic farms use, is better for the well-being of the cows and helps avoid the depletion of the land too.
With rotational grazing, cows spend a certain amount of time grazing one area of land, then move on to the next. While they are grazing, they drop dung, which is rich in nutrients, onto the land too. They then move on to the next area of land, allowing grass to grow back in the first plot. Rotating grazing in this way improves the quality of the soil, helps to reduce the risk of soil erosion, and means that the cows produce better quality milk. It also means that the cows are able to roam around “freely”, reducing some of the health risks that they may have faced on conventional farms.
The Threat of Antibiotic Resistance
Cows raised in feedlots often spend a lot of time in unsanitary confined quarters. To keep the cows healthy, they are injected with antibiotics. This is a problem because overuse of antibiotics could lead to antibiotic resistance, a phenomenon which means infection-causing bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics we rely on to fight them.
Antibiotics were the biggest medical advance of the last 100 years, and allow us to control bacterial infections in a way that previous generations were unable to do. If bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, we would lose our ability to fight many serious infections. Doctors have started limiting the use of antibiotics to treat infections in humans, and there are movements to reduce the use of antibiotics on dairy farms as well. Organic farming is a good way of reducing the need for antibiotics.
Choosing the Best Grass-Fed Whey Products
There are lots of companies that produce grass-fed whey, so how can you decide which product to choose?
The best grass-fed whey products are ones that:
- Are made of whey protein isolate
- Are produced on verified sustainable farms
- Contain no fillers
- Contain no sweeteners
- Are rich in Beta-carotene and conjugated linoleic acid
Choosing plain grass-fed whey opens up a whole world of flavor options since you can mix it with hot chocolate, add it to your oats, add flavor sachets or mix the product with other supplements. You’ll never face that feeling of being bored with the flavor you bought again, since you can change the flavor easily.
In general, if you’re looking for the best grass-fed whey you should choose a brand that comes from certified organic farms and that is committed to quality. Products produced right here in the USA are more likely to be of high quality than ones produced abroad. It can be tempting to purchase cheaply made supplements from lesser-known suppliers, but these often contain fillers or are tainted with other supplements. At best, you risk paying for a product that isn’t as high quality as you thought it was, and at worst, if you’re an athlete you could run the risk of failing an anti-doping test because your supplement was tainted.
If you’re looking to lose weight and get started on a sustainable, healthy lifestyle, you should invest in your nutrition regimen. Choose supplements that you can trust and that make you feel good about what you are putting in your body. Your body will thank you for it.
I am Roger Parrish, I handle the digital marketing campaigns for AgnRoots.com. A leading supplier of Grass-fed Whey Isolate.