I decided to write on this subject, because I have been using the same whey isolate for more than 5 years. I figured, why not change things up a bit? I didn’t experience any health issues and surprisingly I still enjoy the taste of my whey. I simply wanted to see how my body will respond to it. Just like we change our workouts every so often, I believe we should introduce our body new food sources, at least for a short period of time. I am always looking for best quality food and I try to do the same, when it comes to my supplements. Getting fresh produce and quality lean protein is hard in New York City and I come from a place, where we grow most of our vegetables ourselves. Looking for a clean supplements is always a challenge, because they are not “real food” and to make them taste good, brands will use fillers and chemicals to boost the flavor. When it comes to plant-based protein supplements, there is lots of sources to choose from. We know pea, rice, soy, chia, hemp, nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc. The problem that occurs with supplementing with plant-based powder is the same as vegetarian and vegan people face. How to get enough essential amino acids? We know animal products are complete protein, because they consist of all essential amino acids our body cannot produce on its own. We also know the negative effects of animal protein, from farming animals, negative effect animal protein has on our body due to what animals are fed and injected with (have you seen Game Changers?). So my question here is, can we get a plant-based protein powder that contains all essential amino acids? Yes, we can.
Picture 1: Nuzest vegan protein powder amino acid content.
RESEARCH PROCESS. Being a fitness professional, I was fortunate to have few companies send me samples. The two I would like to point out are Naked Nutrition and Nuzest. Naked Nutrition does offer animal supplements (whey, casein, goat), but has a good variety of plant protein as well. Their products seem to be the cleanest with least amount of ingredients I have ever seen in a protein supplement. I am actually a big fan of their Naked Peanut butter powder. Nuzest is company that focuses primarily on pea protein supplements and they claim to have the best premium European quality golden pea protein in their products. And don’t we all agree, when it comes to food Europe beats US? Just think of Italy and France. To decide which pea protein tasted the best, I must say that Nuzest is a winner. With variety of flavors they offer, you always have a feeling you are having a different meal. They claim to have no solvents or chemicals in their product and they get their peas from France. Can it get any better than that?
HOW IS PROTEIN POWDER MADE? To make this shorter, I will only focus on whey and pea protein powder to give you an idea on how the process differs from another. And since we are trying to compare the cleanest versions, I will compare pea protein to whey isolate (cleanest whey of them all). One of the first things I noticed, while doing my research, was that finding information on whey is relatively easy. Pea, not so much. Most likely because it is somewhat new compared to whey supplements. Whey protein, as we know, is made from cow’s milk. Since it contains some harmful bacteria for human body, it goes through the process of pasteurization. Simply put, they boil it to 70-80 degrees C and then instantly cool it down to 4 degrees C (39 degrees F), where most of the bacteria dies. At this point we have 20% whey and 80% casein product. Since whey is a by-product of cheese manufacturing process, that is where the important process begin. To separate whey form casein the pasteurized milk is subjected to enzymes. We are left with 2 by-products in liquid and solid aggregate state. Solid part is used for cheese. The liquid portion is whey with some fat and carbohydrates. This is further processed and purified to remove fat, carbohydrates, water and minerals. Lots of machinery is involved and the whole process is natural. Now, if you would consume this powder, without additional processing to add flavor and consistency, you might get the cleanest and most concentrated version of whey. And needless to say, Naked Nutrition offer whey in its most purest form. I just wasn’t blown away by its taste (how good can purified cow milk taste?). When we talk about extracting protein from peas, contamination is usually first thing that comes to mind. They grow in soil, use oxygen from the air and get nutrients from water. All that can be heavy contaminated depending on the location they grow in. Thankfully, I was able to talk to Krysta at Nuzest and she was able to provide me more first hand information on how they make their pea protein powder. They stand behind no solvents and no chemicals in their products. After pea seeds are dried, they mill them into flour. They add water and only water. After extraction of soluble proteins and decantation of non-soluble materials occurs, they remove fiber and soluble starches. The process is followed with pasteurization and ultrafiltration. The last step is drying the product with rotary wheel spray drier.
CONCLUSION. When we compare the two, the process is not much different. They both go through the steps of pasteurization, drying, separating the good from bad. Some companies will include solvents and chemicals to this process, so it is important that you do research on supplement you are taking. The longer the process, the cleaner the product and most likely more expensive the product. But what strikes me the most is the waste of a source. With whey, the actual outcome of processing the powder from raw liquid, which is only a 20% by-product of cow’s milk, we get only 0.7% of whey protein isolate and with pea protein we have 15% of pea powder after processing. And that is concerning. At Nuzest they assured me that their waste is converted to biofuel or animal feed and all water used is purified and recycled.
Hopefully this was helpful and informative. No matter what you decide, whey, pea, goat, rice or none of the supplements, being informed is never a bad idea. And we all just have to find, what works for us and our bodies. Until next time, stay on the K Train and let me know any topics you might want me to discuss. Thanks for reading!
If you are interested in ordering products from Nuzest use coupon code KTRAIN for 15% OFF and follow this link: http://www.nuzest-usa.com?p=SkvJfksjH