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Part 1: How Do I Choose a Protein Powder?

In making this choice, I tell my clients to focus on these three factors:

Manufacturing process

When choosing a protein supplement, manufacturing process is the most important factor to consider. Unfortunately, most commercial whey products are derived from pasteurized dairy and they are often processed with heat and acid. AOR’s Advanced Whey uses a natural non-chemical process known as cross flow microfiltration (CFM) to maximize protein content and minimize unnecessary carbohydrate and saturated fats, while retaining all bioactive peptide subfractions. The low temperature, filtration-based processing techniques used in these high-tech ceramic filters allow the whey proteins to be extracted without the use of phosphoric acid, sodium hydroxide, or large pH excursions, resulting in an absolute minimization of protein denaturation. This is paramount because research shows that only whey proteins in their natural, undenatured state have biological activity. CFM whey isolate also contains higher amounts of calcium and lower amounts of sodium.

Whey’s beneficial sub-fractions

Among other things, the manufacturing process determines the the presence and the quality of whey’s beneficial sub-fractions. Whey is a highly complex protein that is made up of many other sub-fractions such as lactoferrin, alpha and beta-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin (BSA), lactoperoxidases, lysozyme and others. Each of these peptides has its own unique biological properties and benefits. For example, alpha-lactalbumin has a higher net protein utilization (NPU) than conventional whey proteins, which makes it a greater support for anabolic metabolism. It is also less allergenic than the beta-lactalbumin which predominates in conventional whey. Alpha-lactalbumin is particularly high in the amino acid tryptophan, a direct precursor to serotonin. It has been shown to reduce stress by raising brain serotonin activity while simultaneously reducing cortisol levels.[i] Other benefits of alpha-lactalbumin include anti-carcinogenic[ii] and anti-microbial activity. Advanced Whey is enhanced with an ultra-high alpha-lactalbumin whey protein isolate bringing it to 36% of its total protein content – the same ratio found in human breast milk.

Lactoferrin is another interesting peptide. The multifunctional role of this iron-binding whey fraction encompasses antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities. Lactoferrin’s multi-faceted applications make it challenging for scientists to isolate any single mechanism of action, but it seems to begin with lactoferrin’s ability to bind to iron, a mineral essential to the growth of pathogenic bacteria and a major contributor to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Unfortunately, lactoferrin is nonexistent in many conventional whey products due to the type of processing employed. Advanced Whey has been formulated to contain an amazing 400 mg of lactoferrin per portion.

A third sub-fraction that I would like to introduce is sialic acid. Sialic acid is a protein naturally present in saliva and mucus and whose role is to prevent pathogens from entering the body. Advanced Whey contains 6-8% of this interesting ingredient.

Hormones, pesticides and additives

A last point to consider when purchasing your whey protein is the presence of undesirable substances such as hormones, pesticides, allergenic substances, and the addition of artificial sweeteners and flavors. Some of these substances have been linked to potential carcinogenic activity. Advanced Whey is free of pesticides and antibiotics and it is guaranteed to contain no wheat, gluten, corn, nuts, eggs, fish or shellfish.

What are your thoughts on choosing a protein powder? Has anything worked well for you in the past? Give us your feedback in the comments below!

Markus CR, Olivier B, Panhuysen GEM, Gugten J van der, Alles MS, Tuiten A, Westenberg HGM, Fekkes D, Koppeschaar, HF & Haan EEHF de 2000 – The bovine protein alpha-lactalbumin increases the plasma ratio of tryptophan to the other large neutral amino acids, and in vulnerable subjects raises brain serotonin activity, reduces cortisol concentration, and improves mood under stress. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 71 (6):1536-1544

Svensson M, Håkansson A, Mossberg AK, Linse S, Svanborg C. 2000 – Conversion of alpha-lactalbumin to a protein inducing apoptosis. PNAS Vol. 97, Issue 8, 4221-4226

Chantal Ann Dumas, ND

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