Protein. One of the most used words in the health and bodybuilding industry. Everyone always wants to know what kind or how much protein top bodybuilders and athletes consume. While whey protein has been found to have many health benefits outside the scope of bodybuilding, I am going to assume that you’re interested in grass fed whey protein powder because you are looking to increase your lean muscle mass in a healthy way.
There’s no argument that protein is essential to building and maintaining a healthy body. The human body is composed of all different kinds of proteins. While our body is capable of producing protein, it is not capable of producing the essential amino acids necessary to promote and aid in muscle growth. If you will remember correctly from middle school science class, amino acids are referred to as the “building blocks of protein”.
This is where they protein powder comes in handy. While it is possible to get adequate protein and amino acids through food alone, whey protein powder is an easy way to ensure that you are taking in enough of both on a daily basis to meet your health and fitness goals.
What is whey protein powder?
I know that most of us don’t always take the time to learn how the supplements we take are actually created, so I will give a very brief breakdown of what whey protein powder is.
Whey is a type of protein that is naturally found in cows milk. It’s the watery portion of milk that becomes separated during the cheese making process. That whey is then purified and processed into a powder. The final product is the whey protein powder that we all know and love.
The main reason that whey protein is so popular in the health and fitness community is due to its bioavailability. Whey protein rates very high on the bioavailability scale, which means that our bodies are able to absorb and handle it well. Whey protein is also a fast digesting protein which makes it ideal for use just prior or after a workout.
As lifting weights and working out breaks down your muscles, you want to begin the repair process as fast as possible to build those muscles back up following a workout. Choosing a protein source that rates high on the bioavailability scale, i.e. whey, is a smart choice in order begin that process as fast as possible.
What does grass fed mean?
Now that you know the basics of whey protein, we now come to one of the more debated words of today. Grass fed. Much like the name implies, grass fed means that the cows in which the milk was derived from primarily consumed grass as opposed to grains. Happy healthy cows roam on open fields and eat grass. Unfortunately, most cows raised for consumption purposes today are fed a diet of grains, corn and soy. On top of that, they are usually pumped up with growth hormones and antibiotics. As a cow’s natural diet is grass, they can and do become sick when they are primarily fed grains.
I don’t know about you guys, but if I am consuming something daily, as is often the case with protein powder, I want to have the peace of mind that it came from a healthy animal and not a sick one barely clinging to life. Just one look of those videos showing commercial cows having to be moved by forklifts because they’re too big to walk makes me physically sick. The quality of milk is strongly related to the health of the cow producing it.
Isn’t it just a fad?
Grass fed is not a fad. If you’re from the U.S. like I am, it seems like a recent trend as we did not always see beef and dairy labeled “grass fed”. Animals used to be raised naturally however, modern day farming practices aimed at producing the most amount of product has led to animals (and people) becoming very sick. An animal being fed the diet that they are meant to eat is not a fad.
The health benefits of grass fed whey are largely contributed to its healthy fat levels. There are 3 main health benefits of grass fed whey which make it the better choice over conventional whey.
# 1- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) Levels
Grass fed whey protein is a rich source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a very powerful fatty acid found in beef and dairy. CLA has found to be effective in assisting with numerous health issues to include cancer, asthma, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and obesity. Milk produced from grass fed cows has been found to contain 3 to 5 times the amount of CLA compared to milk from grain fed cows.
# 2- Omega 3’s
Aside from higher levels of CLA, grass fed whey has been found to have high levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s have a ton of health benefits that are too numerous to mention. Omega 3’s are usually brought up when it comes to hearth health. Studies have suggested that consuming adequate amounts of Omega 3’s can prevent and slow heart disease. They are important when it comes to blood clotting, reducing inflammation and relaxing the artery walls. With the standard diet that most people eat today, they are simply not getting enough omega 3’s and consuming grass fed whey is a great way to get more of them in your diet
# 3- Immune system benefits
Grass fed whey protein powder is typically made through a process referred to as “cold processing”. Cold processing means that the whey protein is processed at low temperatures allowing it to keep many important nutrients, antioxidants and amino acids intact. When protein is heated, it changes the shape of it and damages it, rendering many of the important nutrients useless.
Some of the most important substances found in cold processed grass fed whey protein powder are immunoglobulins, lactoferrin and serum albumin. These substances help create a healthy environment to support the production of something called Glutathione.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant composed of the amino acids glycine, glutamine and cysteine. Glutathione is typically referred to as “the master antioxidant”. It is found in every cell in the human body where it acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals and prevent cellular damage. As Glutathione has been found to be so important to our bodies, it seems like common sense that we would and should do all that we can do to increase its production.
The bottom line
Look, I understand there are arguments for and against grass fed whey protein powder. The biggest complaint I routinely hear when I suggest it to others is the price. Yes, grass fed whey protein powder typically costs more than conventional whey protein but many companies produce quality ones that are affordable, which I will be discussing in the near future. With most things of quality in life, the price is generally higher than lower quality items. That’s just the way it works. It always frustrates me that people will pay more for material items like clothing and vehicles but will skimp when it comes to their most important asset, their health.
Whey protein is an important and effective supplement when it comes to health and fitness. I hope that after reading this article, you will consider choosing health over price and go with grass fed whey over conventional whey.