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    You Ask, I Answer: Protein Powder Terminology

    ion_exchange_protein_wpi_3kg_powder_shop_new_zealand_co_nz_smI was looking at different protein powders the other day, and saw a lot of terms that went over my head.  Can you help me out and at least tell me if I should even bother paying attention to some of these?

    Here are ones I wrote down:  “ion-exchanged”, “microfiltered”, “hydrolized”.

    Thank you.  Not only for answering this question, but for your blog.  I have learned a lot just by visiting your site!

    — Richard (last name withheld)
    San Jose, CA

    As if the cereal and bread aisles weren’t bad enough, protein powder shopping also involves sorting through a variety of fancy-sounding claims.  Let’s break them down:

    1) Ion-exchanged: Very little significance.  I’ll spare you the organic chemistry lesson and just let you know that this is an inexpensive (and therefore popular) way to concentrate whey protein and reduce fat levels.  This process, however, also results in the decrease of some essential amino acids as well as immune system-boosting components intrinsically found in whey.

    2) Microfiltered: Simply another way to isolate whey proteins and lower fat content.  Microfiltering also drastically reduces lactose levels, which is why people with varying levels of lactose intolerance can handle a scoop of whey protein powder a day.  Some types of microfiltering (i.e.: cross-flow microfiltering) help retain calcium, which is why some protein powders will offer up to ten percent of the Daily Value per serving.

    3) Hydrolyzed: This breaks down protein molecules in order to facilitate absorption.  In the greater scheme of things, though, this is rather insignificant, especially since most protein powders contain minimal amounts of hydrolyzed whey protein since the hydrolyzation process imparts a very unpleasant flavor.

    A lot of these terms are added onto packaging to add value and impart an aura of “scientific breakthrough”.

    When it comes to protein powders, ignore these claims and instead focus on finding varieties with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners and no more than 100 calories per serving.

    If you are unable to find unsweetened varieties, aim for no more than 2 grams of sugar per serving.

    Keep in mind, too, that if you purchase hemp protein powder, you are also getting some omega-3 fatty acids and fiber (both of which are missing in whey protein).


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