2 Reasons You’re Buying the Wrong Whey Protein Supplement

This is a contributed post on whey protein supplements by Jon Dyer of Fitness-Baron.com

I know for some people trying to lose weight that aspiring bodybuilders are so lucky because they’re trying to gain weight. For anyone trying to lose weight the prospect of having to gain weight is much easier.

There’s truth to this perception, but eating to gain weight in the form of pure muscle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Which whey protein supplement to use?

It’s not a daily pizza and ice cream feast. Instead, eating to build pure muscle requires discipline, planning, preparation, and perseverance. The hardest part for many of us muscle gainers is eating enough quality protein.

Sure, you might say “eat a steak 3 times a day.” Sounds like fun, but have you tried preparing steak 3 times a day, let alone eat it 3 times a day. I don’t even want to talk about the cost.

I realize there are more difficult predicaments to be in health wise and nobody puts a gun to my head to build muscle, but it has its challenges, particularly with consuming enough protein.

Enter the whey protein supplement

Where there’s a problem, some innovator will offer a solution. In the case of consuming enough protein, many companies offer their solution in the form of protein supplements. One of the most popular forms of protein supplement is whey protein powder.

These days there are literally hundreds of brands to choose from. It’s daunting. How do you choose?

Most people choose based on a recommendation and/or fancy marketing.

Some more sophisticated decision-makers may choose based on which supplement offers the most grams of protein per serving.

However, these approaches are wrong.

The following are 2 important criteria you must consider when buying whey protein supplements. 1 criterion addresses comparing protein supplements by price. The second criterion addresses protein supplements potentially containing cancer-causing hormones.

2 criteria you must consider when buying why protein supplements are:

  1. Cost per 1 gram of protein
  2. Is it hormone-free?

1. Cost per 1 gram of protein

Instead of looking at how many grams per serving or how many servings in the protein powder container, if you buy protein powder based on price, you need to compare protein apples to apples.

Apples-to-apples where protein powder is concerned means comparing the cost in dollars or cents per one gram of protein.

How do you calculate cost per 1 gram of protein?

It’s simple. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Multiply the number of grams of protein per serving by the number of servings per container.
Step 2: Divide the price by the result you obtained in step 1.

Example: Protein tub costs $40. It has 30 servings. Each serving has 30 grams of protein.

Step 1: 30 grams of protein per serving X 30 servings = 900 grams of protein per container.

Step 2: $40.00 / 900 = $.04 per gram of protein.

I typically like adjusting the comparison to the cost per 30 grams of protein. To do this, take the cost per protein and multiply by 30. From our example, take $.04 X 30 = $1.33 per 30 grams of protein.

Why per 30 grams of protein? Because 30 grams is a common dosage.

2. Is the protein powder hormone free?

Whey protein is derived from milk. Milk is from cows. Many cows in the USA are given artificial hormones such as rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin) and rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) to increase milk production per cow. It works, but at what cost? Is it worth it?

Interestingly, giving cows rBST or rBGH is not permitted in Canada, Australia, Japan, Israel and all EU countries.[1] That’s a pretty big signal about potential issues with this practice.

Nevertheless, many brands of protein supplements are made with milk from the USA. If the protein supplement label does not explicitly state it’s rBST and rBGH free, you can assume that it’s made with milk from cows that were treated with hormones.

Is there a difference between milk from hormone-fed cows and hormone-free cows?

This is a hotly debated question. Nevertheless, the United States Court of Appeal, Sixth Circuit held in 2010 that milk from rBGH-treated cows has increased levels of the hormone Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).[2]

Does it matter if you ingest IGF-1?

Maybe, maybe not. However, one important study found that a causal connection exists between increased IGF-1 levels in humans and cancer.[3] Therefore, it appears that there is a chance that consuming milk products from cows treated with rBGH may pose health risks to humans.

Which of the 2 criteria are the most important?

It really depends on you. I simply wish to inform you about buying protein supplements. If the potential presence of hormones in your supplements doesn’t bother you and price (i.e. low cost) is most important, then be sure you compare on price by calculating the cost per one gram.

If you don’t wish to ingest milk products from hormone-treated cows, then be prepared to spend more. There’s unfortunately always a cost.

What about protein supplements that contain other beneficial ingredients such as branch chain amino acids, nitric oxide and creatine?

I wouldn’t base a purchase on the inclusion of other muscle-building ingredients. If I want creatine, I’ll buy it separately. Same with BCAAs. Generally, protein powders with additional muscle-building and performance enhancing ingredients don’t include sufficient doses to really make a difference. It’s more a marketing ploy than anything else.

When choosing a protein supplement, focus on buying the best protein supplement according to your most important criteria or criterion.

What about taste?

Taste is important, but it’s not a buying criteria for trying a new brand because you must buy it to try it. Taste comes into play when deciding on a brand to buy over and over.

Many protein brands to choose from would seem to be a good thing, and it is, but it also makes choosing a brand difficult. However, when you break down your buying decision based on key criteria, it becomes easier because you can than accurately and systematically choose the right brand for you.

And please, don’t let the snazzy labels persuade you. Marketing sells; it doesn’t create a great product.


[1] Bovine somatotropin. Wikipedia.
[2] Leagle.com. International Dairy Foods Ass’n v. Boggs. June 10, 2012.


About the Author – Jon Dyer is the publisher of the Fitness-Baron.com, where he gives away free workout routines and writes about building muscle, burning fat, yoga, supplements and exercise equipment.

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