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3 Popular Protein Powder Phenomena Explained

3 Popular Protein Powder Phenomena Explained

Every wonder why your protein powder clumps up into tiny balls? Or why it leaves you bloated and gassy? In today's article we are going to explain these and other popular protein powder phenomena.

Phenomenon #1 - Protein Powder Clumping in Your Shaker Bottle

Many protein powders clump up into tiny balls when mixed in a shaker bottle. This can be gross and utterly frustrating. Why does it happen? 

All whey protein is derived from the process of making cheese. When the whey is separated from the cheese curds, some amounts of lactose remain. This raw whey is then filtered, leaving whey concentrate. While the majority of lactose has been removed, a fair amount of lactose may remain - best case is only 20%. The most commonly used form of whey protein is called Whey Protein Concentrate or WPC80. The "80" means that the bulk is at most 80% protein. The remaining 20% or more is lactose - milk fat and sugar. It is this lactose in your whey protein concentrate that clumps in your shaker bottle. It's also why chocolate and vanilla are obvious product flavor choices.

It is this lactose in your whey protein concentrate that clumps up in your shaker bottle.

Solution: Whey Protein Concentrate can be filtered further into Whey Protein Isolate or WPI90. Unlike concentrate, at least 90% of the bulk is protein. There are varying degrees of isolates, some of which have been filtered to remove all but trace amounts of lactose. An easy way to check your own protein is to see how easily it mixes. A great protein should take no more than a few shakes in a water bottle to blend. You don't need a spaceship looking shaker bottle or forearm workout to blend your protein. 

A great protein should take no more than a few shakes in a water bottle. You don't need a spaceship looking shaker bottle or forearm workout to blend your protein. 

Whey Protein Isolate can be taken one step further through the process of hydrolyzation. This process partially breaks the peptide bonds holding individual amino acids together. Hydrolyzation lowers the chance of allergic reactions, makes the powder blend even easier, and yields the fastest absorbing protein powder on the planet.*

Conclusion: Whey protein powders clump because most whey products contain whey protein concentrate. Purer forms of protein like whey protein isolate and hydrolyzed whey protein isolate should not clump. Be aware, some products mix whey protein concentrate in with whey isolate and call it a "blend". Unless they explicitly disclose the blend ratio there is no way to know how much of this blend is concentrate v. isolate. 

*source: examine.com

Phenomenon # 2- Protein Powder Leaving You Bloated and with Gas

The reason your protein powder leaves you bloated or with gas is because of the lactose. It is estimated that 30 million American adults develop some degree of lactose intolerance by the age of 20.* It is true that overconsumption of protein or excess air (from consuming a drink too fast) can cause some bloating. However, the normal 20 -30g serving of protein powder alone should not cause bloating. That is, of course, assuming that your protein powder doesn't contain large amounts of lactose. 

Solution: Opt for pure whey protein isolate products. Even better, look for products that contain hydrolyzed whey protein isolate. If you have a severe lactose intolerance you can also try a non-whey protein such as pea or hemp.

Conclusion: Your digestive discomfort is coming from lactose in your protein powder. Again, check your labels to make sure there is no concentrate hidden behind a proprietary blend. 

*source: medline plus

Phenomenon #3 - Whey Protein is Going to Make Me "Jacked"

It's not. At least not on its own. This is not a phenomenon, it's a myth. If you drank 3 protein shakes a day and never worked out - you wouldn't gain any muscle. Our body builds muscle as a response to stress (ie. working out). A great protein supplement aids significantly in the recovery process by giving your body the building blocks it needs to repair and get stronger. 

If you drank 3 protein shakes a day and never worked out - you wouldn't gain any muscle.

It might be strange to hear a supplement company say this, but, you have to work or the products won't . The type of work you are performing is also important. If getting "jacked" is your goal - lift moderately heavy weights in large volume. If you are trying to lose weight - perform circuit training with low weight or bodyweight.

Whatever your goals are, protein plays a crucial role in recovery. If you are a runner looking to recover faster after a workout, protein can help dramatically. You are not going to spontaneously sprout gigantic legs.

If protein is the building block, you have to decide how the blocks get stacked together. A great personal trainer can help tremendously with this. Stay tuned for future articles where we will be recommending some of our favorites. 

Conclusion: Protein powder aids in muscle recovery and is beneficial no matter what your goals are. Another reason to read your labels --- many products add ingredients like creatine or some sort of thermogenic agent. Ask yourself if you need all of this in your protein. Ingredients like creatine are highly effective but should be used separately from your protein powder. This way you can control quality, dosage amounts, and timing.