Grass Fed Whey Vs. Regular Whey Protein: Is There a Difference?
Getting enough protein in your diet is critical for health, as protein plays a key role in hormone production and regulation, healthy skin, organ function, muscle growth and repair, and more. Unfortunately, many people don’t get adequate protein in their daily diet, and a high-quality protein powder can help.
Whey protein is one of the best types available, but not all are created equal (by a long shot). Grass fed whey not only increases the nutritional value of the protein powder but also reduces the ecological footprint your protein powder leaves on the earth (which is never a bad thing).
First, let’s get a better understanding of what whey protein is, exactly, and then do a side by side comparison of grass fed whey vs regular whey protein.
What is Whey Protein, Exactly?
Whey protein powder comes from milk; specifically, the liquid that separates from the curds during the cheese-making process. While it does contain small amounts of lactose, many people that are mildly lactose intolerant will do fine with whey, particularly if it is a whey protein isolate, which will have almost no lactose content.
Whey is an easily digested protein and is rich in BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), which have been shown to promote muscle growth and increased endurance. It seems to be the best protein powder option for decreasing overall appetite and has been shown to support muscle growth and endurance, along with decreasing inflammation.
The best protein powder option for decreasing overall appetite and has been shown to support muscle growth and endurance, along with decreasing inflammation.
Grass-fed or not, always opt for a brand that has the fewest ingredients possible (the less chemicals and additives, the better). If you are lactose intolerant or have a daily allergy, proceed with caution.
Grass Fed Whey Vs Regular Whey Protein
Just like how grass fed, organic, and pasture-raised meats are more nutritious (and more eco-friendly), the same goes for whey protein powder. What a cow eats impacts the nutritional content of its milk and meat.
Commercially raised cows (as opposed to grass fed) are fed grains for the majority of their life in order to quickly (and unnaturally) fatten them up.
Aside from unsanitary and inhumane conditions that are usually the (sad) reality of these types of animal feedlots, it also produces meat and milk that have a different fatty acid profile, not to mention certain micronutrient differences.
Main Nutritional Differences
The number one nutritional difference of grass fed whey vs regular whey is in the fatty acid composition.
Grass fed whey contains more omega 3 fatty acids (known for being anti-inflammatory), while grain-fed whey is generally higher in omega 6’s. A diet excessively high in omega 6 fatty acids (as is the case in a typical American diet) has been linked with a myriad of chronic and degenerative diseases rampant in today’s society.
Grass fed beef and whey are also higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a type of omega 6 fatty acid known to help reduce body fat.
There is some disagreement among Nutritionists as to whether or not grass-fed whey is worth the extra cost, and many claim that it is. Even aside from the nutritional differences, it is commonly understood and accepted that whey from grass-fed cows is better for the environment and superior in terms of the conditions in which the cows live.
Where Can I Buy Grass Fed Whey?
You’ll find several, high-quality products on the market, and we recommend this one by Garden of Life.
Not only does it offer all the benefits of grass fed whey, but it also comes with probiotics, 6 grams of BCAAs, all Certified Organic ingredients, no added hormones, sugars or antibiotics, and a delicious taste. Mix it into your favorite smoothie, or simply shake it up with some water or fresh juice for a healthy snack or meal replacement.
To maximize the benefits from your whey protein, choose a grass fed version whenever possible.
Rachel Fiske is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rachel focuses on issues of weight management, GI problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more via a whole foods diet and lifestyle changes.