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Choosing the Best Muscle Building Whey Protein

Whey protein is far better than soy protein for the purpose of building muscle. So how do we determine the best why protein powder from all those hyped up advertisements and labels. This is where a little education pays big dividends. We can then read the ingredients and translate the marketing hype terms used.

Muscle building whey protein formulas often refer to "branch chain amino acids" [BCAA]. This refers to the essential amino acids L-Leucine, L-Valine and L-Isoleucine, essential for muscle growth & recuperation. These naturally occurring L-form amino acids are probably the most essential amino acids for athletes in training. They account for 33% of muscle protein.


  • Pure whey proteins are very expensive. Most manufacturers blend it with a variety of cheap milk or soy proteins.
  • "Proprietary blend" is often used to avoid revealing the percentages of each protein, so you don’t know that the bulk of the powder is useless cheap milk casein, soy isolate, or cheap whey.
  • Generally, the bigger the tub the bigger the scam. Pure whey protein is heavy and dense, cheap blends are light and bulky, because they are loaded with sugars and other unwanted components.
  • Bloating & Gas problems signal cheap proteins. The lactose in casein and cheap whey, and the sugars in soy isolate are difficult to digest. Of eight supplements sold in Canada and the United States, tested by the Canadian Health Authorities, six were labelled as amino acid products derived from protein hydrolysates; the other two were labelled as 100% pure crystalline free-form amino acids. Every one was supposedly the greatest protein supplement ever. None were true to label. If the powder gives you gas or bloating, it’s poor quality.

What you need to look for is:

  1. The manufacturing process used
  2. The balance of Amino Acids
  3. Added ingredients to help with protein metabolism or muscle recovery
  4. The presence of any allergenic ingredients such as: lactose, sweeteners, colours
  5. Other Ingredients: fillers, gums


Whey Protein Powder Manufacturing

Good quality whey proteins are extracted from whole milk, shedding the milk fats, sugars and other components. Old heat based extraction methods destroy protein catalyst amino acids. Look for modern two stage processes:

Stage 1 - Ultra-filtration process produces from 25-85% whey protein concentrate. Aim for 70-80%.

Stage 2 – Micro-filtration and/or ion exchange isolates the protein, and eliminates the lactose and fat. Ion exchange gives you a higher proportion of protein in your finished product

Other Manufacturing processes include:

  • Crossflow Microfiltration does have some advantages but is higher priced. This is more suited to those sensitive to lactose
  • Ion Exchange generally results in higher levels of beta-lactoglobulin, which is known to be allergenic in some people.
  • Instantised – makes mixing easier
  • Hydrolyzation - breaks down the peptides into smaller pieces, to make them easier to digest and assimilate. The process uses acid, alkali or enzyme treatments which can affect the function of the protein.

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Amino Acid Balance

Pure singular free-form amino acids and Amino acid blends are virtually useless for building muscle. They need protein. The only exception to this is di-peptide and tri-peptide bonds, which are key to optimum protein metabolism. Your body recognises and absorbs di-peptides and tri-peptides by a special pathway that cannot be used by single amino acids.

Peptide protein formulas that preserve the essential bonds, allow the body to retain twice the protein retained from whole protein foods, and up to seven times the protein retained from blends of singular amino acids.


Other Supporting Ingredients

Other Ingredients to promote muscle building and recovery include:

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  • Stevia – the best, totally safe sweetener. It can have a bitter aftertaste if used incorrectly.
  • Maltodextrin, honey, glucose polymers, etc – OK unless you are on a completely whole food [no sugars or refined carbs] or low carb diet.
  • Sucralose – has replaced aspartame as a popular sweetener. Largely untested.
  • Acesulfame k - same chemical family as saccharin. Still unproven.
  • Fructose – part of sucrose, with many adverse effects on health. Avoid.
  • Aspartame – very toxic. Avoid.


Flavours and Other Ingredients

"Natural flavour" generally means MSG. Usually vanilla and chocolate powders are okay. Avoid strawberry and banana. Other Ingredients include:

  • Xantham gum - some people have difficulty digesting gums.
  • Fillers - calcium caseinate


Look For Products that Contain [measures are per serve]

  • 36g Protein 100% microfiltered whey protein rather than Ion-exchanged. Blend of: Micro-filtered, Ion-exchanged and Hydrolyzed protein Isolate are not as good but more affordable.
  • Rich in branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) - around 5g of L-glutamine & 2g Taurine
  • Arginine - release of anabolic hormones to promote muscle growth.
  • L-Glutamine added for enhanced muscle growth, repair, and recovery
  • Digestive enzymes – controls protein release and increases protein absorption
  • Low [4.5g] in carbohydrates
  • Sweetened with stevia or Sucralose - Safe and approved sweeteners
  • Contains no sucrose, artificial colours or chemical preservatives

Be wary of products containing Sweeteners: fructose, maltodextrin, acesulfame k and aspartame


Recommended Product Examples

For a comprehensive list of USA and Canada based whey products

Best Source for NZ and Australian products
[ based on DietNet recommendations]

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Whilst these are examples of NZ and Australian products, using these guidelines will help you decipher the ‘label code’ on any whey product. The top 2 Red8 products were by far the best for quality and value.

Red 8 Protein Plus

  • Instantised, low temperature, ultrafiltered whey protein concentrate.
  • ? Sweetened with stevia.
  • Not suited to those sensitive to lactose or MSG
  • Reasonably priced

Red 8 Microfiltered Whey Protein Isolate [Lactose Intolerant Version]

  • Unflavoured and unsweetened
  • Contains lecithin.
  • Reasonably priced

Leppinsport Ultimate Whey

  • Ultra filtered ion-exchange Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Natural Flavours and Sweeteners (Stevia)
  • Not suited to those sensitive to lactose or MSG
  • Reasonably priced

Leppinsport Active Woman

  • Similar to Ultimate Whey but also contains
  • Sodium, Potaasium, Calcium, Super Citrimax, L-Carnitine, Iron, Zinc, Chromium.
  • Inexpensive

Biochem Ultimate Lo Carb Whey

  • 100% microfiltered whey protein isolate
  • No sweeteners.
  • Rather expensive

Metagenics Bio Pure - "BioPure Protein

  • Patented ultrafiltration/diafiltration process - concentrates the whey protein and bioactive immunoglobulins.
  • Close to organic cows milk used.
  • Small amount of maltodextrin – not suited to whole food diets,
  • Low carbs: 1g to each 16g protein


Aussie Bodies Perfect Protein.

  • Ultrafiltered Whey Protein Concentrate
  • Avoid Strawberry - sweetened with sucralose, and colour has caused bad reactions

Designer Physique - Whey Protein Concentrate.

  • Ultra filtered.
  • No additives.
  • Not suitable for lactose intolerant.

Designer Physique - Whey protein isolate. [Lactose Free Version]

  • Ultra filtered and micro filtered.
  • No additives.

Designer Physique - Slim Whey.

Often just a packaging gimmick – may contain additional L-Carnitine for boosting fat burning.

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Key Amino Acids for Maximum Performance & Muscle Building

L-Arginine | L-Glutamine | L-Ornithine | L-Glycine | L-Lysine | GABA | DHEA | HGH


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