"Whey protein" may make you think of athletes pumping iron in a gym. But one type of whey protein should bring a more pleasant scene to mind: a herd of healthy, happy cows in an enormous pasture feeding on lush, green, nutrient-rich grass under a bright blue sky. In a world where overly sweetened, overly processed, and nutritionally poor protein powders are readily available to athletes who undergo intensive training, grass-fed whey offers a better option for the body as well as the animals who provide the whey and the environment.
There's no doubt that whey protein offers a wealth of benefits for athletes and anyone concerned with building and maintaining muscle mass. Whey protein has the highest biological value of all proteins, meaning it's highly absorbed, retained, and used in the body. Whey's high biological value is due to the fact that it has the highest concentration of the amino acid glutamine and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) found in nature. BCAAs are metabolized directly into muscle tissue and are the first amino acids used during exercise.
Whey protein's complete amino acid profile makes it a high-quality, easily digestible source of protein. It's also a great source of the amino acid leucine. Studies show that individuals who exercise and have diets high in leucine have less body fat and more lean muscle mass than people whose diets contain lower levels of leucine. Particularly when combined with resistance training, whey protein can help increase muscle mass and strength.
But many protein powders contain whey that has been so processed and overly sweetened that it provides little to no benefit. Not to mention it comes from cows who eat genetically modified soy and corn feed and who may be treated with hormones and antibiotics.
A truly grass-fed whey protein can be traced from the farm to the tub -- the pasture-raised cows are fed grass year-round and are treated humanely, with plenty of room to graze and a low ratio of cows per acre, which minimizes the environmental impact and supports the health of the cows.
It's important to choose a minimally processed grass-fed whey protein. Look for "undenatured" whey protein, which is cold processed to ensure that the highest possible levels of undenatured protein are retained.
Not all whey proteins that claim to be grass-fed are created equally -- some dairy farms still use animal feed full of soy, corn, and GMOs. Read labels carefully to select the absolute best grass-fed whey protein. To refuel and repair muscles, reduce recovery time, and support overall wellness, truly grass-fed whey protein offers a healthy boost you can feel good about.
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