Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
26 Nov

Not Just for Bodybuilders: The Many Wheys Whey Protein Can Improve Your Health

whey protein powder(Apologies for the terrible title. I just couldn’t help myself.)

When you think of whey protein, what kind of consumer comes to mind?

The six-meal-and-three-snack-a-day bro who keeps a whey shake on his bedside table to maintain those 2 AM gains.

The up-at-dawn-to-beat-rush-hour woman who drinks a shake in the car in lieu of a pastry.

As most people see it, whey protein’s just for people who want more protein in their diets, people who don’t have the time to cook, or people who hate to cook and also need more protein. It’s for weight lifters and athletes. It’s a “poor replacement” for real food. It’s a compromise when life happens. If you can cook and eat real food regularly, the popular story goes, you don’t need whey. Just eat real food – right?

That’s all true to an extent. Real food is the foundation for a healthy diet. But whey protein is much more than a muscle-builder and meal replacer. I’d argue that it deserves a spot on the “supplemental foods” list alongside egg yolksliverfatty fish, and all the other foods that are powerful and vital in small doses. I’d also argue that everyone can benefit from whey.

Now, anytime I mention dairy, the issue of tolerance arises. “Sure, Sisson, grass-fed full-fat yogurt sounds awesome. It’s totally healthy and full of nutrients and probiotics, but I break out simply by reading the word ‘casein.’ Can’t do it.”  Tolerance has to come up. Dairy just doesn’t work for many people, whether it’s the lactose or the proteins. Luckily, most people can tolerate whey without issue. You’re far more likely to be allergic, sensitive, or intolerant to lactose or casein than to whey. And whey may even be downright anti-allergenic, as whey-based formulas have shown efficacy in the prevention of allergic diseases like asthma and eczema in susceptible children and infants.

You may be among the unfortunate few who cannot tolerate whey, and that’s fine. But an inability to handle Greek yogurt or milk doesn’t preclude you from enjoying whey, so don’t count yourself out until you’ve actually experimented with the stuff. As a new review explains, whey protein offers important and unique benefits to anyone who’s lucky enough to have access.

Whey isn’t just protein. It’s not only a thing you eat to obtain amino acids for increased muscle protein synthesis. It’s also comprised of a host of bioactive components, each with unique effects. You’ve got:

Beta-lactoglobulin

Alpha-lactoalbumin 

Lactoferrin

  • Improves bone healing and prevents bone loss.
  • Chelates excessive iron, preventing it from fueling infections (many bacteria require iron), increasing inflammation, or becoming carcinogenic.
  • Has anti-bacterial effects against food pathogens like E. coli and Listeria.

Immuno-globulins (A, M, G)

Those are just a few of the components found in that undigested whey powder sitting in your pantry. Once the whey hits your GI tract, many different bioactive peptides with their own unique effects are formed. In a recent review (PDF), a team of Polish researchers explored the effects of at least nine of these whey-derived peptides. Some improve blood lipids, lower blood pressure, or act as opioid receptor agonists (if you’ve ever seen a milk-drunk baby bliss out after nursing, his opioid receptors are likely being severely agonized by bioactive peptides). Others induce satiety and improve metabolic health biomarkers.

How does all this bioactivity play out? What happens when actual whey is consumed? Well, evidence suggests whey can help in a number of health conditions, like:

Obesity – Whey tends to reduce fasting insulin levels in the obese and overweight (but not healthy prepubertal boys, who could use the growth promotion), increase satietyreduce food intake, and improve resting energy expenditure. If you’re trying to lose weight or prevent obesity, increasing the amount of energy you burn at rest and decreasing the amount you consume – by manipulation of satiety and fat-burning hormones – are indispensable effects.

Diabetes – Eaten before a meal, whey reduces the glucose spike from the subsequent meal in non-diabetics and type 2 diabetics alike. It achieves this by “spiking” insulin, but transiently; the insulin area under the curve improves even as the immediate insulin response increases. Plus, as seen above, fasting insulin tends to lower in people consuming whey protein.

Fatty liver – In obese women, a whey supplement reduces liver fat (and as a nice side effect increases lean mass a bit). Fatty liver patients also benefit from whey, enjoying improvements in glutathione status, liver steatosis, and antioxidant capacity. Rats who supplement with whey see reduced fat synthesis in the liver and increased fatty acid oxidation in the skeletal muscle.

Stress – In “high-stress” subjects, a whey protein shake improved cognitive function and performance by increasing serotonin levels. The same shake had no effect on “low-stress” subjects. And dietary whey also lowers oxidative brain stress, at least in mice.

Cancer – Both the lactoferrin found in whey and the glutathione synthesis whey promotes may have anti-cancer effects. Lactoferrin shows potential to prevent cancer that has yet to occur and induce cell death in existing cancer cells. In a recent human study, oral lactoferrin suppressed the formation of colonic polyps. And in animal cancer studies and human cancer case studies, whey protein has been shown to increase glutathione (“foremost among the cellular protective mechanisms”) and have anti-tumor effects.

HIV – HIV is characterized by a drastic reduction in glutathione levels. And even if whey doesn’t always increase body weight in HIV patients, it does improve CD4 (a type of white blood cell) countlower the number of co-infections, and persistently increase glutathione status.

Cardiovascular disease – Last year, a review of the effect of whey on major cardiometabolic risk factors found that whey protein improves the lipid profile, reduces hypertension, improves vascular function, and increases insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. Whey peptides that form during digestion actually act as ACE-inhibitors, reducing blood pressure similarly to pharmaceuticals without the side effects.

Sarcopenia – Muscle wasting, whether cancer-related or a product of age and inactivity, is a huge threat to one’s health and happiness. Studies show that whey protein is the most effective protein supplement for countering sarcopenia in countering sarcopenia, especially compared to soy. A buddy of mine can attest to this; a couple months back, his grandmother hadn’t eaten for a few days, was suffering from diarrhea, mental confusion, and basically appeared to be on her deathbed. He started making her whey protein-based milk shakes and the recovery was rapid. She grew alert, active, and regained her appetite and control of her bowels. She’s not out of the woods, but at least her remaining days will be much better than the direction they were heading.

Gastrointestinal disorders – It may surprise you, but a component of dairy can actually improve gut health, even in patients with gastrointestinal disorders. In human Crohn’s disease patients, a whey protein supplement reduces leaky gut. In rodent models of inflammatory bowel disease, whey protein reduce gut inflammation and restore mucin (the stuff used to build up the gut barrier) synthesis.

By now, it’s quite clear: even if you’ve never sniffed a barbell, even if you personally cook absolutely everything that enters your mouth, and even if you have all the time in the world, whey protein can probably still benefit you.

Let’s hear from you guys. Do you take whey? If so, what kind and why? How have you benefited?

Thanks for reading, everyone!

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. were all of these benefits found with a whey concentrate or isolate?

    Merky wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • I think whey concentrate is more beneficial, it contains a broader spectrum of nutrients than an isolate, which is also cheaper – your first clue. The best whey proteins on the market are usually made of concentrates and cost more.

      stan wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • Whey concentrate contains casein and lactose – two common allergens that cause bloating (among other problems).

        Choose a high quality whey ISOLATE that has been cold processed. It’s more expensive for a reason.

        Mari Ann Lisenbe wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • You are exactly right. Research the process your manufactuers use to make your whey isolates. Any type of heat or chemical processes denature whey protein. A registered cold process is the way to go. Expensive but well worth the price if you don’t want garbage which most “supermarket” proteins are!

          Randy Benton wrote on March 8th, 2015
      • Stan, the opposite is true here. Whey protein isolate (WPI) is the preferred source and the “gold standard.” Isolates also cost far more than concentrates (like, twice as much in some cases) because the lactose and casein have been further removed. Really bothers me to see products with concentrate charge more and then argue that they are better, when in fact, they cost much less to make.

        Mark Sisson wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • I agree with you Mark! It drives me crazy that advertisers try to tell you that whey concentrate is better. Yes, better for them maybe since there is a higher profit margin – especially if they can get away with charging a premium.

          Mari Ann Lisenbe wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Mark is spot on. I’ve found a Now Foods isolate only protein mix that I’ve only been able to find through Amazon. It’s a5 pound container for about $65 and suggested serving is only one scoop per day so it lasts about 3 months. Best thing I like about it is it has the fewest ingredients (4) that I’ve ever seen with any other brand and they’re all natural.

          Roger wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • I had also believed that the concentrate contained a lot more of the “globulins” fatty nutrients and co-factors than the isolate

          Steve Scott wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • stan wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Hi Mark
          There is a lot of research suggesting that WPC is superior in many ways.
          I love what you’re doing here, but this definitely remains up for debate.
          The main issue seems to revolve around the further processing of WPI.
          The suggestion is that the proteins become putrid-It seams to make sense.
          If I may suggest & I know you have previously written an article comparing the two-but there might be more updated info floating around to justify another look.

          Jamie wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • How about a product with both isolate and concentrate? I use Designer Whey mix. I never experience any bloat, or the other side effects. Mixes well, and even the vanilla flavor is rather neutral in places you might not want a flavor. Like my power coffee.

          thomevan wrote on November 27th, 2014
        • from bodybuilding.com “Good concentrates contain far higher levels of growth factors, such as IGF-1, TGF-1, and TGF-2. They contain much higher levels of various phospholipids, and various bioactive lipids, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and they often contain higher levels of immunoglobulins and lactoferrin.” so I think there are distinct benefits to both depending on individual needs

          steve scott wrote on April 20th, 2015
        • I agree!

          Mattie wrote on August 15th, 2015
        • Mark,

          How much whey to get the benefits?

          Thanks.

          Andrei wrote on August 18th, 2015
      • You have that backwards. Isolates are more expensive and higher in protein.

        Mark wrote on November 28th, 2014
        • For comparison, NOW Foods sells similar whey protein products, one a concentrate and the other an isolate, at virtually the same price for a 20 gram portion of protein.

          stan wrote on November 28th, 2014
  2. I’d be interested in alternatives for those who can’t do dairy in any form. (Maybe after a few more years of healing I’d be willing to give it a cautious try…but then again, maybe I’ll be even less eager to mess with what’s working.)

    Sara in Brooklyn wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • I actually saw an ad in paleo magazine for pure egg and grassfed beef protein powder… I have no idea how much it costs or whether it’s any good or not because I didn’t bother to look it up, assuming it to be unavailable in Canada as most of these things are but it does exist.

      ashley wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • I went off dairy but not whey. Then I read that B lactoglobulin was one of the most antigenic proteins in milk. Don’t remember the reference but it would have been a paper on the subject.

      ken wrote on November 26th, 2014
  3. I had been avoiding the whole protein powder business despite trying to get bigger, but I’ll have to try whey. If I want to time it to a heavy lifting workout for maximum strength increase, should I take it before or after?

    M wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • You can buy organic whey from grass fed cows, not a part of protein powder business which I avoid too. Sure it makes bit more challenging to find a way of incorporating it into your diet, but you can get creative with baking, making your protein snacks and drinks :-) No flavours, sugar or anything else added at all!

      Kasia wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • You can do both but for a beginner I recommend taking 25-to-35 grams of whey protein about half an hour post-workout. That will be the best when you’re just starting out.

      Tom wrote on November 30th, 2014
      • Thanks Jack! I’m glad you found the chart helpful. I’ll be adding more to the list and more reviews as well.

        Tim Murphy wrote on December 6th, 2014
    • There’s a lot of “broscience” out there, but getting some protein in your system before working out is supposed to be beneficial for recovery (Mark has said this a couple of times), along with a lot of protein during the 24-48 hour anabolic window after working out. Personally, I get super tired the moment I start digesting whey, so I generally have a light meal a few hours before working out. After a heavy workout, I’ll have a whey and collagen shake, protein-rich dinner a couple hours later, and then a small (but protein-rich) snack a couple hours after dinner (if necessary). I find a few doses of protein (30-50g each) spaced out by a couple hours are much easier on my digestive system. I also find rotating protein sources helps digestion too. For example, I might have a whey shake, then eggs with dinner, and then canned sprats (or a shake of pea and rice protein) as the snack. Then I just play it by ear, listen to how my body responds, and eat accordingly.

      Seb wrote on November 22nd, 2015
  4. You’re right, I have some of this hiding away in my cupboard and forgot it was there. Maybe, if I used a little daily, my old brain would work better. Thanks for the reminder.

    Janice James wrote on November 26th, 2014
  5. I’m going to a Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow that will be replete with hazards.

    Drinking a fat whey smoothie right before I leave will prevent me from falling face first into the chips and crackers and dips appetizers and all the scary gravy-from-jars type of foods that will be on the table.

    Karen wrote on November 26th, 2014
  6. Okay, so I’ve been taking the isolates.. is that better or worse..

    you’ve got the more unadulterated whey to the microfiltered, isolates.. other fancy words..
    is there a difference or is it marginal..

    John wrote on November 26th, 2014
  7. I think Ricotta cheese is something that not many people know of and use, but they really should, because it’s made from whey! You can also buy some whey in liquid form and drink it. Whey is a byproduct of cheese production.

    Simas wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Hi Simas, the problem with whey that is produced as a byproduct of cheese is that it is cooked at high temperatures which denatures the whey and some of the fragile/beneficial compounds found in whey.

      The key to getting high quality whey with all of the beneficial compounds intact is buying whey that is processed at very low temperatures i.e. undenatured whey.

      Tim Murphy wrote on November 28th, 2014
  8. The couple of times I tried whey protein powder I developed stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea. This was a few years ago and the product probably was not a whey protein isolate. I can and do use butter, some cheeses, and some fermented products like kefir in limited amounts, but not milk.

    It’s my more recent understanding that whey protein isolate probably won’t cause these problems for those of us who are somewhat lactose or casein intolerant. If so, does anyone know which brand(s) are the least likely to cause problems? I’d like to try the isolate but don’t want to spend the money if it’s just going to make me sick.

    Shary wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Hi Shary,
      My best friend swears by “Warrior Whey” (http://store.defensenutrition.com/warrior-whey/), though she typically avoids dairy (and has had issues with other whey protein powders) but this one IS a CONCENTRATE, which means it can still induce a reaction. I have had pretty good results from Jay Robb unflavored whey protein isolate, as well as from Isopure.
      That said, all dairy-based protein powders induce some sort of reaction (for me), the most minor being a bit of bloating (somewhat tolerable), and the most major being sharp stomach pain (not great).
      Many brands sell small 1-oz sample packets of their product, which is a great option for testing the waters.

      Hope that helped!

      Alisa wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • I have spent a fortune on every type of whey protein out there on the market. All of them cause a major reaction for me. I am unable to process them. Very painful. Please be careful.

      Kiki wrote on November 26th, 2014
  9. I am always concerned with quality in those highly industrially processed food products… And like Merky, I wonder… concentrate or isolate?

    I am yet to find one from grass feed cows…

    I dunno, does not feel like real food to me… although I take supplements (not real food either…) I would be willing to try… which one though that is the question…I sure don’t want it to come from sick cows… lol

    Serge Lachapelle wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Check out “true nutrition dot com”

      There are some good grass fed options. You can even get it un-sweetened or sweetened with Stevia. It’s pricier and less delicious than the stuff you usually see at GNC but it’s not full of artificial sweeteners and flavors. A 5# bag is about 30% more than I used to pay for the stuff full of crap at GNC.

      Matt C wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • Dr. Mercola sells several varieties of whey protein concentrate made from grass fed cows. So does the Life Extension Foundation. You can also search Mercola’s archives for articles comparing the isolate type to the concentrate type and concluding that the concentrate is supposed to be the much healthier of the two.

        MetaCynic wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • IMO, much of the Mercola information has become increasingly extreme and therefore somewhat unreliable in recent years. I have a lot more faith in the more balanced MDA articles. Just sayin’…

          Shary wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • I agree with Shary. Mercola’s getting far too whacky for me, both the doctor himself and many of the forum regulars seem to have lost touch with reality. The whey might be excellent, though!

          SuzU wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Try Warrior Whey from Defense Nutrition an “all natural non-denatured whey protein supplement from pasture raised cows.”

      Our family has used this whey for several years.

      sharon williams wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • Is this one concentrate or isolate? I use whey natural, which is also grass-fed, cold processed, and that one’s a concentrate.

        Darcie wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • The Warrior Whey label says “non acid whey protein concentrate from pasture raised cows…”

          sharon williams wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Bulletproof website has whey from grass fed cows I believe.
      https://www.upgradedself.com/products/bulletproof-upgraded-whey-2.0

      Lisa wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Canadianvitaminshop.com sells 100% grass fed whey protein isolate powder, unflavoured and 3 flavours sweetened only with stevia. They have great prices and I’m pretty sure they ship to the U.S. as well as in Canada.

      ashley wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • It really doesn’t matter if it’s grass fed or not if its processed using “any” heat or chemicals. Heat and chemicals are used in most whey isolate, whey concentrate, hydrolized proteins, egg proteins, casien proteins, etc. making them ineffective. If you are paying $65 dollars for 5 lbs. of protein, you are buying an inferior protein. Cold processing is an expensive and lengthy process so expect to pay around $50 for a two pound jug of a great whey isolate, cold processed. You get what you pay for!

        Randy Benton wrote on March 8th, 2015
    • Whey protein concentrate vs. Isolate?
      Up to debate. I have a molecular biologist friend and she feels that the Concentrate is in better bio available form as long as you don’t have any issues with Dairy. I used to purchase Hofmekler’s Defense Nutrition which also makes protein for Mercola. It’s good, but I found one I like better and less expensive.

      Vital Whey in San Diego. It is a concentrate.
      I sell it at my G Fit San Diego location. You should buy it online.

      Vital Whey is from grassfed cows and sweetened with Stevia.
      Would rather have a protein that is grassfed 100%, year round, no exceptions.

      As far as the real food comment.. Whey protein has it’s place in a healthy diet.
      More upside for sure. One serving per day. 15 grams of Whey protein is plenty. Especially if you make yours like mine below:

      Chocolate Kick Ass Smoothie (I do this or a variation, 5-6 days a week for B Fast).

      6-8 oz. Raw Milk or Native Forest Coconut Milk (BPA Free Cans)
      1 Med. or large Organic Frozen Banana
      1/4 cup Organic blue or black berries
      1 pear OR apple
      2 Egg yolks (from truly pastured chix running around outside)
      1 scoop Chocolate Vital Whey
      1 Tablespoon Organic Raw Cacao Nibs
      1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
      teaspoon or more of Organic Cinnamon
      1/2 fresh squeezed organic lime

      I will make a 2nd (non dairy) smoothie once in awhile and will mix it up and instead of Whey use Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein or Warrior Food Hemp/ Brown Rice Protein from Healthforce Nutritionals.

      Optional: Add Organic Kale or spinach.

      I’m not sure where you live near a store where you can get organic. I’m fortunate to live near a Jimbo’s, Whole Foods, and Peoples Co-op so all organic items are easy to obtain, so just do as best as you can and don’t stress about it.

      You didn’t ask but…

      I’m 50 and train 2-3 times a week (like a 20 year old, only wiser and better form) Sisson Style. The other 3-5 days, I’m surfing.

      I need to have my diet dialed in for recovery, Immunity and try and avoid inflammation/ sickness/ colds etc.

      Other supplements/ foods I take is:

      Thorne FX Multi’s : 3 pills morning and 3 evening:
      Ben Greenfield (biohacker/athlete) explains in his blog.

      Bio Astin Astaxanthin 12mg per day
      Thorne Vit. B Complex
      Mt. Capra Raw Goat Milk Colustrum – 2 pills in am, 2 in pm for winter months
      Vitamin D Drops w/ K Combo. 3k-4k or less depending on sun exposure.
      Ubiquinol (active form of Co Q10)

      Foods: One muscle meat : animal protein meal per day i.e. Wild salmon, Grassfed Beef, Lamb, Truly Pastured Chicken, Wild Harvested Meat
      Pastured eggs.
      Lots of Maitake and Shitake mushrooms sauteed in Kerry Gold.
      Huge salads and Tons of Veggies.
      Organic White Rice or potatoes for starches as needed.
      Red Hill Farms Goat Kefir (one cup per day)
      Fermented Veggies
      Raw Cheeses from Grass fed cows
      Bone Broths (Brothery in Vista CA – ships anywhere and some stores carry it)
      Ghee and Kerry Gold Butter
      Apple Cider Vinegar
      Dr. Bronners Raw Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
      Unfiltered Yellow Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil in a dark glass bottle

      Sorry, Got carried away. Hope some of this is useful.
      Humbly Yours,
      Brad

      Brad wrote on November 28th, 2014
  10. We’ve tried many whey protein powders. Usually they taste bad or have artificial everything in them. This is the first time we’ve found a grass-fed source called Vital Whey, sweetened lightly with stevia! Hard to find but Canadians can get it at BackToTheLand.ca

    Sandy wrote on November 26th, 2014
  11. Correct me if I’m wrong. But how is whey part of a primitive way of life? Especially when drinking it in shakes. It seems to me like its the conventional way to go. Prior to reading your blog. I was taking whey and because of bloating and stomach issues I decided to lay off the whey and reading your blog only confirmed why it wasn’t good. Now you are changing it up. Well good to know conventional thinking isnt completely wrong. Maybe Grok has to admit that he’s evolved to some extent.

    Kru wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Hi Kru,

      I totally agree with you. I started doubting all the information written on this website just because of this article promoting whey powder.

      Is it just about money again?

      I wonder whether we gonna get some answer form somebody from Grok’s crew…

      Borut wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • If not the proof is in the pudding. Whey pudding from the likes of this article.

        I’m thinking this might be an admittance that Mark had it wrong all this time. Or the fact that not one diet works for everyone. Which I know from experience is true.

        Maybe money does play a factor if he’s truly trying to reach a broader audience. But if so, then he’s just losing credibility with his core audience, who he might think are too committed to him to actually recognize what he’s doing.

        Kru wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Come on fellas, he has said several times that no diet is right for everyone, and whey may be helpful in the context of a good diet, and may not be for everyone. Also, he wrote an article “When Science Trumps Grok,” that maybe you should check out. I think this is one case where it just may. There are a plethora of studies out there singing the praises of it, and it sure beats the hell out of soy protein (I’ll keep my testosterone, thank you).

          Myles wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • Why would you throw the baby out with the bathwater? One article that you don’t agree with doesn’t make baloney out of the entire website.

        Of course whey protein isn’t part of a primitive way of life, but then, who among us is really Grok? Grok is a tongue-in-cheek mascot designed to represent an achievable back-to-basics lifestyle–not a return to the Stone Ages.

        I probably can’t use whey protein due to dairy intolerances, but I think most of us are very much in favor of any articles that might contribute to better health.

        Shary wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • I do not know why. And it is a fact that whey protein can be easily substituted with natural sources. Then also many other isolates and artificial supplements like collagen could take part in Primal Modern diet. In that case the diet and the website becomes a marketing tool for selling “Primal” products…

          Borut wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Shari, I agree. Great response.

          I think MDA is very balanced, well-researched, inspiring, thought-provoking, and fun. And I really believe that Mark Sisson truly cares about people’s health, and is not just out to make a buck.

          Today, this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for Mark Sisson.

          Vanessa wrote on November 27th, 2014
      • Mark’s philosophy is to take the fundamentals of what helped us thrive in the past (the beneficial elements of Grok’s lifestyle that conventional wisdom has, mistakenly, steered us away from) and then enhance those with the benefits of modern science. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything on this website that suggests shunning modern conveniences or romanticizing a primitive way of life.

        JT wrote on November 27th, 2014
    • You got the point there!
      Stone-age people definitely ate protein supplements near tyrannosaurus nest.

      Sanjin wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • Cool comment Sanjin :)

        Borut wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Purified whey protein gained by technological processes contradicts Paleo/Primal philosophy of life and eating.
          Mark you are not a Primal!
          You are lost.

          Sanjin wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Not really. Stone-age people and tyrannosaurus never co-existed.

          J wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Oh, J, really? They didn’t co-existed? Now you ruined all my childhood memories of watching Flintstones… :)

          Borut wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • OK, DON’T EVER consume whey if you want to be a purist.

      Fortunately, not everyone needs to make that unfortunate error of extremism. Paleo is simply a viewpoint to consider when making choices in the modern world.

      Most people will realize that it is unhelpful to automatically exclude anything, dietary or otherwise, simply because grok didn’t have it.

      peterprime wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Where did you read on this blog that using whey protein is not good? If you take a look at the “suggested articles” underneath this post, you’ll see that Mark’s position on whey protein hasn’t changed at all.

      You have however succeeded in luring a few trolls out of the woodwork, so good on you for that.

      Kaizer Chieftain wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Uh, please let me correct you: you’re wrong. We’re not trying to live like Grok — we’re trying to find the foods and ways of life that best match our bodies, bodies that are more similar to Grok’s than to the modern world.

      I don’t WANT to live a primitive life: I want to live a healthy life. Whey doesn’t upset my stomach or cause bloating — should I stop using it because it bothers you? Mark isn’t ‘changing up’ anything — he says multiple times above that it is NOT for everyone — but it is good for those who are not bothered by it.

      (And Borut — is Mark required to continue to ONLY post old information, or is he allowed to update as more science comes out?) (I don’t get the shots you guys are taking at Mark!)

      Elenor wrote on November 28th, 2014
    • Protein powder isn’t primitive, but it would be primitive to think that we’ve never made any advancements in food and that newer foods can’t also be healthy. Nothing wrong with you having some whey!

      Ben Hessel wrote on December 1st, 2014
  12. I love whey but it really has to be emergency-use only for me. Even being low carb and fasting (which has always worked best for me) I find I don’t have caloric or metabolic room for many supplements these days. Like a TKD trainer I had told me, “I’d rather chew my calories” since my metabolism doesn’t have and “spare room”.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • What the heck is “metabolic room”? 1 typical scoop, 20g, of whey protein is 20×4=80 calories. Do you really control your diet down to the point where you can’t find a way to substitute in 80 calories? Or burn off an additional 80 calories? Make more room by moving more.

      Eric B wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • I have trouble not gaining on what I find comfortable to eat (even low carb primal). I am extremely metabolically broken. I could spend 80 calories on whey but I do not find liquids satiating so it would be foolish of me to consume calories that way.

        Groktimus Primal wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Ever tried intermittent fasting? Or eating within a “window” a la Leangains/”eat stop eat”? works wonders for me, I eat HUGE meals and still struggle to eat enough food to maintain my weight, body fat around 5-6% decent but not huge amounts of exercise.
          Fasting is supposed to help a lot with metabolic problems, though remember to keep it short 16-30 hours is a good guide for a metabolic boost rather than the longer fasting that will bring it down again) and, key, eat well before and after, so your body thinks you just missed a kill, not that food is scarce.

          Ben wrote on November 27th, 2014
        • I have lived that way for years. It keeps me from returning to 400+ LBS but it does not fix me.

          Groktimus Primal wrote on November 27th, 2014
      • I know exactly what Groktimus Primal is talking about. I have to consume fewer than 800 calories a day (20 g carbs max) to keep T2 diabetes under control and just maintain my weight. If I want to lose weight it’s less than 500 calories a day. I have a very efficient metabolism, I swear it can turn the air in a bakery into fat. I know that sounds wrong, but I’ve done this religiously for a couple of years and it’s the only thing that has worked (A1C 4.9). Eating primal is a bit different for people who are doing it for therapeutic reasons. Those who are still young and athletic, or not carb impaired, have a lot more “metabolic room.”

        Janice James wrote on November 27th, 2014
        • It sounds like both you and Groktimus have severe problems without even taking into account T2 diabetes (which I am familiar with.) Without knowing more data, like lean body mass, height, age, meds, etc. it’s hard to say for sure. Hopefully, you both have their doctors involved, as well as a highly skilled nutritionist (not your run-of-the-mill nutritionist) because at a superficial level, it seems like what you’re both saying is wrong on many levels. For example, if you can’t keep your A1C under control with more than 20g carbs, there is probably a major endocrine problem. And why would you want to ever lose weight if you can’t eat more than 800 calories to begin with???? Is it possible both of your long term diets have caused these problems instead of fixing something else? If you still have metabolic problems after correcting your diet, it seems you did something wrong. I realize you can’t even acknowledge that possibility at this point, but I had to ask. Asking that question was a major eye-opener for me.

          Eric wrote on November 27th, 2014
        • I have no problem acknowledging the possibility that I’ve done something wrong. My doctor is involved, she sent me to a nutritionist who wasn’t really prepared to deal with a HFLC diet, but she did try. I had 5 months of a daily eating and blood sugar journal to show her. I could very well have an endocrine problem but Kaiser won’t send T2 patients to an endocrinologist unless their A1Cs are high, I’ve tried that route and got nowhere. I can keep my blood sugar low if I add more non-carb calories, but the weight comes right back. My routine tests (thyroid, BP, etc.) are always right on the numbers, my overall cholesterol is 123, on paper I’m very healthy. I just can’t eat very much. The weight that goes on overnight still takes weeks to get rid of, and at this point I’m still at least 15 pounds overweight. There are benefits: my grocery bill is very low.

          Janice James wrote on November 27th, 2014
  13. I’m a bodybuilder who got Ulcerative Colitis about 5 years ago. Whey is one of the best things on the gut. Though I’ve mitigated my symptoms in those years, and gotten back to building muscle, It’s still something you have to work around when you have digestive issues.

    Whey is great for digestion, and it’s something that doesn’t upset my stomach. The one I currently use is Cellucor. I find it to be the most easily digesting, and they have some delicious flavors. However, I will also say that Optimum Nutrition makes a great chocolate protein.

    I do eat dairy as part of my diet, as my gut likes it. I stay away from large quantities of it, but I’ve never had a problem with either whey concentrate or isolate.

    Rob wrote on November 26th, 2014
  14. I find that I do very well with whey protein shakes as my lunch with a little bit of coconut oil on the side. As a woman I lift heavy things three days weekly for an hour or less and I commute via bicycle five to six days a week (45 minutes round trip). This has helped me achieve my leanest physique (5’9″ 133lbs 14% body fat and 38% muscle mass), as well as help with my energy levels at work while not weighing me down (I’m on my feet all day). As a personal experiment, I stopped having the shakes and basically IF’d while adding HIIT routines for a month and a half… Very bad Idea! I actually gained some unwanted fat! So I’m back to having Whey protein shakes with coconut oil at my lunch break and back to my intense and sane workout regimen mentioned above.

    Loni wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • What do you put in your protein shake? Just protein powder and water?

      Anna wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • Yep. I’ve tried a few different protein drinks on the market. The one that I like that tastes good (to me anyway) is Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey. It’s got 4 grams of l-glutamine and 3 grams of l-leucine. I will use 2 scoops in water.

        Loni wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Great, thanks! I think I need to get back to the protein shakes after giving them up years ago. Hopefully they’ll help me with recovery from workouts.

          Anna wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • Hi Anna, I have some “primal compliant” protein shake recipes that you may want to check out.

        Here’s a link to some of the recipes: http://www.renegadedad.net/power-shake-recipes

        Tim Murphy wrote on November 28th, 2014
  15. I found a HUGE difference between Isolate VS Concentrate. I was taking a very high quality Isolate that would leave me bloated, in pain, diarrhea etc that I just avoided taking it. Read a great article about whey protein concentrate and switched to a high quality brand. I take it several times a week with absolutely no discomfort. My 20 yr old son noticed a huge difference between the two as well and he also no longer has any discomfort.

    Calla J wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Call, I’m confused as to why Isolate would make you bloated, as it has even less lactose and casein than concentrate. Was it sweetened with sugar alcohols, like xylitol?

      Also, what brand of concentrate are you using that you really like. And would you mind posting the link to the article y ou mentioned?

      Thanks!

      Cheryl wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • Oops! Meant to say “Calla”!

        Cheryl wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Calla, I’ve heard just the opposite so I’m wondering the same thing. Have you inadvertently reversed the two in writing your comment?

      Shary wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • I did not make a mistake. I used to drink Isagenix Isa Pro Whey Isolate and then I switched to Dr. Mercola’s Miracle Whey. What a difference! Hope that helps.

        Calla J wrote on November 26th, 2014
  16. I have seen some collagen protein powders that look interesting, what about those?

    David Churchill wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Very different molecules. You can get a lot of collagen from grisly joint cuts, like smoked pork neck bones. Save all bones, make bone broth, refrigerant. Nature’s gelatin, which helps heal your joints. Well confirmed, both anecdotally (I’m one of them) and scientifically.

      But it’s not whey.

      OnTheBayou wrote on November 26th, 2014
  17. Why is KJ Virgin so against it if its so beneficial?

    Lauren wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • JJ Virgin? All I found is an article where she copied and pasted other favorable articles sections to her argument in her clear bias toward her own product, which she kept trying to sell. She even used one of Marks articles in support of whey and twisted it to where it was a negative.

      Myles wrote on November 26th, 2014
  18. I really like Vega myself; it’s made completely of vegatable products and is vast in it’s content and benefits. I appreciate the information regarding whey; I had written it off completely years ago (also because it usually doesn’t taste all that great no matter how much ice cream you add..) so it is interesting to see the diverse benefits that come along with whey.
    I have, however, come across a few talks that discuss the ‘dependability’ – or complete lack – of the labels on various Protein Powders. Do some research before you buy just any protein powder, and remember you get what you pay for. Expensive is hard to justify but you’re more assured of getting what you’re buying, not just a bunch of cheap filler.

    Isaac wrote on November 26th, 2014
  19. I drink Isolated protein during strength training.
    I have a surefire formula for anabolic drink reomendada by Dr. Di Pasquale.
    Works even !!!
    Who need the recipe I step.
    nivelcerto@gmail.com
    hug

    Mike wrote on November 26th, 2014
  20. I’ve been having Primal Fuel for the past few years, and it’s definitely handy to have on mornings like this when time is a crunch. I add some potato starch (resistant starch) and full-fat yogurt and feel like I’m having a treat–tastes great. Or if I want more of a milkshake-like treat, put in some banana (on the green side for that resistant starch) and avocado with cacao powder and coconut milk…wow.

    Tom B-D wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Wow, that’s pretty much how I do protein powder, except I use NOW brand 100% Isolate microfiltered, and put in my own coconut milk.

      Nocona wrote on November 26th, 2014
  21. I’d be interested if you or any of your readers are familiar with Immunotec or Immunocal whey protein.
    http://www.immunotec.com/IRL/Public/en/USA/flyer_Dr.Kongshavn_ImmunocalStory.pdf

    Carol wrote on November 26th, 2014
  22. Are there certain brands you would recommend?

    RH wrote on November 26th, 2014
  23. Although its not a Primal topic, I think its still great to know the basis of Primal life AND add the “good things” in life (the few that exist) if needed. I read a couple replys about dissin the whole Primal way of life because of this topic. Well, I’d still rather eat the Primal way, and know that there are SOME benefits to certain “factory made” products. Wouldn’t you? I think it was a good topic and informative. :)

    SCOTT wrote on November 26th, 2014
  24. As Sima mentioned above, consider ricotta cheese. Certainly far closer to natural than all those dehydrated supplement powders. I use fat free ricotta to keep my calorie count down and get my fats elsewhere.

    I have found ricotta cheese to be one of the most amazingly satiating foods I know of. The fat free has 180 calories, 16 grams of milk sugars (not added), and 24 grams of protein per cup. About 80 cents, I think.

    You can add flavorings as you wish. Real food, and as someone above questions, what’s with all this “smoothie” way of thinking. Grok had a blender? At least he assuredly drank the milk from lactating kill.

    OnTheBayou wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • With all due respect, Grok didn’t have access to ricotta cheese either… Or a computer for that matter…

      And you do realize that “fat free” dairy of any kind is definitely not primal, don’t you?

      Andrea wrote on November 26th, 2014
      • Of course not. Nor can I find a mastodon in my yard. Nor did he make bone broth.

        Jeez, don’t be such a purist! Takes all the fun out of eating well.

        OnTheBayou wrote on November 26th, 2014
        • Um, I wasn’t the one being a “purist” – I was responding sarcastically to your condescending remarks about people using whey protein or making smoothies with blenders, while you’re sitting at a computer and talking about eating fat free ricotta cheese… clearly you missed the point of my post.

          Andrea wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Or maybe he didn’t drink the milk, I just realized. About having the lactase gene in adulthood. OTOH, someone way back drank the milk as an adult and didn’t get bloated, etc.

      OnTheBayou wrote on November 26th, 2014
  25. You got the point!
    Stone-age people definetly ate protein supplements.

    Sanjin wrote on November 26th, 2014
  26. I’ve been taking whey for years. Switched from concentrate to isolate 2 years ago. I get 3 lbs at a time (grass fed) from a company in Florida and the price is good. I know grass fed in this case isn’t too much of a factor because there’s no fat but at least I know the quality is great. Just make sure it says No rBGH used!

    Dan wrote on November 26th, 2014
  27. As far as collagen, I use Great Lakes Beef Gelatin Collagen Hydrolysate – 16 oz. I take it at night and in the morning. Mixes instantly in water and digests quickly. I have read that Great Lakes gets it from Grass Fed cows as well.

    Dan wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Correct on all counts, but I think the benefits of organic gelatin would be hard to measure against conventional. Many layers of processing and pretty much just simple amino acids left.

      I was using conventional gelatin, half the price of Great Lakes. But since I’ve been saving every bone and making brother from them, I’ve had so much gelatin intake I’ve not used the powders in a long time.

      OnTheBayou wrote on November 26th, 2014
  28. Glad to read this! I put whey protein on the daily oatmeal of mine, my husband’s and 16 year old son’s (who is growing, on sports teams and very active). Thanks!

    Barb wrote on November 26th, 2014
  29. Now that I’m 48, my caloric needs are pretty small to what I needed in my twenties. I surf hard every day, do my planking routine every other day, and do a 20-25 min HIT session on my spinner bike about twice per week. Still, I don’t need that many calories. But unfortunately my nutritional need are the same. So every calorie must count. I make whey protein isolate drinks with unsweetened coconut milk and big shot of cinnamon and cayeene pepper. Drink on at least once per day. The cinnamon and pepper taste great but also warm up the drink for me which is good because my body runs damp and cool, so I’m always drying to eat food that dry and warm.

    Even my 11 year old daughter makes herself a drink with milk which is great because her diet tends to skew a little low on the protein in my opinion. The whey is chocolate flavored so it’s like a treat.

    Yes, whole foods are best, but when you hit middle age you run into a problem as your nutritional needs are the same but you don’t need as many calories. Whey protein fills that gap.

    Clay wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • “…when you hit middle age you run into a problem as your nutritional needs are the same but you don’t need as many calories. Whey protein fills that gap.”

      Good point, Clay. I never thought of it from that perspective.

      Shary wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Pretty much this. I’m a 44 year old woman with very low calorie needs.

      Marcia wrote on November 26th, 2014
  30. I like whey protein. The problem I’m having is not liking it unflavoured versions and finding a flavoured version with as little chemicals as possible. 😛

    Wici wrote on November 26th, 2014
    • Wici, I recommend you try what Clay recommends but you can flavor it with Cacao, cayenne and Cinnamon. I usually go with about 1/3 of each and then add the whey powder. Hey, you can heat it up to about 120 (which is quite hot) and still remain raw! It’s delicious!

      Brian wrote on November 27th, 2014
  31. This year I have a delicious whey protein rub for the big turkey. Extra gainz.

    Karson wrote on November 26th, 2014
  32. I bought the primal fuel to have on hand when I got too busy at work to have an uninterrupted lunch. My husband who has been a weight lifter and daily whey protein drinker since highschool tried it and LOVED it! He has been buying GNC products for years and was very stuck in his wheys(pun intended). He is now crazy about the primal fuel after using it that one time in a pinch. I highly recommended trying the chocolate primal fuel! Even your meat head husband will love it…

    Morgan wrote on November 26th, 2014
  33. I use whey protein on a daily basis and have for several years with no issues. I weight train 5-6 days a week and have a whey protein shake (just add water) before and after my strength training workouts. I also bake with it and add it to smoothies/puddings to boost flavour and protein. The brand I use is sweetened with stevia. Love it!

    JE wrote on November 26th, 2014
  34. As I sat down for lunch today I took a sip of my whey protein drink and pulled up my emails. Perfect timing for this newsletter. I love my whey protein. I’ve felt great taking it! What is your take on Teras whey whey protein? I question the stevia since I’ve heard good and bad about it. So far it’s the best one I could find. It’s organic and grassfed.

    Jamie wrote on November 26th, 2014
  35. Was using a brand called Kaizen, Natural Whey. It’s from New Zealand, grass fed (think most of nz cows are) tested for impurities and also sweetened with stevia, also has a cool cardboard tub that tears apart so you can recycle it. So many of the products on the market have a monster ingredient list, nice to find one with just a few simple things.

    BUT… Back in summer, I was eating decently primal but also having a shake with this everyday (mostly fresh greens outa the garden with a small handful of wild blueberries and some coconut milk powder) I started seeing my belly grow.

    VERY outa the norm for me.

    Soon as I cut the whey, I slimmed back down.

    I also noticed that I’d get a little sleepy after them too, which I thought was strange cause it usually takes a dose of carbs to do that and the shake was low carb, high fat, high protein, lots of veggies and a few berries (sounds like the perfect meal, right?).

    I was confused and turned to the internet cause I seemed to recall hearing at one point that whey triggers an insulin spike.

    Sure enough, found a study where they concluded that it was beneficial to give a dose of whey protein to diabetics before a meal because it trigger a much larger release of insulin to help them deal with the rest of the food they ate.

    Hmmmm

    I know there’s lots of other reasons for going low carb, like age’s and such, but a main reason is to keep our insulin levels lower, allowing us to tap into our body’s energy reserves as needed too.

    I keep them to a minimum now.

    Any thoughts on this?

    Brandon wrote on November 26th, 2014
  36. Whey is a by-product of cheese making. My guess is that whey consists of the milk sugars and the proteins that are not coagulated by the rennet. And lots of vitamins and minerals. That whey is still “raw”, if I use raw milk to make my cheese, since the milk is only heated to 100 F during the process.

    I am guessing that traditional Ricotta, made by heating the whey almost to boiling, is made up of almost all protein. That would be the heat-coagulated protein left after the rennet coagulation has removed the fat and most of the protein. The yield of Ricotta from whey is very low. Drinking the raw whey doesn’t seem like a way to get a lot of protein because of that. What is left after making Ricotta? Milk sugars, vitamins, and minerals? The Ricotta and its left over whey are no longer raw, having been heated to 195 F.

    Is commercial Ricotta made the same way? Perhaps not. Does anyone know if commercial Ricotta is actually just the protein from whey, or if it is made differently?

    So, I am wondering: Is there more benefit from drinking the raw whey, or from eating cooked Ricotta? Is it unhealthy to drink raw whey because of the high milk sugar content? Are the commercial “whey protein isolates” healthier than home made Ricotta?

    Cindy Drozda wrote on November 26th, 2014
  37. I put three level scoops of Mark’s vanilla protein powder in my AM pot of coffee (use a protein shaker – it gets nice and foamy). I usually eat my first “food” meal three hours later. It’s delicious and I personally find it’s helped me lose fat and gain muscle (of course you have to lift/exercise in order to do this). Genuine Health also makes a grass-fed product (Proteins+) that comes in a few flavours (or no flavour).

    Mark Cruden wrote on November 26th, 2014
  38. ?????? hum – what happen to eating around the root and movment….

    aboutcreativity wrote on November 26th, 2014
  39. Love the stuff. As a woman of a certain age, my natural appetite seems to be decreasing, making it tough on some days to eat enough food-food to get the 85+ grams of protein that I consider healthy.

    Also, as a dessert replacement or a before bed ritual, it helps me get to sleep much better than the oft recommended carb snack.

    And except for the very very high end stuff, it’s cheap per dose of protein in comparison to some meats and fish.

    Whey – It’s not just for body builders anymore.

    JoanieL wrote on November 26th, 2014
  40. This seems unhealthy to me because it tastes so good. 16 oz of coffee with a pat of melted butter, a raw egg yolk, a couple oz of heavy cream and a scoop of whey. It sure makes me feel Primal.

    John Caton wrote on November 26th, 2014

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