When you drink protein shakes (as opposed to making a solid-food protein recipe like our HPLC Almond Cookies or HPLC Mango-Peach Jello) your stomach will tend to disgorge its contents into your large intestine faster than if you ate solid food. This means the enzymes in your stomach digest the food less, giving your gut flora (intestinal bacteria) a lot more to break down.
Unfortunately, when bacteria break down nutrients, the byproduct is gas. And since gas is extraordinarily less dense than solids and liquids, the volume of gas produced from one 16-oz protein shake can be measured in liters. This gas causes uncomfortable bloating and gut pain, or, even in a best-case scenario, voluminous and gross-smelling farts.
How do you stop protein farts?
The best way is to stop drinking protein shakes on an empty stomach! While it’s a convenient way to bolster your protein intake, the fact is that your body can not use all of the protein effectively when it gets dumped straight into your fart-pipe. This mean you’re wasting some of your expensive protein powder.
Besides… are you really that into chugging processed milk like some kind of Ensure commercial? You’re the old guy with the tennis racket and you’re getting nutrition from warm milk, if you do that. You smell like cereal. You fart and half the bus gets off at the next stop. It’s no way to go through life.
The fact is that you do need a lot of protein if you’re lifting weights, exercising or trying to lose weight. But give your guts a break from your fart-based lifestyle and cook some protein pancakes.
I’m glad you asked. It’s made of cow’s milk. The end.
No, it’s more complicated than that, I’m just kidding! After the cow’s milk is collected, rennet, or other enzymes, are added to curdle the milk. The solid component of the curdled milk is called curds, and the liquid component is whey. (Miss Muffet ate both, of course.)
While the curds are whisked off to make cheese, the whey is dried and processed in one of several ways. Filtration is used to make whey protein concentrate (the inexpensive Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey, for example.) Whey Protein Isolate contains fewer carbohydrates and fats than concentrate, but it’s made in specialized equipment like an ion exchange tower. Some whey protein is processed both ways, such as the great (and only slightly more expensive) Isopure Zero Carb whey protein.
Whey protein can also be hydrolyzed, to make (surprise) Whey Protein Hydrolysate. The hydrolysis process breaks down the longer protein chains into shorter ones, making it easier and faster to digest, at the price of tasting fairly gross.
The upside to all of this intense processing is that whey protein is one of the proteins with the highest bioavailability of anything edible on Earth. What does this mean? For every gram of whey protein you eat, your body can process more of it than any other protein source. Pound for pound, whey protein beats beef, chicken, fish, pork, soy, pea, rice, and hemp protein in its bioavailability.
The short answer: Yes!
The long answer: Whey protein isolate (as opposed to concentrate – I wrote an article about the difference here) contains less than 1% of the lactose that milk does. This means that, although it’s made from milk, it contains so little lactose that you will not have the typical lactose-intolerance symptoms from consuming whey protein isolate.
So, which whey protein should I take if I have lactose intolerance?
I strongly recommend Isopure whey protein if you’re looking for whey protein isolate. I wrote an article about my favorite flavors here, but a great starting point is Isopure Dutch Chocolate. Everyone likes chocolate! Once you try that and confirm for yourself that whey protein isolate won’t trigger your lactose-intolerant symptoms, you can check out some whey-protein recipes so you don’t have to drink shakes all the time.
This list is by no means complete, but it’s my attempt to sum up the protein supplements I’ve liked the least over the past few years of buying and tmany high-protein products as I can find.
Not only does this “Spiru-Tein” protein taste chalky, with a vitamin-y aftertaste (barf), but it’s sweetened with fructose, which is one of the worst sugars for your body. It doesn’t replenish muscle glycogen – only liver glycogen – which means it contributes to fat storage rather than muscle rebuilding.
I wrote a whole article about why hemp protein is the worst protein, but Navitas Naturals hemp protein has to be the worst of the worst. It’s got the green-grass taste of bad weed, mixed with a gritty, sandy texture that makes it impossible to drink without choking. You also can’t get it mixed all the way into water or milk, no matter how hard you try, even with a blender. Disgusting.
Carnivor “liquid protein shots” are made with beef protein, which you’d think would be delicious, given how much protein-heads like steak. But it’s not. It’s made from heavily-processed beef protein, which, combined with the orange flavor, tastes remarkably like vomiting up a screwdriver. It is not “Great Tasting,” as the box promises.
Body Fortress Strawberry carries the unique distinction of being my least-favorite Strawberry-flavored whey powder, which is amazing, because I don’t really like any of them that much. This is definitely the very lowest, last of them, though, with a taste somewhere close to chewing an old Tums tablet that rolled behind a toilet.
“Natural foods” people, organic-maniacs, and every kind of alt-medicine purveyor under the sun loves hemp. It makes fibers, it should be legal to grow in the US, it’s a plant, and, let’s be honest, it’s also because tons of people like to smoke weed. But that doesn’t mean hemp protein is actually good or useful to us, as protein-eaters.
First of all, the texture of hemp protein is disgusting. There’s no way around this one. It’s gritty, sandy, and somehow dry even if you mix it into water, milk, or a baked good. Its green-weedy stench overpowers any other taste in anything it’s mixed into, meaning your protein pancakes turn into mealy, dry, weed-smelling protein pancakes.
Hemp protein is much less bioavailable than the protein in beef, fish, eggs, or whey. This means that for every gram of hemp protein you eat, your body has to expend more energy to use it, and gets fewer amino acids out of it. If it’s not concentrated (most hemp protein, like Nutiva Organic hemp protein, is not) then it’s also full of fiber and fat. That’s not necessarily bad, but it means you’re supplementing carbs and fat whenever you supplement with hemp protein.
Even though a 70% hemp-protein concentrate may be similar in price to whey, you’re getting far less bio-utility from its protein, and a significant portion of your caloric intake from it is coming from fat. Again, fat isn’t necessarily bad, but when you’re looking to supplement with protein, it helps immensely to find supplements with the most protein and the least of everything else.
In this day and age, you don’t have to pretend to be into hemp. Pot is legal or decriminalized in a large portion of the United States. My recommendations are Isopure Zero-Carb (whey protein) and Olympian Labs (pea protein.) Check out those links for my flavor reviews of whey and pea protein, throw your hemp protein in the trash and start supplementing with a product that will give you the results you need.
Have you ever forgotten a protein shake (or a batter mix, like for protein pancakes) in your shaker bottle? The smell is ungodly, and can permeate your bottle even after soaking and washing. But I’ve found a great way to clean them.
Cleaning Blender Bottles
I use Blender Bottles to make my protein shakes (no more clumps stuck to a spoon or extra dirty dishes!) but if I don’t wash them the same day, they’ll start to reek once I crack them back open. Remove the metal shaker ball, since that won’t smell after you soak it, add a tablespoon (or about 1/3 of an ounce) of white vinegar to the bottle, fill the rest of the way with water, and let it soak in the vinegar overnight. The smell will be gone and you can wash it by hand or plunk it in the dishwasher the next time you run a load.
Welcome to HPLC! I’ll be writing up a variety of articles on different protein powders, recipes, and tips and tricks of a high-protein diet. One thing I want to note is that nothing here should be construed as medical advice, and the contents of this site are my opinion. Always consult with your doctor before adding supplements to your diet or changing your diet and exercise regimen.