How Raw is Your Whey?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In the health and wellness industry, protein supplementation is at an all-time high due to its surge in demand. To be unique and stand out to other protein brand competitors, these manufacturers make heavy CLAIMS…the Big, fat Juicy Claims with NO FACTS. Clever marketing, targeted advertising (especially targeting young Vulnerable buyers) and social media creates a hot buzz about such products. Unfortunately, this has led to manufacturing company taking undue advantage by feeding misleading information to buyers. One such product recently hit to the market is so-called ‘’Raw Whey’’.

Raw Whey? What it is? Is it Raw? Is it pure or unprocessed? it is very confusing! So, while of all this hype, let’s take a time out to find out what real Raw whey is.

What Exactly Is Whey?

Hope you all know; Whey is a highest biological value protein derived from cow’s milk. The milk is made up of 2 proteins: casein (80%) and whey protein (20%). While cheese making process, this whey protein can be separated from the casein protein by adding certain enzymes to milk, causing it to separate out into Coagulated (curdled) part is called as curd.

This curd is used to make cheese, leaving behind liquid portion called ‘’WHEY’’. This liquid whey is further undergoing to ultrafiltration process to form Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) and then spray dried into powder form.

The Whey Protein Concentrate can further purify to Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) by microfiltration or Ion exchanged method. These proteins are packed into jar with added digestive enzymes (for better digestion), flavor and sweetener (for better taste acceptability).

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Raw Whey – is nothing But Whey Concentrates (WPC)

Raw Whey is being used on supplement label to make you think it is completely unprocessed, unadulterated, superior and more natural than other whey products. But, truth is, milk is pasteurized, curdled, ultra-filtered and spray dried to get final protein powder, in which whey is sold worldwide as a healthcare supplement including so-called “Raw Whey’’ too.

So basically, Raw Whey is also a 6-step processed product. And, when manufacturing companies use it to refer a processed whey protein powder, they are already being misleading and fooling us.

They also claim that their whey is raw because it does not have added digestive enzymes flavor and sweeteners. Just by avoiding digestive enzymes, sweeteners and flavor, we cannot categorize a highly processed product as ‘’Raw’’.

To put it in simpler words, ‘’Raw Whey’’ is nothing but just Unflavored ‘’whey protein concentrate’’ (WPC) that has none of the lactose and fats removed, and neither advantageous digestive enzymes, delicious flavors & sweeteners added.

Also Let Me Clarify, there is no product which exists as "Raw whey’’ protein supplement. Raw whey actually is found in intact milk in liquid form without any processing. This would not be useful at all as a whey supplement as it has very less whey protein (6-7 g whey /ltr. Milk)) plus it is full of other non-essential lactose, fat etc.

‘’Raw’’ means ‘’Unprocessed’’ product. A 6-step highly processed product cannot be categorized as ‘’Raw Whey’’ just because it has no added digestive enzyme, flavor or sweetener.

Therefore, Raw Whey is NOT RAW, NOT PURE, NOT UNPROCESSED

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Then Why is it So Popular?

With increasing awareness and love towards organic, natural, pure and unprocessed products, its demand is also increasing in the market and all cunning companies are making profit out of it by claiming their processed whey product as ’RAW WHEY’’. At first glance, people relate it with ‘’Pure, Unprocessed and Natural’’ whey which even do not exists.

‘’RAW WHEY’’ is nothing but a market gimmick, it is in reality, a processed, artificial and not even not has the highest degree of purity. Plus, they do not even have added flavor, sweetener, and beneficial digestive enzymes. Eliminating the expensive advantageous digestive enzymes from Whey makes product inexpensive specifically targeting to middle-class buyers. But in that scenario, you might have to buy digestive enzymes separately which is then buying like regular Whey Concentrate product.

All it takes is critical thinking to see the absurdity of these claims and no wonder, most buyers do not take the time to investigate what those claims really mean and unknowingly fooling themselves by buying these products thinking that they are taking the most natural, unprocessed and superior whey protein.

Now FSSAI (Food Safety and Standard Authority of India) has also become alert and strict to such misleading label claims. In 2018, FSSAI gazetted in the ‘Claims and Advertisement Regulation’ stating that, ‘’Claims must be truthful, unambiguous, meaningful, not misleading and help consumers to comprehend the information provided’’

So, next time when you see a protein supplement claiming, ‘Raw Whey’, you must be knowing how ‘Raw’ it is.

Raw Protein Vs. Whey Protein Concentrates – Which one to choose?

Marker Description WPC Raw Whey
Source Derived from Animal (Cow’s) Milk Yes Yes
Processed Processed while cheese making process and further ultra-filtered, pasteurized and spray dried to make whey protein powder Yes Yes
Protein % Indicate total protein in the product, the more will be better.in WPC it is ranging 32-80%. 32 -80% 32 -80%
Added Digestive enzymes For better digestion, as whey protein is concentrated as body is unable to digest such high amount of protein altogether. Yes No
Digestion and Absorption time Fast digesting and absorbing proteins help in fast post workout recovery and repair muscle damage. Faster Slower
Lactose, Fat, Vitamins & Minerals Profile Some amount of Lactose, Fat, Vitamins and Minerals are present in whey proteins. Same Same
Amino Acid Profile All 22 Amino acids including essential amino acids and BCAA are present in both. Same Same
Added color & Flavor To improve the taste and acceptance on a daily basis. Go for Natural flavor & color. Yes No
Added Sweeteners To improve the taste and acceptance on a daily basis. Go for Natural Sweeteners. Yes No
Suitable for Lactose Intolerance A condition, where due to lack of lactase (digestion enzyme) person is not able to digest milk and milk products. Yes No
Result Fulfilling daily Protein needs. Same Same

Choose Whey Proteins Concentrates (WPC) Over Raw Whey!

As the above table is clearly showing the superiority of WPC over Raw Whey (which is not even Raw or Pure) because it has added digestive enzymes. Plus, it tastes delicious.

Regular taking protein supplements are necessary to be great-tasting as you may be sick and demotivated of having a bland or unflavored supplement which tastes like medicine. They should be like rewards after a workout and indulge without guilt and enjoy every sip of it.

Also, do not choose Raw Whey, if you are:

  • Lactose intolerant (even very mild form)
  • Indigestibility problem
  • Higher daily protein requirement
  • Want to lose fat
  • Following ketogenic or High Fat Low Carbs (HFLC) diet.
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Lactose is removed in the making of isolate and would hence be more palatable. Additionally, with lesser amounts of fat, cholesterol and lactose guarantees that you have protein, and nothing else. This comes in handy when you are in the cutting phase or are trying to cut down on the fat.

Surely, Whey isolate, or Whey Peptide will be better for them as it has lower lactose content.

We Say

Hope you know that there is NO whey protein powder that can rightly be claim as ‘Raw whey’ and that this is a deliberate trick to fool you into buying a cheap quality product. Do not get trapped into ‘’Raw whey’’ claims and waste your money. Any high-quality whey protein has the same amino acid profile as ‘’Raw whey’’ protein. In fact, added enzyme will help you to digest proteins easier and faster. If you have a very tight budget, then surely go for Whey protein concentrates however, if money is not an issue then whey Isolates or Whey peptides will be a better choice.

If still concerned with what could be in your protein powder, stick with a whey protein with a natural sweetener, flavor and digestive enzyme for better digestion. As these supplements you supposed to take on a daily basis should be tasty and easily digestible. Also, ensure that the product you choose is from a trusted manufacturer, and if possible, try getting your hands on their certification like Informed Sports, Informed Choice Etc.