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Getting The Measure of A Quality Protein Powder

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When choosing a protein powder and considering price, as well as value for money, it is important that you understand; not all proteins are created equal! So how do you really know what you are getting? And how is true value for money represented? There are many facts and figures out there; hearsay plays a big part in this and subsequently there is a great deal of misinterpretation and exaggeration.

The composition of various protein powders may be so varied that their influence on physiological function in the human body will be quite different. We can start here by looking at the protein subfractions, which make up the overall profile of the whey protein itself.

Whey protein corresponds to about 18-20% of the total milk proteins and its major components are Beta-lactoglobulin (50%), Alpha-lactalbumin (20%), bovine serum albumin (10%) and immunoglobulin (10%). The remaining 10% of the whey is comprised of several minor proteins including lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase, proteose peptone, osteopontin, lizozyme and others.

In order to ensure that as many of these subfractions and minor peptides as possible are retained in the end product, we use Microfiltration followed by Ultrafiltration processes (MF/UF), the whey is then spray dried (rather than heat treated). This process incorporates a pressure driven membrane filtration system, which is comprised of two technologically advanced “molecular sieves”.  Changes in the native structure of the whey affect functional properties and therefore the use of efficient separation and purification processes that prevent denaturation and loss of biological activity are paramount to producing a premium protein powder. The techniques used to produce Monkey Primal26 allow for a superior product, where 100% of the above mentioned subfractions and minor peptides are retained and undenatured; the same cannot be said for other products on the UK market.

The quality of a protein is vital when considering the nutritional benefits that it can provide; this can be further determined by assessing the essential amino acid composition, digestibility and bioavailability of the amino acids. There are various methods used to determine protein quality; in this article we will be looking at Biological Value (BV), Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER), Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) and Net Protein Utilization (NPU). What follows is an honest and objective assessment of the methods used to determine protein quality and a true evaluation of how Primal26 fairs on these various tests. Hopefully, by the time you’ve finished reading this, you will have a real understanding of why Primal26 is the Number 1 protein powder in the UK.

Biological Value (BV)

BV measures protein quality by calculating the amount of nitrogen that is retained by the body and used for tissue formation (Nitrogen is a compound unique to protein that can provide a direct measure of amino acid status). BV uses two scales:

1)    The true percentage utilization – shown with a percentage symbol

2)    The percentage utilization relative to a readily utilizable protein source – usually egg; this value is unitless.

The determination of the actual amount of a given protein that will be used by the body (BV) is not all that simple and certain strict conditions must be applied in test subjects to gain an accurate value. Since the determination of percentage utilization requires a certain amount of estimation, this accuracy has been questioned in recent times. Tests carried out by our manufacturers are always carried out with meticulous detail and objectivity.

Due to the experimental limitations of the above method, Primal26 has been measured using the relative utilization method. Egg protein is the benchmark here and used as the comparative, with a BV of 100. Two tests of BV are carried out on each person; one with the test protein (Primal26) and one with the reference protein (egg protein). Manufacturer testing confirms the BV of Primal26 is 159 (the normal value for whey protein is 104); this extremely high value correlates to a high supply of all the essential amino acids, as well as a perfect balance of vitamin and minerals.

Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER)

PER determines the effectiveness of a protein through the measurement of animal growth and is often stated as being the best procedure for evaluating protein quality in the USA. The limiting factor here is the use of rats in testing and not humans, it is also extremely time consuming.

The PER test requires feeding the rats a test protein (Primal26) and then measuring the weight gain in grams per gram of protein consumed. This value is then compared to the standard value of casein protein, which is 2.7. Any value that exceeds this is considered to be an excellent protein source. Most good quality whey isolates will have a value of around 3.2; Monkey Primal26 tops them all with a PER of 3.6.

Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS)

This test determines the protein quality by expressing the content of the first limiting essential amino acid of the test protein (Primal26) as a percentage of the content of the same amino acid content in a reference pattern of amino acids. The highest score is 1.0 and this is given to any protein source considered complete for use by the human body. This score gives us an indication of how much of the indispensable amino acids are utilised after digestion of the protein; scoring a protein based on its amino acid content and then adjusting to account for digestibility. The reference values used in this method are based on the amino acid needs of children between the ages 2-5. This age group allows for a perfect base measurement, as it is considered the most nutritionally -demanding age group; amino acid needs decrease as you age. We can confirm that Monkey Primal26 passes with flying colours and achieves a PDCAAS of 1.0.

Net Protein Utilization (NPU)

Similar to BV, this method is essentially the ratio of amino acids converted to proteins from the ratio of amino acids supplied. The NPU method includes an evaluation of protein digestibility as well as the content of essential amino acids and measures the retention of absorbed nitrogen. The highest NPU possible is 94, this is the score for egg protein (Monkey Primal23); Monkey Primal26 has an NPU of 92, which is the highest score for a whey protein.

Finally, it is worth taking a minute to look at a figure that often crops up and seems to cause a certain amount of confusion –:

Protein by Weight

This is simply the amount of protein in the serving size stated on the brand tub/bag, expressed as a percentage of the overall weight of the serving. This figure also allows us to gauge the amount of carbs, fats, sugars, sweeteners, vitamins, minerals and flavourings, as well as any fillers used; it doesn’t give us any indication of the quality of the actual whey.

For example an unflavoured whey isolate containing low amounts of sugars, fats and carbs, may well be 90% plus protein by weight (23g of protein in a 25g serving size), but this does NOT mean that it will contain 90% plus of biologically active, undenatured subfractions and minor peptides, nor does it tell us anything about biological value.

Our test protein (Primal26) contains 26g of protein per 30g serving and is therefore 87% protein by weight. A further 3% of the serving size is represented by 1g of carbs and the remaining 3g (10%) is comprised of stevia (natural plant leaf extract, as a sweetener), vitamins, minerals and flavouring system, as well as an emulsifier and a thickener (present in all protein powders).

The flavouring system used in Primal26 is a closely guarded secret and uses natural flavours together with the least amount of artificial flavours possible in order to bring the cleanest taste to a premium quality protein. Since Primal26 just about tips the scales of the natural threshold for a 100% natural flavouring claim, then we have to claim artificial flavours as well. The classifications outlined by the FDA are based on how much chemical remains from the flavouring process once it is complete.

Advances in technology and investments in research and development have enabled the U.S. whey industry to stay well ahead of the game. You can feel safe in the knowledge that the manufacturers of Monkey Primal26 are up there as one of the most innovative in the world.

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