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Organic Whey Protein: Waste or Worth It?

Thinking of going organic on your protein powder? Here's why you should reconsider.

If you're wondering when I'm going to come out with an "organic" version of my Pro JYM blended protein powder, don't hold your breath. Before I explain, let me first give you some background on the topic of organic dairy items.

If we were talking about organic dairy products like milk, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt (coming from organically raised, grass-fed cows), I would say yes, go organic. Same goes for organic fruits and vegetables – definitely worth it due to more micronutrients being present and less pesticides.

But in the case of organic whey protein powder… no, absolutely not.

I can understand how some might find this “thumbs down” on organic whey contrary to my “thumbs up” on organic dairy products in general. Since whey protein comes from milk, whey protein powder manufactured from milk that comes from organically-raised/grass-fed cows must be better than whey protein processed from milk that comes from conventionally-raised cows. Right? Nope, wrong. And here’s why…

First, you must consider where the benefits come from in milk sourced from organically-raised/grass-fed cows, as well as how whey protein is manufactured.

Why the Benefits of Organic and Grass-Fed Dairy are Wasted with Protein Powders

The main health benefits of milk that comes from organically-raised/grass-fed cows are the higher amounts of essential omega-3 fats, CLA and vitamin E (a fat-soluble vitamin). But whey is processed to isolate the protein from the carbs and the fat. In fact, a quality whey protein isolate has close to 100% of the fat removed. This means that if a protein powder manufacturer is using whey protein from organic milk, just about ALL of the extra omega-3 fats, CLA and vitamin E have been removed during the manufacturing process anyway!

So it actually makes zero sense for the manufacturer to pay more for whey protein from organic milk given the fact that all the additional health benefits are going to be completely removed in the manufacturing process.

Well, what about the protein? Good question. The protein in milk from organically-raised/grass-fed cows has the same amino acids and structure as protein in conventional milk. Let me repeat: The protein quality is the same whether it’s organic or not. Amino acids are amino acids.

What about the antibiotics, hormones and pesticides?

Here’s the deal with that: None of those chemicals alter the structure of the whey protein molecules that are isolated from milk protein. And due to the rigorous processing that whey protein undergoes to isolate the whey protein from everything else in the milk, none of those contaminants should be left behind to make it into the jug of protein powder you're buying. So again, there's no difference between regular whey protein and organic/grass-fed protein in regards to any contaminants.

All of which begs another question: If organic/grass-fed whey adds none of the beneficial nutrients to whey and removes no more of the negative components, why do some protein manufacturers even bother to offer it? It's most likely due to the fact that the manufacturer is ignorant regarding the benefits of organic/grass-fed milk and how the benefits fail to carry over to isolated whey protein.

In a few cases, it may be that the manufacturers actually do realize the lack of benefit but are riding the wave of the organic movement and are assuming that the customer isn’t educated enough to realize that organic/grass-fed whey provides no true benefit over regular whey. And since the consumer is paying the higher price for it, it's an easy way for companies to make a buck.

Jim's Take-Home on Organic Whey Protein Powders

Don't get sucked into this organic trap and waste your money on organic whey protein. Sure, the milk that it was manufactured from was from organically-raised/grass-fed cows. But the benefits from that superior milk are NOT carried over to the whey protein powder. Those benefits are literally flushed down the drain in the manufacturing facility. The only thing that does carry over is the price.

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