A paleo diet consists of foods consumed by the early man during the Paleolithic era, which dates back to 2.5 million to 10 thousand years ago. Such foods include fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, seeds, and fish. Most of these foods can be acquired via hunting and gathering, as it was in those pre-historic days. A paleo diet tries to restrict foods popularized by the emergence of farming, such as grains, legumes, and dairy products.
The Purpose of a Paleo diet
The main concept behind the paleo diet is to mimic what our forefathers consumed. Proponents of this diet believe that our bodies are genetically mismatched to what we eat today, a concept they refer to as discordance hypothesis.
According to this hypothesis, foods introduced after the emergence of farming overtook the body’s ability to adapt, leading to a mismatch that is considered a significant contributing factor to the increasing lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a form of fast-digesting protein that comprises a minimum of 20% of the proteins in cow’s milk. The rest 80% is derived from casein. This fast-digesting protein has become famous because it contains the nine essential amino acids.
Grass-fed Whey protein is readily available as dietary supplements in powder form. It is highly processed to remove any traces of lactose found in milk, making it ideal for individuals with lactose intolerance.
The protein is one of the most researched dietary supplements, and many studies have supported its incredible health benefits, including weight loss and increasing body strength for athletes.
Whey protein is available as an isolate or a concentrate; the isolate consists of approximately 90% pure protein. The concentrate has traces of fats and carbohydrates and is about 30 to 80% protein.
Paleo Diet Vs. Whey Protein
Since whey protein is extracted from dairy products, it technically doesn’t qualify to be classified as paleo. However, it’s an excellent source of protein. If you can tolerate small quantities of lactose, you can use the concentrate; otherwise, go for the isolate if you can afford it. Since the isolate is purer, it’s also expensive than the concentrate.
A paleo lifestyle dictates that the food taken should support sustainable farming practices and environmental protection. And this is where the issue of grass-fed cows comes from.
The main objective of a paleo diet is to promote and encourage healthy living. Exercise is a critical aspect of the paleo lifestyle. Those on this diet spend time in the gym daily and use whey protein, among other protein powder, to build muscles. Taking protein powder helps fuel the muscles and enhances speedy recovery after exercise, besides increasing muscle growth. You should select high-quality protein powder.
Nutrition is an essential aspect of bulking up and muscle building. It’s therefore vital to be deliberate in when to eat. If you take protein powder before and after workouts, your body can access adequate amino acids necessary to build muscle and provide fuel to your body.
If you’re on a paleo diet, it’s not a must that you stop taking whey protein. Athletes aiming to gain muscles healthily are advised to use whey protein even when on a paleo diet. Taking protein powder is a superb way of fueling your body.
Note, paleo diets are meant to motivate individuals to make healthier choices and not to restrict them completely on what to take. If you enroll for the diet, the initial 30 days are very strict. This is to help you get used to your new diet. After practicing a paleo lifestyle for a few months or a year, you can then start taking whey protein to supplement your diet.
Most staunch paleo dieters use whey protein due to its incredible nutritional benefits. Although whey protein isn’t paleo, you use it to supplement your diet and help you build muscles faster.
What Is Grass-Fed Whey Protein?
Before 1940, nearly all cattle in the United States ate grass. However, increased demand for dairy and beef products brought some significant changes in animal nutrition. Most farmers and researchers were eager to improve their dairy and beef production. At this point, they started feeding cattle with a grain-based diet containing hormones to increase production. This strategy was meant to increase profitability but not for the cow’s or consumer’s benefit.
How to Choose Grass-Fed Products
Grass-fed products such as whey protein are not only ideal for your body but also the environment. When you use these products, you’re promoting a healthy lifestyle. Consider the following when selecting grass-fed products:
Evaluate Your Fridge and Pantry
Look at the foods in your friend’s pantry and check their ingredients. The snacks and supplements you’re using should be non-GMO, top-quality, soy-free, organic, gluten-free, contain no artificial flavors, and be hormone-free. They should also have originated from rational pesticide and antibiotic-free farms. If your fridge and pantry contents meet these requirements, you’re living a healthy lifestyle; if not, you can make better choices.
Start using Organic and Grass-Fed Products
After assessing what’s in your pantry, the next step is to make adjustments for a healthy diet. Switch to conventional grass-fed and organic foods. This includes dairy and meat products. The same applies to fruits and vegetables. Avoid those laden with herbicides and swap to fruits and vegetables grown organically. Instead of using ordinary whey protein, switch to grass-fed whey protein.
Buy Locally Produced Products
Local produce contains minimal amounts of pesticides, hormones, herbicides, or antibiotics. Most local, family-owned farms produce high quality and healthy foods that you should consider for your diet. You can confirm the status of these products by asking the farmer.
Although you may not get all your supplies from the farmers market, ensure any processed foods or supplements you purchase come from a brand that supports eco-friendly organic farming practices. These products include grass-fed whey protein powder, cocoa powder, MCT oil, and almond oil.
Grass-Fed Whey vs. Regular Whey Protein
Organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised meat is usually more nutritious; the same applies to whey protein powder. What a cow ingests affects the nutritional content of its products—meat and milk. Commercially raised animals are fed with grains to fatten and make them more productive.
These cattle are raised in inhumane and unsanitary environments, especially in the feedlots. The regular and grass-fed products vary in terms of micronutrient and fatty acid content when compared to grass-fed animals.
Main Nutritional Difference
The main difference between grass-fed and regular whey is fatty acid composition. The grass-fed whey has more omega 3 fatty acids, while the grain-fed whey contains higher omega 6 fatty acids. The latter fatty acids are most common in today’s diets, and they are associated with many chronic lifestyle diseases that are widespread in society.
Grass-fed beef contains higher concentrations of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a form of omega 6 fatty acids that help reduce body fat.
Although there is a debate among nutritionists on whether the grass-fed whey is worth its value, most of them agree with it. Besides the nutritional differences between the two, grass-fed cattle are better for the environment, and they live in better conditions than the grain-fed cattle.
Where Can I Buy Grass-Fed Whey?
The best grass-fed whey protein isolate for Paleo diets are only found in reputable stores, including renowned online stores such as Amazon. One way to determine superior products is by reading the reviews offered by past clients. It’s also essential to check the ingredients in the product and if it has been produced organically and is environmentally sustainable. The best whey protein for a clean Paleo diet should be produced in certified organic non-GMO farms.
Ideal grass-fed whey protein should come with BCAAs, probiotics, and be credited organic. The product should not contain any sugars, antibiotics, or hormones. Take the whey protein by mixing it with your favorite smoothie, fresh juice, or water. When you choose grass-fed whey protein, you maximize the benefits derived from the products.
Whey Protein Isn’t Paleo
When consuming whey protein, it’s vital to understand what is in the powder and the downside of the product’s ingredients. Your health should come first before the price. Go for high-quality products. If you find the product is more than you can afford, worry not, the protein you get from the powder isn’t different from what you get from a normal protein meal. The main difference is convenience.
Real food is cheaper, safer, and most effective. We can conclude by answering our main question, “is whey protein paleo” with a simple answer: NO. First, it doesn’t qualify to be paleo because its processed protein and paleo lifestyle discourage such foods’ intake.
The whey protein isolate is obtained after processing and treating milk. Also, it’s sweetened using natural sweeteners such as stevia. Some stabilizers and preservatives are also added to the product.
Again, whey protein cannot be classified as food. Although it’s a component of food (milk), it’s a macromolecule that’s consumed in isolation and not how it comes naturally. What you get from the whey protein isolates is also available from real protein foods such as meat.
If you’re a faithful follower of the paleo lifestyle, you’ll agree with me that whey protein doesn’t qualify as paleo, because it’s just a component of dairy products, plus casein and lactose have been eliminated from the milk.
Whey protein isn’t paleo; it’s a fast-digestive protein that comes from milk. Although we don’t have “paleo whey products,” it’s not to say it’s wrong to take whey if you’re following the paleo lifestyle. The product is essential in supplementing your diet even if you’re on a paleo diet. You need it for fuel and building your muscles. Athletes and other sportspeople, including bodybuilders, can benefit immensely by using whey protein supplements before or after workouts.