The Amino Acid Spiking Debacle
Lesson 10 Topic – The Amino Acid Spiking Debacle – Which proteins to trust?
The cost of whey protein and other protein sources has increased considerably over the past few years. As is often the case in business, many companies are now looking for shortcuts to spend less on the cost of producing protein powder while simultaneously jacking up the prices on the consumers’ end. It’s happening left and right, and you don’t even realize it’s happening. If you’re not aware of this issue, read on, because chances are that the last great “deal” you got on protein was really just a scam.
The bottom line is this: free form amino acids are often cheaper than pure protein powder. So companies will often “spike” their proteins with amino acids instead of the whey protein that you’re paying for. This wouldn’t be a huge deal, except that the most common amino acid offender (due to being so cheap) is glycine, an amino acid that is virtually worthless for muscle growth. Glycine is non-essential and considered “low grade”.
How do companies get away with shortchanging you? Well, they’re clever. They discovered that the current methods of measuring protein content, which rely on the amount of nitrogen that is present, cannot differentiate between amino acids and actual protein.
So this leaves 2 possibilities:
- They don’t even list the amount of glycine, or other spiked amino acids. They just label their product as pure whey protein, when in reality, you’re not getting nearly as much muscle-building protein as you paid for. Quite a few products have already been caught by more accurate testing.
- They write on the label that there is glycine or taurine in the product, but they still count the glycine and taurine towards the total grams of protein. So you pick up the tub, say “oh awesome, 30 grams of protein!” only to be fooled into getting maybe half that.
So how can you spot offending products? If they’re just blatantly lying on the label, which is unfortunately rather common, then there’s really no way for you to know this as a consumer. But if they’re being open, follow this guide:
- Look at the list of ingredients located under the supplement panel. If you see glycine, other common amino acids, or even creatine listed, stay away. The makers of this product have likely put these fillers in to save costs and shortchange you. No question about it, as there is no reason glycine should find its way into a protein product.
- If you see mono- and di-glycerides on the ingredient list, stay away. Companies intentionally put this misleading terminology on the label, but what mono and di-glycerides really are is just trans fat. However, the label can still say “0 grams trans fat” because of a loophole that doesn’t technically count mono and di-glycerides as such.
Avoid products that list corn syrup solids or maltodextrin. More and more, companies are turning to corn syrup solids to sweeten their protein. This sweetener is equally as damaging as high fructose corn syrup, but most consumers don’t know this. Also, maltodextrin is nothing more than sugar… but it doesn’t have to be listed as sugar on the nutrition facts. Yet again, supplement companies are specializing in deceit of the consumer. Don’t be fooled!
So where does this leave us? To put it simply, you want a filler-free protein powder. If you see a laundry list of ingredients on the panel, chances are that filler is being used.
Just one more reason to shop smarter and #SelectTheBest.