2018's 10 Best
Grass Fed Whey Protein Powders
Grass fed protein has become all the rage the last little while, especially among the paleo-sphere. Some of you may be thinking, what’s the hype, protein is just protein, right? Well, given that cow milk has arrived on the scene only about 10,000 years ago, which is only a drop in the bucket in human evolution, we are still learning a lot about this significant dietary staple.
Gather ‘round, and we will dive deep into the differences and benefits of grass fed whey, that range from the ethical to the nutritional. But first, a little history lesson. And if you are looking to skip our story, you can also jump straight to our top products. See the #1 Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder now
A Brief History Of Cows
Hey, we have to go back to the source, right? If you didn’t already know, whey protein powder comes from milk. Cow milk, typically. It’s derived from the liquid that separates from the curds during the cheese-making process. Or in other words, the stuff floating at the top of the three-week old cottage cheese container inside your refrigerator. Doesn’t look very appetizing, no, but that stuff has the building blocks of champions within it.
Cows were first domesticated nearly 10,000 years ago. This was no easy feat, by the way, as these wild bovine (known as aurochs), were nearly twice the size of today’s domestic cows. Some of the biggest aurochs weighed in at 3000 lbs! Aurochs originally roamed freely across Europe, Asia and Africa, and were first domesticated in the mesopotamian area along the border of Europe and Asia. This era of domestication is generally referred to as the agricultural revolution.
For thousands of years, evidence of cow domestication and dairy consumption also shows up in Egypt, North Africa, and North India, before making its way over to the Americas in the 1500’s. The first of these were brought to Mexico by the Spanish explorers. The first in North American came through the settlement of Plymouth Colony in 1625.
The ways in which cows have provided for humankind are numerous. They supply food products such as milk, blood, fat, and meat. Their hair, hides, horns, hooves and bones provided clothing, tools, and gelatin. Their dung has been used for fuel and fertilizer. Their size and strength have been harnessed for load-bearing efforts such as raising heavy weights and pulling plows.
It is no wonder that certain cultures have declared cows as sacred, or at the very least, highly esteemed. Hindus consider cow slaughtering taboo, while religions from ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, ancient Israel, ancient Rome, and ancient Germany held similar beliefs. Holy cow, indeed. See the #1 Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder now
The Evolution Of The Cow’s Diet
Today, grain-fed cows are fed predominantly corn. Now why is that? When was the last time you ever saw a herd of wild cow stampede into a field of corn and start munching away? Doesn’t happen. As it happens in so many other settings, the answer is that corn as a feedstock is cheap.
The corn industry exploded with the development of the railroad, the large-scale distillation of alcohol, and science that allowed genetic interference. In the 1920s and 1930s, scientists discovered a way to boost corn production by breeding hybrid strains that had larger ears, and could be grown closer together. This allowed farmers to produce mass quantities without acquiring more land.
Corn crops expanded, the trains allowed for mass transportation, and the need and use for corn for various industries grew at an exponential rate. And what’s more, it was and still IS cheap. Far cheaper than wheat, or any other grain on the market. The corn industry is a multi-billion dollar industry so vital, that the government chooses to subsidize it.
This allowed cattle farmers to feed their stock corn in mass quantity. The result? Cattle who grew quickly, with fatty, marbled muscle. At the surface, this sounds like a situation where everyone wins. More food for the cattle, which means larger cattle stocks, which leads to more meat and dairy. More profit for farmers and more food for us. But the story goes deeper than that.
We covered history, now for a little biology. Cows have seriously impressive stomachs, divided into four chambers, with the rumen being the largest compartment. The rumen allows for fermentation, with certain enzymes present to help break down forage (grass) into various proteins.
Fermentation causes gas (methane) production. When cows normally eat grass, they can chew on the resulting cud which helps naturally expel the gas.
A corn diet does not allow this, and cows lack the enzymes required for digesting starchy grains. With no way to release the trapped methane gases, the rumen starts to swell and put pressure on the surrounding organs. The gas buildup and swelling can eventually suffocate them unless manual expelling is performed by sticking a hose down their esophagus.
A diet full of grain also increases the acidity of the cow’s stomach, which can lead to ulcers. This allows bacteria to escape from the rumen and into the cow’s blood, which can be transferred to other body tissue and organs, especially the liver.
With a compromised liver, cows are more susceptible to getting sick. Paired with poor living conditions in crowded feeding lots, disease runs rampant. The answer to this spreading disease and bacteria? Loading cows up on antibiotics.
Dairy Cow Diet: Grass or Grain?
What about dairy cows that give way to the milk that is used to make whey protein? In order to remain in constant lactation to produce milk, a cow must give birth once a year. Most farms will start breeding their cows around 2 years old, along with every subsequent year until they are around 5-6 years old.
Dairy cows around 6 years of age will generally be slaughtered, due to a decline in health and fertility. (Meanwhile beef cattle are slaughtered between 1-2 years of age). For comparison, a healthy cow can live for over 20 years.
However, it is difficult to find dairy farms that keep exclusively grain free cows. The reason being, is dairy cows have been bred to to turn energy into milk. This means dairy cows will turn her own fat and muscle into milk if she can’t get enough energy (food) in her diet.
Unless you have enough open pasture and forage, which is both costly and labor intensive, you end up with a thin cow who won’t breed and is more prone to other problems. Along with producing less quantity of milk.
Essentially, it is not as profitable for most farmers to have solely grass-fed dairy cows, especially if their farms are not already equipped for it.
That being said, there are many beneficial reasons for introducing grazing back into the dairy system. Despite being a costly production to support enough food, other benefits include increased herd health.
There is some reduced labor and equipment costs too, like less time spent on cropping the fields for grain production or preparing and feeding rations.
In well-managed grass-fed farms, there are also environmental advantages, too. Cow manure replenishes the soil of vital nutrients, improving the quality of pasture growth. This helps reduce erosion and water pollution.
There are also potential premiums for grass-based milk, such as organic or 100 percent grass-fed. For the few grass-fed only dairy farms out there, the benefits outweigh any production losses.
Insider-tip: Some farms claim grass-fed, but there are different “levels” of grass-fed cattle. Some cattle received mixed feed; which consists of both grass and grain. While other herds are given grain for the first few months or years, but then “grass” finished where they graze on grass for the remainder of the time. Dairy cattle may fall into the first scenario, where they are given a mix of grass and grain, especially before milking. See the #1 Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder now
Why Is Grass-Fed Whey Better?
We have established that being grass fed is better for cows, but what about for us consumers? Well, the answer is yes. Grass fed dairy and beef have benefits for us, too.
Whey protein consists of many beneficial amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that help support boosted immunity, muscle growth, and overall health.
Grass-fed milk contains more vitamin A, vitamin E, and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, and omega-3 fatty acids. Low levels of these have been linked to many health conditions, like dementia and heart disease.
Grass fed dairy is also high in conjugated lineoleic acid (CLA), a healthy omega-6 that’s been shown have important anti-inflammatory properties. One study showed that grass fed dairy is about two percent CLA, which is much higher than regular dairy.
Most grass fed cows also remain hormone and antibiotic free. While this is definitely advantageous for the cow’s health, it is also healthier for you. Hormones and antibiotics can be transferred to dairy products, including whey protein. A lack of hormones and antibiotics just means a cleaner source of protein.
Remember, you are what you eat. See the #1 Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder now
What are the Side Effects Of Grass Fed Whey Protein?
The side effects and safety of grass-fed whey remain the same as regular whey protein. Those who are sensitive to dairy may still experience bloating, indigestion, nausea, thirst, cramps, reduced appetite, fatigue, and headache.
The upside? Grass-fed whey has higher CLA content, an anti-inflammatory which may help reduce the severity of side effects.
Those who have milk and lactose allergies will still want to steer clear. And as always, consult your physician with any questions or concerns.
Questions To Ask When Choosing A Grass-Fed Whey Protein
If you have decided that a grass-fed whey protein powder is for you, for either ethical or nutritional reasons (or both), then we just have a few questions you should ask yourself when looking for the right one.
The biggest concerns most consumers have when it comes to grass fed whey have to do with the legitimacy of the protein source and the price. We will help you navigate both!
Q. Is The Grass-Fed Whey Protein 100% Grass Fed?
A. Like we mentioned above, some products may claim grass fed but in reality, may be from a farm that mixes grain into the feed schedule. (Companies do this fairly regularly, and have to be held to standards to keep them honest. Have you ever read the ice cream containers at the supermarket before buying one? Not all ice creams are actually considered to be “ice cream”.) Doing your due diligence to research the product and the farm it came from can help you find 100% sourced grass fed whey. There are also several certifications that help guarantee a legitimate grass fed product. Look for a label from the American Grassfed Association (AGA) or American Food Alliance (AFA).
Q. Is Grass Fed Whey Protein Really Worth The Price?
A. Yes, it’s no secret that grass-fed whey protein is more expensive than traditional whey protein powders. But the extra nutritional benefit such as higher CLA content, as well as the good feeling you get from supporting happy, healthy cows and farming methods more than makes up for it.
Our top 10 list of Grass Fed Whey Protein Powders is organized to reflect what you most value in your supplements. First and foremost is quality. All ten of our top ten supplements meet high standards of quality and come from brands with a proven record in excellence and purity. Another important factor in deciding the top ten was cost. You don’t have to pay through the nose to get a high quality supplement. In addition, all the companies represented on our top ten list have stellar records with customer service and prompt shipping to ensure that your supplement experience is enjoyable from the first click to your final shake.
- Wright, Elizabeth, and Sarah Viner-Daniels. Geographical variation in the size and shape of the European aurochs (Bos primigenius). Journal of Archaeological Science 54 (2015): 8-22.
- Hudson, John C. Making the Corn Belt: A geographical history of middle-western agriculture. Indiana University Press, 1994.
- Ametaj, Burim N., et al. Metabolomics reveals unhealthy alterations in rumen metabolism with increased proportion of cereal grain in the diet of dairy cows. Metabolomics 6.4 (2010): 583-594.
- Hare, E., H. D. Norman, and J. R. Wright. Survival rates and productive herd life of dairy cattle in the United States. Journal of dairy science 89.9 (2006): 3713-3720.
- Hebeisen, Dorothea F., et al. Increased concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in milk and platelet rich plasma of grass-fed cows. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin-und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal international de vitaminologie et de nutrition 63.3 (1993): 229-233.
- Ruxton, C. H. S., et al. The health benefits of omega?3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: a review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 17.5 (2004): 449-459.
- Kraft, Jana, et al. Differences in CLA isomer distribution of cow’s milk lipids. Lipids 38.6 (2003): 657-664.
The Standout: High Quality, Affordable Cost
Nutricost's Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate is a high quality protein that is cold processed, non-GMO, and gluten free. Each scoop is comprised of 19 grams of protein, with 41 servings per bottle. That's just a mere 85 cents per serving for a whopping 2 lbs per bottle.
- 19 Grams Protein Per Serving
- 41 Servings Per Bottle
- 85 Cents Per Serving
- Grass Fed Protein
Grass Fed Whey Protein has an advantageous edge over traditional whey protein. Due to the strict grass fed diet, the whey has a different fatty acid and micronutient profile that is beneficial to both muscle growth and immune function. For instance, Grass fed whey contains more anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, while grain-fed whey is generally higher in omega 6’s. Grass fed whey is also higher in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in comparison to regular whey.
Another benefit to consuming Grass Fed Whey, is the moral and ethical benefits. Grass Fed Cows generally enjoy a happier, healthier lifestyle which is better for guilt-free consumption. It's a good feeling when you can help build muscle and build a better earth.
Lastly, Nutricost does not compromise quality for value. Making affordable, high quality products is Nutricost's mission, and their Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate is no exception.Keep Reading »
The Standout: Clean, Grass-Fed Protein Source
Transparent Labs' ProteinSeries 100% GRASS-FED consists of high quality ingredients and transparency, with only 112 calories. Each scoop offers 28 grams of Grass-fed Protein Isolate sourced from New Zealand, while being one of the industry’s highest protein-by-weight ratios at 88%.
- 28 Grams Of Grass-Fed Protein Isolate
- 112 Total Calories
- 30 Servings Per Bag
- 88% Protein-By-Weight Ratio
- Free Of Gluten, Preservatives, And Hormones
Grass-Fed Protein is quickly becoming the preferred source of protein, and Transparent Lab's source their protein from New Zealand. New Zealand is one of the leading dairy producers in the world, and to retain the utmost quality their cows do not receive chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified organisms, hyper-immunizations or injected pathogens. These dairy herds graze on healthy pesticide-free, chemical-free, natural grass pastures, all year round.
If you're searching for one of the cleanest protein powders out there, Transparent Labs' ProteinSeries 100% GRASS-FED more than fits the bill. Build lean muscle with the cleanest protein made from naturally fed, hormone-free cow whey and clean of artificial sweeteners, food dyes, gluten, and preservatives.Keep Reading »
The Standout: Amazon's Choice
Naked Nutrition's Naked Whey uses grass fed cows’ milk from small dairy farms, to create a non-denatured whey loaded with essential amino acids, glutathione, and clean protein. No gimmicks or marketing tactics here. Just pure, high-quality grass fed whey protein.
- 25 Grams of Protein Per Serving
- .9 Grams of BCAA’s Per Serving
- GMO Free, Soy Free, and Gluten Free
- No Artificial Sweeteners, Flavors, or Colors
Each batch is made with careful manufacturing practices. The result is non-denatured whey that retains it's nutritional value. Why is this so important? Undenatured whey can help boost glutathione production (the master antioxidant) by supplying cells vital cysteine amino acids, the precursor of glutathione. Glutathione helps boost immune function, along with overall health. Less cautious manufactuing process bend the protein, by breaking the amino acid bonds.
Naked Whey is also void of any additives, artificial sweeteners, gluten, GMO,s and hormones. Each bottle provides a transparent label that not only discloses the amino acid profile, but let's you know which heavy metals are present and in what amount. You'd be hard pressed to find that honesty and transparency from most supplement companies.Keep Reading »
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