What’s so bad about whey protein?

shutterstock_265224311Steve, who calls himself “Blenda Guy,” writes me occasionally over the years. Last week he emailed, “I know you say whey protein is bad—why can’t I find anything on your site about this?”

Good question. Let me fix that now. Here’s why whey protein is a food I don’t buy, and I hope you don’t either:

First of all, many of my readers are familiar with The China Study done by Oxford and Cornell Universities. It’s the biggest piece of nutrition research ever undertaken. It all started in a lab, decades ago, where researchers discovered that rats and mice who ate casein (milk protein) experienced high rates of cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disease. (Those who ate very little of this animal protein got virtually no cancer or other disease.)

shutterstock_203262013Whey used to not be considered food, not in manufacturing, anyway. It was a byproduct of dairy processing. Then the industry discovered they could gather that throwaway product, dry it, and market it as a nutrition product by touting its high protein content. It’s a manufacturing dream—repurposing a waste byproduct to increase profit on the same process! (Fluoride is a similar situation—it’s a poisonous byproduct of petrochemical processes, but then they discovered that it supposedly “prevents tooth decay.” Ah, but that’s another story for shutterstock_140334316another day.)

Through great marketing, and because the product has such low cost for the manufacturer, Americans now spend $1 billion a year on whey protein products!

But…..just because they’re selling us a lot of it doesn’t make it good for us!

Drinking cow’s milk means we’re getting high exposure to the steroids, hormones, and antibiotics fed to the cow. Now some marketers are differentiating themselves by claiming that their whey protein is from cows in New Zealand, or from cows that aren’t fed Rbst hormone, or from cows that are organic. Well, that’s certainly better than the “pure junk” processed, hormone/antibiotic/steroid-laden stuff most manufacturers sell!

But still. The China Study research didn’t use protein that was full of chemicals, either. It was merely processed, as all whey is. From the results of the studies, it is clear that processed whey clearly isn’t good for you even in the best of circumstances.

shutterstock_212356393It goes through many refining stages—sometimes up to 14 different refining processes—before it’s served up to you in a bag or a bar. It’s a highly refined food, and we already know that processing the heck out of any food causes the body to revolt in a variety of ways. Whey protein is devoid of fiber, low in most micronutrients, is quite acidic, and may cause the human body to react, as it does, to anything it doesn’t want by producing mucous to flush the foreign substance out. Over time, this mucousy situation causes an increasingly acidic climate in the body, prone to all types of disease.

Don’t get me wrong—I love protein. Who doesn’t want to build muscle mass? Who doesn’t want to burn fat? Who doesn’t want to slow down the impact on their blood sugar, decrease the insulin reaction, of, for instance, the fruit in their green smoothie?

I made my own protein for a while to do just that, and now we offer it to GSG readers. The reason I made it, in the first place, is that I didn’t like the products out there. Even the plant-based proteins are highly processed. So we made our own delicious nutrition protein that is raw, organic, plant-based, and made with whole foods. In other words, we don’t strip out the fiber by putting it SingleServePacket_ProteinRedthrSingleServePacket_ProteinChocougSingleServePacket_ProteinVanillah a variety of refining stages and diminishing it to “isolates” of the plant like most manufacturers do.

And just this month, we’ve made it into SINGLE SERVINGS at the request of people, like me, who travel a lot. Or who value convenience.

I put a handful of these in my shoulder bag to get through long flights and trips where I’m on the move. If I feel like a meal I’m eating is too high in carbs, I just add a packet of GSG Berry Protein to water, shake it up, and drink
it first. Even in plain water, it tastes great. It’s higher in micronutrients, as well as fiber, than other protein products because we don’t process the heck out of it or heat it.SingleServeProteinBox_Red

It’s made from vegetables and seeds. It’s sweetened lightly with herbal stevia. Very simple and clean. Every ingredient is certified organic.

And, now we have NATURAL protein with no flavoring or stevia. Our flavorings are non-GMO, which very few are. (Most manufacturers don’t even KNOW if their flavorings are non-GMO becauseNaturalProtein flavoring houses don’t have to disclose that. We use the only supplier that does!) But if you’re just adding the protein to green smoothies or baking with it, you’ll want to get some of our Natural Protein with no sweetener.

In July, all Single Serves are 20% off. Our gift to you to give it a try. Keep some in your purse or travel bag along with a blender bottle. This way, you’ll never have to be hungry and you’ll always get outstanding nutrition. (It’s not just our Protein Singles that are on sale—it’s our just-released Single Serves of our 3 Superfoods drink mixes. A fun tip: mix and match the proteins and superfoods for an easy, nutrient-dense meal!)
Robyn Openshaw


8 thoughts on “What’s so bad about whey protein?

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  1. Good article -read it with interest as I had just had a debate with a doctor friend who was advocating whey protein. One quibble though, you state ‘Over time, this mucousy situation causes an increasingly acidic climate’ -surely its the other way around ?

  2. I am so glad you posted this. I gave up whey about a week ago after having the worse stomach ache of my life! I had always heard that it was good for you, but it always made me feel bad after ingesting it. I don’t know why I continued taking it, but after that last attack…no more! Thanks for confirming my decision.

  3. This post was extremely enlightening as to what happens in the process of typical whey products out there and I am certainly not defending it.

    However, denatured, cold pressed whey from grass-fed cows (no sugar of course, or other chemicals…yes there are a few brands out there!) contains high levels of the pre-curser amino acids to glutathione, the master anti-oxident. I don’t know if the plant based ones do… can anyone give me some info on this?

    I intend to read the China study…it’s on my summer to do list. In all fairness, I’ve only read excerpts and find many people referencing the study. However, it seems some of my favorite researchers in health and nutrition question the validity of the study. The researcher below brings up the point that the children from the well-fed families were eating a lot of peanut butter with high aflatoxin amounts (he says could have initiated the cancer). Science has proved afla and other mycotoxins are cancer causing.


    Any thoughts on these?

    1. In Dr. Campbell’s lab experiments, the rats seeded with aflatoxin that were on vegetable diets did NOT develop cancer but the one’s fed milk protien (also seeded with the toxin) DID develop cancer. He explains it very clearly in the book. Hopefully you can read it soon and clear a lot of this up. However, I understand what you mean about conflicting information and confusion. Both sides offer supporting research so in my opinion, the bottom line is , we CHOOSE whom we believe. I choose the one that makes the most sense overall and that seems to be best supported by God’s original design. Look at what He put in the garden!

      1. Let belief be reserved for what we do not KNOW. However, when we have the fruit of KNOWLEDGE we can just as well apply our knowledge to living, thus gaining wisdom. There are enough studies and research to point to the conclusion that raw dairy IS how God made it. The research of Mary Enig on “The Case for Raw Milk,” Dr. Weston Price’s timeless research as well as Dr. Pottinger’s research clearly refute Dr. Campbell’s findings. Like Eileen below says, Chris Masterjohn and Denise Minger have recently compiled research that again points to the protective qualities of animal and raw milk protein.

        I like what Dr. Mercola writes on this topic: eat for your nutritional body type. I come from Croatia where my ancestors date back to the ancient Sumerians. We’ve been living off of raw yogurt, raw milk, raw cheese and pasture raised animals for generations. Both my grandparents lived into their eighties on this diet with no diabetes, heart problems, skin problems or any other such modern epidemics as we have now. They worked on their farm literally until the very week before they died.

        After eating raw for only two weeks i developed such pain in my gums and teeth. I switched back to a variation of Gerson eating with Price’s eating (which is nothing more than how MY FAMILY has been eating for generations… no sugar (it was too expensive), low carb, raw milk and COOKED veggies with every meal including bone broth and animal fat… and my gum inflammation has gone done significantly with no pain since then. I suspect it was the anti-nutrients in the uncooked veggies that caused harm to ME specifically… some people still can absorb the micro-nutrients of a raw diet: I am not one of them. Many people, say maybe Islanders, couldn’t tolerate what we farm folks eat, and perhaps do better on fish and nut-fats. In this case, I believe that is the way it is because I do not know.

        So yes Kathy, I totally agree with you. We definitely choose whom we believe. However, for me it’s not who to believe but what I know as truth. I appreciate the breakdown of the study and actually have the China Study Cookbook on hold as well as The China Study on hold at the library. I am looking forward to reading the ONE study that everybody seems to be citing as the reason to stay away from dairy. Certainly, I must be missing something???

  4. Robyn, I’m an agnostic about whey protein. You’re absolutely right: it is highly processed, and it is a byproduct. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, however. You’ve also conflated two distinct variables: you reference the China study’s work on casein protein, which is different from whey protein. Also, some outstanding researchers have pretty much debunked the validity of the China Study. Denise Minger has done a thorough job, as has Chris Masterjohn.

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