Grass-Fed vs. Grain-Fed Protein: Why it Matters
You may be wondering the difference between grass-fed protein vs grain-fed protein. The food you eat will determine the quality and amount of nutrients that fuel your body. If you agree with this, then it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the same thing goes for cows. You may not be paying close attention to what your local farmer is feeding its livestock, but maybe you should. The type of food a cow is fed impacts the nutritional composition of beef, milk, and its byproducts.
Historically cattle grazed pastures, and roamed around freely. However today you won’t see many cows grazing pastures because majority of the cattle in the U.S. are being fed grains in feedlots. These drastically different environments make a huge difference in the quality of protein that ends up in your body. The difference in protein quality is not just seen in the cattle’s meat or dairy products, it is also found in its whey.
1. WHAT IS WHEY PROTEIN?
Whey protein is one of the main proteins found in dairy products as a byproduct. Specifically, whey is the liquid that separates during the cheese making process or the liquid that accumulates at the top of your yogurt.
Whey provides a tremendous amount of nutrients including all 9 essential amino acids, non-essential amino acids, branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s), and other proteins needed for the body to function properly.
Whey protein is often used in the athletic world to help individuals improve their athletic performance. However, not all whey proteins are made equally. The quality of whey products can vary greatly, and it starts from the food source that is being fed to the cows.
So you should ask yourself, what type of whey are you putting in to your body, grass-fed whey or regular?
2. GRASS-FED PROTEIN VS. REGULAR - WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
In the United States majority of our cattle are raised in massive feedlots called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “Animal feeding operations congregate animals, feed, manure, and urine, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area” . Cattle raised on these types of feedlots are confined to small spaces, and their main food source is comprised of grain, soy, or corn. Grain feeds are used in CAFOs to fatten the cattle more quickly. To ensure maximum growth, cows are often injected with antibiotics and growth hormones. The conventional way of raising cattle is unsanitary, and deprives the cattle of consuming the type of food that is most optimal for them. This type of environment affects the molecular composition of the cattle’s meat, milk, and whey protein.
Grass-fed cattle are raised in a more traditional manner; meaning grass-fed cattle are fed only their mother’s milk and forage (grass and other greens) during their lifetime. While the term grass-fed does not necessarily mean pasture-raised, grass-fed cattle are at least being fed optimal ingredients. Since most grass-fed farms allow their cattle to roam around freely, the use of steroids, pesticides, and antibiotics are not typically used. The use of these chemicals in livestock has been found to cause damaging effects in humans when any of their byproducts are consumed.
Grass-fed protein taste better and it is nutritionally better. Think about it, if the type of food that we eat affects our health, why wouldn’t that same concept go for cows?
3. GRASS-FED PROTEIN BENEFITS
Whey is a great source for protein and nutrients, however grass-fed cows have a nutritional advantage over grain-fed cows. Majority of the nutritional advantages between grass-fed cows and grain-fed cows can be seen in its fatty acid and fat content.
In general, grass-fed cows are typically leaner than grain-fed cows and contain less total fat . The fatty acid composition is also different between the two different classes of cows. Grass-fed cows contain up to five times more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed cows .
Omega- 3 fatty acids are known for numerous health benefits including;
- Preventing heart disease
- Promoting brain health
- Fighting inflammation.
Grass-fed cows also contain higher levels of a specific omega-6 fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). The main dietary sources of CLA’s are found in meat, particularly grass-fed livestock. Studies have found that a diet rich in CLA’s may improve metabolic health, and help lower risk for various diseases [5, 6]. For athletes, another benefit of CLA is the potential it has to improve body composition by reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass [7, 8].
Grass-fed cows have more than just a fatty acid nutritional advantage; they also have vitamin A, vitamin E, and antioxidants [9, 10]. The nutritional benefits that grass-fed protein has are transferred to its whey protein. Grass-fed protein powder has a nutritional advantage over regular whey protein powders because of the source that it is derived from. Grass-fed protein is more than just a high quality protein source, it is also includes other beneficial nutrients that are vital for your health, and athletic performance.
The saying, “you are what you eat” applies to cows too. Using whey protein that comes from quality sources such as grass-fed cows will provide you with the optimal nutrients that you need as an athlete, and maximize the benefits from your whey protein. If you are wondering where you can find grass-fed whey, our protein powder BUILD, contains nothing but the finest ingredients. It is sourced from only grass-fed cattle to ensure that we are providing you with a clean, and natural product that will help you achieve your athletic goals.