I've lost count of how many articles I've written over the years about protein supplements. Even in Applied Metabolics, I've covered various aspects of protein supplements in several articles. Among these, I warned about how not to get ripped-off by purchasing "spiked" also known as "Amino acid-dusted" protein supplements. Another, even worse technique used to cheat consumers of protein supplements involves adding a substance called melamine to dilute the true protein content of a product. This substance provides a false picture of the nitrogen content of protein supplements, again making it appear that the supplements contain more protein than they actually do. But melamine doesn't provide the health benefits of real protein, and in animals has proved toxic to kidney function. These altered supplements are a recent entry in the protein supplement business and resulted from the spiraling cost of wholesale whey protein. Oddly enough, whey started out as a waste product of cheese manufacture. Milk protein consists of two primary proteins, casein (80%) and whey (20%). While the casein portion, which resembles cottage cheese, was useful for cheese manufacture, the clear liquid portion of milk protein, the whey, was not. As such, it was quickly discarded. Over the years, however, several attempts were made to market whey protein products, as far back as the 1920s. But these early forms of whey protein supplements were crude and had a revolting taste and appearance. One early whey supplement turned green when mixed with water, which was alarming to some customers. As a result, whey protein products never caught on until the early 1990s, when a whey product was introduced by a San Diego-based company called Next Nutrition. That product, called "Designer Whey," tasted great and mixed well. The sales of the product were soon bolstered by medical studies showing that of all available food proteins, whey showed the highest biological value. Biological value was a term related to how efficiently the protein was absorbed into the body and how effective it was for supporting growth. Until the newer whey proteins appeared, the king of protein supplements was egg white protein powders, with a biological value of 93.7 (that's whole egg protein, not just the whites) but with the advent of good-tasting whey supplements, egg protein products soon slipped into supplement oblivion, although they are still available.
Not content with their whey product having the highest biological value (BV) of all natural food proteins, Next Nutrition began advertising their whey product as having a biological value of 159. I exposed this fallacy in an article when I interviewed a man who was a protein wholesale middleman, who also had extensive knowledge of the biological features of protein supplements as well as how they were processed. The first question I asked him was about the alleged BV of 159 advertised for Designer protein. He told to me in detail how . . .