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Whey Protein Without Treated Growth Hormones

cowSome endurance athletes supplement their protein needs with whey protein due to its simplicity and convenience. One scoop can be mixed in a smoothie or a liquid of choice. Then boom – you just consumed ~15-25 grams of protein (depending on the brand).

Most whey protein on the market is created from milk in which the cows have been treated with rBST/rBGH (growth hormones). These injected hormones artificially increase the overall milk production of the cow but also have negative consequences that have caused many western countries (European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan) around the world to ban its use. The United States is currently not on this list.

What is the concern

Food and Water Watch created an interesting PDF that highlights some of the world research on rBST/rBGH and the noted areas of concern that include human health, antibiotic use, cancers, and animal welfare. These couple pages don’t paint a pretty picture.

Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, M.D, chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition has this to say about rBGH and is included in his book What’s In Your Milk? (Note: Monsanto is the American company that produces the synthetic hormone):

Monsanto, supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), insists that rBGH milk is indistinguishable from natural milk, and that it is safe for consumers. This is blatantly false.

  • rBGH makes cows sick. Monsanto has been forced to admit to about 20 toxic effects, including mastitis, on its POSILAC label.
  • rBGH is contaminated by pus, due to the mastitis commonly induced by rBGH, and antibiotics used to treat the mastitis.
  • rBGH is chemically and nutritionally different than natural milk.
  • rBGH milk is contaminated with rBGH, traces of which are absorbed through the gut.
  • rBGH milk are supercharged with high levels of a natural growth factor (IGF-1), which is readily absorbed through the gut.
  • Excess levels of IGF-1 have been incriminated as a cause of breast, colon, and prostate cancers.
  • IGF-1 blocks natural defense mechanisms against early submicroscopic cancers.
  • rBGH factory farms pose a major threat to the viability of small dairy farms.
  • rBGH enriches Monsanto, while posing dangers, without any benefits, to consumers, especially in view of the current national surplus of milk.

The risk of cancers to consumers and particularly their children, especially those enrolled in Public School Lunch Programs, are indisputable.

With the above seemingly obvious reasons for concern, the FDA still says that rBST/rBGH is safe for human consumption. Um, OK.

Change is in the Air

Organic Consumers Association provides an interesting Bovine Growth Hormone article and notes some of the larger companies in the U.S. banning the use of rBST/rBGH for some of their products:

  • Safeway, Publix, Kroger – banned the artificial hormone from their store brand milk
  • Starbucks
  • Chipotle

Whey Protein without the rBST/rBGH

Fortunately there are choices. For those looking for whey protein that eliminates any of the possible human and ethical issues highlighted above, I have found a few clean products that may be worth looking into. Also take a look at the Major forms section of the wiki definition of whey protein to get a brief explanation of the different types (isolate, concentrate, hydrolyzed).

  • Hammer Nutrition – 100 % whey protein isolate. Per the Hammer Nutrition site: “Relative to the WPI that is the key ingredient for Hammer Whey and Recoverite, the milk source is grass-fed cows that do not have antibiotics. Every load that is taken into the plant for processing is tested for antibiotics/hormones and rejected if it contains said. As a result, both Hammer Whey and Recoverite contain the purest form of WPI.” Note: You will also receive 15% off your first order, if you have never ordered through the Hammer website before by simply using the Hammer Nutrition link above.
  • Jay Robb – A whey protein product that uses milk from cows that are farm-raised and pasture-grazed. 100% whey protein isolate. He also carries an egg white protein from chickens not treated with hormones. You also can purchase the product in more environmentally friendly bags that use 80% less plastic than the previous jug. Cool stuff! Here is a product review.
  • Whey Factors – Produced by a Canadian company Natural Factors focused on health products. This one contains both isolate and concentrate forms of whey protein.
  • Whey To Go Protein Powder – Contains isolate, concentrate, and hydrolyzed whey protein. Solgar (parent site) provides the ability to look at the label in more detail.
  • Mercola Whey Protein Powder – Contains concentrate whey protein. It also includes a few vitamins and Aminogen (enzyme to help digest the protein). You can look at the detailed product labels at the end of the page.

Note, of the above mentioned products, I have only used the Hammer Nutrition post workout recovery product, Recoverite, which uses whey protein within the product. I am a fan of Hammer products. Also, this is not a complete list of products available but it gives you an idea of some of the quality products out there.

If you have tried any of these products, what did you think of it?

Do you have any suggestions for additional products worth being aware of?

Happy Training!

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

2 Responses to “Whey Protein Without Treated Growth Hormones”

  1. on 20 Jul 2010 at 12:43 pm Bob Wills

    Probably should mention Wisconsin Specialty Protein, Tera’s Whey, rbgh-free, organic, and goat milk whey products.

  2. on 21 Jul 2010 at 8:11 am David Hanenburg

    Thanks Bob for mentioning Tera’s Whey. I really like the overall philosophy of the company. The website is for those interested.