For many years the protein manufacturing process was one of the most complex mysteries in the health supplement industry. In today’s fast paced, constantly moving, technological treadmill, we call life, “revolutionary breakthroughs”, in new health supplements seem as plentiful as text messages on an unlimited cell phone plan. The world of protein supplements didn’t really hit its stride until the last five years, but now they are starting to play catch up in frenzied fashion. In order to appreciate the significant differences in the past handful of years, it makes sense to look at the tiny strides which resulted in the manufacturing improvements ability to eventually find their pace. There are various forms of protein supplements, however, the most common has been “powder” of soy, whey, vegetable, egg and a few others since its invention.
In the beginning there was Soy: (and it was not good)
Like most modern supplements, protein manufacturing started in the last few years…not even close! In the beginning there was “soy” protein supplements. It was a time of darkness when only cheaply manufactured soy based protein roamed the gyms-the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. It is hard to believe that protein manufacturing has been around for going on seven decades.
The Blair “Switch” Project:
It was Blair protein powder which is often credited with the first actual high quality milk and egg based protein. It was developed back in the 1960’s and was designed on the principals of taking in small amounts of proteins during several times of the day in order to maximize absorption by the body. The “magic powder” of muscle, was many decades ahead of its time, with respect to emphasis on low carbohydrate, high protein concepts. It was target-marketed for people who had a hard time gaining or maintaining body weight, as well as some of the popular body builders of the era. As bodybuilders in gyms across the country, starting seeing fast increases in muscle size, power lifters and athletes from sports such as football, rugby, and other contact sports, began sipping from the foul-tasting, fountain of mass.
Rock of the 70’s and 80’s:
From the 1970’s, when protein manufacturing kicked into high gear until as recently as approximately 2010, there were so many labels for “weight-gainers”, “monster-makers”, and general “protein-takers” that it became the cornerstone, (rock), of most strength sports. It was during the 80’s that manufactures began to lead the “whey” into the mainstream of protein supplement ingredients. Whey was easily digestible and could be manufactured quickly and extremely cost-effectively. If the goal was to see supplement manufacturers smile, the word “cheese” certainly achieved that goal. Whey is a derivative of cheese, high in branch amino acids, (which help build muscle and properly fuel the body.) Whey certainly seemed like a major improvement in product and was also a great opportunity to create profit margins by adding some “fillers” into the mix (and some more fillers and then maybe just one or two more fillers, and of course one for good measure.)
The Age of En”lighten”ment:
After the dark ages of protein manufacturing, a time when nobody really had a very good idea how much actual protein was being put into the “mix”, things changed. There concept of “designer” whey came into play in the mid 90’s. The main difference in designer whey was that after taking it for only a few weeks athletes begin to notice great enhancements. The first enhancement was relevant to the new name, it was designed to be closer to 100% whey protein and was free of the extra sweeteners, fillers and waste, which merely took up space in the container. Maybe a “whey lite” concept for manufacturing, would best fit. In addition to being a more “back to nature” approach of stripping out those extras which created waste and extra calories and limited absorption, users of “designer” whey found themselves with a sudden flair for taste and style. (ok, maybe not, but it was a more pure product with less carbs for the most part and higher protein ratios.)
During the “golden era” of protein manufacturing, which can be considered the last half dozen years or so, it has become a night and day contrast from the previous 60 years. Casein, mostly closely mirrored to milk and whey combined, is now a very popular supplement. Casein actually absorbs more slowly into the body, much like the concept of Blair from the 1960’s. Blair introduced small doses, but “automatic” slow-release is what makes the point for casein.
Attempting to “Isolate” the Facts of Whey:
Isolate whey has an much higher percentage of protein, often many more times than regular whey and is another popular form, of late. With the trend to “strip” the non-essential fillers and fats and other meaningless additives, Isolate is a form of whey which is considered “lean and mean” with respect to ingredients.
The Meat and Potatoes (vegetables, specifically), of Protein Manufacturing
Vegetable proteins are trending toward the initial concept of “less is more” when it comes to eliminating extra products in the manufacturing process. With popular diets being more vegetable driven it was a natural fit to try and keep up with the times. Beef proteins, which implement the concepts behind creatine, a substance which is created by amino acids such as arginine, glycine and others, is a substance found in raw meat. Creatine monohydrate is a popular supplement taken by itself in efforts to increase strength, endurance and promote expedite muscle growth by being stored in larger quantities in muscles.
The Message is Clear:
With all of the other changes in virtually every aspect of life, the message that protein manufacturing was due for some major adjustments was very clear. Manufacturers listened and responded with a virtual overhaul of the products offered by expanding and developing new avenues of protein supplements. Will technology keep driving the supplement bus full speed ahead? That is certainly a question which may need revisiting in a few years.