What is whey protein powder and what makes it natural? In this article we will define natural whey protein powder and take a look at facts and quality features.
Natural whey protein is the watery portion of milk. It is a side product when making cheese. Natural whey protein is heated and dried into a powder form. The most natural form of whey protein powder is “whey concentrate” which can be processed further into isolate and hydrolisate.
Let’s start with the definition of natural whey protein powder.
1. The Definition Of Natural Products
Whey protein powder originally comes from milk, which is a product nature provides us with, and “natural” is defined by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) as:
Food labeled “natural”, does not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives and the ingredients are only minimally processed.
Did you know? “Natural” and “All-Natural” are identical.
When left to its natural state, whey protein concentrate is a natural product.
2. Facts About Natural Whey Protein Powder
Natural whey protein powder is a side product when making cheese. It is heated and filtered after that.
Process of making whey protein powder:
- Dairy Farm: It all starts at a dairy farm.
- Milking Parlor: Cows are brought into a specialized area for milking two to three times per day. Now we have milk.
- Transportation: The milk is transported from the dairy farm to a manufacturing facility. Liquid tankers are generally used.
- Separation: Upon arrival at the manufacturing facility the milk is tested for safety. Whey protein is made during the process of producing cheese. Special enzymes are added to the milk to create the separation of curds and the liquid whey.
- Processing: The liquid whey is then pasteurized (heated to kill bacteria) and dried into a powder form. Microfiltration is used in order to remove unwanted fat and lactose.
The further natural whey protein powder is processed, the more we diverge from a natural product. Some manufacturers process natural whey concentrate to whey isolate and then whey hydrolisate.
Whey Isolate: Ion exchangers isolate protein from reining carbs and fat and then filtered again to achieve a higher protein ratio)
Whey Hydrolisate: We start with whey isolate and add enzymes to break the proteins down into smaller peptides. The protein gets pre-digested which can make it easier to digest (especially for people with digestion problems)
Natural whey protein powder has an extensive list of benefits mainly in the areas of weight management, active aging, growing and keeping muscle mass, immune health, cancer, diabetes, and intestinal health. 
Learn more about natural whey protein powder’s benefits and prices in our article: Best-Value Organic Whey Protein Powders | Healthy & Natural
3. Quality Features Of Natural Whey Protein
1. It is organic
Only organic whey protein powders provide significantly higher amounts of nutrients:
- Significantly higher amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (+23%) and omega-3’s (+57%) due to the high-grazing diet ; ; ; ; 
- Higher concentrations of α-linolenic acid (ALA) +69%, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) 41% ; 
- Significantly higher omega-3 to -6 ratio 
Moreover, opting for organic protects you. Here’s how:
- Reduced risk of allergic disease 
- Reduced risk of overweight and obesity 
- Lower incidence of pesticide residues ; 
- Reduction in the risk of overall cancer 
- No contact with antibiotic resistant bacteria which can promote antibiotic resistance in humans ; ; 
Please keep in mind that there are a ton of products out there that show misleading claims. All organic products are automatically Non-GMO.
But non-organic products with only the Non-GMO seal come with the full spectrum of disadvantages for our health.
You can find our quality features for natural whey protein in our article: Is Natural Whey Protein Powder Good For You? Pros & Cons
Take-away: Only organic whey protein powders provide natural products without toxic residue. Organic natural whey protein powder is produced without antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticides. Non-organic “grass-fed whey protein powder” may still come from cows treated with antibiotics, hormones, and pesticide-treated, GMO feed.
2. It has only few – ideally just one – ingredient
Unless you look for a flavored option – and we’ve tried some fantastic ones – your ingredient list should be minimal. Ideally, it should only consist of one ingredient: Organic whey protein concentrate.
Often, manufacturers add sunflower or soy lecithin. Lecithin is used as an emulsifier.
When looking for flavored natural whey protein powder, make sure you keep the ingredient list small as well. It should contain no more than: Organic Whey Protein Concentrate, Stevia, Chocolate Flavor
Take-away: Natural organic whey protein powder has a minimal list of ingredients.
3. It contains no added sugars
It seems like common sense, but we need to say it anyways: Avoid a product with added sugar at all cost.
If you opt for a protein powder that’s flavored – and some taste truly awesome – make sure it’s sweetened with organic stevia. And to forestall a frequently asked question, “organic sugar” makes it no less bad for your health.
Take-away: Natural organic whey protein powder is unsweetened or sweetened with stevia.
4. It contains no added vitamins, minerals, etc.
Generally, we at Natural Pioneers prioritize a nutrient rich, organic diet full of vegetables and healthy protein. We love to add a little fruit and grains to that – but that’s mostly it.
We strongly believe that – when your diet is on track – there is no need for supplementation. When buying products with a lot of added minerals, vitamins, etc. it’s easy to lose track how much we actually consumed of a certain supplemental mineral.
It all adds up and we might be overdosing consistently. If you choose to supplement with minerals, vitamins or the like, make sure you choose only one product that you take on a daily basis or as prescribed by your doctor.
Take-away: Natural organic protein powder contains no added minerals, vitamins, etc.
5. It is cold-processed or “raw”
Whey protein denatures when heated above 167 ° F. The molecular structure changes and the protein often becomes indigestible.
Therefore, it’s important that your protein powder is “raw” or cold-processed.
Take-away: Natural organic protein powder is cold-processed / “raw”.
6. It has a high biological value
If you’ve followed all the instructions above, there should be no reason for your protein powder to have a low biological value.
This part is especially crucial if you’re thinking about choosing a natural plant-based protein powder.
The biological value indicates how much cell structure our body can build from a certain amount of protein. The higher the biological value, the less protein we need.
A protein powder should primarily contain essential amino acids that our body cannot produce itself. If your protein powder contains too many non-essential amino acids, this only loads your body with too much urea – which is a toll on our kidneys.
Let’s look at the biological value of common protein powders to understand what is the most natural fit for our cells.
Biological value of common types of protein powder (the higher the number, the better)
- Whey Protein Powder: 104
- Egg White Powder: 88
- Hemp Protein Powder: 87
- Rice Protein Powder: 83
- Casein Protein Powder: 77
- Soy Protein Powder: 74
- Pea Protein Powder: 65
- Collagen Protein Powder: 20
You see, there’s a good reason to choose whey protein. Whey protein powder comes with the highest biological value while providing an extensive list of benefits – for literally anyone, whether you exercise or not.
Take-away: Choosing organic whey protein powder automatically provides the most natural fit for our cells. Whey has a higher bioavailability than plant-based protein powders. Therefore, it is more readily available in our cells.
When wanting to order a natural whey protein powder, make sure it shows all natural whey protein quality features:
- It is organic
- It has only few – ideally just one – ingredient
- It contains no added sugars
- It contains no added vitamins, minerals or the like
- It is cold-processed / “raw”
- It has a high biological value
Curious about the price of a high quality natural whey protein powder that meets all these quality attributes?
You can find high quality products for as little as 0.05 USD /g of protein.