As a fellow gym-goer, we are always on the lookout for basically anything that contains protein, making sure we hit our numbers for the day, checking the macros on the label then typing this into our fitness tracker.

So, when a Whey Protein alternative hits the market that claims to be very similar containing high protein content, and an impressive amino acid profile, we can’t just sit there and not dive into the facts, can we?

In this article, we take a look into the details of Beef Protein Isolate and establish if it is better than Whey Protein.

Is Beef Protein Better than Whey Protein?

In short, Beef Protein Isolate is not better than Whey Protein. It contains a lower bioavailability and lower leucine content when compared to whey protein. Although subjective, Whey protein also tastes better and has a greater mixability when in a shaker with either milk or water.

Beef Protein Isolate

Let’s start at the very beginning. For those who eat meat, the chances are you’ve heard about how densely packed your beef is with protein. From your spag bol to your greasy burger, beef is everywhere and naturally has a place in many of our diets, but what if we could extract all that protein and make it into a convenient powder? Sounds pretty good, right?

Well, only within the past few years have we started to see the rise in beef protein powders, due to many people opting for a paleo diet.

This is a diet that requires only eating foods presumed to have been available for humans during the palaeolithic era. It’s also consumed for those who may struggle with processing dairy products too.

This doesn’t mean that Beef Protein is aimed at those who follow this diet. Its often consumed by anyone and everyone (except vegans of course). Naturally beef is very nutrient dense, so how is it actually made into a powder?

Depending on where you buy your beef protein differ in the cuts of meat, but what usually happens is beef is boiled in large vats. This creates a liquid containing protein and amino acids. This is then skimmed to remove any further carbohydrates and fats, leaving a high protein concentration. The liquid is then dried resulting in the final beef protein isolate powder.

Beef Protein Isolate Powder Nutritionals (Per 30g Unflavoured)

Protein: 29.1g   Fat: 0.45g Carbohydrates: 0g  Calories: 118

Beef Protein Problems

Beef protein may sound too good to be true, high protein content than Whey protein and lower carbohydrates and fats too. Don’t be spending your money just yet, we dive a little deeper than what is just shown on the label.

The Nutrition

So 29.1g of protein per 30g serving sounds pretty good from the offset, but it’s important to understand how this actually has an impact on your body. It all comes down to its amino acid makeup, essentially its leucine content. Leucine is a type of amino acid that helps to trigger protein synthesis. You could eat nothing but protein all day, but if there isn’t sufficient amounts of leucine to trigger protein synthesis, then its basically pointless.

This leads us onto the specifics we find within Beef Protein. As they say, never judge a book by its cover. Here’s a comparison of the amino acids we find in beef protein isolate and Whey Protein Isolate. Just remember leucine is the key one here.

Beef Isolate

Whey Isolate

Per 100 grams

Per 100 grams

Alanine8.8Alanine4.7
Arginine7.3Arginine2.1
Aspartic Acid6.2Aspartic Acid11.4
Cystine0.5Cystine2.6
Glutamic Acid11.3Glutamic Acid17.5
Glycine20.1Glycine1.8
Histidine1.2Histidine1.7
Isoleucine1.7Isoleucine6.8
Leucine3.3Leucine10.7
Methionine1.2Methionine2.3
Phenylalanine2.3Phenylalanine3
Proline11.1Proline5.9
Serine3.4Serine4.4
Threonine2.1Threonine7
Tryptophan0.3Tryptophan2.1
Tyrosine0.9Tyrosine3
Valine2.8Valine5.4

With nearly 3 times the amount of leucine, Whey Protein Isolate takes number one spot here. Regardless of it having a lower protein content, its ability to trigger protein synthesis to help rebuild and maintain muscle mass is second to none, and high advantageous over Beef Protein Isolate

The Taste & Mixability

Now taste is very subjective. Sometimes you like things, sometimes you don’t. However, if we compare whey protein isolate to beef protein isolate there is one clear winner. Whey protein isolate always comes on top. Giving you a creamy smooth taste that is easily mixed with water or milk is one of the reasons why so many people decide to consume it. Whereas Beef Protein Isolate, unless it is masked by sweeteners and sugar, has a very specific taste, that one can only describe as not the most pleasant of flavours.

Unfortunately, beef protein isolate does not mix as well as whey protein isolate either. This isn’t such a big problem if you blend your protein shakes, but if just adding into a bottle and then shaken, it will more than likely clump together and not fully mix or dissolve. Not only does this make it difficult to consume, but the added addition of it not tasting great either makes for an unpleasant experience.

Bioavailability

Bioavailability is the percentage that is absorbed by our bodies from certain protein sources. Simply due to our own makeup, our body can process certain proteins better and quicker than others. So when consuming let’s say 25g of protein from a shake (depending on what the shake is) you more than likely won’t be processing the full 25g. Like we said the percentage is dependant on the actual protein you are consuming.  It’s important to understand this, so you can make a decision on what protein sources you are consuming.

Here’s a chart of some of the most popular protein sources and their bioavailability.

Protein SourceBio-Availability Index
Whey Protein Isolate Blends100-159
Whey Concentrate104
Whole Egg100
Cow’s Milk91
Egg White88
Fish83
Beef80
Chicken79
Casein77
Rice74
Soy59
Wheat54
Beans49
Peanuts43

As you can see from the table,  not only does Beef Protein isolate contain a smaller leucine content than Whey Protein Isolate but our body can also process and absorb more Whey Protein isolate than Beef too. It’s starting to make sense which to go for now.

The Beef

One of the issues many people have with beef protein isolate is where the meat actually comes from. Some articles suggest that there is no meat at all used, and instead the ‘ends’ of beef are used, for example, the bones, hooves, ligaments, hides, ears and other by-products, which are then boiled down to create the beef protein isolate rather than real cuts of the meat itself. We are not saying this is true as its only speculation, but who knows what you could be consuming. Whereas Whey Protein, on the other hand, is created from milk. Milk is well, milk. There are no bad cuts whether that be organic, free range or not, it is still milk. You know exactly what you are getting.

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tpwnutritionist

tpwnutritionist

Getting down to business with the very best supplements and food, TPW™ Nutritionist has an incredible amount of knowledge on all things sports nutrition. With a Masters in Sports nutrition, some say TPW™ Nutritionist is a bit of a know it all, but we love that!

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