What Protein Wins The Climate-Friendly Battle?

Posted by Erin Huls on Sep 30, 2022 10:35:56 AM

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Whey protein is one of the primary proteins found in dairy products and is the co-product of the cheese making and milk fractionation processes. It is mostly found, and used, in the form of a powder and is widely known for its benefits for enhancing athletic performance and improving nutritional deficiencies.

A research team at Arizona State University conducted a study that analyzed the protein content and quality of proteins when taking climate change into account. The data came from life-cycle assessments which analyzed the greenhouse gas emissions of products along with accounting for the quality of the protein itself. Basically, taking the amount of protein per serving size and how bioavailable it is and what type of amino acids it contains.

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Is there such a thing as a sustainable protein? There are many forms of protein; like beef, rice, bread, shrimp, cheese, pasta, tofu, beans, pork, potatoes, lentils, flour, salmon, chickpeas, chicken, soy protein isolate, whey, and peanuts, and all of them were analyzed in the study. Plant-based foods are thought to be better for you and the environment, after this study weighed both the nutritional quality and the environmental impact it wasn’t so black and white.

The dairy industry is being carefully examined due to is environmental impact. But this study brings a new perspective on how we measure protein efficiency and sustainability. 

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Peanuts, dry whey, and soy protein isolate were most efficient at delivering protein with a small environmental cost, while bread, rice and beef were least efficient. Because whey is one of the two main proteins in milk, it was shocking to see it ranked at the top.

The study attributed whey’s low emissions to its high efficiency. In other words, it takes less energy and resources to produce a given amount of whey protein than it does for other proteins. This is due, in part, to the fact that whey is a co-product of cheese production, so it doesn’t require additional land, water or feed.

If you are looking for a protein source that is both environmentally friendly and nutritious, then whey protein is an excellent option. Not only will you be doing your part to help combat climate change, but you will also be getting all the essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.