Recently I have noticed that a number of protein companies including some of my favourite: Bulk Nutrients, The Protein Bread Co and Quest Nutrition have started to introduce ‘cooking protein’ into items such as Protein pancakes, breads, hot chocolates and ‘all purpose protein flours’ this had me thinking about the effects of protein when exposed to heat.
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We have all heard of the term ‘denaturing’ for example boiling your vegetables draws the nutrients into the water which we eventually pour down the sink decreasing its nutritional value. So does heating protein such as Whey mean there is less nutritional value? I know that one of my favourite things to do with this is to make protein pancakes or mix it through my morning oats, and I am not the only one. A quick google search and sites such as body building.com, Andrea’s Protein Bakery Blog and T Nation, all popular for fitness fanatics have countless recipes for heating your protein.
There are two answers to this question. Yes, the chemical make-up is altered, and no it does not influence its nutrition levels.
In the same way that we cook a piece of steak, chicken or eggs the protein levels remain the same. While the weight may change which is largely due to loss of liquids in the meat of eggs itself basically what is happening to these is that you are creating the first process that our bodies would do during digestion to the product if we consumed it raw.
Casein protein is typically more heat resistant than its partner Whey but nutritionally they will remain the same. What does happen is that the chemical makeup and the bonds within the protein alter. This alteration is one of the first that occurs within the body during the digestion process.
Another consideration to take on board here is that protein powder, as part of its extraction process is also exposed to a level of heat as well as undergoing pasteurisation as required for sold dairy products.
So in short, this means that cooking with whey is perfectly fine, so enjoy your protein puddings, oats and pancakes as much as you want with the added benefits of quality whey added in.