Whey protein powder is plentiful. It’s largely a by-product of industrial cheese manufacturing. Grass fed whey is different. It’s the product of dairy cows reared and pastured in traditional ways. Grass fed whey is an organic and ethically based product.
Whey is the liquid we get when milk is curdled. This process of separating the milk solids and liquid goes back thousands of years. In ancient Greece, whey liquid was prescribed by Hippocrates as a curative serum. Since the mid-1700s, its benefits have been realized in health spas across Switzerland, Germany, and Austria.
Now, with modern science, we know that whey contains lactoferrins, immunoglobulins, and beneficial peptides. These protein fractions have an antioxidant and immune enhancing effect. Out of all protein powders, whey reigns supreme. It’s the most effective in protein synthesis, muscle loss protection, as well as induced fat burning.
See our reviews for the best quality made in Japan grass fed whey:
- goCLN by Fuji Organics
- Lohas Sports by Lohas Style
- Golden Whey Isolate by Choice
- Grass Fed Why by Nichiga
- Fortified Whey by High Clear
Why Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder?
Grass fed whey protein powder has a ring to it. It must be healthier, it must be better. Most certainly, there’s nothing diabolical about it – quite the contrary. Most people feel they are getting a superior product, and for this reason it costs a little more.
3 key reasons why people buy grass fed whey:
- Grass fed whey protein may be healthier
- Grass fed whey is an ethical choice
- Grass fed whey has less environmental impact
That said, we examine these claims and reasons and reveal the true benefits of grass fed whey protein powder.
What exactly is Grass Fed Whey?
To start with, there is no absolute definition of what constitutes a grass fed whey protein powder. Also, regulations differ from and within different countries.
These are some of the guidelines for grass fed dairy production:
The Canadian DFC National Standard requires 75% of feeding to be natural forage. An additional 25% can constitute grains and other supplements. The set standard of the American Grass Fed Association (AGA) is 60%, while the AGW standard is 70%. The prestigious New Zealand nzmp standard is 80%.
Despite these differences, all these standards, and those in other countries, include standards for the veterinary and ethnical care of animals, as well as rearing and organic practices.
Organic milk, however, has a much lower standard. It should therefore not be confused with (organic) grass fed milk. In the US, only 30% of animal feed during the pasturing season needs to be grass to qualify as ‘organic’. Supplemented feed, however, has to be from organic produce.
Is Grass Fed Whey Protein Actually Healthier?
The short answer to this question is, ‘Not necessarily, but it depends on your nutritional or dietary needs and goals.’
Grass fed hormone-free cows are healthier food sources. However, how does this translate into an often highly processed product such as a whey protein powder?
Nutritional Benefits of Whey Protein Powder
An important parameter is the type of whey protein powder:
- WPC or Whey Protein Concentrate – less processed with higher fat and micronutrient content.
- WPI or Whey Protein Isolate – highly processed or predigested whey with often zero fat and minimal micronutrient content.
Even though WPI is highly processed and refined, the quality of the raw milk source may also be of importance.
A 2010 study into cows fed with different proportions of pasture revealed key differences in milk composition. Milk from more grass fed cows had higher levels of VA, CLA, EPA, DHA and CLA, β-carotene and α-tocopherol.
Healthy Omegas and CLA
VA or Vaccenic acid is a trans-fatty acid. EPA and DHA are two of the most commonly known Omega-3 fatty acids.
More important is CLA, or Conjugated Linoleic acid – the most common omega-6 fatty acid. Studies show it’s 300-500% more plentiful in grass fed cows’ milk. CLA can play an important role in combating lifestyle diseases.
That said, apart from CLA, most other ‘good fats’ in WPC, even after processing, are in fairly small amounts. Furthermore, Omega-3 acids are extremely sensitive to oxidation and degradation, so they’re of negligible benefit even in WPC.
In WPC protein powder, additional micronutrients are a good dose of calcium (around 10% DV), a minimal percentage of magnesium, and sometimes iron or vitamin A. One good pointer, however, is the higher the micronutrient content, the less processed the whey probably is.
Cystine and Glutathione
Glutathione is our body’s own super antioxidant produced in the liver. It’s also crucial for synthesizing and repairing DNA. A catalyst for glutathione production is cystine, which is abundant in whey protein.
Cystine is often on amino acid listings for both WPC and WPI as a non-essential amino acid. However, cystine is more bioactively available to the body if it’s not subject to stress or heating. For this, the best whey protein is cold pressed or undenatured whey protein.
The raw milk also needs to be high quality as in grass fed unpasteurized milk. For optimal bioactive cystine, you should never mix your protein shake with a blender. Spoon your high quality WPC or WPI into a smoothie, yoghurt, or pudding mixture.
High quality whey protein usually mixes with a more frothy texture. This simply means that the protein powder is more bioactive than those that mix without much foaming.
Grass Fed Whey is Not Contaminated
A common advertising ploy will tell you that grass fed whey is safe from hormonal or chemical contamination.
As with much of the micronutrient value, any so-called growth hormone is basically removed during whey protein powder processing. This is particularly true of whey protein isolate or WPI.
Besides, there are many leading whey protein powders (WPC & WPI) that are third party tested and verified for sports and consumer safety. If hormones or chemicals in the raw milk were an issue, this would certainly be known.
The caveat may be, ‘don’t buy non-organic (non-grass fed) WPC that is not third party tested’.
Grass Fed Whey Tastes Better
Although more anecdotal than scientific, people often attest that a grass fed whey protein shake tastes better. It has a richer flavor and a more rounded taste. This is probably due to higher fat content. The same can be said for drinking grass fed milk or better brands of organic milk.
Summary : Grass fed whey protein powder is richer in CLA fatty acids and bioactive cystine. Maximum health benefits may come from undenatured whey protein either WPC or WPI.
Grass Fed Whey is the Ethical Choice
From the ethical point of view, grass fed whey is a hit. With grass fed whey you can be assured that the cows are naturally fed, pastured more, and have a better go at it than most.
On a more subtle level, the same truth applies. The emotional energy, consciousness, and intent behind and around the production of grass fed whey is different. It is of a ‘higher vibration’ than whey from other sources.
Grass Fed Dairy Has Less Environmental Impact
There have been numerous studies into the environmental impact of grass fed cattle raising versus high intensity grain feed systems. Results have been largely inconclusive. However, studies favoring industrialized cattle raising have often neglected important parameters.
A recent 2020 study made a comprehensive environmental impact assessment of the two methods. The results showed considerable favor for grass fed dairy farming. The study also revealed grass fed pasturing to be more economical with greater yields.
Reviews of the Best Grass Fed Whey from Top Japanese Manufacturers
無添加 グラスフェッド ホエイプロテイン おすすめの 5選 日本製
When it comes to healthy lifestyle support where safety and quality really matter, people are more and more looking to Japanese products. That’s why we have chosen the 5 of the best grass fed protein powders made here in Japan.
goCLN by Fuji Organics
Fuji Organics is a small and dynamic Tokyo-based company established in 2018. Their focus in essential organic nutrition from the highest quality sources. All raw ingredients are purely organic, ethically based, and they also contribute to social causes.
Their organic grass fed whey comes in a number of delicious flavors. They also produce high quality Vit D, Vit C, zinc, and iron supplements, as well as organic wholefoods.
One of their more unique products (price link) are mushroom infused coffee, cocoa, or macha using Chaga or Lion’s Mane (Japanese Yamabushitake) and L-Theanine extract.
goCLN Organic Grass Fed Whey Protein – グラスフェッド ホエイプロテイン
- Cocoa, Macha, Plain flavors
- 1 kg packs
- 21.5g protein/serving
- Sweetener- rainforest stevia
- Norwegian sourced whey
- No artificial additives
- No emulsifier
- Fairtrade / JAS
This protein dissolves and mixes really easily. It’s quite bubbly which is a good indication of its quality and bioactive status. It’s better to mix gently with a spoon rather than shaking or beating it. People love the taste – it’s very mild, not too sweet, and gentle on the stomach.
These goCLN protein powders have all the indications of a top class product. They do not, however, have any indication on their homepage about the amino count or a separate listing of amino acids.
Plain flavor ingredients: Energy 120.3kcal, protein 24.6g, fat 1.5g, carbohydrate 2.0g, salt equivalent 0.2g.
- You can also purchase direct from the goCLN homepage.
Lohas Sports from Lohas Style
LohasStyle is fairly well-known for their additive-free protein powders. The name comes from the English nomenclature meaning Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability – which is an identified economic sector. The company is based in Tokyo and started in 2014.
Their protein powders include whey and soy proteins. Lohas are a particularly good choice for sugar free natural sweeteners [ カロリーゼロ甘味料 ]. They sell Erythritol which is one of the better alcohol sugars, stevia, and monk fruit which is more difficult to obtain in Japan.
They have an interesting range of more unique health products, teas, and supplements. Lohas also have products for digestion support like chicory root granules [ イヌリン 顆粒 ], or indigestible destrin [ 難消化性デキストリン ].
Lohas Grass Fed Whey Protein – ロハスタイル グラスフェッド ホエイプロテイン
- Plain, chocolate, vanilla & macha
- Raw Australian grass fed milk
- Certified microbe free
- Certified GMO free
- WPC80 standard
- 100% amino score & listing
- 20-22g protein / on flavor
- No Emulsifier
- Contains stevia
Compared to goCLN detailed above, this Lohas mixes well enough, but sometimes there is a lumpiness to it. It’s quite frothy which is a good sign, but it seems not the very best quality grass fed whey. The product has good certifications, an amino score, and a full amino acid listing. It’s guaranteed WPC80, which just means 80% protein content.
The taste is fine, but the stevia level may take getting used to. It tends to be a little astringent. The plain flavor is good and nice to spike up with coffee or cinnamon powder, or whatever you like. Overall, the flavoring could be improved.
Plain flavor ingredients: energy (118kcal), protein (22.94 g), fats (1.44 g), carbohydrates (3.03 g) salt (0.26g).
Golden Whey by CHOICE
Choice Nutrition is an Aomori based company since 2018 under directorship of Simon Dew and the WATZMANN RESEARCH Co., Ltd. Their approach is nutrition close to nature with the highest quality and safety. Their quest is top performance and longevity.
Choice has an excellent and well developed product range. If you’re looking for a high quality grass fed whey isolate, this is the best choice. All their whey protein powders are verified for sports. Their standard series comes in additional cinnamon and strawberry flavors.
Other top class products range from BCCAs, Creatinine, Multi Vitamins, Omega 3s, to various Keto diet support products and more. Their products are officially endorsed by a good number of top Japanese sports personalities.
Choice Grass Fed Whey Isolate – Choice ゴールデンアイソレート ホエイプロテイン
- Grass fed whey from Ireland
- WPI – Whey Protein ISOLATE
- Plain, cocoa, macha, coffee
- ISO 17025 Tested for WADA
- 100% amino score & listing
- Favors have stevia
- GMO free
- No emulsifiers
- Suited for lactose intolerance
There are a few reasons to take a whey isolate (WPI) rather than a whey concentrate. Whey isolate has minimal lactose and is unlikely to effect intolerance or allergic reaction. The fat content is close to zero so ideal for strict diets. It’s often favored by top sports people because the body processes it much faster than WPC. Whey isolate is often preferred when medically prescribed.
This whey isolate is one of the few products sourced from Irish dairy. It’s also one of the best quality wheys you can get. Furthermore, their products are all fully verified for nutritional content and and meet WADA criteria for sport supplements. Each product also carries a complete amino listing.
As an isolate, the powder dissolves very easily. For most people, the verified quality and safety is the draw card, and the taste is okay. Ultimately, if you don’t have a specific reason to use an isolate, you’re probably better off with a cheaper and tastier whey concentrate.
Plain flavor ingredients: energy (111kcal), protein (26.4g), Lipid (0.27g), carbohydrates (0.75g) Salt (0.18g).
- You can also buy direct from their homepage where they have bulk, value, and set deals.
Nichiga Health Foods
Nichiga is the best known online brand of Gunma’s 日本ガーリック株式会社. They’re one of Japan’s largest eco or organic health food companies. The company goes back to 1963 with animal pharmaceuticals. Now, they also make cosmetics.
Nichiga organic and natural produce are made under strict JAS guidelines and certification. Raw ingredients never come from sources using pesticides or anything GMO. They also make non-chemicalized cosmetics, bathroom products, and detergents.
Their product range is too large to outline completely, but it includes wholefoods, superfoods, vegetable powders, non harmful food additives, and many popular health favorites. They have an extensive range of artificial additive free whey and soy protein powders.
Nichiga Grass Fed Australian Whey – ニチガ グラスフェッド ホエイプロテイン
- South Victoria produce
- Organic fed cows
- 100% amino score & listing
- WPC 81%
- Certified to USDA standards
Most people feel this whey has a strong dairy or cheesy taste. It’s made from cheese grade whey so this is not surprising. However, the product doesn’t mix as well as other top recommendations. It also seems to be a lot more foamy than usual.
You have to add your own sweetener or mix it with something else, but some people like it as it is. Although it’s well certified and checks all the boxes, it’s not the most outstanding grass fed whey, but a good cost performer.
Daily Protein from High Clear
High Clear is the brand name of the Sendai based company 株式会社エフアシスト. They have been specializing in whey protein powders and sports supplement since 2011. Their flavor range and product line-up is quite unique.
High Clear is not an organic or health foods company as such. Most of their protein powders contain artificial sweeteners, but they do have some more select products. They uniquely specialize in fortified whey protein powders with added minerals from Okinawa coral – a rich source of trace minerals.
Their unique weight-down whey protein (artificial sweeteners) includes charcoal and with 11 vitamins and 74 trace minerals. They have a new line-up of WPC that now uses stevia, but soy powder as an emulsifier. They venture into protein fortified miso and corn soups, soy meat, protein bars, and also a new range of protein flap jack mixes.
Grass Fed Fortified Whey Protein – グラスフェッド ほうじ茶味 ホエイプロテイン
- WPC from Australia
- 21.6 g protein
- 3 flavors
- Sweetened with stevia
- Additional lactase
- Okinawa coral
- 11 multi-vitamins
- 74 minerals trace minerals
- 33 servings / kg
The most popular flavor is this roasted houji-cha, made from organic Shiga tea. The other flavors – plain (22.95g protein), macha (21.8g protein), coconut sugar cafe late (15.6g protein) are available on their homepage. Their other grass fed whey is a completely plain flavor (24.3g protein) with no minerals, vitamins, and no stevia.
These fortified whey proteins, and most others in their store, generally contain the following (per 30g):
VA (vitamin A): 180μg, VD:1.83μg, VE: 2.67mg, VB1: 0.37mg, VB2: 0.37mg, Niacin: 3.67mg, VB6: 0.33mg, Folic acid: 73.3μg, VB12: 0.8μg, Pantothenic acid: 2.2mg, VC: 29.3mg, Zn: 3.5mg, Potassium: 154.8mg, Calcium: 226.1mg, Chromium: 0.02μg, Selenium: 0.1mg, Iron: 1.9mg, Copper: 0.4mg, Magnesium: 18.9mg, Manganese: 0.03mg, Molybdenum: 0.007μg, Iodine: 0.09mg, Phosphorous: 132.8mg.
Umatein [ ウマテイン ] – Best Shout Out to a Grass Fed Whey Protein
- International taste award
- Coca, banana, strawberry
- 21.2g protein
- Fortified with 11 vitamins
- BCCA 3.8g / serving
- 100% amino score
- GMP safe manufacturing
- Aspartame & Phenylalanine
The nice thing about this protein powder is that it tastes good for a fortified protein. The grass-fed whey selection only comes in three flavors. However, these do include artificial sweeteners. It’s quite a popular hit, but it needs to be mixed well or it gets clumpy.
This protein made the list for the 2020 Superior Taste Award from the International Taste Institute in Brussels. This was for the soft drinks and beverage section. Interestingly, the other protein shakes to win a place were the Japanese brands Legend and My Routine. Legend won a place in 20201 again with their new Cola flavor and Melon.
The vitamin profile/35g for these Umatein proteins are:
VC (Vitamin C): 44mg, VE: 4.0mg, VB2: 0.6mg, VB6: 0.5mg, VB1: 0.4mg, Niacin: 5mg, Pantothenic acid: 3.3mg, VA: 312 μg , VD: 3.0μg , VB12: 1.1μg, Folic acid: 99μg.