BNRG are protein specialists that have developed the most technologically advanced protein powders currently on the market. Their flagship product, Proto Whey, may not be a household name, but it is probably the single best whey derived protein powder available. Simply put, there is no other commercial product that can match it for its degree of hydrolysis, and hence speed of digestion and utilisation.
Proto Whey Ingredients
What makes Proto Whey special is not the type of protein it uses, but rather, how it is processed. Yes, the protein source is whey protein, but this whey protein has been extensively hydrolysed to the point that up to 40% of the protein is actually in two or three amino acid chain lengths (ie. di- and tripeptides). This is pretty much the only functional component of the product, and the remaining ingredients are for flavouring and texture purposes. In each serve of Proto Whey, you get 135 calories, 20 g protein, 4 g fat, 4 g carbs, and 3 g dietary fibre.
Proto Whey Pros
Many manufactures make a hydrolysed whey protein these days. However, very few give details about the degree of hydrolysis and the resulting proportion of di- and tripeptides. It is these very short chains of amino acids that give Proto Whey its benefits. All proteins need to be hydrolysed by the digestive system before they can be absorbed. This process takes time, and any compromise means that the protein is not absorbed. Meanwhile, free form amino acids are no better because their absorption relies on a different carrier mechanism, which is somewhat limited. Studies have shown that the absorption and bioavailability of hydrolysed proteins are far superior to free form amino acids and intact proteins (Harris et al, 2012; Morifuji et al, 2010). For more information please refer to our article on Hydrolysed Whey & BCAA Dipeptides.
Simply put, there is no other whey protein that has been hydrolysed to this extent and contains a higher proportion of di- and tripeptides. Proto Whey is therefore the fastest digested and absorbable commercial whey protein product on the market today.
Another benefit of Proto Whey is that because it is so heavily hydrolysed, it is no longer a protein as far as our body is concerned. This actually makes Proto Whey suitable for people with degrees of milk protein allergies, because the Proto Whey is hypoallergenic and is less likely to trigger an allergic response.
Proto Whey Effectiveness
Because of the above benefits, Proto Whey is able to get into your blood faster than any other protein powder. This means it can start rebuilding muscle tissue quicker than other products. This results in superior recovery as well as faster muscle synthesis. There is essentially no better protein powder for the critical post workout window.
Proto Whey Cons
Because of the taste profile that is associated with very hydrolysed protein, BNRG had to spend a considerable amount of effort in masking the unpleasant flavour. In doing so, there are a lot of added ingredients such as MCTs, maltodextrin, and a few sweeteners. This results in a relatively low total proportion of protein, 58%. Unfortunately, this was unavoidable, because it was either lower protein or a terrible taste. However, one thing to note is that in this particular case, quality is definitely superior to sheer quantity.
Proto Whey is a highly specialised product with only one function, which it does it very well. However, this means that it is not a multipurpose protein. One potential pitfall with Proto Whey’s lightning fast absorption is that it is unable to sustain high blood amino acid levels for long. It is therefore best used post exercise, but this must then be follow up with a solid meal. If you are after a longer sustaining protein powder, you would need to look elsewhere.
Much like other hydrolysed whey proteins, there is a price premium you pay. However, compared to its competitors, despite being a much more refined product, Proto Whey is actually very price competitive.
Proto Whey Taste & Mixability
Bitterness is often a trait associated with hydrolysed whey. The more hydrolysed the product, the more bitter the taste. BNRG have done an excellent job in masking the bitter taste of their hydrolysed whey. I won’t lie and say it is barely noticeable, but the slight bitterness actually goes quite well with the flavours. Chocolate connoisseurs would be happy to know that the taste of the double chocolate flavour is very much like a high cocoa dark chocolate. Coffee loves would also be pleasantly surprised to find that BNRG have used real coffee concentrate in their café mocha flavour, which also goes well with the bitterness. In addition to these, Proto Whey is also available in strawberry, vanilla, and banana.
The powder is courser in texture compared to many other protein powders on the market, but it still mixes effortlessly into a smooth shake. The texture of the shake is on the thicker side and it is creamy in taste. Overall, this reviewer finds the product to be high pleasant in this taste and mixabilty.
Proto Whey Verdict
If you are a beginner, forget about BNRG Proto Whey because there are much cheaper options out there. If you are after a protein that can do everything, look elsewhere. However, if you are after the best and fastest absorbing post workout recovery shake, then BNRG Proto Whey is a must have.
Harris et al (2012), L -glutamine absorption is enhanced after ingestion of L -alanylglutamine compared with the free amino acid or wheat protein. Nutrition Research, 32: 272-277
Morifuji et al (2010), Comparison of Different Sources and Degrees of Hydrolysis of Dietary Protein: Effect on Plasma Amino Acids, Dipeptides, and Insulin Responses in Human Subjects. J. Agric. Food Chem, 58: 8788–8797