I remember the day oh so well: I was looking at a container of Body Fortress Whey Protein Powder. Like so many others that had gone before me, I was attempting to put on muscle using whey protein. It was working too I'm sure some of the credit has to go to this inexpensive whey powder I'd purchased at WalMart. I had put on a good amount of muscle and whey is one of the best proteins for that purpose.
However, I was in for the shock of my life when I began to research the amino acid profile on the label. I was shocked to see glutamic acid and aspartic acid! In fact, the label almost proudly displayed to four significant digits the glutamic acid as 3,146 mg and aspartic acid as 1,961 mg per serving.
Are all of those mg excitotoxins? No. But a significant percentage were, because almost all modern whey are processed at high temperatures that leads to high levels of free glutamine. And it is the free glutamine which is the true excitotoxin. (Natural glutamates are actually good for you and can lower blood pressure.)
So with each and every scoop I was inadvertenly flooding my system with excitotoxins. That's right - glutamic acid and aspartic acid are just the downstream versions of monosodium glutamate and aspartame. If you don't know what these bad boys do to your neurons, read more here about Excitotoxins, Testosterone and Your Brain.
Of course, the irony is that I had preached and converted my family on the evils of excitotoxins and yet found that I had consumed more in a day than they probably did in several months! Every scoop - and I was having about 3 scoops per day - probably had free glutamine and apartic acid in the 15% range, i.e. I was probably having around over a gram of excitotoxins. Little did I know that, in an attempt to put on some middle aged mass, I was likely assaulting my precious hypothalamus and grey matter. Oy vay!
Of course, I called Body Fortress and asked their nutritional representative essentially, "How could you poison my neurons with megadoses of excitotoxins?" His answer? "What's an excitotoxin?" I quickly realized this conversation was going nowhere, so I did a little research and found that the excitotoxins glutamic acid and aspartic acid are created in the hydrolyzation process that creates whey protein isolates and concentrates. And virtually all bodybuilding whey powders are composed of these isolates and concentrates.
Once again, it just goes to show that you do not want to touch processed foods, because corporations, for the most part, have little to no regard for your health. These whey powders are created and manufactured by supplement companies that should know better and, in many cases, probably do know better but still put out a dangerous product to squeeze out extra profits.
SOLUTION: Should you give up on whey altogether? Absolutely not! There are a number of great whey products that have very little free glutamine due to their gentle processing techniques. You can read more about these in my link on Undenatured Whey Proteins. But watch out: if it say isolate or concentrate, you need to read carefully as it very likely is loaded with excitotoxins.
YET ANOTHER CAUTION: The above whey powder also had L-Taurine of energy drink fame, L-glutamine and creatine added. I asked the rep how much of the first two were added and he said that it was "proprietary". Translated that means, "We are going to throw a bunch of chemicals in your whey and you just have to trust us". They also put in sucralose, an Artificial Sweetener that likely attacks intestinal flora.