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Salmon Protein Hydrolysate: More than Just Non-Dairy!

Salmon Protein Hydrolysate: More than Just Non-Dairy!

About the Author:
Warren Karr joined the Popeye’s family in 2005 adding his many years of leadership, training and management experience to our team.  Having access to some of the best educators in our industry allowed Warren to quickly become an expert on ingredients, formulations and product design while taking a lead role with our stores over the years.   This extensive knowledge combined with his unique ability to make complicated topics easy to understand made him the obvious choice to develop our Online Training Program.  This 18-month project allowed Warren to do what he loves best: contributing his experience and knowledge within our store group and on our site.  You will see his articles posted along with those from our partners he has collaborated with.  The goal?  To give you a deeper, more extensive look into the science behind the supplement ingredients and how they work with a focus on key innovation.

Whey is a great protein source, rich in amino acids and for many, easily digestible. For years this was the only viable option for those looking to supplement their protein intake.  Reflecting on my early days working in-store, my location had just 3 non-dairy proteins: a vegetarian blend that was so thick you needed to chew it, an egg protein option and the oft-maligned soy powder  😮. . . that was it.  As you might imagine, these 3 options did not sell particularly well! 

Thankfully, product selection has improved due to an ever-evolving client base.  Dietary trends advocating dairy-free eating emerged while at the same time, plant-based diets grew at an even faster rate.  From a health perspective, consumer awareness of Celiac disease, IBS and FODMAP’s combined with easier access to allergy testing triggered a large surge in demand for alternative, dairy/egg-free protein supplements.  In this same period, bariatric procedures became more common and with the unique nature of the surgery, product mixability and rapid dissolution were critical elements, prompting improvements in the quality of whey protein Isolates found on our shelves.

These new demands sparked innovation and the emergence of multiple new protein sources in supplement form: beef, collagen, hemp, chia, pumpkin and even cricket protein just to name a few.  While they are viable options for those who either cannot digest whey or for those avoiding all dairy, not one of these proteins can match whey when it comes to bioavailability and uptake.

Moreover, there is also the “small” matter of taste, texture and palatability.  While some can adapt to the uniqueness of these protein alternatives, not everyone can.  Making powdered beef taste “good” without adding a myriad of sweeteners, additives, emulsifiers or loading it with carbohydrates can be challenging!  For those reasons, whey protein still wins the blind taste test especially to those where the concept of drinking a protein powder is still daunting. 

Real Innovation – Getting it Right for Today’s Educated Customer

True innovation requires thinking outside of the box and today, customers are more conscious than ever on what they are putting in their body.  Rather than stressing over how many grams of protein are in a scoop, clients often want one, some, or all the following.  The protein must:

  • Taste good, but be natural (low/no artificial sweeteners, colours, or flavours)
  • Digest well (no bloating/gas or discomfort) and be easily absorbed (rapid access to the bloodstream)
  • Align with specific dietary requirements/beliefs (dairy free and whole food based)
  • Be sustainable (having minimal environmental impact)
  • Be Clean! Pesticide, heavy-metal, and antibiotics free (Country of origin?  Standards?)
  • Provide the basic building blocks for recovery (does it give me everything I need?)

To that end, Norway’s Hofseth Biocare and Canada’s Nutrabolics have partnered in the release of a product that can only be described as truly innovative.  In addition to checking off the boxes above, their protein also

provides several key health benefits that no other protein can offer, backed by some solid studies validating their efficacy!

In my 16 years with Popeye’s I have seen many new products that have done wonderful things to improve health, fitness performance and recovery.  This protein innovation is on a different level and this impression was cemented

in my mind after having time to speak to Hofseth representative Dr. Crawford Currie. He provided me a unique opportunity to fully vet the first true, single ingredient Hydrolyzed Salmon Protein (HSP).  With an industry best 97% protein per scoop and an incredible 98% digestibility rate, ProGo® also has an incredible development story with salmon sustainability central to their vision. 

 

Its All About the Process – Zero Waste!

What stood out most was the level of detail Hofseth put into sourcing their raw material.  Within 4 hours, these Norwegian salmon are taken to the processing

facility where they are filleted.  Much of the meat ends up in up in North America and is sold at Costco, as the quality of the fish is incredibly high.  From roe, the fish live in fast moving, clear, cold water and are never exposed to any form of antibiotic.  Moreover, the Norwegian stance on GMO foods is incredibly strict meaning ProGo® is non-GMO and testing also shows that the fish are free of heavy metals.  All these factors contribute to what can only be described as an incredibly “clean” food source, especially significant in todays world!

After filleting, 33% of the fish remains.  This is where the story gets interesting.  Enzymes are what break down our food, with specific ones impacting our 3 macros: Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats.  Protease (the “pro” is the giveaway) gently begins its work at low temperature on the protein, beginning the hydrolyzation process.  It has no effect on oils and bones and once the proteins begin to breakdown separation occurs. 

Due to their different weights, the oil floats to the top while the dense bones sink to the bottom of the collection tank.  This non-denatured oil is removed to become OMEGO® fish oil while the bones create CALGO® calcium supplements.  The remaining protein – now free of oil and bones – continues its path to becoming a protein powder.  Legitimately, nothing is wasted and only the protein is left.

The enzymatic process is patented and a closely guarded secret – understandably - having taken 10 years to develop under the guidance of CSO Prof Bomi Framroze. The result of his research is a unique protein peptide (a series of amino acids) that is half the regular size without the bitterness normally associated with hydrolyzation.  A standard peptide consists of a chain of 50 amino acids.  With the salmon protein, this is reduced to small “snips” of amino acids.   What is the relevance of this?  A 2014 study comparing ProGo® to both current Hydrolyzed proteins and experimental versions shows the extent to which this enzymatic process aides when this food is ingested.

In the chart to the right, Salmon Protein Hydrolysate is indicated in Red

WPH-Low (Whey Protein Low Hydrolyzed) is ONLY about 2-3% hydrolyzed and is marked in the Light Blue.  Please note that this is the exact protein used when you purchase a Hydrolyzed Whey Isolate at any store.

The Dark Blue is a little confusing, as this form of WPH-High does not exist in the market due to its extremely bitter taste.  Why is it in this study?  To make the comparison as fair as possible, whey was specially obtained and pre-digested to the same level.  Even with that extra processing, the whey protein did not have the same level of nitrogen uptake – the key indicator of protein uptake – as the Salmon Protein (SPH).  This is the first time that a protein source was more bio-available than whey, releasing its nitrogen more quickly and efficiently all due to its small peptide in just a 16g serving! 

It is incredible that such a small amount can deliver so much nitrogen and have such little waste!  This is made even more clear in the chart below, comparing just how much of what you drink is bio accessible (i.e. you can utilize it) in ProGo ® to that of both whey protein isolate (WPI) – a 79% improvement -  and hydrolyzed (WPH-Low) 74% better.  Whey protein (matched only by egg) as the most bioavailable protein source can no longer stake claim to “being the best” – not with numbers like this! 

 

In short, this is a major accomplishment.  Compromised digestion?  Bariatric?  It does not matter – this protein will be absorbed more efficiently than anything else you can eat.  By its very nature, ProGo® is both dairy & lactose free, contains no gluten and is derived wholly from the meat of the salmon.  There is no gas, bloating or heavy feelings in the gut.  For those who suffer from a food intolerance or simply ‘feel’ uncomfortable from their protein drink, trying this salmon protein will be a pleasant surprise as it is hypoallergenic.  This is due in part to its ultra-low particulate size thanks to those small snippets of amino acids, which carries the additional benefit of near-instantaneous dissolution in water.  It mixes like an amino acid, not a thick protein.

Derived from the Salmon Meat – The Gift that Keeps on Giving!

While the digestibility element is a game-changer and the food efficiency, safety and nitrogen benefits are wonderful there is even more that ProGo® offers, which relate to health and wellness. 

You may have seen an association made between increasing one’s protein consumption as a potential assist with weight loss.  There is more to this than that simple statement and in short, that claim is based more on preventing muscle loss and increasing BMR than truly “burning fat”.   This is still important as the more muscle you can spare (and/or grow) helps to increases the number of calories you burn daily to maintain that “active” mass.  In other words, the more muscle you have the more you get to eat to fuel it, as fat requires less energy to maintain than active, hungry muscle tissue.  This leads to the inevitable question: How could simply drinking a salmon protein improve body composition?

Initial research into ProGo® altered my perceptions on how a simple protein could positively impact obesity and weight loss. This 2016 study published in the Journal of Obesity & Weight Loss Therapy had some very promising findings which I will summarize:

  • A 6-week treatment comparing 2 groups totalling 48 subjects (37 female, 11 male)
  • All were considered overweight with BMIs ranging from 25-30
  • Group 1: 24 participants ingesting 16g of Salmon Protein Hydrolysate for 42 days
  • Group 2: 24 participants ingesting 18g Whey Protein Isolate for 42 days
  • No changes were made to either groups diet, simply the addition of a protein to both

Here is what was found at the end of the trial:

The first chart shows how the ProGo® group showed a 5.9% decrease in BMI.  To put this into perspective, a 75kg person would equate this to a 0.4kg loss in

42-days.  You may be thinking – meh – that is less than 1lb, what is the fuss?

This came by simply introducing just one scoop (16g) of the salmon protein daily.  How did this happen?  The second chart is more informative and sheds some preliminary light on the improvement with 4 key biomarkers (see box) which are associated with metabolic disorder, with the positive effect in reducing markers of inflammation.  

  • A-Ha Moment: A functional food led to a weight decrease with no diet control, exercise changes, stimulants or herbals.  Just the addition of ProGo® each day led to a reduction in inflammation and the subsequent weight loss!  Another study is underway to gain more understanding on how these peptides work.

Health Canada Approved Claim – Ferritin & Hemoglobin

Iron deficiency is a world-wide issue, not just here in Canada.  Daily, clients come in looking to purchase iron supplements to help with anemia and the fatigue this can cause.  From a performance standpoint, iron increases oxygen carrying capacity making this a crucial element to those who are physically active, especially when involved in endurance sports.  Supplementation of iron can help but can also create other issues including constipation (due to poor iron forms) and for some can be an unpleasant experience!  Poor diets and a lack of supporting minerals can also impede iron uptake, impacting the effectiveness of the supplement. 

ProGo® does not contain iron in any useable amount (just 3.1mg per serving).  So, since it is clearly not an iron supplement, how can it help with anemia?  A study conducted in 2015 by Nutrition and Food Sciences showed that this is possible and the positive benefits supplementing with ProGo® has on this widespread condition.

First, some basics.  Ferritin is a blood protein that contains iron and is what your doctor measures to assess if your iron stores are too low.  Alternatively, this test can show if they are too high which is also not good.  It is all about balance!   This is the other problem with supplementing directly with iron – when is enough, enough, and not too much?  In addition to testing ferritin, Hemoglobin testing is also a measurement of anemia in the case of iron deficiency, can also be accompanied by extreme fatigue and weakness. 

That explained, a 42-day randomized trial was conducted with a goal of determining whether functional foods could help those who were clinically anemic instead of using a traditional iron supplement.

  • 2 groups totalling 48 subjects (37 female, 11 male)
  • All were considered anemic with haemoglobin levels between 8 – 11g/dL and a baseline of just 22ng/mL of ferritin
  • Group 1: 24 participants ingesting 16g of Salmon Protein Hydrolysate for 42 days
  • Group 2: 24 participants ingesting 18g Whey Protein Isolate for 42 days
  • No changes were made to either groups diet, simply the addition of a protein to both

 Here is what was found at the end of the trial: 

  • While Group 2 had a slight elevation, it was not considered statistically significant
    • The whey contained 19.1mg Iron/serving which when combined with the increased levels of supporting minerals (calcium/zinc) may have contributed to this positive bump in both ferritin and hemoglobin 
  • By comparison, Group 2 saw hemoglobin increase by 15% and ferritin an astounding 140%
    • Ferritin rose from the 22ng/mL to a more normal 53ng/mL
    • Subjects reported an increase in energy and alertness with just a 1.5g/dL in their hemoglobin levels – amazing to say the least given the fatigue associated with iron deficiency and anemia
    • Moreover, no subject showed unsafe elevated iron concentrations (that can happen with traditional iron supplements) meaning it is safe and effective!

 As a result of this study, Health Canada agreed that ProGo® does in fact maintain safe levels of these two critical blood markers!  Further, it was also approved for the claim “provides antioxidants for the maintenance of good health which is VERY interesting given it does not contain iron nor antioxidants!  

  • Key Point: These actions are caused by these bioactive peptides which the study points to as “upregulating antioxidant gene protection systems in the body”.  Their effective action increases iron levels by improving the body’s natural carrying capacity.  In other words, improve the system so it can naturally hold more iron than simply throwing more of a mineral at it!  

This balance also goes together with increased oxygen carrying capacity for energy, recovery and performance.  This means you do not need to be ‘deficient’ to experience benefits as this can help anyone training hard improve their performance.  More oxygen equals more output.

This really shows how amazing the peptides are.  They are the key mechanism behind all that makes ProGo® special.  Simply eating the salmon (or any other protein supplement) will not reproduce these results.  Why? It goes back to the enzymatic process that took 10 years to perfect.  They are what allow such an efficient nitrogen delivery while simultaneously providing the unexpected benefits of addressing potential iron deficiency, safely, and a positive outlook for those looking to improve their BMI – all with just one 16g serving per day! 

ProGo® Becomes Nutrabolics Pesca

Despite the studies being readily available and the evidence being so powerful, why has it taken so long to get ProGo® to North America?  The fact that ProGo® won Europe’s 2016 Ingredient of the Year – Weight Management (competing against 120 others) only adds to their credibility and increases my surprise that we have waited so long!  My only thought is that the idea of drinking “fish” might have given product formulators pause, believing customers might not accept it as a food source.  It also is costly, due to the extensive research which may have also delayed its arrival to our shores.  Whatever the reason for the delay Nutrabolics deserves credit for seeing what other did not, bringing it to market in 2020 when nobody else could or would. 

Furthermore, Nutrabolics also show tremendous integrity with the final product, Pesca.  Resisting the temptation to mix ProGo® with other ingredients, there are no carbohydrates added, no “protein blends” of a less expensive non-hydrolyzed salmon meal, beef, or vegan protein.  Each scoop offers the same serving used in the clinical trials and while at first glance 16g may seem low, it is not about how much you eat – it is 100% about how much you are able to absorb!  In that, Pesca has no competition!

Here is my Final Summation: 

  • I can promise you this: Pesca does NOT taste like fish! Rather, it has a light citrusy note which might be why the initial flavour offerings come in 2 options: Key Lime Pie & Lemon Meringue with a Vanilla currently in the works.
  • Having tried literally a thousand protein samples in my line of work, this is not something that was a turn-off. Rather, I found it very soluble with the protein the consistency of an ultra-light powder and not overly sweet.

Literally overnight, the protein category has been challenged by an amazing raw material that can truly help in so many ways.  Who can benefit from Pesca?  In truth, we all can but Pesca is even better for those who fall into 3 primary groups:

Digestion:

  • Are faced with compromised digestion due to a stomach condition or procedure
  • Want to avoid dairy or suffer from FODMAP’s
  • Are allergic to mainstream protein (soy, milk, whey, rice, pea etc.) or have trouble drinking them due to taste, texture, over flavouring or consistency
  • Are sensitive to common protein additives (carrageenan, guar gum, inulin)

Performance:

  • Are looking to improve their oxygen carry capacity and overall energy levels
  • Want maximum nitrogen delivery in minimal time
  • Improved recovery via a reduction in inflammatory markers

Health & Wellness:

  • A natural, non-stimulant way to lower their BMI
  • Reduce overall inflammation
  • Are low in Iron or anemic
  • Want a clean product – artificial colour, flavour, sweetener free
  • Are concerned about the environmental impact of mass farming and sustainability of a resource

True innovation has arrived with Pesca and with it, a product suitable for both wellness and performance application. For those who use this product, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did (I ran out quickly).  Pesca will be available (tentatively) the 1st or 2nd week of December 2020 both online and in-store at most Popeye’s Supplements locations. 

Warren Karr

Popeye’s Supplement – November 2020

 

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Comments

Sue - December 11, 2020

Hello. I have very bad IBS. I have been dealing with a nice young lady at the Brantford Ontario store. I have been using ATP products, glutamine, an omega product and the beef protine. The protein taste great. How ever I have hard time digesting. My stomach blows up and painful. I would like to try your protine how ever I just spent 60.00 on the ATP and can’t afford to buy another product at this point. From what I have read it will help my IBS and assist with weight loss. I would love to try a sample. If I get better results I hope I can get a refund for the ATP as I am not sure if I can keep taking it. Please help!! Thank you. I hope to hear from you soon.
Sue Simmons

Sue - December 11, 2020

Hello. I have very bad IBS. I have been dealing with a nice young lady at the Brantford Ontario store. I have been using ATP products, glutamine, an omega product and the beef protine. The protein taste great. How ever I have hard time digesting. My stomach blows up and painful. I would like to try your protine how ever I just spent 60.00 on the ATP and can’t afford to buy another product at this point. From what I have read it will help my IBS and assist with weight loss. I would love to try a sample. If I get better results I hope I can get a refund for the ATP as I am not sure if I can keep taking it. Please help!! Thank you. I hope to hear from you soon.
Sue Simmons

Ines pfeffer - December 9, 2020

What is price of Salmon Protein and size?

Steve Lott - December 9, 2020

Are you able to send me some samples to try this product

Steve Lott - December 9, 2020

Are you able to send me some samples to try this product

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