What makes dairy protein superior?

The quality of your protein matters.

Why is dairy protein considered the superior protein source? 

Not all proteins are created equal. They have different amounts of essential amino acids (EAAs), digestibility, and bioavailability.₁ Which means how easily the body can digest and consume the protein once ingested. 

The protein from our cow’s milk is considered a high-quality protein. High-quality protein is defined as a protein that contains all of the EAAs needed by the body while maintaining bioavailability and rapid digestibility.₁ Essentially, high-quality protein will have all of the EAAs while being easily absorbed by the body and digestible. 

Calculated using: https://tools.myfooddata.com/protein-calculator

One of the reasons we source our protein from grass-fed free-range cows in New Zealand is to create a high-quality protein that not only tastes good but provides all the elements needed to maintain a healthy body. Grass-fed milk contains more CLA (Conjugated Linoleic acid) and Beta Carotene than milk from grain fed cows. CLA is a fatty acid that helps regulate the immune system and maintain cardiovascular health. Beta carotene is good for your eyesight and supports immunity and bone density. Milk from New Zealand is known for having high levels of beta-carotene! Beyond that, we didn’t choose to source our protein from New Zealand just for the health benefits but also for the impact on the environment. 

New Zealand, as a country, focuses on the environmental impacts of farming. A study from AgResearch confirmed New Zealand has continued to keep its low-emission dairy production and impact lower than the global average.₆ AgResearch researched and analyzed 18 countries' (55% of the global milk production) greenhouse (GHG) emissions per kg of product. On average, New Zealand farms produce 46 percent less GHG per kg of protein powder than the global average.₆ So, not only does New Zealand produce great quality dairy, but they do so with a lower impact on the environment than the global average. That is something we’re proud of. 

We chose to produce dairy protein powder because animal protein is exceptionally good for you. Animal proteins are considered high-quality and complete proteins because they contain all of the EAAs. In fact, dairy proteins have the highest level of EAAs compared to other plant-based protein sources. ₂ 

Scientific evidence shows that the health benefits of higher protein diets are greater if the protein consumed is high-quality.₃ ₅ Not only are animal proteins considered high-quality and complete, but cow’s milk has the highest protein quality score.₁

If you regularly consume a high-protein diet, it is important to check what is in the protein and ensure it is high-quality and complete, like protein from cow’s milk from Pounamu Protein!

What are all of the amino acids?

Most plant-based proteins are considered low-quality and incomplete because they do not contain adequate amounts of the EAAs methionine, l-cysteine, or lysine. 

Pounamu whey protein formulas are high-quality and complete protein sources, so you know you’re getting all of the EAAs with every scoop!

What does this mean - how does the body use amino acids and protein?

When our body consumes protein, it breaks it down into amino acids to absorb and use. The EAAs are vital to building and repairing muscle and tissues in a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS). 

With EAAs are branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), a combination of three EAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine is the BCAA that is key to stimulating the initiation of MPS. 

Animal-based proteins, such as our cow’s milk protein, usually have more leucine than plant-based proteins. In the case of dairy proteins, they could have more than 10% of leucine, compared to plant-based, which could range from 6-8%. ₂

Our Natural, Unflavored Whey Protein Isolate contains 28g of whey protein, 7.3g of BCAAs, and 4g of leucine per serving to help build lean and strong muscles and support muscle recovery and maintenance.

So what?

If you are building and maintaining strength and performance, MPS is a vital part of the overall goal. Building, repairing, and maintaining muscle is crucial as you age, and MPS makes that happen, and amino acids initiate that process.

Finding a protein with a high concentration of EAAs, BCAAs, and leucine will help you in your journey. Protein powders, like we have at Pounamu, offer these high-quality properties in various flavors and formulas, so there is something for everyone!

Dairy protein to protect your long-term health

Scientific evidence suggests that whey protein may stimulate the greatest rise in MPS compared to other non-meat protein sources. ₄ ₅ So, to maximize your overall health as your body ages, it is crucial to optimize muscle mass throughout your life - not just when you start to notice.  

The best way to do this is by consuming dairy protein with a regular exercise routine. However, as you age, you become less sensitive to stimulation MPS, and getting in a higher volume of high-quality protein becomes increasingly important to maintain muscle mass.

A balanced lifestyle will always be the best way to keep your body happy and healthy. But, when you reach for a protein supplement, remember that not all protein is created equal. So, check out the nutrients and where your protein came from! 


1 - A New Era for Protein: Why U.S. Dairy Delivers in the Crowded Protein Marketplace:: Thinkusadairy by the U.S. Dairy Export Council.” U.S. Dairy Export Council; Ingredients, Products, Global Markets, 1 July 2018, https://thinkusadairy.org/resources-and-insights/resources-and-insights/application-and-technical-materials/a-new-era-for-protein-why-us-dairy-delivers-in-the-crowded-protein-marketplace.

2 - Devries, M.C., and Phillips, S.M. 2015. Supplemental protein in support of muscle mass and health: advantage whey. J of Food Science 80:S1.

3 - Paddon-Jones, D., Campbell, W.W., Jacques, P.F., Kritchevsky, S.B., Moore, L.L., Rodriguez, N.R., van Loon, L.JC. Protein and healthy aging. 2015. Am J of Clin Nutrition 101:6, p 1339S–1345S. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.084061. Accessed online; December 5, 2017.

4 - Phillips, SM. 2016. The impact of protein quality on the promotion of resistance-exercise-induced changes in muscle mass. Nutrition & Metabolism 13:64 Doi: 10.1111/ nbu.12063.

5 - Devries, M.C., and Phillips, S.M. 2015. Supplemental protein in support of muscle mass and health: advantage whey. J of Food Science 80:S1.

6 - AgResearch, & DairyNZ. (2021, January 27). Research shows NZ dairy the world's most emissions efficient. Research shows NZ dairy the world’s most emissions efficient. Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://www.agresearch.co.nz/news/research-shows-nz-dairy-the-worlds-most-emissions-efficient/