I recently ran a post (CLICK HERE TO READ) about the presence of MSG in foods and how the labeling can be deceiving you as to whether it is present or not. I also THOUGHT I discovered while writing the post that whey protein has MSG in it which disturbed me because I eat lots of whey protein.
I do not do well with eating MSG so I try very hard to keep it out of my diet. Finding this troubling news prompted me to do further research and it took me a while to sort through a mess of truth and misinformation. I want desperately to develop a blog that is NOT full of misinformation and “bro science” so I am glad I took this to the next level and dug deeper.
As it turns out , I did read that whey protein has MSG in it and then took this info and put it into my post……..but the info I read was a mistake and it was a mistake for putting this info into my blog when I am trying to keep the info legit here.
The mistake comes from a little known fact, combined with a fundamental error.
Ever wonder why, when amino acid content is listed for protein products such as whey, in most cases it appears there is zero glutamine? But a large amount of glutamic acid is listed?
No. Yeah me either. But as it turns out that is the case.
It is not because the protein contains no glutamine, or so much glutamic acid (glutamic acid is MSG btw).
It is because the analytical process converts all glutamine to glutamic acid, and thus only the total of the two is measured, and is reported as glutamic acid.
Further, of course even that which is glutamic acid, is not present as free glutamic acid, but rather is incorporated into the protein chains and is absorbed as part of di and tri peptides, principally.
So in fact it is quite different from actually having glutamic acid in it per se. Which would be functionally equivalent, other than with regard to sodium intake, to having MSG in it. But it’s not remotely the case at all.
Proteins are composed of amino acids linked to each other in a long chain.
In digestion, the long chains are broken into smaller chains, mostly units of 2 or 3 linked amino acids, called dipeptides or tripeptides.
Glutamine and glutamic acid are among the amino acids found in proteins.
They are not present as isolated amino acids, but only within these chains.
When labels of protein products list amino acid content,
1) Actually the named amino acid does not (unless it’s been added separately) exist on its own in the product, but only as part of the chain.
2) Because the method of analysis that is commonly used converts glutamine to glutamic acid, there is no way to tell from the analysis how much glutamine was present. So there is no listing for glutamine, and the listing for glutamic acid is high, because it really includes the glutamine as well.
#2 is a side note.
#1 is the reason why glutamic acid (which when dissolved in water will give the same thing as happens when glutamate is dissolved in water) is a totally different thing in protein powder than in MSG.
It is incorporated into protein chains and is principally not absorbed as glutamate, but as part of small chains such as di or tripeptides.
The person making the claim that whey protein is high in glutamate and using whey protein is equivalent to taking a huge amount of MSG did not understand these facts, but instead read the label literally and thought that there was that much free glutamic acid in the product, when in fact there is none.
I spent a while putting all this info together and additional time trying to find the source of the misinformation with no avail.
Hopefully I have set the record straight and if not oh well…….it’s only a blog. Always do what I just did and if you hear something or read something double check to make sure it is right.
- Getting Off MSG – How to Stop Before it is Too Late (aworldchaos.wordpress.com)
- Glutamic acid (MSG), Histamine, and Thiols (sulfur) Links (sherleeholmeseats.wordpress.com)
- Msg (daniehodge.wordpress.com)
- Trans Fat and MSG Public Enemy You Can’t truss it! (lifehardcore.wordpress.com)