Getting an adequate amount of protein each day is a challenge. While Optimum Nutrition whey has been the default protein source for gymgoers and bodybuilders alike for a long time, it’s not the only option, and cricket protein (yes, you read that correctly) should be considered a strong contender for a lot of reasons....
Proteins, regardless of the source, are complex chains of amino acids that affect everything from energy production to cellular health to your memory and mental capacity.
Where differences become abundantly clear is when we look at the secondary effects of each type of protein on your body and the way each type of protein is produced. Here’s how Human Improvement’s cricket protein compares to standard whey protein from Optimum Nutrition…
Digestion-Wise: Human Improvement Is Better By a Mile.
Whey protein is a byproduct of the dairy industry, meaning that it’s derived from milk. People with lactose intolerance can immediately eliminate whey protein as an option. For those of us without lactose intolerance, dairy can still be difficult to digest, and that quality is passed on to whey protein.
That’s why bloating and the phenomenon of “protein farts” is so common among weightlifters.
Cricket protein, as the name suggests, comes from crickets. Human Improvement makes their protein with a blend of cricket and plant-based proteins with no gums or fillers. This along with the use of psyllium husk and flaxseed make it much easier on the digestive tract, reducing the likelihood of bloating and discomfort.
Taste-Wise: Human Improvement Out-Performs Optimum
For me, Human Improvement’s vanilla protein powder is perfect. The taste isn’t overpowering or artificial, and the protein powder dissolves really well. Since they don’t use gums or fillers, it can settle in your cup if you don’t drink it quickly, but a few extra shakes fixes that problem. Best of all, it’s not chunky or gritty while you drink it, which is really important if, like me, texture is important to you.
Some folks may blanch at the fact that it comes from crickets, and I totally get that. Around the world, though, insects have been an important and nutritious component of a variety of cultures and regions for centuries.
Nutrition-Wise: 100% Human Improvement.
Optimum Nutrition whey protein and Human Improvement’s cricket protein are going to be quite comparable as far as protein quantity is concerned. My previous go-to whey and milk-based protein, for example, has 22 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 200 calories per serving. Human Improvement’s cricket protein contains 21 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrates, and 140 calories per serving.
But for me, Human Improvement fits into my target macros a bit better since it’s lower in both carbs and calories. As an added bonus, I love that it’s high in fiber, iron, vitamin B12, zinc, and a number of other vitamins and minerals.
Environmental Impact: Human Improvement Has It Covered.
Because whey protein is a byproduct of dairy production, it’s dependent upon the dairy industry. Commercial dairy farming accounts for 16% of the country’s agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Additionally, large factory farms consume vast amounts of grasslands and have the potential to contaminate groundwater. Dairy products are also fairly inefficient to produce considering how much food and water cows need to produce a single gallon of milk.
If you’ve taken a walk through a park or wooded area in late summer, you probably know that crickets don’t require nearly as much maintenance. Crickets need much less to eat and drink before reaching maturity, they take up exponentially less space, and they can be used to produce protein and flour much more efficiently.
Flavor Variety: Optimum Has More Options Out There.
As I started to look around for which flavors looked the best to try out, I realized that there are generally more flavors available for Optimum Nutrition whey protein options than cricket protein options. This definitely is not a gamechanger or anything for me, just something I noticed off the bat.
With that said, Human Improvement's Vanilla and Chocolate cricket protein powders taste UNREAL. I'm talking the best tasting I might have ever tried. There are some funky whey flavors out there like cookie dough, brownie and so forth that Human Improvement doesn't offer. But those flavors aren't for me anyway and I don't necessarily need my protein tasting like a overly-sugary desert.
The Ultimate Winner: Human Improvement.
When considering the taste, nutrient quality, and environmental impact, Human Improvement has quickly become my new protein go-to. Whether scooping from a big bag or using single-serving packs, it's quick and convenient and checks all the boxes that I look for in a protein powder.