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The No Whey Challenge – Part One

Watch what happens when a fitness pro replaces whey protein with Sunwarrior vegan protein as he discovers there is a better way than whey!

Visit just about any gym, and you’re bound to hear conversations about whey protein shakes, especially among younger men. You’ll hear terms like “quality protein” or “complete protein” being thrown around with enthusiasm and discover that people seem to think whey protein is the key to becoming strong or maintaining their hard-earned muscle mass.

Once considered a mere waste product of the dairy industry, farmers and engineers figured out how to process and subsequently market whey as a source of edible protein for humans, thereby increasing their financial bottom line instead of having to dispose of it in a costly manner.

Whey has since exploded onto the fitness market as a wildly popular and unquestionably embraced protein supplement among bodybuilders and athletes. The positive reputation of whey protein supplements has always boggled my mind, as research from top scientists like T. Colin Campbell has demonstrated a connection between casein, a protein found in dairy, with the growth of cancer cells. Likewise, the myth of the complete protein has been thoroughly busted, and we now know perfectly adequate protein can be acquired from healthy plant-based sources.

Even world-famous superstar, champion bodybuilder, and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been recently quoted decrying the alleged value of ingesting dairy, stating, “There are more nutrients in beer than in milk!” as well as strongly advocating that people reduce consumption of animal products in the interest of protecting the environment.

Surely there must be a better way than whey.

Having experienced the benefits of plant-based living firsthand, I wanted to do something to prove that plant-based protein is not only a viable way to be fit and strong, but it’s a better way. This is how The No Whey Challenge was born.

At my gym, slugging down whey protein shakes is par for the course when it comes to bodybuilding. Even as a raw vegan fitness enthusiast and mom who, following two complicated pregnancies, lost half her body weight by adopting a fully raw vegan diet, I still have a hard time getting any of these guys in my gym to listen to me. Why? Well, I’m pretty fit, healthy, and happy, but I’m just not a super-buffed guy. I train with one, though! And our arguments about nutrition are nothing short of epic.

(Pictured to the right: Jake (right) with my son (left) following one of Jake’s brutal circuit training classes. At least they’re both still smiling!)

Meet my trainer, Jake Forbis, a certified fitness professional and 6’4” basketball player. Jake has been playing sports since he was a child and continues to enjoy competitive basketball as well as bodybuilding. Additionally, he is always building his flexibility, balance, and overall body strength. He is in outstanding physical condition, yet he relies on whey protein shakes daily. This, quite frankly, drives me nuts.

Jake knows I’m a long-term raw vegan and that I lost a ton of weight by adopting this lifestyle, but he remains pretty convinced that whey protein shakes are a superior choice for boosting protein intake and staying strong. It’s a good thing we like each other because we fight about this topic a lot. But even though we fight, Jake is also well-educated and open-minded. He pays attention to the latest nutritional news and science showing that plant-based protein is not only sufficient but can also support even the biggest and strongest competitive athletes out there, like World Record-holding vegan strongman Patrik Baboumian or Arizona Cardinals football star Tyrann Mathieu.

In light of my background and positive experience incorporating Sunwarrior protein into my own diet and fitness regime, I thought Jake would be perfect for The No Whey Challenge, where Jake will replace his whey protein with Sunwarrrior’s plant-based variety.

When I approached Jake to take The No Whey Challenge, he boldly accepted. I was impressed! With gracious support from the wonderful team at Sunwarrior, Jake agreed to replace his whey protein shakes with Sunwarrior’s plant-based protein for a minimum of 30 days. That’s a huge change for him! Like so many people who have never tried a plant-based diet or vegan protein shakes, Jake had fears that he would lose hard-earned muscle gains, hate the taste of vegan protein, or experience digestive issues. As a vegan educator, I have heard these kinds of fears repeatedly. People naturally fear the unknown.

During this challenge, I monitored Jake’s progress and reported back to determine how his body reacted to the substitution of plant protein in place of whey protein. At the completion of this experiment, I interviewed Jake to see if he still believed that whey is some kind of magical protein source required in order to succeed in bodybuilding and to become one’s fittest self. The whole challenge was a lot of fun, and I give huge thanks to both Jake Forbis and everyone at Sunwarrior for making this project possible.

So…did Jake lose strength? How did he like the taste and texture of Sunwarrior protein blends versus the whey protein shakes he was accustomed to drinking every day? How did he feel after switching to plant-based protein? Did he find it easier to digest than whey? Did he miss whey protein at all?

Stay tuned for answers to all these questions and to find out how Jake did on The No Whey Challenge in Part Two of this project!

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