Does Cooking Protein Powder Destroy or Denature it?

Does Cooking Protein Powder Destroy Or Denature It
Written by The Protein Chef

If you’ve ever wondered if cooking with protein powder destroys or denatures it, is safe, or have needed another reason to make protein cheesecake more apart of your life then you’ve come to the right place! By the end of this article you’ll (hopefully) have the simplified answers to all of these questions!

The question I get asked the most is that if heating up the protein powder destroys it. Whether baking, microwaving, or sunbathing with it, leaving it in a hot car, or anything else short of lighting it on fire…the short answer is (drum roll) NO!

Now you might be asking “why?”, so let me do my best to simplify this answer. To understand why you must first understand what protein powder is. Whatever type of protein powder you use whether it’s whey, casein, egg, soy, and so on, it’s all going to be the same thing. For example, whey protein comes from the by-product of the cheese making process, egg protein is made from pasteurized egg whites that have been dehydrated, soy protein is a protein that is isolated from soybean, and the list goes on. So what is this same thing? They are all REAL digestible food. I think some people quickly forget this! It’s a supplement so they think that it’s some type of magical food that’s not real, which isn’t the case at all. Protein powder is real food just like chicken that we bake, meals we microwave, and jerky or dehydrated foods we leave in the car. Heating up protein powder does not destroy it at all.

Another popular question I get asked a lot is if cooking with protein powder denatures it at all. This one is a bit more complicated so before I give you the answer I’ll do my best to help you understand it. First off, denaturing here is basically the changing of the protein structure which YOUR BODY DOES ANYWAYS. Imagine your protein as a rope with various knots in it and the knots are your amino acids Those knots becoming untied means they are becoming denatured. If the protein powder was a rubix cube and you “denatured” it then you would essentially be rearranging the colors. In this case, cooking protein powder DOES denature it, the structure changes when the protein powder is heated. Is this bad? No, not at all! The same thing happens to meat, eggs, soybeans, and so on. Even though the structure has changed, the nutritional value remains the same. If your protein powder is 129 calories per serving with 1 gram of fat, 5 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein then it’s going to be exactly that even after cooking it. The only factor that’s going to change is sometimes digestion. When protein powder is mixed with water it’s going to digest much faster than when baked with something like rolled oats that take much longer to digest but at the end of the day you’re not losing ANY nutritional value. Imagine denaturing is a slinky of amino acids and it becomes untangled. You can still eat the slinky (don’t actually eat a slinky!) and you’re still going to absorb it all.

So is cooking with protein powder safe? Now that you hopefully understand the simplified answers to if cooking with protein powder destroys or denatures it I think we can be certain that cooking with protein powder is 100% safe. If you can bake meats or cook eggs on the stove top, you can without question cook protein powder.

To sum everything up…cooking with protein powder doesn’t destroy it, it does denature it, and it is 100% safe! So go bake some protein bars, cheesecake, cookies, make some protein oatmeal, or anything else your sweet tooth desires.

About the author

The Protein Chef

Derek Howes is a personal trainer and chef with over a decade of experience in the gym and kitchen. Derek, who is also known as The Protein Chef on his blog and YouTube channel shows his viewers every week that food doesn’t need to be boring or repetitive, it’s all about balance, moderation, and having the knowledge to change things up. His recipes which have been featured in the news, magazines, and on TV are cheap, quick, AND delicious! His motto in life is “everything in moderation” and is without question the most important habit he follows.

10 Comments

  • Anyone that believes heating protein powder renders it unusable needs to read some rudimentary physiology/biochemistry. Realize that denaturing protein is 100% NECESSARY for digestion. Your body can’t absorb PROTEIN, it absorbs the AMINO ACIDS that made up the protein. Protein molecules are HUGE, and could never be absorbed through the GI tract. Therefore, they MUST be broken down. Not even mentioning that the pH of the solution used that produces the whey solution is <5. For all you guys that wonder exactly what that means, it's over 100X more acidic than neutral and less than 1 thousandth as acidic as your stomach (acid/base denatures protein, too, BTW–probably quicker than heat).

    If you're going to build a brick wall from an old brick wall and said materials had to be brought through a door/window, would breaking that wall up into the bricks, passing it through the door/window render the bricks unusable? That's what digestion does: breaks the wall into the bricks so your body can use them on the other side of the door/window.

    Also realize that cooking eggs actually makes the protein MORE bioavailable. That's also the reason we cook meat. It's easier to digest.

    Good article D.

    /Rant 😉

  • I am a baker so glad to see your wonderful video! Got the answer I was looking for. The owner of Health Club and an eye surgeon working out was not sure of the answer, when asked does cooking protein powder reduce its effectiveness. Loved your example about cooking meat and eggs still renders the protein value. Please do not sell or give out my email address.

  • I started getting stomach cramping from my plant based, dairy free protein shake…I decided to make brownies from the same powder to see if digesting the protein cooked would be easier on my stomach. From reading your post I see it may have an effect…will let you know, I did cut the portion in half to test it out.

  • Thanks for this understanding. I have used protein shakes for breakfast for quite a while. In the current deep freeze, (I live in the Midwest)…I decided to heat my morning shake…Hot Chocolate!! So much better when wind chills are -35 to -40. Just needed to know it was okay & benefits would remain.

  • I was searching for this info online for ages, and getting both answers re egg white powder. I haven’t found much scientific info, but it would make sense the way you put it. Thanks!

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