What is whey protein?
Whey protein is a high quality protein powder from cow's milk. Milk has two proteins: Casein (approximately 80%) and Whey Protein (approximately 20%). Whey protein is more soluble than casein and also has a higher quality rating. It is often referred to as the "Gold Standard" of protein as it is the most nutritious protein available.
How is whey protein made?
Whey protein is a co-product of the cheese making process. Listed below is a brief description of the steps involved in making [Only registered and activated users can see links. ].
Is there a difference between whey protein concentrate and isolate?
- Fresh milk is tested, approved by Quality Assurance experts and pasteurized.
- The casein, or "curd", and a portion of the milk-fat are separated out to make cheese.
- The remaining liquid whey goes through a series of fine, specialty filters to separate the whey protein from the lactose and other ingredients in the liquid whey.
- Concentrated liquid whey enters an ion exchange tower to further concentrate and purify the whey protein. Ion exchange is a gentle process and does not denature, or "break down", the whey protein.
- Next, the product enters a drying tower to remove water.
- The final step is to package the pure whey protein isolate powder into various size containers for use.
Yes, there may be a large difference between the two. Whey protein isolate is the most pure and concentrated form of whey protein available. It contains 90% or more protein and very little (if any) fat and lactose. Whey protein concentrate has anywhere between 29% and 89% protein depending upon the product. As the protein level in whey protein concentrate decreases the amounts of fat and/or lactose usually increase.
Why do I need protein?
Protein is an important nutrient needed by everyone of a daily basis. It is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids, which are the "building blocks" for healthy bodies. Protein has a number of different roles in the body including the following:
How are essential and non-essential amino acids different?
- Repair body cells
- Build and repair muscles and bones
- Provide a source of energy
- Control many of the important processes in the body related to metabolism
The body is able to make non-essential amino acids from other amino acids in the body. However, the body is not able to make essential amino acids and the only way to get them is by eating high quality protein foods. Protein sources that contain all of the essential amino acids are called complete proteins. Whey protein is a naturally complete protein.
How much protein does a person need each day?
Protein needs vary by person depending upon age, weight, sex, activity level and overall health. Athletes and individuals with special medical needs often need more protein than the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA.
Is whey protein good for athletes and people who exercise?
Whey protein is a high quality, complete protein, with all the essential amino acids. Whey protein is also the richest known source of naturally occurring branched chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine). These are important for active individuals, individuals who exercise and professional athletes. The body requires higher amounts of branched chain amino acids during and following exercise as they are taken up directly by the skeletal muscles versus first being metabolized through the liver, like other amino acids. Low BCAA levels contribute to fatigue and they should be replaced in one-hour or less following exercise or participation in a competitive event. Many athletes consume a whey protein drink both before and immediately after exercise or an event to help repair and rebuild lean muscle tissue.
Is whey protein compatible with a low-carbohydrate diet?
Yes. Whey protein is not only compatible with low-carbohydrate diets it is an ideal choice. Be sure to select whey protein isolate which provides high quality protein without the carbohydrates and fat often limited in low carbohydrate diets.
Will whey protein help me lose weight?
Adding whey protein to the diet is a great way to jump-start a weight loss program. Whey protein is a key ingredient in numerous weight loss and meal replacement products and whey protein isolate (with no fat or carbohydrates) is often the preferred choice. Studies have found that individuals who combine diets with leucine rich protein foods, like whey protein, and exercise have more lean muscle tissue and they lose more body fat. As they lose fat their metabolic rate increases and they naturally burn more calories each day. Another way that whey protein helps manage weight is by promoting satiety, or a feeling of fullness. One recent study showed that whey protein was superior to casein, the other protein in cow's milk, in promoting satiety.
Is whey protein a good protein choice following bariatric weight loss surgery?
Following bariatric surgery it is important to follow a special diet designed by a physician and/or nutrition professional. Protein plays an essential role in that diet as it is the primary food source following surgery. Inadequate amounts may contribute to hair loss, muscle loss, and poor skin tone. Whey protein isolate is an excellent protein choice post surgery as it is very easy to digest and efficiently absorbed into the body. It doesn't sit in the stomach for long periods of time like beef and other protein foods that may upset the system.
How does whey protein compare to other types of proteins?
Whey protein is a very high quality complete protein with rich amounts of all the essential amino acids. Whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey protein, which is why it is absorbed so quickly and efficiently into the body.
How does whey protein compare to soy protein?
Here are some of the differences between whey protein and soy protein.
- Whey protein is a nutritionally complete protein. It contains bioactive ingredients, like immunoglobulins and lactoferrin that help support the immune system.
- Athletes prefer whey protein to soy protein due to its rich abundance of branched chain amino acids and its quick absorption rate. These are important to help repair and rebuild muscles after a workout or competitive event.
- Whey protein has a fresh, neutral taste compared and will not change the taste of foods you add it to.
- Whey protein does not contain isoflavones or any other components with potential hormonal effects.
I eat a lot of fish, chicken, eggs, soy and beef. Why do I still need whey protein?
Healthy diets should regularly include high quality, low fat sources of protein, like whey protein. Calories do count and you want to make sure that you are getting the most benefit from the calories you consume. Compared to other proteins, on a gram-to-gram basis whey protein isolate delivers more essential amino acids to the body but without the fat or cholesterol. Nutrition experts recommend a diet with a variety of protein foods but for optimal results make sure that one of them is whey protein.
Can I get enough whey protein by drinking milk?
Milk is a highly nutritious beverage however; it only contains about 1% of whey protein. In order to get all the benefits of whey protein, you need to take a concentrated whey protein powder like whey protein isolate.
Are all whey proteins the same?
No. There may be a major difference in the quality of whey protein based upon the following factors:
Is whey protein easy to digest?
- Source of Milk
- Production Method
- Type of Cheese Produced
- Individual Manufacturer Specifications
- Added Ingredients
Whey protein is a soluble, very easy to digest protein. It quickly enters the body to provide the important essential amino acids needed to nourish muscles and other body tissues. This is one of the reasons it is a common ingredient in infant formula and protein supplements for medical use.
If I'm lactose intolerant should I avoid whey protein?
Individuals with lactose intolerance should select a pure whey protein isolate, which has less than 0.1 gram of lactose per tablespoon (20 grams). This is less lactose than the amount found in a cup of yogurt and research has shown that most people with lactose intolerance have no trouble taking this very small amount of lactose. Individuals with lactose intolerance should avoid whey protein concentrates as they usually contain lactose and the amount can vary greatly from product to product.
Is whey protein a good choice for vegetarians?
Yes, whey protein is an excellent choice for vegetarians who include dairy products in their diet.
Does whey protein contain gluten or wheat protein?
No, pure whey protein does not contain any gluten. However, protein bars and beverages often contain gluten so always check the product ingredient label prior to purchase if it is not allowed in your diet.
What are the side effects of taking whey protein?
There are no documented side effects provided a person does not have an allergy to dairy proteins or does not need to restrict dairy products for medical reasons. If you are allergic to dairy proteins please consult with a physician prior to consuming any type of whey protein.
Is whey protein safe for pregnant women and children?
Whey protein is a complete high quality protein and should be an acceptable protein source for healthy pregnant women and children, provided they are not allergic to dairy proteins. The second most abundant component in whey protein is alpha-lactalbumin, which is one of the main whey proteins in human breast milk. Infant formulas often contain whey protein, including special formulas for premature infants. Prior to taking whey protein, both pregnant women and parents of young children should their GP to be sure whey protein is right for them.