Whey protein has become a staple in kitchens everywhere. It offers a healthy, clean source of protein in a convenient powder form. But what exactly is WHEY?
Whey is one of two proteins found in cow's milk. The other is Casein, another very popular, slower digesting protein. Have you ever noticed the liquid floating at the top of a yogurt container?
Companies have found ways to isolate that liquid, then freeze dry it and turn it into powder form. The results have been a huge boon for the fitness industry.
Now people can get their daily protein without necessarily cooking multiple meals every day. Protein is essential for strong bones as well as lean muscle mass.
A healthy individual should aim for around .5 grams of protein per pound of weight. Athletes and bodybuilders will usually opt for 1 gram to 2 grams per pound. There is some debate on how much protein a human can digest at a time, but since whey is already basically digested, the body should absorb it quickly.
Most protein powders will contain about 20-25 grams per scoop. Some will claim more but usually the serving size is bigger, so WATCH YOUR LABELS!
This amount has been shown to be extremely helpful in aiding muscle repair and since it is digested quickly, it acts as a quick repair for muscle breakdown.
FORMS OF WHEY PROTEIN
This is one of the original forms on the market. Concentrate is usually around 80% protein and will contain some fat and carbs. In recent years it was pushed to the back burner because people opted for Isolate, which is closer to pure protein.
This is a debatable subject and I am personally partial to Concentrate. For one, it is cheaper and less processed. Since there is less processing, the protein keeps many of the smaller healthy particles intact.
Also look for terms such as Cold-Processed. This means the whey is treated at lower temperatures which won't destroy the important subparticles.
This is one of the more popular forms right now. In this form, the lactose, fat, and carbs are virtually gone. All that is left is pure protein. To do this, the whey must undergo extra processing and in the end, many of the other healthy particles in whey are destroyed. Isolate is also significantly more expensive.
Hydroslate is a form of whey that is basically pre-digested. This means it will be easily absorbed by the body. It also involves more processing and that may effect your stance on it. I personally do not believe these products that use extra processing are worth the extra cost.
It makes up about 80% of the milk protein and is much more dense than whey. Casein is considered the "slow digesting" supplement and many people take it at night to feed the body during sleep.
In recent years more technical processing has surfaced and Casein has become an extremely high quality, highly available protein for the body. Despite being a bit slower to digest, it is still a great option post workout, despite claims that Isolate is better. Casein has become more expensive in recent years (like all popular proteins) so be aware of the serving cost.
Whey protein is a perfect supplement for those looking to help with sports nutrition, or simply supplement their dietary needs.
In my opinion, Concentrate and Casein are the best options on the market. Isolate and other forms are great as well, but not necessarily worth the cost. Don't get me wrong, Isolate is fantastic, just be mindful when considering cost. Look for Cross-Flow Filtration and Cold Processedforms to increase the quality of the final product, especially in Isolates. This keeps the smaller particles in-tact.
Avoid products that include Ion-Exchanged whey.
WHEY PROTEIN BENEFITS
Whey protein is extremely popular and has undergone extensive testing.
As long as a person doesn't have lactose issues, the benefits of whey are extensive. Whey is quick digesting which is perfect for post-workout recovery. It flushes the muscles with amino acids and protein to help rebuild. Whey also contains many helpful enzymes and molecules that aid in digestion and healthy functioning of the GI tract.
There have also been some promising studies that show whey may help lower risk for cancer, reduce inflammation in the body, lower cholesterol, and aid in weight loss.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Since Whey and Casein are dairy products, they will contain lactose. This could be an issue for people with dairy food issues.
There are many forms of protein on the market these days and navigating the different kinds can be difficult. I will outline the different forms so you can make the best decision possible for your goals.