Whey protein has become very popular in the last couple of decades. Before this, this key protein was only known to bodybuilders. There has been a lot of research done around whey, mainly because there are hundreds of companies out there trying to profit from its many benefits. With all the buzz created around whey lately, more and more people are aware of its existence and the potential benefits of consuming it. Here are the 5 most commonly asked questions about it, and the corresponding answers.
What is whey protein?
Whey protein is one of the proteins found in milk. There are two kinds of protein in milk, whey and casein. Whey is a byproduct of the manufacturing of cheese. When milk curdles the strained curds become cheese, the remaining yellowish liquid is the whey (a mixture of protein, fat, lactose, water, etc).
Whey has become highly sought after because it has a very high biological value (BV). “Biological Value” is how the quality of a protein is measured. It shows the portion of the protein that is absorbed and incorporated into the muscles of the person that consumes it. Before whey protein came into the market eggs were the standard source of protein for bodybuilders due to the high quality of their protein and therefore the Biological Value of eggs was set to 100. The BV of whey concentrate is 104, the BV of whey isolate is 156!!. Whey is now considered the “Gold Standard” of proteins.
Are all whey proteins the same?
As stated above, the BV of whey concentrate is 104, while the BV of whey isolate is 156. So no, not all whey proteins are the same. Actually, there are 3 main kinds of it in the market: – Concentrate – Isolate – Hydrolized
What’s the difference between Concentrate, Isolate, and Hydrolized Whey Proteins?
Well… They all come from whey, however, for a product to say that it has whey protein concentrate, the whey they use must have in between 25% and 89% of actual protein (other substances may be lactose, fat, water, etc).
Whey protein isolate must contain between 90% and 95% of actual protein (which means that it has very little, if any, lactose and fat).
Now, hydrolyzed whey protein is whey protein that has been put through the process of hydrolysis. During hydrolysis the protein is broken down into smaller segments called peptides. These segments are digested a lot easier.
Because hydrolyzed protein is so easy to digest and it is almost non-allergenic (since it has no lactose, casein or fat), it is used in infant formulas and nutrition products. HOWEVER, be cautious when using any hydrolyzed products especially if you are sensitive to MSG. While it may seem that this is the best protein option, do some research before buying anything that has been processed. Any hydrolyzed protein contains MSG!!! Yes, you read it right. (I was outraged when I discovered that since I have a baby and I was looking for suitable formula.)
My conclusion here is that unless you are highly allergic to lactose or casein or milk fat, whey isolate is the better choice. It is not altered or broken down by any kind of process and it is definitely a better source of protein than its concentrate counterpart.
How much protein does one need to consume each day?
The daily recommended amount of protein for adults over the age of 25 is in between 50 and 60 grams, depending on gender and weight. However, this recommendation does not provide for someone who is highly active or who is trying to increase their muscle mass. The general consensus among bodybuilders and exercise professionals is that you should consume between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Will whey protein help me lose weight?
The answer is yes and no. There is a study that shows that people who supplemented their diet and exercise routines with whey protein lost more body fat than those on the same diet and exercise program but without the supplement. The study shows that both groups lost the same amount of weight, but the weight loss from people who supplemented with whey was almost exclusively fat, whereas the other group lost a combination of body fat and muscle mass. This great protein prevents muscle breakdown and promotes muscle regeneration.
Whey protein has become one of the best supplements to lose weight and/or to gain muscle mass. There are tons of products out there that have whey in one form or another.