Benefits of Whey Protein - Ultimate Guide to Whey Protein Supplements

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Protein is probably the first supplement that you would have bought and everyone knows that there are numerous benefits of whey protein

 In fact, as you'll come to know, it's not right to call whey a supplement because it occurs in food and is a food source that can help you get your daily protein intake. It not only is high in it's biological value but because it comes with anabolic properties because of Leucine, it should be the basic supplement that everyone has. This guide teaches you the nuances of Whey Protein Powder and everything you need to know to start supplementing with it to make delicious Whey Protein Shakes.

 

Table of Contents

1. What is Whey? Where does it come from?
2. Types of Whey protein and production
3. How does Whey Protein work?
4. Benefits of Whey Protein
5. Side effects of Whey Protein
6. References

 

What is Whey? Where does it come from?

Whey Protein is a derivative of animal milk and the term ''Whey'' refers to milk serum. Most milk protein has 20% whey and 80% Casein in it. Whey protein furthermore, is a complete source of protein, meaning it has all 9 essential amino acids though unlike Casein it is soluble in water. A good indicator to noticing a good whey protein supplement is that it readily mixes well with water. Whey can be found in food sources like cheese, milk, cream, yogurt, and even bread, cookies and crackers use whey in their production!

 

Types of Whey Protein and Production

Whey contains protein, minute amounts of fats and carbohydrates and minerals and lactose. Though there are different filtration methods to extract Whey, it is essentially a bi-product of cheese and those different filtration systems such as micro-filtration and ion exchange usually yield three kinds of Whey protein:

  1. Whey Protein Concentrate or WPC
  2. Whey Protein Isolate or WPI
  3. Whey Protein Hydrolysate

Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)- This type of protein usually refers to any protein that is less than 90% protein by weight and is usually produced via ultra filtration. Do note that even a supplement containing 20% protein will be define as a WPC. A good way to check is to read the ingredient profile to see which ingredients come first. The latter an ingredient on the list means there is little if negligible quantity of it. Hence if 60% or WPC85 (the industry standard) means that 85% of the protein is WPC and the rest of it is lactose or milk derivatives, minerals and fats. WPC supplements are generally cheaper in monetary value and thus have an advantage for those on a budget. The disadvantage here being that WPC supplements are not as bioavailable as WPI (Whey protein Isolate) and have lactose in them, meaning if you're lactose intolerant you're pretty much stuck with WPI.

Best Selling Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Supplements:

1. MuscleBlaze Whey Active Protein

2. Scitec Nutrition 100% Whey Protein

3. NutraPro 100% Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)- Whey Protein Isolate is the purest form of protein that goes through complex filtration process to eliminate all traces of lactose and fats. The goal as opposed to WPC is to get a protein that is 90% or higher in protein. Innovative techniques such as ion exchange(1) are used here to get the most pure protein powder there is. The upside of this being that all lactose intolerant people can have this and you're getting the purest form of protein there is. The downside obviously being that they are low in taste due to a lack of Fats and Carbohydrates and often expensive.

Best Selling Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) Supplements:

1. MuscleBlaze Whey Protein Isolate

2. Dymatize ISO 100

3. Nature's Best ISOPURE Zero Carb

Whey Protein Hydrolysate/Blends- Are essentially the most popular whey protein supplements. They are a blend of WPI and WPC that is produced by enzymatic hydrolysis(2) or "pre-digestion" i.e. separating enzymes to accelerate the digestion. These proteins generally lie in the middle of the cost aspect meaning that if a blend contains more Isolate than Concentrate, it'll be more expensive and vice versa. The only drawback here is that these supplements can be misleading in their ratios of WPI:WPC. A general way to look at things is the nutrition label. Whichever ingredient comes first in the profile, the supplement will mostly comprise of that. That will determine not only the best and worst whey protein but give you the knowledge to create your own whey protein reviews.

Best Selling Whey Protein Blends:

1. MuscleBlaze Whey Protein

2. Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard

3. Dymatize Elite Whey Protein

 

How does Whey Protein work?

Proteins are one of the essential macronutrients that your body requires, apart from fats and carbohydrates and these proteins are made from Amino Acids. Amino acids being the building blocks of muscle are needed not only then, to build muscle but for other bodily functions such as brain metabolism, cardiovascular function, immune system function etc.(3)

Ingesting Whey protein is helpful because it is a complete source of protein containing all 9 essential amino acids(4), most importantly leucine. Leucine is the most anabolic of all amino acids, meaning it is the key amino acid that is responsible for muscle building and thus serves as a key supplement to people who are looking to build muscle and improve the structure and composition of their overall physique. 

Contrary to popular belief, not every Whey Protein Supplement is bland and needs to be taken as medicine. Protein shakes are delicious and even some isolates which taste like brownie and cakes! There has been a lot of talk of the timing to take your shakes. Personally I believe a whey protein supplement can be taken anytime as per your convenience but do remember to take it first thing in the morning with breakfast and after your workout to recover and rebuild your muscles. 

I truly believe that there is no hard and fast rule regarding protein consumption. You can get it from whey, animal sources like chicken or even vegetarian sources like nuts and broccoli. Use a whey protein supplement as frequently as you would like so that you hit your daily macronutrient intake. As a rule of thumb do try going for 1gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.

Whey Protein

Benefits of Whey Protein

The people who obviously can benefit from using whey are gym goers who are looking for a way to accelerate the recovery process and build more muscle mass to improve their overall physique but that doesn't mean that there aren't other people who can't use it. Apart from bodybuilders and avid gym goers, Whey can be used by competitive athletes, vegetarians looking to increase their protein supplement intake and anyone else that is looking to increase their overall protein content.

Other Whey Protein benefits include the ease and convenience with which it can be fitted in a diet, it helps maintain muscle mass and prevent age-related muscular wastage (5), boosts insulin sensitivity and enhances fat loss(6), so whey protein for weight loss is indeed possible, and most importantly enhances immune system functionality(7) of the already healthy. That's a whole lot of benefits, not to mention they can also help you in your sugar cravings!

The most important benefit of Whey, in my perspective is that it is the most bioavailable protein source. Period. What is bioavailability? Well it is the practical measurement that assesses the degree to which an animal can utilize that protein. It is derived by assessing nitrogen retention in the animal after ingesting the said source (8). Below is a table that shows Whey protein against some common food sources for protein(9):

Protein SourceBioavailability of Source
Whey Protein Isolate/Concentrate104-159
Whole Egg100
Milk91
Cheese84
Fish82
Chicken79
Soy74
Casein71
Peanuts68
Yogurt68
Egg White88
Oatmeal58

 

Side effects of Whey Protein

Whey protein is always easy on the stomach but that doesn't mean there aren't any side effects of whey protein for a special few. Whey Protein side effects do include stomach upset, bloating, passing gas, increased bowel movements and allergies. However there are two precautionary measures you need to take before you start supplementing with Whey:

1. Get yourself checked for any allergies and make sure you're not lactose intolerant (and if you are then only go for Whey Isolate)

2. Re-check your total protein intake with the allocated whey to make sure you're not going overboard

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