What is whey protein?
Whey Protein is a collective term referring to a group of proteins found in milk. Some of these proteins are: Alpha-lactalbumin, Beta-lactoglobulin, Glycomacropeptide, Bovine Serum Albumin and Lactoferrin. In cow dairy whey makes up 20% of the protein while casein accounts for 80%. Whey is the by-product of cheese-making and the liquid whey is separated from the solid curd. The moisture is removed leaving the basic powder and this very raw, cheesy-tasting product can be purchased as bulk whey powder. Since this basic form is low in protein and contains lactose and some milk fats, a newer technology is used to produce a higher protein containing powder. Cross Flow Microfiltration (CFM) in a non-chemical process which removes the carbohydrates (lactose), milk fats and other dairy residues through ceramic-coated microfilters. This yields a protein that is intact and undenatured.
For those who are intolerant to milk it is typically the casein fraction that is causing the problem. Many are lactose intolerant and the good news is that whey protein isolate contains little or no lactose while the whey concentrate version is less pure containing 4-8% lactose. Whey is a complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) your body needs and is easy to digest.
What are the benefits of whey protein?
Many people can benefit from adding whey protein to their diet. Healthy, active adults who partake in resistance exercise may find that whey protein helps to improve body composition by helping to increase the rate at which the body makes lean muscle.
Whey protein may also help those trying to manage body weight because it is a natural and convenient way of adding protein to the diet. Diets high in protein have been shown to help people feel fuller longer, which may reduce the desire to snack or over-eat, leading to a more stable blood sugar regulation and metabolism. Higher protein (not excess though) diets have also been shown to improve the quality of weight loss by increasing the loss of body fat and/or reducing the loss of lean muscle. Furthermore, starting at about the age of forty there is a tendency for muscle mass to begin to decline and in addition to resistance exercise, including whey protein on a daily basis can be an easy and healthy way to help minimize this loss.
It is common when people hear about the benefits of whey to relate it to building/preserving muscle mass but it is important to recognize its importance to immune system health. As stated above whey is the name of a collective of protein fractions. Here is some of what these fractions do for you:
- Immunoglobulins – yield important antibodies, which directly benefit the immune system.
- Glycomacropeptides – contain sialic acid, a potent antiviral substance.
- Bovine Serum Albumin – is a very important precursor to glutathione which is the king of antioxidants and necessary for cellular detoxification.
Where do you find whey protein?
Whey protein isolate can be found in powders, drink mixes and energy bars. Products with whey protein as a major source of protein will list “whey protein isolate,” or “whey protein concentrate” near the beginning of the ingredients list. Whey protein powder is very convenient and can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, homemade protein bars and pancakes to name a few. After exercise it is important to consume some easy to digest protein within 30 minutes of completing the workout. Whey protein powder mixed with some juice or water is a great way to allow your muscles to recover. The ideal formula is 1 part protein to 2-3 parts carbohydrate and you will see some pre-mixed formulas that you just add water, shake and drink. Adding some whey protein isolate to a balanced diet is a great way to help you achieve your health goals.
We recommend Nutrients for Performance Berry Whey or Vanilla Whey Protein Isolate. Nutrients for Performance has designed this product to help active individuals of all levels reach their health goals naturally.