More people than ever, especially people in the bodybuilding and performance enhancement circles, and even those looking to improve their physical performance, are turning to whey protein and making it part of the nutrition regimen. As we learn and understand more about whey protein, it opens up the possibility for more applications.
The only problem is that it can seem difficult to choose the right whey protein for your needs. That is why you must first understand just what whey protein is, what makes it good for you, and the different kinds of whey protein you can buy on the market.
A Brief Overview of Whey Protein
Whey protein are primarily globular proteins extracted from the liquid byproduct of creating cheese. When milk is processed and turned into cheese, it creates two components; the solid casein and the liquid whey.
Both of these are proteins but many consider whey protein to be more beneficial than casein because casein has a higher potential to be an allergen. Whey also has a stronger concentration of essential amino acids, branched-chain amino acids, and other substances fuelling the health benefits of whey protein.
What Makes it Good For You
Bodybuilders, professional athletes, and fitness enthusiasts alike have long been using whey protein to improve their overall muscle mass, and improve the tone and strength of their muscles. Protein is the essential building block of the human body, particularly when it comes to transmitting genetic information between cells, giving protein the power to create new cells. Almost everything in the body is made of – or by – proteins.
Another benefit of whey protein is enhancing the immune system. It does this by providing essential immunoglobins needed to fight infections. The immune system needs cysteine, lactoferrin, and methionine in order to function properly.
Whey proteins are also known to benefit weight loss efforts. It takes the body longer to digest and process proteins such as whey protein compared to carbohydrates and fats. As such, protein products and foods leave you feeling fuller for longer. This helps control your appetite by reducing hunger cravings, which can lead to weight loss.
Thanks to the cysteine and glycine content of whey protein, it is also a potent antioxidant. These two amino acids are needed to stimulate the synthesis of glutathione; one of the natural antioxidants the body produces to eliminate free radicals and undo the damage they do to the body.
Different Kinds of Whey Protein
Whey protein is obviously beneficial to the health-conscious society we live in today. Unfortunately, not all whey protein is created equal. There are three main kinds of whey protein in the current market. The different forms of whey protein are characterized by their composition of protein, lactose, and fats. The higher the concentration of protein, the less of the other components it contains.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is the form of protein with the highest concentration of proteins; stocking an impressive 90-95% protein. These products are great for people who suffer from lactose intolerance because there is very little – if any – lactose content at all. It also has barely any fat at all, which is why it is the most effective, but expensive, form of whey protein. Whey protein isolate is often found in protein beverages, bars, supplements, and other products.
Whey Protein Concentrate
This form of whey protein has between 25% – 89% protein, but they will typically have around 80% protein. They also contain between 4 and 52% of lactose and between 1 and 9% of fat. This form of whey protein is usually found in protein bars and beverages, bakery products, infant formula, confectionary products, and other nutritious food products.
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
This is a kind of whey protein with a higher concentration than that of whey protein concentrate; with protein levels typically between 80 and 90%. It also has between 0.5 and 8% fat content and between 0.5 and 10% lactose content.
Hydrolyzed whey products are a great choice for people with malabsorption syndromes that prevent them from properly digesting certain kinds of food molecules. This form of whey protein is also a safe choice for people with hypersensitivity reactions.
Hydrolyzed whey protein contains protein that is already broken down or hydrolysed into smaller molecules called peptides. This process doesn’t impact the quality or the nutritional value of the whey protein. This form of whey protein is primarly found in infant formulas, medical nutrition products, and sports nutrition products.
There is one more kind of whey protein product; known as the undenatured whey protein. This is similar to whey protein concentrate, but it contains more immunoglobins and less essential and branched-chain amino acids. This means that it is best for people who have infections or are in an immunocompromised state.
Choosing the Right One For You
Now you know the different forms of whey protein out there to choose from, and what each formulation contains, you’re ready for the next step of the journey; choosing the right whey protein for you. We’ve got some tips to help you do just that.
If you’re looking to build, tone, and strengthen your muscles then you should get a whey protein formulation with a high concentration of leucine, valine, and isoleucine branched-chain amino acids. These essential amino acids – which are technically amino acids despite having a branched side chain attached – are known to stimulate the synthesis of muscle protein.
To put it simply; they stimulate the production and growth of muscle cells and tissues, strengthening them in the process. Leucine and isoleucine are also known to regulate glucose uptake in cells which helps to manage a hyperglycemic state. We recommend combining high quality whey protein with anabolic supplements to get the best effects.
If you’re looking to use whey protein because it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunity-boosting benefits then you need a whey protein rich in glutamine, cysteine, and methionine, along with alpha-lactalalbumin and lactoferrin. They all provide powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
If you have a lactose intolerance, then you should find a whey protein product with as little lactose as possible. As such, a whey protein isolate product would be best for you. If you have a certain kind of allergy, then you may want to choose a hydrolysed whey protein formulation because it has the peptide form of proteins rather than large protein molecules. It is also easy to digest.
Choosing the right whey protein for you is a matter of understanding just what you need from the whey protein. Combine your understanding of what you need with an understanding of what you can get from different whey protein products, and you’ll be well on the way to choosing the best whey protein and reaching your health and fitness goals.