Whether you’re an athlete, a gym-pro or you’re just beginning your fitness journey, you’ll know that protein is one of the most important nutrients you can consume.Not only do we source protein from foods such as fish, chicken, eggs and chickpeas, but whey protein supplements are quickly becoming a popular option.
Protein is an important nutrient for several reasons; it can increase muscle mass, help with weight management and boost strength — just to name a few.However, not all proteins are made equal.
We don’t like to play favourites, but when it comes to protein, whey protein takes the top spot.
So, what is whey protein? We explain in this guide.
What is Whey Protein?
Strangely, whey protein is actually a component of dairy milk.
Milk is mostly made up of water, vitamins, carbs and two proteins: casein and whey (80% and 20%, respectively).
Whey is found in the watery part of the milk; that liquid you see at the top of your yoghurt? Yep, that’s where you’ll find whey.
Whey is separated from the other milk components during the cheese-making process. It’s a complete protein in its own right, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids our bodies need but cannot produce on their own.
After being separated during cheese production, whey is taken through several steps to become the powder that we consume in our supplement shakes.
If you’re not getting enough protein from your diet, a whey protein supplement is a great way to boost your protein intake.
What is Whey Protein Isolate? Whey Protein Isolate vs Concentrate
This is where things can seem a bit complicated — there are actually three types of whey protein.
It’s important to understand how the three differ so that you can make an informed decision about which type of whey protein you consume.
The difference between whey protein isolate, hydrolysate and concentrate comes down to how they are produced.
- Whey Concentrate – Whey concentrate contains around 85% protein. It contains the most nutrients of the three and also contains some lactose and fat, which improves its taste.
- Whey Protein Isolate – Whey protein isolate contains around 90% protein and less lactose and fats than whey concentrate. It also contains fewer nutrients than concentrate, but a high percentage of protein.
- Whey Hydrolysate – Whey hydrolysate is pre-digested, meaning it absorbs faster. However, it also causes a 28 to 43% higher spike in insulin than the other two whey proteins.
The general consensus is that whey concentrate is the best option. It’s the most affordable protein and has the most nutrients. It also tastes the best, which definitely wins it some (protein) brownie points.
If you want to keep your carbohydrate intake low or if you suffer from lactose intolerance, whey protein isolate might be a better option for you. However, most of our BSc Whey Supplements contain 5 x digestive enzymes, DigeZyme®, which break down lactose from dairy products. This makes it easier for your stomach to digest, therefore reducing discomfort.
What Does Whey Protein Do?
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There are several proven benefits of consuming whey protein, but perhaps there are two especially notable advantages: whey protein can increase muscle mass and help with weight management.
Can Support Muscle Strength and Growth
Whey protein is best known for supporting muscle strength and growth. This explains why it’s so popular among bodybuilders and lifters.
Whey protein provides the body with protein and amino acids, otherwise known as the building blocks of muscle growth. Whey is high in leucine, which is the amino acid responsible for stimulating muscle protein synthesis at a genetic level.
Its fast absorption is also what makes whey protein adept at increasing strength. The protein is most effective when taken close to your session — either right before, right after, or during your workout.
When compared to other types of protein (think soy protein), whey fares better at increasing muscle mass.
Can Increase Satiety and Aid Weight Management
What is whey protein’s effect on weight management, you ask?
Whey protein promotes satiety (the feeling of fullness), which in turn can help with weight management.
It’s been proven that protein can boost energy expenditure by 80 to 100 calories per day and reduce caloric intake by 441 calories per day.
According to studies, consuming protein for 25% of your daily calories reduces hunger cravings by 60%.
So, replacing other types of calories with whey alongside a strength training routine can help with weight management and an increase in lean muscle mass.
Does Whey Protein Contain Lactose?
All three types of whey protein contain different amounts of lactose.
Lactose is the sugar found in milk that is broken down by an enzyme called lactase. Around 44% of the Australian population suffers from lactose intolerance, symptoms of which include digestive upset, diarrhoea, vomiting and gas.
Whey concentrate has the highest lactose content of the three protein types. If you’re lactose intolerant, it’s recommended that you opt for whey protein isolate, which contains much less lactose than its concentrated counterpart.
Working Out with Whey: A Recipe for Success
Now that you know what whey protein is, you can make an informed choice about whether or not to add it to your supplement rotation.
Whey protein can help increase muscle mass and strength while aiding weight management and promoting satiety.
Remember, whey concentrate is the most effective of all three types of whey protein, but isolate is an excellent alternative for our lactose-intolerant friends.