Over the years whey protein has become more popular than ever. This
supplement was once used mainly by bodybuilders and athletes because they
understood that it was a great source of protein with many other benefits.
Whey protein has now caught the attention of many other groups that are not
related to fitness and exercise, as modern-day science is discovering that this
supplement has more to offer than just building muscle.
As more and more people discover the benefits of whey protein, the question “what
is whey protein” is becoming more popular than ever and in this article, you
will discover what whey protein is and how it can benefit you.
Whey Protein in More Detail…
Whey protein is a supplement that supplies your body with high quality
protein. The reason why the protein in whey is high-quality, is because it
contains all the essential as well as non-essential amino acids in high doses
and whey is classed as a complete protein source.
What Are Amino Acids?
They are extremely important building blocks for the body that are found in
protein and whey protein contains all of the 20 types of amino acids. Any
protein source that has all 20 aminos as well as being high in essential
aminos, is classed as a complete protein source.
When you consume protein, your body’s protease enzymes needs to break down
protein into amino acids so it can use them for whatever the body decides it
needs them for, whether that be building muscle or general bodily functions.
When it comes to consuming protein the mistake most people make is simply
looking at the total amount of protein provided, if you consume 100 g of
protein that are high in non-essential amino acids, you will not get the full
benefits of protein compared to consuming 100 g of protein that is high in
essential and non-essential amino acids.
Essential amino acids are extremely important for bodily functions and they
must be supplied to your body through external sources such as protein rich
foods and supplements as your body cannot produce these essential amino acids
on its own.
If you fail to give your body enough essential amino acids, your body will
look to break down and use the protein stored in your muscles. If you’re trying
to build muscle, this is the last thing you want to happen.
If you don’t have enough stored amino acids in your muscles and failed to
supply your body with enough essential amino acids you can run into some
serious health problems.
Let’s have a look at the 9 essential amino acids and see how they affect the
If you’re looking to build muscle then this is amino acid you cannot go
without. This is known as the most anabolic amino acid that is responsible
for building new muscle and helping you recover after exercise. This is
amino acid is very potent at stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This
amino acid also regulates blood sugar and helps to supply the body with
energy. This amino acid is extremely important for brain function and
helping the rest of your body heal. When you buy whey protein you need to
make sure it contains 2+ grams of Leucine per scoop.
This amino acid is similar to Leucine when it comes to building muscle,
but not as potent as Leucine. But where this amino acid does excel is in
its ability to significantly increase glucose uptake into your muscle
cells, this means your body becomes more effective at producing energy
when you require it. This amino acid is also extremely important for the
regulation of blood sugar levels.
This is another amino acid that plays an important role in building
muscle, but its main benefits are: enhancing your muscle performance
by improving your muscular strength and stamina, this amino acid can help
improve muscle recovery and reduce muscle atrophy thanks to its ability to
maintain the levels of nitrogen in the body.
This is an important amino acid that affects serotonin levels positively.
This amino acid can help improve your mood, sleep as well as your
This amino acid plays a key role in the growth and maintenance of muscle
tissue as it can help reduce the rate of protein degeneration thanks to
its ability to reduce catabolism within the body. This amino acid can also
help with reducing fat as it helps convert fatty acids into energy. This
amino acid can also help you have a healthy, better functioning immune
system by helping to manufacturer important antibodies needed by your
This amino acid is known to help improve performance in workouts that are
short but extremely intense, think of 1 rep max training. It does this by
helping your body make creatine, which is responsible for providing fuel
to your muscles when they are being put under stress from working out.
This amino acid is responsible for keeping your connective tissue and
muscles strong and elastic, speed up wound healing, help with injury
recovery and helps build healthy bones.
This amino acid is very beneficial for a healthy nervous system, it helps
to improve your focus and concentration, memory and learning, helps with
depression and appetite loss.
This amino acid plays an important role in the development and maintenance
of healthy tissue within the body
Another great thing about whey protein is that it has a high biological
value, this means that your body will absorb the majority of the protein that
you consume form whey protein supplements. Some foods have an low biological
value, this means that your body will not utilize all of the protein you have
consumed from low BV food and the rest will be wasted by the body as it does
not store protein for very long.
How Should You Consume Whey?
When it comes to consuming whey protein, it can be mixed with either water
or milk, the choice is yours. However, bear in mind that if you use milk it
will increase the calories, fat, carbohydrate and protein content of the shake.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can use whey as a cooking ingredient and
make things like protein pancakes, cookies, muffins, protein bars and more, you
can find many recipes online.
Whey protein generally comes in powder form and is available in many
different various flavors from your traditional chocolate, strawberry, vanilla
to more exciting flavors such as white chocolate velvet and toffee fudge. The
range of flavors will depend on the manufacturer of the protein powder.
Whey protein is generally quite high in protein and depending on the
manufacturer, you can get anywhere from 16 g to 25 g of high-quality protein
per serving. More expensive premium whey can sometimes give you more than 25 g
of protein per serving.
How is Whey Protein Made?
There are a lot of misconceptions as to how whey protein is made, there are
some people who think it is artificially produced in a lab and it is some sort
of dangerous artificial food that you should not consume. This couldn’t be
further from the truth!
Whey protein can actually be made from either milk or cheese, these days
most manufacturers will manufacturer whey directly from milk. Whey is classed
as a food supplement as it comes from real food and not artificially produced.
Milk contains two types of proteins, it contains casein and whey.
Manufacturers use straining methods to separate the whey protein from the milk,
this leaves you with whey protein in liquid form. Here is a fun fact, when you
open a fresh yoghurt and see the liquid on the top that is actually whey
protein in liquid form.
The next step in the production of whey is to pasteurize it using high
temperature/short time (HTST) pasteurization. This process is performed to kill
any pathogenic bacteria that could potentially be present in the whey.
Once the HTST is done the next step is to isolate the protein from the whey
in liquid form. This can be done either through ION-exchange or
mechanical filtering. Whey protein that has been through the mechanical
filtering process will often produce a much better product. Whereas Is the
ion-exchange process can cause damage to some of the amino acids which means
you get a lower quality product.
Once the whey has been filtered, you end up with powdered whey protein,
depending on how many times it has been filtered you will have either whey
protein concentrate (most common type of whey protein) or if it goes through a
more extensive filtering process you get whey protein isolate.
Types of Whey Protein
There are three different types of whey protein currently available and they
are the following:
Whey concentrate is the most popular type of whey and it is the one that is
most commonly bought. Whey protein concentrate can contain anywhere from around
30% protein, all the way up to 70 to 80% of actual protein with some fats and
carbs as well. How much actual protein you find in whey concentrate will depend
on the manufacturer as well as who the protein supplement is aimed for.
If the protein supplement is aimed for people who are looking to improve
strength and performance, then the whey concentrate we usually contain around
70 to 80% protein. If you have protein supplement that is aimed towards the
general public or even elderly people, then you usually find 30% concentrate
When you’re looking to buy a whey protein supplement, always read the label
to see what the concentrate is, this will make sure you buy the right whey
protein concentrate for your goals.
What makes whey protein isolate different is that is manufactured in a
slightly different way to whey protein concentrate. When whey protein isolate
is being manufactured the water, lactose and cholesterol is removed. Isolate
goes through more of the filtering process to remove these.
With these items removed you potentially have a protein supplement that can
be up to 95% concentrate, with whey protein isolate you usually get a higher
protein content per scoop then what you do with whey protein concentrate.
Although this all sounds good, the taste can suffer due to the fat and
lactose being removed and you end up with a protein shake that does not taste
Hydrolysate whey protein is a fast digesting protein. When this protein
supplement is being manufactured, it goes through a partial hydrolysis process,
this process will make it a lot easier for the human body to absorb the
majority of the protein supplement very fast!
You will often find whey Hydrolysate in baby formulas and protein
supplements that are required for medical reasons.
Which One Should You Take?
Which one of these is the best protein powder to buy? They are all good, but whey concentrate is the best all-rounder. Whey concentrate is cheaper than the others, but it will supply the average person with more than enough high-quality protein to support their goals.
Effects of Whey on Muscle Mass and Strength
Whey protein has been shown to have a better effect on muscle growth than
other types of protein such as casein or soy protein. Whey protein has been
shown to increase protein synthesis by almost 70% compared to only 30% by
Whey protein can have a positive effect on building muscle due to its amino
acid profile, high biological value and fast rate of digestion.
When you consume whey protein, the body can break down this supplement
rapidly and absorbed it into the bloodstream extremely fast. Once the amino
acids from whey protein are in your bloodstream, they are transported to muscle
tissue that is in desperate need of them, your muscles can then ignite the
muscle protein synthesis process to repair and build new tissue.
Although your body utilizes all the essential amino acids to build
muscle there are three main essential amino acids that are known as
branched-chain amino acids that are the most potent for building muscle.
Good quality whey protein will contain sufficient amount of branched-chain
amino acids and these branched-chain amino acids are known as Leucine,
IsoLeucine and Valine.
Having sufficient amount of these branched-chain amino acids in your body
will stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which in return will build more
muscle. Branched-chain amino acids, especially Leucine are the key to turning
on muscle building within your body.
How Much Whey Protein Should You Consume
The amount of the protein you consume will vary from person to person, it
will depend on your current body weight, your goals, how active you are, how
intense your workouts are, how many days a week you exercise and how much
quality protein you’re getting from your diet.
Ideally, it’s is a good idea to consume around 20-50 grams of whey protein
per day. On the days you workout, you should consume protein after your
training session to make sure your body has high-quality protein to tap into
when it begins the recovery process.
On days that you don’t workout, you can consume whey protein when it is
convenient for you, whether that be first thing in the morning or last thing at
Always read the label to see how much protein you’re getting per scoop and
to see what the manufacturers guidelines are about consumption of their
Are There Any Whey Protein Side Effects?
There are no known serious side effects of taking whey protein, but you can
experience some minor side-effects such as producing unsightly gas, bloating
and people who may suffer from allergies to milk could potentially suffer an
As long as you consume within the recommended amount and do not hugely
exceed this amount, you should not really see any side-effects at all.
Benefits of Whey Protein
Excellent source of
Has a good ratio of
essential amino acids that your body cannot produce
Studies show that whey
protein can help you gain strength, muscle as well as help you lose body
Whey protein can help lower
blood pressure in people who have elevated blood pressure and this is due
to the bioactive peptide called lactokinins that can be found in whey
Easy and convenient way to
get 20g – 50g of protein per day.
It can help strengthen the
body’s antioxidant defenses, it does this by promoting the formation of
glutathione, the more glutathione you produce (body’s main antioxidants)
the stronger your antioxidant defenses.
Whey protein helps you stay
fuller for longer (satiating), longer than any other type of protein
Should You Take Whey Protein?
Not everybody needs to take a whey protein supplement as some individuals
would get more than enough high-quality protein from their diet and taking whey
protein on top would just be a waste as there is only so much protein your body
can use for general bodily functions as well as for helping you recover and
repair damaged tissue from working out.
How do you find out how much protein you’re consuming per day? If you currently don’t know how much protein you’re consuming and would like to know you can do this with the help of apps like MyFitnessPal. Simply track the food that you are eating and this app will tell you how much protein, carbohydrates, fats and calories you consume per day.
If you find you’re consuming a lot less protein than the recommended daily
amount, it might be worth considering whey protein.
Remember, whey protein is not necessary if your diet
is naturally high in good sources of protein as well as vitamins and minerals.
However, for those who have busy lifestyles or for whatever other reason
struggle to get enough protein in their diet, then taking whey protein can be a
great way to make sure your body has enough high quality protein to function