Whey protein is the protein contained in whey, the watery portion of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese.
Milk is made of two proteins, called whey and casein. Whey can be separated from the casein in milk or formed as a by-product of cheese making.
Whey is considered as a high quality protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It is low in lactose content.
Whey protein is commonly used as the supplementation for improving the athletic performance and increasing the strength and promoting the growth of lean muscle mass. But what is it, and what are the benefits of using it?
Whey Protein Types
Depending on the processing method, there are three primary types of whey protein; whey protein concentrate (WPC), whey protein isolate (WPI), and whey protein hydrolysate (WPH).
Whey Protein Concentrate
WPC is the best and least processed form of whey protein. WPC contains low levels of fat and carbohydrates and higher levels of bioactive compounds in the form of lactose.
As WPC is minimally processed, it retains the health-promoting nutrients that are found naturally in whey.
You may even find that whey protein concentrate has a more satisfying flavor than other types of whey protein, which is due to its lactose and fat content.
The protein percentage in whey protein concentrate depends on how concentrated it is.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is further processed to remove most of the fat and carbohydrates that are found in whey protein concentrate.
WPI is usually 90 percent or more protein. WPIs will have a lower lactose content than whey protein concentrates.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate
Whey protein hydrolysate is considered to be the “predigested” form of whey protein. When WPH is hydrolyzed, larger proteins are broken down into smaller, digestible pieces.
Hydrolysates means to be absorbed more rapidly and they increase blood insulin levels, which is helpful for athletes who want to grow lean muscle.
Whey protein hydrolysate doesn’t require as much digestion as the other two forms of whey proteins.
Whey Protein Nutrition
According to USDA, one scoop (approx 28 gm) of whey protein powder contains nutrition as:
- 100 calories
- 20 grams protein
- 5 grams carbohydrates
- 1 gram fiber
- 1.5 grams fat
- 3.5 grams sugar
- 94 milligrams calcium (9 percent DV)
- 140 milligrams sodium (6 percent DV)
When Do You Take Whey Protein?
The best time to consume whey is in the morning, as part of breakfast and post-workout. Consuming one scoop (approx 28 grams) of whey protein about 30 minutes after a workout helps to improve your muscle recovery.
It may also be helpful to take this protein 30 minutes before a meal. It will make you feel full and is meant to help you avoid overeating.
Whey Protein Dangers and Side-Effects
Some people may be allergic to whey protein who are allergic to milk. In moderate doses, whey doesn’t typically cause any adverse events.
However, consuming very high doses can cause:
- Stomach Pain
- Reduced appetite
How to Use Whey Protein?
Whey protein powders and shakes are easily available at health-supplement shops or you can purchase it from online stores.
Now lets know how to use whey protein?? Simply add one scoop (or about 28 grams) to any liquid, like milk, water, a shake or smoothie.
You can also consume it with oatmeal or yogurt. Use a bottle shaker or blender to mix whey protein powder.
Whey Protein Benefits
1. Increases Strength and Builds Muscle
Whey protein is the great way to add protein to your diet without extra calories from fats and carbohydrates.
It typically contains 80 to 90 percent protein, which provides the body with what it needs to build muscle and strength, while recovering quickly after a workout.
Journal of Food Science published a report, which says, whey protein stimulates muscle synthesis to a greater degree than both casein and soy protein products.
Researchers noted that adding supplemental protein to your diet can help promote gains in muscle mass — especially when paired with resistance or burst training — maintain muscle mass even during caloric restriction and slow down the natural loss of muscle that occurs as you age.
Researchers found that supplementing with 20 gm of protein, which was made up of 14 gm of whey and casein protein, and 6 gm of free amino acids led to greater increases in total body mass, fat-free mass, thigh mass and muscle strength compared to those taking the carbohydrate placebo.
2. Aiding Weight Loss
A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism reveals that the individuals who were given whey, lost significantly more body fat and showed a greater preservation of lean muscle compared to subjects consuming the control beverage.
3. Anti-Cancer Properties
Whey protein also has some anti-cancer properties.
A study published in the journal Anticancer Research found the use of whey protein concentrate very useful in cancer treatment. But, more research is needed.
4. Lowers Cholesterol
According to The British Journal of Nutrition, whey supplement given to seventy overweight men and women for twelve weeks and measured a number of parameters, like lipid and insulin.
Researchers found that there was a significant decrease in total cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol at week 12 in the whey group compared with the casein.
5. Boosts Glutathione
Whey helps to increase the production of glutathione, an antioxidant that is found in every cell of human body.
Research reveals that whey protein is rich in cysteine, an amino acid that is needed for the synthesis of glutathione.
Researchers of Ohio State University found that supplementing with hydrolyzed whey protein isolate increased the intracellular glutathione concentrations by 64%.
Glutathione helps to eliminate free radicals that cause cancer, cell damage, and aging diseases. It also helps to protect the body from drug resistance, environmental toxins.
6. Boosts Immunity
Whey proteins promote the synthesis of glutathione, thus, it works to boost your immune system.
Glutathione boosts the efficacy of other antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, CoQ10 and ALA.
Whey protein also contains vitamin D, which positively affect the immune function and demonstrate the antimicrobial activity.
According to a research, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, whey protein helps the body to recover after workout, which is important for avoiding oxidative stress, excessive inflammation and impaired immunity.
Apart from this, whey protein is also rich in L-arginine and L-lysine amino acids that promote immune function.
7. Improves Heart Health
Many researches reveal that whey protein promotes a decrease in blood pressure and arterial stiffness and improves lipid profiles.
Whey protein helps to reduce the cardiovascular risk factors by protecting the human muscles and helps to lose weight.
Reductions in body weight decreases obesity-related problems like heart disease.
A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the blood pressure of 42 participants who consumed whey protein powder or maltodextrin (the control) for eight weeks.
Individuals who used whey protein experienced a significant reduction in blood pressure and increase in blood circulation.
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