Posted on Jul 06, 2018, 10 p.m.
Today’s health conscious society has created a booming protein market, much of the demand reflects want for plant based protein alternatives ranging from powders, bars, and beverages; whey protein steps in to fill this gap for many reasons, among which whey protein products typically taste better.
Crude whey is a natural by-product in cheese making processes, with whey protein being made from crude whey via filtering off other components such as fats, lactose, and minerals. Cow’s milk contains roughly 6.25% protein, of that protein 80% is casein protein with the remaining 20% being whey, as cheese is made casein molecules aggregate leaving whey behind. Whey protein is soluble, easily digested, efficiently absorbed into the body, and it carries benefits.
Whey protein is cleaner than other plant based proteins according to Clean Label Project studies investigating 134 top protein powders in North America in which researchers found some alarming results: Plant based protein powders contained on average twice the amount of lead per serving, more cadmium, arsenic, and mercury; Plant based certified organic products averaged twice as much heavy metals as non-organic sources likely due to organic fertilizers that are often full of heavy metals.
Whey protein has the highest biological values of all proteins, with having such things as approximately 50% more leucine than soy protein, and is a complete protein containing all essential and non-essential amino acids. Whey protein is not a single protein and contains several individual proteins such as beta lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, immunoglobulins, bovine serum albumin, and lactoferrin.
Whey protein has been shown to boost immune functions by increasing levels of antioxidant glutathione which is found in all cells including white blood cells, promoting proper immune functions, and is involved in the body’s detoxifications reactions able to bind to fat soluble toxins. Whey protein is a great source of glutamine which is involved in metabolic processes and is an important source of fuel for white blood cells, supplementation has been shown to boost immune function, heal peptic ulcers, fight infections, enhance energy levels, aid in weight loss, offset some negative effects from chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and can be of benefit as nutritional support for recovery from surgery.
Whey proteins are a dieter’s friend as it has been shown to decrease feelings of hunger aiding in weight loss. Studies show that consumption of small amounts before eating improves after meal blood sugar control and promotes satiety. It has been shown that whey protein supplementation can help preserve muscle mass during weight loss greater than vegan sources.
Taking whey protein and engaging in resistance/weight training exercises can help preserve muscle mass and help those with sarcopenia rebuild. Muscle mass peaks during the teens through to late 20s where they start to slowly decline; from 25-50 muscle mass decline is roughly 10%, in the 50s it slightly accelerates with the real decline typically starting at 60 to the point of when hitting the 80s a person can have the muscle mass that is around half of what it was in the 20s.
Whey protein in its highest quality is referred to as micro-filtered or ultra-filtered whey protein concentrates. Whey protein isolate is whey protein in its most pure form at about 90% protein by weight, and often the most expensive choice. Whey protein concentrate can vary between 29%-89% protein by weight, it’s not as expensive as it may contain a little more lactose and fat. Hydrolyzed whey protein is said to be predigested and easier to absorb, this form of whey protein is more expensive than concentrate but less than isolate.
Whey protein is most frequently mixed into beverages making it even easier to absorb into the body, which is especially beneficial for those who consume protein after a workout to rebuild muscle. Not only is it easy to digest but it’s also fast, easy, and convenient. Adding a whey protein smoothie to the diet can help get enough protein for the day for those in a rush or for those limiting how much animal protein they intake.
Whey protein does come from dairy, but it is an isolated form of protein making it have very low lactose content, that being said it does contain small amounts. It varies from person to person but most people can tolerate whey protein unless particularly sensitive to lactose.
Whey protein does have a few downfalls such as it is a processed product that can contain ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, soybean oil, xanthan gum, artificial flavours, and small amounts of lactose, read the label to ensure ingredients if trying to avoid items as not all but some may contain them. Consuming too much whey protein powder can cause the body to store fat which can overwork the liver and kidney functions, following recommendations should help to avoid this from happening. Whey protein powder adds calories to the diet as protein calories only, unless one is used with added nutrients, again read the label if that’s what you’re looking for. Just like anything it is important to do some research to make sure it is the right choice for you.
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