Updated 31 January 2016

What is whey protein?

What is whey protein and how does it work? Read more about this popular supplement here.

Whey protein is the ultimate source of protein and is the highest quality protein available. Whey protein is also a rich source of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), containing the highest known levels of any natural food source.

Whey protein is one of two types of protein that comes from milk (the other being casein protein). Whey is a by-product that is created during the process of cow's milk being turned into cheese.

What types of whey protein are there?

There are two major types of whey protein; whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Whey protein concentrate is low in fat, has a highest biological value and is typically about 75% pure protein by weight. Whey protein isolate is whey in it is purest form. Isolates are processed to remove fat and lactose. Typically whey protein isolate is about 90% pure protein by weight.

Whey protein supplements generally fall into three categories; 

  1. Whey protein isolate - the most pure form of whey protein
  2. Whey protein concentrate - not as pure, slightly higher fat & lactose
  3. Whey protein blend - a mixture of isolate and concentrate

What does whey protein do?

Whey protein is far superior to all other forms of protein. It provides the body with the perfect amino acid profile for muscle building, strength and recovery. Bodybuilders and professional athletes all know the importance of using whey protein supplements to help increase size, strength and speed up recovery times.

Whey is also fast ingesting, meaning it gets to where it's needed - fast! Whey protein supplements play a huge roll in post-workout nutrition, when your body is in a catabolic state and needs a fast injection of protein.

On top of the muscle building and recovery benefits, whey protein also works as an antioxidant to boost the body's immune system. Scientific studies have shown that regular supplementation with whey protein promotes a strong immune system.

 Effects whey protein has on performance:

  1. Increased lean muscle mass
  2. Decreased recovery times and faster muscle repair
  3. Reduced post-workout muscle breakdown
  4. Increase metabolic rate

Who can benefit from using whey protein supplements?

Whey protein is traditionally used amongst athletes and bodybuilders for its ability to promote muscle growth. But as new scientific studies are conducted, whey is being used in other applications. Some of these include; weight loss, cancer treatment, infant health, wound healing and the elderly. Practically everyone can benefit in some way from whey protein supplementation.

 People that need increased protein levels will get the most benefit out of supplementing with whey. These benefits include:

  1. All levels of sports men and women (beginner to professional)
  2. Bodybuilders & strength trainers
  3. Endurance athletes
  4. Those on weight loss programs
  5. Individuals new to strength/weight training
  6. Vegetarians

Choosing the right whey protein supplement 

When it comes to choosing a whey protein supplement that's right for you there are two main things you need to take into consideration; budget and quality.

 Obviously, the more pure and high quality the product the higher the price tag - this is why whey protein isolate is the most expensive form of whey protein. But you get what you pay for, pure whey protein is literally zero fat, zero carbs and zero lactose. It's the highest quality protein and will give you the most protein per serving with the least amount of calories. So if you have the money to spend, whey protein isolate is the best quality protein available.

(Press release, Muscle Science, December 2012)



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