Syndicate content

Whey Protein

Written by admin
Bookmark and Share

Whey is a by-product of making cheese from cow's milk, which contains two main proteins: casein and whey. When milk is heated, the solid curd (casein) that becomes cheese separates from the watery liquid (whey). When dried and powdered, whey is a good source of protein that supports the immune system and builds muscle.

Whey protein is a mixture of three major proteins: beta-lactoglobulin (65 percent), alpha-lactalbumin (25 percent), serum albumin (eight percent) and several minor proteins such as lactoperoxidases, lysozyme and lactoferrin. It is commonly used as a nutritional supplement by those who wish to increase muscle tissue. Whey protein is also used to restore lost muscle tissue by people who suffer muscle wasting because of disease or medical treatment.

Because it contains many of the same ingredients found in mother's milk, whey is an important ingredient in baby formulas. That said, whey protein powder is not intended for use as an infant formula. As a nutritional supplement for adults, whey protein powder has been popularized by athletes and bodybuilders who use it to repair and build muscle after exercise. Whey protein supplements are commonly mixed with other ingredients and consumed in shake form.

Because whey protein is derived from cow's milk, people with milk allergies or intolerance should exercise caution. However, whey protein isolate may reduce gastrointestinal side effects in people who are lactose intolerant because nearly all of the lactose has been removed during filtration. In any case, checking the ingredients listed on the label before consuming is always a good idea.

Whey Protein Supplements
Not all whey supplements are the same. Many different formulations of whey protein are available, but the two main types are whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Each has a different nutritional profile and cost. Basically, different formulations contain varying levels of whey protein (ranging from 35 percent to 95 percent), fat and milk sugar (lactose).

After whey is separated from the curd, it undergoes a series of processing steps that concentrate the protein and remove the other compounds. First, whey is filtered to remove lactose, minerals, vitamins and fat. More filtration creates a higher concentration of whey protein. When the protein concentration is less than 88 percent, it is considered whey protein concentrate, but when it's greater than 88 percent, it is considered whey protein isolate. After whey is filtered, the protein is pasteurized, excess liquid is evaporated and the protein is dried. Drying occurs at low temperatures to prevent damage to the protein. More processing results in a higher percentage of whey protein and, generally, a more expensive product.

Manufacturers use whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate or a combination of the two to make different products, such as Designer Whey, 100 Whey and GNC Whey. They also use other methods to enhance whey protein's digestibility and absorbability by the body. Some of these methods include cutting the whey proteins into smaller pieces (hydrolyzation) to enhance absorption, making whey protein powder easier to mix (optimization) and using different types of filters (microfiltration, ultrafiltration and ion exchange) to create various fractions of whey protein subtypes. Again, more processing usually increases cost.

When compared with other proteins, such as egg and soy, whey scores high in three measures. The first is the "Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score", which measures how easily a protein is digested. The maximum value allowed by USDA is 1.0, and whey protein scores 1.14. The second is "Biological Value", which measures protein quality. Whey scores 100 out of 100, beating many other types of protein, including soy. The third is the "Protein Efficiency Ratio", which measures how much absorbed protein is retained. Whey scores 3.2 out of 4.0. Egg scores higher at 3.9.

Whey protein also differs from other proteins in its ability to stimulate the immune system. Several studies have been done on people with cancer and HIV. Whey protein appears to enhance the body's natural ability to fight infections.

Bookmark and Share