Popular with athletes and bodybuilders, whey protein is a protein powder made from whey. Whey, in turn, arises when an aqueous liquid is deposited in the milk. This happens, for example, in the production of cottage cheese or cheese.
In itself, whey is a waste product that arises from the production of certain dairy products. The liquid also appears in yogurt when left for a long time without consuming. But the contained ingredients make whey valuable for many uses.
Therefore, today it is no longer eliminated, but used. In addition to the 94 percent water content, it also contains about 4 percent milk sugar or lactose.
You can also find whey protein with:
The amino acids contained in whey protein are particularly valuable. The nine amino acids responsible for protein formation are fully represented in a serum preparation.
Therefore, whey protein is particularly valued for its amino acid content, L-histidine, L-isoleucine, L-leucine, L-lysine, L-methionine, L-phenylalanine, L-threonine, L-tryptophan, and L-valine. These essential amino acids are indispensable for the organism because the body cannot produce them for it.
Therefore, it depends on food or supplements.
Whey protein is, in contrast to casein also present in milk, very soluble in liquids. In order to allow athletes to benefit as much as possible from the amino acids in the serum, the protein content in the serum is concentrated and compressed using various methods.
As an athlete, you should also know that there are several levels of purity and commercial forms of whey protein. For example, whey can now be obtained in the form of protein powder, in the form of a capsule, as a bar enriched with whey or as ingredients of a sweet spread bread.
Different flavors further diversify the selection of whey products. It is also important: with each cleaning and compaction process, whey becomes more valuable, as it contains more amino acids and protein portions per serving. However, the carbohydrates it contains or the sugar content in milk are filtered.
The problem is that many manufacturers give elegant names to their whey products. This makes them sound more unique and effective without actually being better. In addition, whey powder is often seasoned with other ingredients.
Here one should be able to distinguish the mixtures from the less significant ones in order to use the highest quality whey protein preparation. Research should be done to determine if it makes sense to take a serum preparation with creatine or glucose.
In a sense, athletes have to become nutritionists in their own right to be able to distinguish what makes sense from what doesn’t.
Anyone can easily imagine that such preparations stimulate the sale of whey products and other sports nutritional supplements in bulk and of lower quality through pharmacies and the Internet.
Therefore, I recommend buying high-quality whey supplements from sports retailers. Here, in particular, customer reviews or blog articles are interesting sources of information that give a clearer impression of product quality.
If you search the Internet for a long enough time, you will quickly find the manufacturers and suppliers that offer the best whey preparations.
What types of whey protein powder are there?
There are three different high quality commodities on the market, which are marketed as whey powder in different uses:
- Whey Concentrate (WPC)
- Whey Isolate (WPI)
- and Whey hydrolyzate (WPH).
Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey concentrates are economical because they are not of the highest processing quality and protein density. You can imagine a mass-produced product of low quality. Such whey powders will be found mainly in non-specialized stores.
Low-quality whey protein concentrates are ideal for making protein shakes, spreads, mixes prepared for pancakes or protein bars. The protein content of whey concentration is on average 30 to 80 percent.
The huge range in protein content can be explained by different weights in the products of different manufacturers. In a chocolate bar or in peanut butter, the protein content is naturally relatively high. However, it can still be improved with whey powder.
From the manufacturer’s point of view, however, a high-quality serum is not needed. A whey concentrate with a protein content of 30 percent is sufficient to increase the total protein content of the sweet snack, and thus the profit margin.
Therefore, whey concentrate is ideal for enriching such products. Products that already contain milk proteins are often enriched with whey powder with lower protein content. Therefore, peanut or chocolate bars can be produced with little effort.
The whey concentrate is filtered relatively little compared to the whey isolate or whey hydrolyzate. Therefore, it contains milk sugar and other carbohydrates, as well as 10 percent of milk fat.
The vitamins mentioned above are still present, but in the manufacturing process of the concentrates, some manufacturers heat them or add chemicals. This promises higher performance for the manufacturer. However, this is less good for the amino acids and micronutrients it contains. These process steps reduce their value.
You can often recognize cheap whey concentrates because they are spiced or sweetened with sweeteners. For constant use, whey concentrate is also not valuable enough from the point of view of ambitious and health-conscious athletes.
Whey Protein Isolated
Whey isolate already represents a higher degree of purity. It is often claimed that whey isolate can only be produced from whey concentrate. But that’s not true.
Whey protein isolate can be made directly from the raw material of milk. It could also be made of isolated serum. However, this requires two work steps and is technically more complex.
Filtration is decisive for the quality of an isolate. This can be done by ion exchange processes or membrane filtration. Membrane filtration is considered a higher quality filtration process.
This results in a particularly ultrafine whey isolate with a high protein content of a maximum of 95 percent. Whey isolate has almost no lactose. It barely contains fats or carbohydrates. But it has a perfect amino acid ratio. Whey isolate is also advantageous in terms of taste.
Unlike bitter-tasting whey hydrolyzate, whey isolate is generally not sweetened or flavored. It has a relatively neutral taste. Therefore, it is suitable for mixing in milkshakes, pancake dough, or with water.
Whey isolate contains the BCAAs that are important for athletes. These are branched chain amino acids.
This means the amino acids: L-valine, L-leucine, and L-isoleucine. They are considered essential amino acids and cannot be produced by the body. Therefore, the daily supply from outside is essential for athletes. In addition to BCAAs, the serum isolate also contains immunoglobulins: albumin, lactoferrin, and glutamine.
The biological value of the whey isolate is pleasantly high. The human organism can metabolize the ultra-pure and ultrafine serum isolate very well. Therefore, the amino acids contained in the dissolved powder will be readily available to the muscles.
However, with the increasing concentration of whey, contaminants such as heavy metals, antibiotics, pesticides, or hormonal preparations that may be present in milk can become a problem for users.
To avoid this problem, responsible manufacturers only process milk from cows that are maintained in a manner appropriate to the species and that live freely in the pasture. This can be recognized by terms such as “pasteurized raw milk” or “organic farming.”
Anyone who takes high quality serum preparations or isolates as an athlete should pay attention to such subtleties.
Hydrolyzed whey protein
By saying hydrolyzed whey protein (WPH) you can imagine a complex whey powder with high protein content. This whey product is made of the whey isolate just discussed.
The chemical process used for this is called hydrolysis. Enzymes are used in this special process to further decompose the whey isolate. The positive effect of this process is to make whey proteins directly available in the body without having to undergo comminution in the intestinal tract.
In a sense, hydrolysis is an enzymatic predigestion with the purpose of improving the bioavailability of amino acids.
All amino acids, including important BCAAs and other essential amino acids, are present in high purity whey hydrolyzate. The protein content of whey hydrolyzate, at almost 99 percent, is the highest of all variants.
Milk sugar, carbohydrates, and fats are no longer contained in this product. Therefore, a whey hydrolyzate is always lactose-free. However, the problem is that chemical-enzymatic hydrolysis brings a bitter taste to whey powder.
Therefore, the addition of flavors and sweeteners reduces quality from the point of view of health-conscious athletes. Alternatively, you can take the unsweetened and tasteless hydrolyzed whey protein in capsule form.
Due to the chemical process, it is worth paying attention to a truly recognized manufacturer of hydrolyzed whey protein. The provider must make their test reports with laboratory results accessible to the user.
The end customer must also be able to access them or request them online. In a relatively expensive high-level product, such as whey hydrolyzate, contamination, or mold contamination is unacceptable.
It should also be noted that some manufacturers reduce the price of a whey hydrolyzate by mixing a whey preparation that has been allocated hydrolyzate with other proteins, for example, vegetables.
Therefore, reading the table of nutrients and ingredients is mandatory for athletes concerned about health and prices. If you pay a high price for whey hydrolyzate, you will want the best possible quality.
Who is whey protein interesting for?
Basically, whey protein powder can benefit everyone. They can provide important services in the context of a diet, muscle problems, or convalescence. But the best effect is achieved by whey proteins in ambitious people who exercise regularly.
Whey supplements make sense when it comes to building muscle, defining muscles, increasing fitness and strength. It is also interesting that proteins shorten the regeneration phases after exertion. Therefore, passionate hikers or passionate cyclists also benefit from taking such preparations.
Eating a diet rich in protein makes sense anyway. It is not for nothing that amino acids are the most important building blocks of life.
Professional bodybuilders have to gain a lot of muscle due to competition, the protein in food is no longer enough. Those affected would have to eat too much to absorb the required amount of protein.
Therefore, in addition to whey proteins, these people often consume “weight gain shakes” with high caloric content. Many women who only practice moderate sports, such as walking or practicing yoga, also use serum supplements.
Since low-calorie whey powders increase fat burning or tighten tissues. Already developed muscle mass is not reduced with the influence of serum. Fat deposits are not created with low-calorie whey hydrolyzate. The serum also strengthens the immune system.
When it comes to building muscle, whey proteins provide important help thanks to short-chain amino acids. The nine essential amino acids contained are surprisingly fast absorbed.
Therefore, they enter the blood quickly and are available to the muscles as quickly. There the amino acids serve to build and protect the muscles. Whey protein is often taken after training to promote the regeneration of stressed muscles.
A high proportion of leucine also promotes the biosynthesis of the other amino acids. The fact that non-athletes buy whey protein supplements more and more often has to do with their health-promoting properties.
In principle, everyone benefits from high protein intake. It not only serves the muscles but also the cellular protection and the immune system. The serum also has an antihypertensive function.
Many people use such protein supplements so that they do not experience muscle loss due to diet. Whey proteins also saturate well. Therefore, a filling bar or cookie enriched with valuable proteins is ideal.
What is special about whey protein compared to other protein sources?
Hydrolyzed or isolated whey proteins are considered the highest quality protein sources for athletes. This has something to do with the biological value of such whey proteins.
The biological value of eggs, milk, or soy products is also high, but not comparable. Only eggs have a sufficiently high biological value. All other protein sources must be combined with other protein sources to obtain an equally high value.
In addition, many of the sources of protein in food have certain fat content, higher calorie content, and higher carbohydrate content than whey.
It is also relevant that there is always a high proportion of BCAA in serum preparations. This abbreviation, which means “branched-chain amino acids”, means three essential amino acids that the body cannot form.
BCAAs contain mainly amino acids isoleucine, leucine, and valine. Since these are naturally contained in a serum preparation, it makes little sense to take a special BCAA preparation, unless someone wants to compete and train their muscles hard and persistently.
Many other sources of protein that can be made from milk, carbohydrates, lactose, and milk fats are always consumed. To get the same amount of whey protein powder, you would have to drink a lot of milk and eat a lot of yogurts.
Vegetable proteins in food are also a good basis for protein supply, however, they must first be digested and broken down. Whey amino acids, on the other hand, are immediately available to the body due to the lack of difficult to digest formulants.
Whey protein does not burden the body with the necessary digestive processes. To achieve the optimal effect and distribution of proteins in the body, ambitious bodybuilders and competitive athletes often take a special preparation of BCAA before training and after training, drink a whey-enriched protein shake. Even on days without training, whey protein is used to build muscle and to protect against muscle loss.
What dose is recommended?
The recommended dose of serum preparations varies by manufacturer and preparation. Athletes generally take their whey protein supplements in the morning after getting up. And again after each training session.
If you follow the dosage recommendations of the manufacturers, you will not experience any health problems. Regarding the dose, it does not matter if you take the serum preparation as part of a diet or use it for training purposes. It is recommended to add approximately 20 to 30 grams of protein powder with each intake.
This is measured with a measuring spoon. It is important that the protein content of this dose be as high as possible. Taking more of it does not create any added value for the muscles.
A daily dose of about 0.7 grams per kilogram of body weight is recommended. If you are a very active person, you could also increase the daily dose to a maximum daily intake of 1.7 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you have a bodyweight of 75 kilograms to calculate the daily dose in grams, this results in a maximum daily dose of 127.5 grams of hydrolyzed or isolated protein per day.
Does it have any side effects?
Taking more protein will not increase muscle strength or fiber growth. If you take low-quality whey containing lactose in overdose, you may experience fermentation or swelling in the intestine. In most cases, this indicates lactose intolerance. In this case, a high purity whey hydrolyzate should be chosen.
As such, side effects occur when serum products are taken only in particularly sensitive people and when used improperly or with an overdose. Anyone who exceeds protein intake should expect liver and kidney damage later.
In the case of intolerance to dairy products, skin rashes, and itching, reddened or noticeably irritated mucous membranes and edema in the facial area, mouth, or esophagus can occur.
It is also important to recognize that people with an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia, can not only keep fit with low-calorie serum supplements.
Taking whey supplements requires that you exercise in a sensitive nutritional situation and expose your muscles to specific training. However, the daily protein requirement is an individual. It is difficult for an untrained person to determine which nutrient profile would make sense.
You should first talk to a sports doctor before you start training and receive the necessary nutrients prescribed based on an individual calculation.