What is protein?
Protein is a nutrient made up of amino acids. There are two types of amino acids:
- Non-essential amino acids:
Can usually be synthesized by the body through the foods we consume.
- Essential amino acids:
Must be obtained through our diet.
- Non-essential amino acids:
What does protein do for the body?
- Builds and repairs body tissues
- Helps to build strong muscles
- Provides a source of energy
- Regulates many important metabolic processes in the body
- Helps to build antibodies
What is whey protein?
Whey protein is a high quality and nutritious type of dairy protein that is isolated from whey, the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. Whey proteins are commonly marketed and ingested as dietary supplements.
Are all whey proteins the same?
No. The composition of whey protein products vary based on several factors:
- The source of the dairy product
- The method of production
- The type of cheese being produced
- Individual manufacturer specifications
The individual components of whey proteins include:
- Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA)
- Glycomacropeptide (GMP)
What is the difference between whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate?
Whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey protein and contains more than 90% protein. It contains little to no fat or lactose.
Whey protein concentrate is available in a number of different forms based on the protein content, which can range from 25% to 89%. It contains some lactose, fat and minerals. As the protein percentage increases, the amount of lactose decreases. Whey protein concentrate with an 80% protein content is most commonly available as a protein powder supplement.
How does whey protein compare to other sources of protein?
Whey protein is a high quality complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids your body requires each day. There are several different methods used to evaluate the quality of a protein, and with each method, whey protein proves to be an excellent source!
Different methods of evaluating protein quality:
- Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS).This is the US Department of Agriculture’s officially approved method of scoring protein quality. The maximum score allowed for reporting purposes is 1.0. Whey proteins have a score of 1.14!
- Protein Efficiency Ratio (PER).A rating based on the evaluation of the growth of animals that consume a fixed amount of dietary protein from a single source. The PER for whey proteins is 2.6, making it one of the highest single source proteins available.
- Biological Value (BV).This is another measure of protein quality, measuring the amount of protein that is retained from the absorbed protein for maintenance and growth in the body. Biological Value measures the fraction of nitrogen in the diet that remains after the nitrogen losses in the waste products have been subtracted. Whey proteins have a BV of 100, which is a higher score than casein (milk protein), soy protein, beef, and wheat gluten.
Will whey protein help me lose weight?
Whey protein is low in fat and is used successfully in many diet programs. Studies have found whey protein helps to maintain lean muscle mass. Increasing muscle is a very effective way to maintain weight loss.
Calories do count, so be sure to match your protein intake to your weight and activity level. Substituting whey protein for other protein sources may also be a good way to jump-start your weight management program.
I am lactose intolerant. Should I avoid whey protein?
Not necessarily. Whey protein isolate contains more than 90% pure protein and little to no lactose. In most cases, it is very easy to digest, even for people with lactose intolerance. Since whey protein products vary in composition, please check the ingredient label to make sure you are getting pure whey protein isolate.
How much fat and cholesterol are contained in whey protein?
Most whey protein isolates contain little to no fat or cholesterol and are recommended for low fat and low cholesterol diets. Whey protein concentrates contain very small amounts of fat and cholesterol.
Is whey protein easy to digest?
Yes, whey protein is highly soluble and very easy to digest. This is one of the reasons it is commonly used in infant formula and protein supplements for medical use. A person with a lactose intolerance should select a whey protein isolate which contains little to no lactose.
Is whey protein safe for pregnant women and children?
Consult a health care practitioner prior to use if you are pregnant or under 18 years of age.
Are there any side effects to taking whey protein?
If you have a dairy protein allergy please consult your physician before taking whey protein. If you are lactose intolerant, choose a whey protein isolate containing little to no amounts of lactose. High doses of whey protein (over 30 g/day) may cause mild gastrointestinal disturbances.