What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a mixture of proteins in whey, which is a byproduct of cheese production. It’s usually sold as a flavored powder, which is added to shakes, meal replacements and protein bars.
Benefits of Whey Protein
The proteins in whey are of a very high quality. They’re loaded with essential amino acids, including leucine and cysteine.
There are several popular types of whey protein.
Their main difference is in the way they have been processed.
- Concentrate: About 70–80% protein; contains some lactose (milk sugar) and fat and has the best flavor.
- Isolate: 90% protein, or higher; contains less lactose and fat and lacks a lot of the beneficial nutrients found in whey protein concentrate.
- Hydrolysate: Also known as hydrolyzed whey, this type has been pre-digested so that it gets absorbed faster. It causes a 28–43% greater spike in insulin levels than isolate.
The best-known use of whey protein supplements is for the purpose of increasing muscle mass and strength.
Whey protein is popular among athletes, bodybuilders, fitness models, as well as people looking to improve their performance in the gym.
The ways by which whey protein promotes muscle/strength gain include:
- Building blocks: It provides protein and amino acids, which serve as building blocks for increased muscle growth.
- Hormones: It increases the release of anabolic hormones that can stimulate muscle growth, such as insulin .
- Leucine: It’s high in the amino acid leucine, which is known to stimulate muscle protein synthesis at the molecular and genetic level .
- Fast absorption: Whey protein is absorbed and utilized very quickly compared to other types of protein.
Whey protein has been shown to be particularly effective at increasing muscle growth when consumed right before, during and after a workout. Muscle protein synthesis is usually maximized in the time period after training.
Protein has been shown to aid weight loss by boosting metabolism and reducing appetite. Whey protein can help increase fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass.