Dr Susan Baxter
What is Whey Protein? Why would I take it?
Updated: Mar 1
Whey is a protein powder which tastes delicious and is a convenient way to supplement your best training efforts in the gym. It is great for use as a shake when mixed with water or as a way to boost the protein content of oats. Neither whey or casein is a “fake” protein, even though it comes in a powdered form: it is a powdered, tasty and a convenient food source.
Whey is a constituent of milk. There are a few different types, and the type of whey can tell you how the protein was derived and the speed at which the product is absorbed. When cheese is made, a white and watery liquid separates from the cheese and then is high in protein. When this is dehydrated into powder form, it is called whey protein powder.
Whey has high biological value; a complete amino acid profile – in fact, it has more amino acids than meat – and is an extremely lean source of protein. It is also one of the most affordable compared to various meat sources of protein per serving. It has the benefits of also being anti-microbial, in that it kills bad gut bacteria (but doesn’t affect your good bacteria), and can act as an antioxidant.
A benefit of taking whey as a protein source after working out or on waking is that whey can be quickly absorbed by the body. It also is released rapidly into the bloodstream. This process usually occurs within 20-40 minutes. All three types – Isolate, Hydrolysate and Concentrate – are rapidly digested by the digestive system. The reason is that it is in fine, powdered particles that can be easily used by the body without the mechanical mechanism of chewing solid foods, and any other breakdown that is required before being able to use the nutrients.
There are a few different kinds of descriptors used for whey, so it is important to know what these different descriptors mean: this knowledge can assist you in making the best decision on which type of whey is the best option. The filtering process determines the type of whey that is produced, which is either ion exchange (a result of higher temperature processing) or micro filtering (which is a result of a lower temperature and therefore has more available protein).
The three different types of whey (with a 4th that is a combination of these) are:
– Whey Concentrate: less than 90% protein and usually made by ion exchange.
– Whey Isolate – at least 90% protein: Higher protein per weight, it also is leaner and tends to mix easier than Concentrate. The level of fats and carbohydrates in pure whey protein isolate is usually next to nothing: Whey protein isolate may also affect insulin levels more than concentrate, since it is faster absorbed, making it more anabolic (that means better conditions for building muscle).
– Hydrolysate: an isolate that has been broken down into a smaller molecule size, so it is absorbed faster than Isolate. This is the fastest absorbed whey protein, leanest, and mixes even better than Isolate due to being such fine particles.
– Blended Whey: a combination of the above (For example – Rule One Whey Blend).
Check out our fantastic range of whey products that we have here. And if you're interested in reading about more supplements, check this for BCAAs, Fish Oil, Amino Acids, and Glutamine.