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What is Whey Protein?
Cow’s milk contains two types of protein: whey and casein. During cheese production, casein protein (which makes up 80% of the total protein) is separated from the whey protein.
Whey Protein Benefits & Biological Values
Whey is a rich source of Branched-chain amino acids. Many studies have shown whey to be beneficial in helping recovery and increasing protein synthesis.
However, not all protein is created equal. The bio-availability index ranks foods on a scale. On this scale, foods with higher biological values are more readily used in protein synthesis. Below is a list of some protein sources, and their biological values:
- Whey Protein Isolate – 159
- Whey Protein Concentrate – 104
- Whole Eggs – 100
- Cows’ Milk – 91
- Beef – 80
- Casein – 77
- Soy – 74
You will see that Whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate both have values over 100. This is because the scale uses whole eggs as 100. Those with higher values have more nitrogen, and so are more readily used in protein synthesis. Looking at these numbers, it is easy to see why whey has such a great reputation as a “fast acting” protein source.
Types of Whey Protein
You’ll notice a few different types of protein when you’re looking to grab yourself some whey. Here are the three forms you will encounter:
Whey Protein Concentrate – this is the cheapest form of whey protein. It has higher levels of fat and carbs than whey protein isolate and hydrolysate. Protein content tends to be around 80%. Because it has some carbs and fat, it is the usually the choice for manufacturing meal replacements and mass gainers. It is a complete nutritional supplement, which means antioxidative properties and immune system benefits are higher. If you’re not lactose intolerant and can accept a few extra grams of carbs and fats per portion, there is not a huge reason not to buy supplements made from concentrate.
Whey Protein Isolate – contains a higher percentage of pure protein. For this reason, it is lower in carbs and fat. Its purity means it is practically cholesterol and lactose-free, too. This makes it a great choice for those who are lactose intolerant. When you see “Whey Protein 90”, or “Whey Protein 95” plastered in big letters on the front of packaging, it is usually the isolate form which allows these high percentages. If you are cutting or dieting, this is probably a better choice if you need extra protein but need to keep your calories lower.
Hydrolysed Whey Protein – this is the fasted acting of the whey protein family. This is because it is pre-digested. Pre-digestion breaks down the long chains of amino acids into single amino acids. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean it has been eaten and digested by some guy and then regurgitated. If that was something you were looking for, we are sorry to disappoint! It is done using heat, enzymes and acids. It tends to be bitter so these proteins may contain higher levels of sugar or sweeteners.
Whey or Casein Protein?
If you’re undecided as to which protein supplement to purchase, then don’t worry! While whey protein tends to be consumed post-workout (due to its faster digestion), new studies suggest that casein protein is just as good as your post-workout shake. We’ve also produced an article on the matter – Whey vs Casein. However, it all comes down to personal preference. At Fitness Savvy, we prefer casein protein as it has a thicker consistency and is more filling which is great if you are in a caloric deficit and find yourself getting hungry between meals. It is also a better option during body re-composition.
Safety of Whey Protein
It is a fact that plant-based proteins are healthier than animal proteins. However, there is very little in life that won’t harm you when consumed to excess. At Fitness Savvy, we recommend taking the supplement which best suits your immediate goals. However, if you’re supplementing with animal proteins such as whey and casein, be sure to get plenty of protein and fibre from plant-based sources. We have a huge range of vegan protein for you to take a look at – and recommend you do!
If you’re in doubt about how to get enough complete proteins – or even how much protein you need in general (it’s probably less than you think!) check out the Fitness Savvy protein calculator. In addition to the comprehensive calculator, you’ll find some awesome advice on complete proteins and links to useful sources where you can find out which foods combine to make complete protein chains.
At Fitness Savvy, we have tons of protein supplements for you to filter and compare prices on. We highly recommend heading over and checking them out.