Whey Protein: Explained
Jan 3rd, 2015
WHAT IS WHEY?
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Whey is the liquid component of cow’s milk, which is separated from the solid component, curd, in the cheese-making process. Natural whey contains water, protein, fat, minerals, and lactose.
Whey protein products are produced when the protein elements in whey are separated through special filtering processes or by ion exchange. The filtration process removes the lactose and fat and leaves a highly concentrated protein that is dried into a highly functional protein powder. Ion exchange isolates the protein from the lactose and fat due to its electrical charge. Whey protein is a high quality, complete protein and contains all nine essential amino acids, the building blocks of healthy muscles, skin, nails and other body tissues.
WHAT MAKES WHEY DIFFERENT THAN OTHER FORMS OF PROTEIN?
Scientists have various methods of measuring protein quality. Biological Value (BV) is a measure of a particular protein’s effect on nitrogen balance (the more positive the better). The protein digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) is a measure of how well a particular protein supplies the nine essential amino acids (the more completely the better). The chart below shows how whey protein stacks up against other types of protein.
|Biological Value (BV) **the more positive, the better||Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS)|
In addition, whey protein empties from the stomach and is absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestine faster than other proteins. Due to whey’s quick digestion it has been called the ‘fast protein’ and is the preferred protein to flood the body with amino acids so muscles can begin to recover quicker. Moreover, whey protein contains especially high concentrations of the branched chain amino acids that are metabolized at high rates during exercise—most notably valine, isoleucine and leucine.
HOW IS WHEY PROTEIN USED?
Whey protein is extremely versatile as a functional food and a nutraceutical. It is used in powdered drink mixes, protein bars, infant formulas, meal replacement shakes, smoothies, healthy baked goods, flavored waters, and many other products.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF WHEY?
Whey protein empties from the stomach and is absorbed into the bloodstream from the intestines faster than other proteins. Due to whey’s quick digestion it has been called the ‘fast protein’ and is the preferred protein to flood the body with amino acids so muscles can begin to recover quicker.
Whey protein is scientifically proven to confer a number of health and performance benefits. Numerous studies have shown that whey protein supplementation, due to its superior amino acid profile, enhances the muscle and strength-building effects of exercise. Research also suggests that whey protein may improve digestion and gut health, lower blood pressure, increase glucose uptake in diabetics, strengthen bones, and slow certain aspects of the aging process when combined with exercise.
CAN WHEY HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT?
Whey protein provides more satiety with fewer calories than carbohydrates or fat. Research suggests that whey protein supplementation reduces appetite and eating, thus promoting weight loss. In a recent study from the University of Oklahoma, overweight subjects lost 9.3 percent of their fat mass in 10 weeks without dieting by combining exercise with whey protein supplementation. Another study compared daily intake of whey protein, soy protein and carbohydrate on overweight subjects for six months. After six months the whey protein group weighed less, had less body fat and lost more inches around the waist when compared to the carbohydrate group. While body weight was not different between the whey and soy groups, the whey group lost more inches around the waist than the soy group. Other research has shown that whey protein supplementation combined with calorie restriction results in more than twice as much fat loss as calorie restriction alone.
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