Whey Protein Powder FAQ
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What is Whey Protein and Where does it Come From?
These amino acids form the building blocks of the tissues throughout our body, playing a vital role in everything from the growth and repair of muscles to optimal immune system function.
Production of Whey Protein Powder
The term “curds and whey” typically refers to the two proteins that are found in milk: casein and whey.
Casein is the solid fraction or “curd” in the milk while whey constitutes the liquid portion, and the two are processed by means of a selection of enzymes which are added to milk to cause the proteins to separate.
From here, the whey protein is then pasteurized and dried, thereby leaving a concentrated whey protein powder.
There are further processing steps which take place after this, and the next steps taken will determine which type of whey protein is created as the final product.
What Types of Whey Protein Powders are there?
The most common types of whey protein found on the market are noted below in order of purity:
- Whey Protein Concentrate (least pure)
- Whey Protein Isolate
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate (purest)
is considered the least pure form of whey and is often the cheapest, making it a potentially ideal choice for people who want to increase their dietary protein intake while operating on a tight budget.
is further refined to remove the majority of the fat and milk sugars (lactose), resulting in a far purer product that digests more rapidly.
Finally, whey protein hydrolysate refers to whey isolate that has undergone a process known as hydrolysis. This process breaks down the peptide bonds in the proteins creating what is essentially a pre-digested form of whey protein . Hydrolysaterequires essentially no digestion once it reaches the gut, making it the most rapidly absorbed and utilized type of protein powder on the market.
How does Whey Protein Work and What are the Benefits?
As mentioned above, whey protein contains a wide spectrum of amino acids, thus providing our bodies with the basic building blocks required for the growth and repair of muscle tissues.
Whey protein is also a great source of branched-chain amino acids or BCAA, the most important of which is L-Leucine.
L-Leucine is responsible for triggering protein synthesis in the body, which means that whey protein provides you not only with the amino acids your body needs to recover from exercise; it also contains enough L-Leucine to stimulate the process which allows your body to actually utilize those amino acids .
Diets containing a higher quantity of protein have also been shown to offer far greater satiating effects than their lower-protein counterparts.
This makes whey protein powder a great addition to the diet of any of you who are trying to lose weight as it is instrumental in reducing appetite as well as providing a measurable boost to one’s metabolic rate .
Another more obvious benefit of whey protein is its convenience.
One or two scoops of whey protein powder can be carried around with you in a shaker bottle throughout the day until you are ready to add some water to it and mix it into a shake.
What’s more, whey protein powder can be added to a multitude of foods ranging from oatmeal to soup, and the unflavored varieties add very little in the way of taste or texture, meaning that you can add health-promoting, appetite-suppressing protein to your diet while barely noticing it in your meals.
Related: Make a High Calorie Protein Shake
Who Can Benefit from Using a Whey Protein Supplement?
Anyone who is looking to prevent muscle loss, boost muscle hypertrophy, reduce their appetite, and increase their metabolic rate will benefit from whey protein.
This may include individuals such as:
- Athletes and bodybuilders;
- Elderly people ;
- People who are dieting; and
- Young people in their developmental years
Whey protein is a well-rounded food that is suitable as a staple protein source in the diet of just about any person who wants to improve their overall health and well being in the long term.
Do Any Foods Contain Whey Protein?
Whey protein powder is perfectly comparable to other high-quality protein sources such as:
- Eggs; and
- Other dairy products
Whey protein and other high-quality proteins are far more suitable for those of us engaging in frequent exercise.
Whey protein is often added to processed foods ranging from breads and crackers to frozen yogurt, but these are not quality sources of protein overall.
Seeing as whey is a milk protein, it can be found in cheese, yogurt, and of course, milk.
The best option for those looking to add even more whey protein to their diet is to purchase a refined whey protein powder supplement.
Assessing the Quality of Whey Protein Powder vs. Other Protein Sources
Other arguably lower-quality protein sources such as nuts, legumes, rice, beans, and seeds, typically provide incomplete proteins which do not offer a full amino acid profile.
Worse yet is the fact that these incomplete proteins are often lacking in BCAA or L-Leucine, meaning that they are inferior when it comes to stimulating protein synthesis.
This makes protein powder an ideal accompaniment to any well-rounded diet as a supplement.
Does Whey Protein Powder Have any Side Effects?
The main precaution associated with whey protein is for those who suffer from lactose intolerance or other forms of milk allergy.
Whey concentrate contains far higher levels of lactose than whey protein isolate and particularly whey protein hydrolysate, so if you do suffer from lactose intolerance then you are typically advised to opt for the purer hydrolyzed forms of whey protein.
What’s more, the primary allergen in milk aside from lactose seems to be the “curd” protein, casein.
With this in mind, whey protein powders should be suitable for sufferers of casein-related allergies.
Caution should of course be exercised at all times when using any dairy products if you do suffer from any dairy-related issues, and this can be done by ensuring you start with very small servings to assess your tolerance before consuming larger quantities.
Note: We recommend speaking to a doctor before taking any supplements.
Is Too Much Protein Bad for Me?
Unless you suffer from a pre-existing kidney condition, this is highly unlikely.
There is a common misconception that consuming excessive amounts of protein causes the kidneys to work overtime, potentially resulting in harmful effects.
One thing that is worth noting is that protein can have a diuretic effect in higher quantities, so you will want to make sure you are adding plenty of water to your protein shakes to ensure your body is well equipped to process and utilize those high-quality proteins.
Related: Best Supplements for Gaining Weight
Can I Use Protein Shakes for My Entire Protein Intake?
This is generally not recommended.
All protein sources offer a range of different amino acids in different ratios, all providing their own benefits to health and exercise recovery.
Furthermore, people who do not suffer from lactose intolerance or milk allergies may still develop digestive issues over time if the same protein sources are consumed in excess for days, weeks, and months on end.
To avoid this, eat a variety of protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, and beef, and consider rotating your protein powder types and / or brands once every several months or so.
How Much Whey Protein Should I Take?
The amount of whey protein you consume on a daily basis is going to be largely dependent on your health and activity levels.
Quantities ranging from 0.4 – 0.75g per pound of bodyweight are recommended for the general maintenance of health , but athletes and bodybuilders may benefit from consuming anything from 1 – 2g per pound of bodyweight.
In the interest of digestive health and budgetary concerns, you are advised to start at the lower end of the spectrum before increasing your protein intake based on your physical performance and recovery from exercise.
Choosing a Good Whey Protein Supplement
Generally speaking, whey protein can be used any time that you want to add some protein to your diet, be it as a supplement to a meal or as a meal replacement.
In the context of athletic activities, whey protein isolate is highly suitable as a fast-digesting protein source that can be quickly absorbed into your bloodstream post-workout to help you recover more effectively from your exercise sessions .
Whey protein hydrolysate is so pure and so rapidly absorbed that many athletes and bodybuilders actually use it intra-workout (during workouts) to provide a constant stream of pre-digested amino acids to the muscles .
- You can use Whey Protein Concentrate for general use throughout the day as a supplement to meals or a meal replacement.
- You can use Whey Protein Isolate for general use and as a fast-digesting protein source first thing in the morning of after bouts of exercise.
- You can use Whey Protein Hydrolysate as an extremely fast-digesting protein source first thing in the morning, after bouts of exercise, or during your workouts to provide your muscles with a steady stream of amino acids.
Be sure to check out our whey protein powder reviews and top 10 lists for more information on specific brands and varieties of whey protein supplements.
This will help to give you a well-rounded understanding of the different levels of quality that are available so that you can find a great combination of products to suit your health needs, training goals, and budgetary requirements.
 Tang JE, et al. Minimal whey protein with carbohydrate stimulates muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise in trained young men. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2007; 32: 1132-38.
 Halton TL and Hu FB. The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004; 23(5): 373-85.
 Timmerman KL, Volpi E. Amino acid metabolism and regulatory effects in aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2008 Jan;11(1):45-9.
 IOM (Institute of Medicine). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids,Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 2005; 589-90.
 Howarth KR, et al. Coingestion of protein with carbohydrate during recovery from endurance exercisestimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in humans. J Apply Physiol. 2009; 106: 1394-1402.
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Please note: This FAQ has not been written or reviewed by a doctor or medical professional and is therefore not to be used to prevent, diagnose, or treat any disease or illness. Nor should it be used as medical reference.