However, since it’s not always convenient or easy to do so, I suggest occasionally using whey protein.
What Is Whey Protein?
There are 2 types of milk proteins: casein and whey.
Whey can be understood either as the liquid byproduct of cheesemaking, or the proteins actually present in that liquid. Sometimes liquid whey will rise to the top of yogurt or cottage cheese after it sits in the fridge for a time. If you've ever dripped your own yogurt, you'll recognize it as the cloudy liquid that's squeezed out of the yogurt.
Today, however, we'll be talking about whey protein. These proteins, when curdled, form the basis of ricotta cheese. When dried, they are sold as a protein supplement.
Are There Benefits Of Whey Protein?
Yes! Let's explore them below…
#1 — Whey protein builds muscle and preserves lean body mass.
Whey creates and repairs muscle. Many athletes and bodybuilders use it for this reason. It is important for the elderly, too. One study found that whey protein may also help prevent muscle wasting that can come with aging (source).
#2 — Whey protein suppresses appetite, promotes weight loss, and prevents and treats obesity.
The British Journal of Nutrition published a study in which 35 young adults were given 1 of 3 breakfasts:
- normal protein breakfast
- a normal protein breakfast + added whey to create a high protein breakfast
- a normal protein breakfast + alpha-lactalbumin-enriched whey to create a high protein breakfast
The 2 high protein breakfasts with whey increased energy while suppressing hunger and the desire to eat. (Source.)
In a separate 12-week study, participants given whey protein lost more body fat and less lean muscle compared to the group that didn’t use whey. (Source.)
#3 — Whey protein improves metabolism.
In another trial study, overweight and obese individuals with pre-existing metabolic risks were given 54 grams of whey protein per day for 3 months. By the end of the study, they had notably improved their metabolic health. (Source.)
#4 — Whey protein has other health benefits, like…
- reducing blood pressure (source)
- preventing and treating of type 2 diabetes (source)
- enhancing immunity (source)
- reducing inflammation (source)
How Is Whey Protein Processed?
Whey is most often processed in 2 ways: as whey protein isolate or as whey protein concentrate.
Whey protein isolate has a higher protein content, but goes through more processing and filtering. This processing makes it absorb better and build muscle faster, but it also damages (denatures) the proteins.
Once whey protein has been denatured…
- it can cause dry mouth, which increases the risk for tooth decay and other problems in the mouth (source and source)
- beta-lactoglobulin, the most abundant whey protein in cow's milk that enhances immune response, is destroyed (source)
- it can be overly acidic because the alkalizing minerals, vitamins, and lipids are destroyed (source)
Whey protein concentrate is less processed which means it's not as “pure”. In other words, the protein content is lower than that of the isolate. So, while it will build muscle, it won't build as fast as isolate would.
However, non-denatured whey protein concentrate still contains its immunity factors and much of whey's health benefits.
Which Whey Protein Is Best?
The answer depends on what you're looking for!
If you want to build muscle fast and have no health concerns, whey protein isolate is best.
If you want to maintain the health and immunity benefits of whey while building muscle more slowly, whey protein concentrate is best.
Either way, look for a whey protein with these characteristics:
- comes from milk without growth hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides
- comes from grass-fed cows
- is non-GMO
- does not contain soy
- contains no additives like artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, emulsifiers, dyes, etc.
Which Brand Is Best?
All of these brands are great for a Real Foodie:
- Vital Whey (Wardee recommends this brand.)
- Naked Whey (After all this research, this is the brand I choose. Lindsey, our content director, also uses this brand.)
- Tera’s Whey
- Professional Whey
Do you use whey protein for its benefits? Which whey protein do you choose?
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