Not all protein is created equal. In fact, some forms of protein, like whey for example, are way better than others. But whey is more than just a protein… it contains so much more and all of which can give significant benefits to the user. That’s us by the ‘whey’!
But before we get into the nitty gritty of whey protein in particular, let’s first have a little think and answer a deceptively simple question…
What is protein?
Protein is an essential part of any healthy, balanced diet. It is quite simply, the building blocks our body is made of. Proteins are made up of chains of smaller blocks called amino acids and are used to make some really important things such as tendons, muscles, tendons, even our organs and skin.
Protein plays a critical role in:
- Immune function
- Improving lean muscle mass
- Injury prevention
As active people, when we exercise, we damage (in a good way) our muscles, connective tissues, ligaments & tendons to stimulate adaptation and repair.
In simple terms, without regular protein consumption you will not optimise your training adaptations and your health and immune systems may be compromised.
And that brings us back to whey protein...
But what exactly is whey protein?
Whey protein is simply the protein fraction of whey, and comes from the liquid that separates from milk when we make cheese. Fun fact for you there!
Whey protein is a complete, high-quality protein and contains ALL of the essential amino acids and even some branched chain amino acids or BCAAs. And, when mixed with a flavouring of some kind, it can actually be a really tasty and convenient way to increase our overall daily protein intake.
Proteins that supply all nine of the essential amino acids (the one’s your body cannot make on its own) and some BCAAs are the gold standard, and you guessed it, whey protein is loaded with them!
One of the advantages of whey protein is that it is also naturally rich in beneficial amino acids such as cysteine and leucine. Cysteine raises the natural antioxidant levels in the body and leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis to promote the growth of lean muscle mass.
Whey protein is more than just a protein source however. It can also contain a number of other beneficial nutrients and has been shown to help reduce inflammation, treat type 2 diabetes and is highly satiating (filling) too.
Whey protein powder is considered the most widely used supplement in sports nutrition. Most commonly associated with strength, speed, and power athletes, however, whey protein has now been shown to be beneficial in endurance-based sports too.
This is because protein has been shown, through thousands of scientific studies and through independent research, to contribute to both the growth and maintenance of muscle mass.
What’s really interesting is how taking whey protein has become more mainstream. This is because more and more experts are recommending using them as part of a healthy diet.
This is partly because years of research from the European Food and Safety Authority found that protein has many more benefits beyond growth in muscle mass.
In fact, it’s been found to contribute to the maintenance of normal bones too. Just one reason why shakes like active whey & collagen are no longer strictly used by athletes, but also by people pursuing a healthy diet too.
Now, if you were to search for whey protein on the internet or perhaps speak to a fellow fitness enthusiast, you might come across a few words that you might not be familiar with. More often than not, these will refer to the TYPE of whey protein that supplements contain.
We have different forms of whey protein as a result of different levels of processing and as a result they do differ in their nutritional value.
There are 3 main types of whey protein:
And each of these has both their pros AND cons!
Whey protein concentrate is perhaps the most common form of whey protein out there on the market. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deliver on its promise. In fact it is probably the most cost effective out of the three.
Whey protein concentrate is about 80% protein. The other 20% contains some lactose and a little bit of fat. Overall, whey protein concentrate is usually the go to choice as it the cheapest, retains almost all of the beneficial nutrients found in whey and also generally tastes better too.
This is usually because of the leftover lactose and fat but also because natural flavouring can be more easily added without affecting the powder blend too much.
Whey protein isolate on the other hand, is about 90% protein and contains less lactose and fat but lacks a lot of the extra nutrients in a concentrate formulation. Because an isolate blend has a lower lactose content, they are usually the supplement of choice for those who are lactose intolerant for example.
However, the actual lactose content in both concentrate and isolate is low enough to be suitable for you if you are lactose intolerant. The
Isolate blends contain more protein because it goes through a much finer and more technical manufacturing process. As a result, the cost to produce and therefore to purchase does rise significantly compared to a concentrate for a relatively small improvement in overall functionality.
For example, simply by taking a slightly higher dose of whey concentrate will provide you the same total amount of protein as you would get from an isolate and often at a much lower cost.
Isolate blends also lose that natural sweetness and taste that concentrate blends are famous for. If you are particularly taste sensitive this is something to consider when you are in the market for your whey protein supplement.
Last but not least we Also known as hydrolyzed whey, this form of whey protein has been pre-digested by special enzymes so that it can be absorbed faster in the human body. As a result of this extra level of processing, this is an even more costly process so naturally the cost of purchasing whey protein hydrolysate will be much higher again.
Both isolate and hydrolysate options are great for those of us who want to maximise protein intake whilst keeping excess carbs and fat relatively low.
So why should I take whey protein?
Overall, whey protein supplements (in any form) are an exceptionally quick and healthy way to top up your daily protein intake with a high quality protein source that the body is able to absorb and utilise effectively.
Why not try our U Perform active whey & collagen. A next generation recovery formulation with each serving providing over 20g of premium whey protein concentrate including your BCAAs; but also 6g of FORTIGEL® Bioactive Collagen Peptides® too.
U Perform active whey & collagen is the first whey and collagen protein powder blend and offers premium ingredients, maximum functionality AND excellent value for money; so you can train harder and recover quicker without breaking the bank. It's also available in two great tasting flavours too!
Try active whey & collagen today to SEE and FEEL the difference for yourself!