Why the Whey?
When thinking of protein shakes, most people picture body builders and athletes. It is important to know that not all protein is created equal. Some forms of protein, such as whey, are better than others. Studies have shown that the inclusion of whey protein can also help encourage weight loss. The inclusion of a whey protein with a balanced diet and exercise can encourage fat loss, increase satiety, deliver essential nutrients and even improve metabolic activity.
What is Whey?
Whey is a complex protein that contains an incredible range of essential amino acids, which are absorbed quickly. Whey protein is the protein contained in whey, the watery portion of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese – think Little Miss Muffet.
If you’ve ever opened a yogurt container to see liquid floating on top, this is whey. Cheese makers used to discard it before they discovered its commercial value. After being separated during cheese production, whey goes through a series of processing steps to become what people generally recognize as whey protein… a powder that is added to shakes, meal replacements and protein bars. Over the past few decades, whey protein powders have evolved several generations from low-grade concentrates to very high-grade concentrates and isolates.
Whey protein has become a staple supplement for most bodybuilders and other athletes because it’s a great protein. Whey protein is becoming more popular among those trying to lose weight as well. However, whey is more than just protein. There are tons of other nutrients in there, some with great health benefits.
Health Benefits of Whey Protein
Whey protein has also been shown to have benefits for blood pressure, blood sugar and even helping to treat symptoms of HIV and cancer. Studies have shown that consumption of whey protein can also have a positive effect on stress and on depression. In fact, whey is one of the best studied supplements in the world.
Reading the Label
Whey protein doesn’t taste very good on its own, which is why it is usually flavored. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavored powders are the most popular. It’s important that you read the ingredients list as some companies have added unhealthy additives like refined sugar. There are several different types of whey used in protein powders; the main difference between the different types is the way they are processed and the amount of protein.
- Concentrate: About 70-80% protein. Contains some lactose (milk sugar) and fat, and has the best flavor.
- Isolate: 90% protein, or higher. Contains less lactose and fat, and is missing a lot of the beneficial nutrients found in whey protein concentrate.
- Hydrolysate: Also known as hydrolyzed whey, this type has been pre-digested so that it gets absorbed faster. It causes a 28-43% greater spike in insulin levels than isolate
Whey protein concentrate is the most popular form of the whey protein; it is the cheapest and retains most of the beneficial nutrients found naturally in whey. Many people also prefer the taste, which is probably because of the small amounts of lactose and fat. It is important to note that most of the studies conducted used whey protein isolate rather than concentrate.
The Secret to Weight Loss
One of the best known secret to weight loss is feeling full. Satiety is a term used to describe the feeling of fullness we experience after eating a meal.
Some foods are more satiating than others, an effect which is partly mediated by their macronutrient (protein, carb, fat) composition. Protein is by far the most filling of the three macronutrients, but not all proteins have the same effect on satiety. Whey protein has proven to be more satiating than other types of protein, such as casein and soy. These properties make it particularly useful for those who need to eat fewer calories and lose weight.
Australian researchers had 28 obese men consume four different drinks. Those who consumed the beverage containing 50 grams of whey had significantly reduced levels of ghrelin (a hormone that tells your brain you’re hungry) up to four hours later.
Adding Whey to Your Daily Intake
When it comes to muscle gain and fat loss, protein is the king of nutrients, and whey protein is better than other forms of quality protein. Taking whey protein is a convenient way to add 25-50 grams of protein on top of your daily intake which is important for people who need to lose weight or are simply lacking protein in their balanced diet.