Whey protein

What is Whey Protein?

Whey proteins are extracted from whey, which is the liquid portion of milk obtained during the manufacturing of cheese. Currently, however, it is also possible to obtain whey protein by removing proteins from milk prior to cheese making. Whey proteins constitute about 20% of the total amount of proteins found in milk, with the remaining 80% essentially consisting of casein.

Whey proteins are extracted and purified through the use of various techniques that yield different concentrations. When using microfiltration, for instance, the proteins are filtered through a membrane whereas by using the ion exchange process they are extracted by taking advantage of their electric charge. The filtration process is what makes most of the difference between the various types of whey proteins available. Different methods lead to distinct production costs as well as purity levels. The more thorough the filtration process, the higher the percentage of actual protein and the lower the carbohydrate and fat content.

Different Whey Protein forms

  • Whey protein concentrate: minimal filtration with 70% to 80% protein, the remainder consisting of fats and carbohydrates.
  • Whey protein isolate: thorough filtration, resulting in a supplement with about 95% protein, which makes it more expensive and purer than whey concentrate, with much lower levels of fats and sugars.
  • Hydrolysed whey protein: besides being thoroughly filtered, it was also subjected to a process of hydrolysis, which means the protein structure is broken down into shorter peptide chains that are more easily absorbed by the body.

Main benefits of Whey Protein:

  • Complete essential amino acid profile, being particularly rich in branched-chain amino acids
  • Source of amino acids essential for muscle synthesis
  • Source of bioactive peptides, responsible for several biological activities

References

Bendtsen LQ et al. Effect of Dairy Proteins on Appetite, Energy Expenditure, Body Weight, and Composition: a Review of the Evidence from Controlled Clinical Trials. Advances in Nutrition. 2013;4(4):418-438. doi:10.3945/an.113.003723.

Mcgregor RA & Poppitt SD. Milk protein for improved metabolic health: a review of the evidence. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2013;10(1):46. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-46.

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