Whey protein is extracted from the aqueous portion of milk, known as whey or milk serum, and corresponds to approximately 20% of the total amount of protein found in cow's milk, with the remaining 80% essentially consisting of casein. After extracting and isolating the milk serum, it is filtered to take out the fat and the carbohydrates.
Whey proteins can be extracted through the use of different processes. By microfiltration, for instance, the milk proteins are physically extracted by using a microscopic filter, whereas by using the ion exchange process, the proteins from the serum 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 protein that are available. The different processes that can be used can make for distinct production costs as well as purity. The better the filtration process, the less the carbohydrate and fat contents will be, and the higher the percentage of actual protein.
Different whey products:
- Whey protein concentrate - minimal filtration (the most cost-friendly method) with 70% to 80% of protein, and the remainder consisting of fat and carbohydrates.
- Whey protein isolate - thorough filtration, resulting in a supplement with about 95% of protein, which makes it a more expensive and purer form than whey concentrate. It is therefore highly recommended for athletes following a strict and rigorous diet.
- Hydrolyzed whey protein - this protein is not only thoroughly filtered, but is also subjected to a process of hydrolysis. This means that the protein structure is broken down into shorter peptide chains that are more easily absorbed by the body.
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