Whey protein is one of the most popular supplements available today, and it is a high quality protein powder from cow’s milk. In case you were wondering, 20% of milk’s protein is whey, while the remaining 80% is casein. This is why just drinking milk isn’t the same as a whey protein shake. I No, milk only contains about 1% of whey protein. In order to get all the benefits of whey protein, you need to take a concentrated whey protein powder.
Many are also curious about exactly how it is made, but it is a rather simple process. First, the milk is pasteurized and then inspected to make sure there are no impurities. The remaining ‘curd’ from the milk (casein) is then separated and used for other products before the liquid whey is screened through a series of filters to remove lactose and other components. The concentrated liquid form of whey is then put into an ion exchange tower to further concentrate the whey product and to remove any remaining impurities while at the same time being gentle enough to not denature the protein. Finally, it is put through a drying tower to make it into the recognizable powder form. From there, it has the additives such as flavorings, glutamine, etc. added and is then packaged.
For those who are interested in the individual components that make up whey protein, they include: Beta- lactoglobulin, Alpha-lactalbumin, Immunoglubulins, Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA), Lactoperoxidase, Glycomacropeptide (GMP), and Lysozyme. Recently there have also been beneficial items such as digestive enzymes or probiotics added as well to further enhance the bioavailability of the protein.
The purest and most concentrated form of whey protein is whey isolate. It contains 90% or more protein and very little (if any) fat and lactose. Whey protein concentrate has anywhere between 29% and 89% protein depending upon the product. As the protein level in whey protein concentrate decreases the amounts of fat and/or lactose usually increase.
It is also important to keep in mind that all whey proteins aren’t created equal. Many factors that can influence the quality of the protein include the number and quality of essential amino acids, digestion and absorption rate, overall fat content, taste of the product, and overall purity of the product.
You will want to start with a basic whey protein and use a single serving post workout at the bare-minimum. Most users will find that the standard serving size of 25-30 grams is adequate and more protein in one serving isn’t better. Your body can only utilize a certain amount in a given time period, so shooting over that amount in a single sitting is overkill.