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Whey Protein: Should You Use It?Updated 3 months ago

We all hear about 1,000 different things that can help when it comes to our health and fitness goals. For this reason, it can be really hard to know what's out there that can help the most.

Whether you're trying to gain muscle, lose weight, or even improve your quality of life ... Using the right tools can play a big role in helping you reach your goal. What's even more important is making sure your body is getting the right nutrients.

Now, while all nutrients can be important ... I would argue that for any fitness-specific goal, protein is the most important. This can even be true when it comes to helping you look and feel your best!

That's why one thing that should be at the top of your list when it comes to tools/supplements is whey protein. Today, I'll tell you everything you need to know about whey protein and how it can help you reach your goals!

WHY IS PROTEIN SO IMPORTANT?

Before we dive right into whey protein, why is protein itself so important?

Well, protein is one of the 3 important macronutrients. In short, it's essential for the health of your body. Proteins are even known as the building blocks of your body.

To expand on this, protein plays a role in nearly every cell that is inside of your body (1). That alone should tell you how important it is.

You see, protein is made up of amino acids. Your body uses these amino acids to carry out several daily processes and functions.

For example, amino acids can help repair damaged cells, regulate hormones, and improve hair, skin, and nail health. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The list does go on and on.

But, as it pertains to your fitness goals, protein is important for building and maintaining lean muscle. However, that doesn't mean protein is only necessary when you're trying to build muscle.

I say this because the more muscle your body has, the more calories your body will burn at rest. This is a big reason why it's important to get enough protein even if your goal is to lose body fat.

Now, I'm sure you're wondering, what makes whey protein so great?

WHAT IS WHEY PROTEIN?


Whey protein is a type of protein that is derived from dairy (2). It's separated from milk, and normally dehydrated into a powder.

Most typically, you'll find 3 different types of whey proteins. These would be Whey Protein Concentrates, Whey Protein Isolates, and Whey Protein Hydrolysates. I'll explain what each of these are below:

1. WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE

Whey protein concentrate is the one that you'll see most often. This type of whey protein is most typically marketed as a meal replacement.

Heck, you'll even find whey protein concentrate as the main ingredients in many protein bars and snacks.

In short, it's a concentrated source of whey protein that mimics the digestion of whole food. Think of whey protein concentrate as if it were a chicken breast.

Typically, whey protein concentrates are between 35%-85% protein by weight. The remaining percentage of these powders are carbs and fats.

2. WHEY PROTEIN ISOLATE

Now, what is whey protein isolate? Well, a whey protein isolate is exactly what it sounds like. It's an isolated source of whey protein. As opposed to whey protein concentrate, whey isolate has most of the fats and lactose (milk sugars) removed.

For this reason, whey protein isolates are usually in the form of a powder for post-workout. That's because they can digest faster in the absence of the fat found in a whey protein concentrate.

A whey protein isolate is usually 88% or more protein by weight.

3. WHEY PROTEIN HYDROLYSATE

Whey protein hydrolysate is a form of whey protein that can come in concentrate or isolate forms. I know this sounds confusing, so let me explain.

Whey protein hydrolysate is a hydrolyzed form of whey protein. So, what does that mean?

Well, hydrolysis is a process where the protein chains are broken down further in a sense. This is because the peptide bonds in the protein are cleaved from the starting protein.

Hydrolysis can either be accomplished with high heat and acids, or by adding proteolytic enzymes (enzymes that break down protein). But, enough of the science ... This is just important for you to know because these whey proteins can digest and assimilate more quickly. In a way, the protein is pre-digested because your body doesn't have to work as hard to break the protein down.

Oftentimes, you'll find that protein isolates come hydrolyzed as an extra benefit for post-workout use. Just know that a protein can come hydrolyzed at any degree, measured by the degree of hydrolysis (DH). So, to keep it simple, 0% DH would mean the protein is not hydrolyzed ... 100% DH would mean the protein is broken down to its absolute purest form.

BENEFITS OF USING WHEY PROTEIN

Whey protein can be beneficial for helping you reach your goals in many ways. For example, a rapid-digesting whey protein can be great for improving recovery. This is where a whey protein isolate, or even a hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, can make a difference.

On top of that, whey protein can be a great way to increase your daily protein intake. Whey protein concentrates and whey protein blends are quick, easy, and affordable. They're often less expensive than any other complete protein sources you can find.

I don't have much time during the day to sit down and eat a high-quality protein source like beef or chicken. That's why I'll mix up a whey protein blend to help hit my protein goal for the day in just a matter of seconds!

Now, I always recommend using whey protein to complement your diet. Whole foods should always come first. But when you're falling short on protein, whey protein is a phenomenal option to help you get more.

On top of just being a great way to get more protein in, whey protein has also been shown to help:

• Improve body composition
Reduce cardiovascular risk factors
Support the health of nearly every single cell in your body (2)

With all of these great things, you may be wondering, are there any downsides?

THE DOWNSIDES OF WHEY PROTEIN

Whey protein is one of the most researched supplements in the world. I am happy to say that there are very few negative side effects that are associated with it.

Unless you have a dairy allergy, there isn't much you have to worry about.

Even so, I need to mention that not ALL whey protein products are made equally. There are a lot out there that you'd be best avoiding altogether. Some are high in sugar, taste gross, or most importantly: come processed poorly.

I always advise people to look for 2 things when looking for a whey protein to use. You’ll know it's a high-quality whey protein when it comes:

1. Low-Temperature Processed

2. Cross-Flow Micro-Filtered

These are two processing methods that are the gold standard in the world of whey protein.

Low-temperature processing is when the whey protein is processed at lower temperatures. This can help spare heat-sensitive amino acids from being denatured in the process. The result is a more amino-acid rich source of protein for your body.

The reason this processing method isn't used often is because it's expensive. If a whey protein touts that it comes low-temperature processed, that's a great thing! If it doesn't, you can almost guarantee it doesn't come processed at lower temperatures.

Cross-flow microfiltration is another thing to look for, and for good reason. This is a filtration method that uses ceramic membranes to remove fat, lactose, and non-dissolved particles. An alternative to cross-flow micro-filtration would be ion-exchange filtration.

Ion-exchange filtration is where chemicals and high heat separate the amino acids by ionic charge. This denatures more protein and exposes it to harsh chemicals. Oftentimes, this makes the protein taste gross and over-processed too.

So, make sure to keep an eye out for these things when you do pick out a whey protein powder.

ONE LAST TIP WITH WHEY PROTEIN

As I mentioned earlier, not all whey protein powders and supplements are made alike. Some taste good, and some taste bad. Some are processed well, and others are not. Some are ideal meals, and some are ideal for after your workouts.

At 1st Phorm, our mission is to help real people get real and long-term results. Part of that is understanding that the best results come from the best products possible. That's why our whey protein powders check all the right boxes when it comes to processing, filtration, and flavor.

If you're looking for a whey protein that can help you recover faster, look no further than our Phormula-1! Phormula-1 is a hydrolyzed whey protein isolate that comes available in over a dozen delicious flavors. Plus, if you're looking to cut out artificial sweeteners, we also offer Phormula-1 Natural.

If you're looking for a whey protein powder that's ideal for meals and snacks, that's where Level-1 comes in. Level-1 is a whey protein blend of whey protein concentrate, milk protein, and whey protein isolate. Like Phormula-1, Level-1 is also available in a naturally-sweetened version: Level-1 Natural.

As I said, some whey protein powders are going to trump others in quality and taste. The same can be said when it comes to helping you reach your goals as well!

But no matter what your goals may be, I want you to know we're here to help. We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches for that reason! Just reach out to our team at [email protected] or give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 any day of the week from 6 AM - 10 PM Central.

REFERENCES:

(1). Kreider, Richard B, and Bill Campbell. “Protein for exercise and recovery.” The Physician and sportsmedicine vol. 37,2 (2009): 13-21. doi:10.3810/psm.2009.06.1705

(2). Wirunsawanya, Kamonkiat et al. “Whey Protein Supplementation Improves Body Composition and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition vol. 37,1 (2018): 60-70. doi:10.1080/07315724.2017.1344591

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