What is Whey Protein? And it’s Benefits

 “The best time to ingest whey is in the morning on an empty stomach with water and as a post workout drink”

The use of Whey dates back to over 2500 years. It is said that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was the first one to use it to enhance muscle power and immune system function. Not much is known thereafter until the use of Whey was rediscovered by the Swiss in the 16th century, when they started using it in health spas.

The first commercial use of Whey protein for the purpose of developing a good physique was introduced by American pharmacist Eugene Schiff. Though the protein was being sold in the form of soy and egg protein initially, due to the cheap availability of its raw materials and lack of research, it not only tasted bad but was actually of extremely low quality. It was only in the early 1990s after Dan Duchaine began extracting pure whey by removing the fats, lactose and ash that it became the phenomena, it is now.

It contains two types of proteins – casein whey. Eighty per cent of milk is casein and only 20 per cent in whey. It is derived from liquid material which comes out during the production of cheese. Once the cheese is made and fat is removed, whey is extracted for human use. Human milk has a ration of 60 per cent whey and 40 per cent casein.

Whey is presently the highest quality protein available. It has an extremely high amino acid profile and is easily digested by lactose intolerant individuals.

Whey Protein

Benefits of Whey:

• In increases the natural glutathione levels in the body. Glutathione is one of the most powerful antioxidants ever known to man and is produced in the body naturally as an enzyme along with other antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase.

• It is one of the best supplements for optimum recovery and increased protein synthesis. It balances blood sugar levels, thus reducing cravings for food and assists in fat loss.

• Biological value is the measure of how efficiently a protein source is absorbed in the body. Egg protein is said to have the best biological value in whole foods with a value of 100. But Whey protein is said to have a value of 170.

• It is a theoretic fuel i.e. its storage and digestion in the body requires the body to spend large amounts of energy as heat, thus increasing calorie burn.

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Types of Whey:

There are a number of protein supplements available in the market like egg, soy, casein, pea, beef and whey proteins. What adds to the confusion is that each of the above has types. To simplify, whey is simply the best form of protein available in the market. It is divided in to three types concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysates.

• Whey Concentrate: These are generally the cheapest and are 70-80 per cent proteins with five per cent lactose and the rest fats. The problem with whey concentrate is that it is not suitable for lactose intolerant people.

• Whey Isolate: These are over 90 per cent proteins by weight. They are very pure and costlier than whey concentrate. Lactose intolerant people generally are comfortable with isolates.

• Whey Hydrolysates: These are the costliest and purest form available and contain over 95 per cent whey. It is used in baby milk for children who are born with lactose intolerance and those undergoing digestive surgery. Hydrolyzation is done by breaking whey and casein into even smaller peptides using special enzymes, for very fast absorption in the body.

“Whey is presently the highest quality protein available. It has an extremely high amino acid profile and is easily digested by lactose intolerant individuals”

Busting the Myths:

• Excess protein damages kidneys. Protein may be restricted for person who has a kidney disease but for a normal person it is absolutely sage at any age.

• Excess proteins sap the calcium from the bones. Proteins makes up to 50 per cent of the bone by volume and it has been proved that high proteins diets are associated with greater bone mass.

The Resource Description and Access (RDA) recommendations for daily proteins intake is adequate. This is one of the greatest myths as proteins requirements vary from person to person depending on factors like lifestyle, stress, sex, health, body type etc. RDA gives minimum requirement for a nutrient intake just enough to prevent a deficiency. It does not give optimum intake for an individual. RDA recommended value is 0.8gms/kg body wt/day which is grossly inadequate.

Research has shown that elderly people require 1.14-1.5gm/kg of proteins/day to avoid sarcopenia and osteopenia. Proteins intake of 1.2-1.6gms/kg/day for a normal individual provided immense benefits like increased weight loss, improved body composition, reduced loss of lean tissue and increased loss of body fat both over a short period and in a long term study.

As per NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) whey proteins has triumphed over all other forms of supplemental proteins for optimal recovery in sports. The best time to ingest whey is in the morning on an empty stomach with water and as a post workout drink with carbohydrates to reduce muscle breakdown and increase muscle protein synthesis.

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