The king of the protein supplements is none other than Whey protein. It is of three types – Isolate, Hydrolysates, and Concentrates. Whey protein supplements are designed to match the specific nutritional, functional as well as nutraceutical (it is a food or part of it which provides the body medical or health benefits including prevention and treatment of a disease) requirements.
But whey protein powder is not the only dietary protein supplement available. There is a vast variety present in the market. So, let’s first explore types of protein and then understand why whey protein is better than others.
1. Various Types Of Protein Supplements Include:
Well the protein supplements in the market comes under two main classification :
- Animal based protein powder supplements — the animal based supplements are often made up of either Whey or Casein or egg white protein (not very common)
- Plant based protein powder supplements — the plant based protein mainly comes from soy, peas, hemp, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
2. Animal Based Protein Supplements
A. Whey protein powder supplements :
Commercially four types of whey proteins are produced, these are:
- WPC (Whey Protein Concentrate) is 29% – 89% protein by dry weight. It is the most basic type of whey protein. It contains some fat and sugar in the form of lactose. It also contains micro and macro nutrients so a healthier option if you can ignore the number of calories as compared to other types.
- WPI (Whey Protein Isolate) is processed to remove fat and lactose, and as a result, WPI is over 90% protein by dry weight. It is a lactose free /dairy free whey alternative.
- WPH (Whey Protein Hydrolysates) are predigested and hydrolysed (for easier metabolization of whey) whey protein. The more hydrolysed versions are common constituents in baby milk formulas and medical foods as they have much smaller simple peptide chains due to which it is absorbed very quickly. They are bitter in taste and that is one of the shortcomings with WPH along with high prices.
- Native Whey Protein is obtained from skimmed milk instead of collecting it as a by-product of the cheese making process.
- The non protein part of whey protein contains water, lactose, lipids, and varied amounts of minerals.
B. Casein protein powder supplements :
Casein protein comes from the solid portion of milk (curd left after removal of whey from milk during cheese making process) unlike whey protein which is the translucent liquid part of the milk.
- Casein just like whey is a complete protein as it contains all essential amino acids.
- Casein imparts white color to the milk.
- About 80% of the cow’s milk is made up of casein.
- Casein is a slow digesting protein that takes longer time to digest and therefore can be used as a meal replacement.
- Casein powder contains lactose. So, people allergic to lactose may avoid casein supplements.
- Casein protein supplements are more expensive than whey protein supplements.
C. Egg/ Egg White protein supplements
70% of the protein in the egg comes from egg whites. Egg white is 90% water and 10% protein.
- Egg protein is a complete protein.
- It is a dairy free protein. So suitable for people allergic to dairy (lactose).
- It is low in saturated fat and cholesterol as yolk is not used.
Plant Based Protein Supplements
Coming to plant based protein supplements soy protein is the first choice as it is the only plant based complete protein with all essential amino acids. But if you compare the amount of amino acids in per gram of protein powder then soy is behind whey, casein and other animal based proteins. So, for that reason you have to increase the quantity of soy protein to match the protein intake fulfilled by animal proteins. Other plant based protein are pea, nuts, etc
What Is Whey Protein And Who Needs It ?
Whey protein is a mix of proteins and basically is a by-product (earlier it was considered a waste product) of the process of making cheese from milk. It consists of alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, serum albumin, and immunoglobulins.
Whey is extremely safe to use and like any protein is essential for building muscles, bones, enzymes, hormones and other functions in the human body.
Every person has a different choice in terms of food, habit, routine and activities. This difference leads to different levels of protein consumption in day to day life. Like athletes, weightlifters, bodybuilders, etc need far more protein than a regular adult and with limited amounts of carbs and fats.
Reasons to choose whey protein supplements are :
- Whey protein is easy to absorb as it is branched chain amino acid.
- It is a concentrated form of protein with a limited amount of carbs and fats. Whereas in the traditional way when we cook a protein we end up adding extra carbs and fat in our meal.
- Even vegan people can have whey protein in the form of whey isolate.
- People allergic to lactose can choose whey isolate.
- Rich in leucine, which helps in gaining muscle mass.
- Facilitates post workout recovery.
In the past few years extensive research on whey has established that it has no side effects if consumed in appropriate amounts as mentioned by different brands on their instruction leaflets. It is widely used by athletes, weightlifters, sports persons, trainers and health enthusiasts.
Also Read: 5 Cheap Sources Of Protein: Building Muscle On A Budget
Health Benefits Of Whey Protein :
- Muscle Growth — As we all know that for muscle growth and development protein is very crucial. Whey protein is a high protein supplement and contains all essential amino acids. The presence of leucine essential amino acid in whey plays a very important role in muscle health.
The importance of leucine in muscle health is very vital. It is an essential amino acid therefore not synthesized by our body. It is obtained from food we eat. Animal produce is rich in leucine. Leucine is converted into acetyl coenzyme A (CoA) that means it is a ketogenic amino acid (amino acids which cannot be converted to glucose). Other amino acids (except leucine and lysine) are glucogenic that means they are precursors of glucose synthesis in our body.
This means if you are on a high protein diet rich in leucine then your blood sugar is in control. Unlike other protein supplements. Leucine stimulates insulin release that helps in protein synthesis and inhibits protein breakdown.
- Weight loss — the protein rich diet is one of the basic factors for any weight loss program or diet you are following. When you consume whey you are giving your body a high protein diet in which the rate of protein absorption is much quicker as compared to traditional methods of protein intake. Protein helps you in controlling your appetite, it stimulates metabolism as well as consumption of fat as a fuel in your body. That’s how it helps in reducing weight.
- Lowers Blood Pressure — Whey protein supplements help in decreasing postprandial lipemia, increased blood lipid levels after a meal that puts a person at risk of cardiovascular diseases. Obesity is commonly associated with high blood pressure and heart diseases. As the lipid profile/cholesterol profile of obese people is on a higher side and is one of the main factors of high blood pressure. But if such a person starts improving his lifestyle like introducing yoga, Pilates, aerobics, swimming, exercise, etc with dietary changes like introducing whey protein supplement and taking balanced meals, it can help in lowering blood pressure and maintaining it.
- Anti Inflammatory — the consumption of whey protein has shown great improvement in many inflammatory processes as it is one of the richest sources of branched chain amino acids like leucine. Excess inflammation in the body is always harmful as it may precipitate an autoimmune disorder or may lead to respiratory illness like asthma. A scientific study reveals that combining whey protein with regular exercise reduces inflammation in chronic lung diseases.
- Boosts Immunity — the amino acids present in whey supplements prevents the triggering of catabolism in the body along with boosting its immune response. This helps in increasing the body’s healing ability. Not only that whey protein helps in strengthening bones and muscles to fight against physical changes experienced during the increased nutritional supplement of protein. Immune response of the body is mediated with antibodies. Antibodies are a type of protein. So for the production of antibodies protein intake is crucial.
Whey protein is an essential supplement if you are looking for an increased protein intake with a limited amount of calorie intake. It has shown wonderful results in both men and women, along with consumption of balanced meals. Whey protein, although is a health supplement, but not a complete meal in itself. So, don’t skip meals for quick results for your social media reels and posts. A balanced diet is the basis of a healthy individual.