Whey protein is certainly one of the most popular supplements in sports, especially in the gym, weight training and bodybuilding. This is quite rightfully so because Whey protein is a protein component with many advantages. For example, whey protein contains a high content of essential amino acids and branched chain amino acids (BCAA), which means that whey protein has a very high biological value. This determines how well the body can metabolize protein ingested with the food. With a biological value of 104, Whey Protein is the single protein with highest ever measured biological value. Only certain other combinations of different protein components can reach an even higher value.
However, the market of Whey protein has now become quite confusing. Almost every manufacturer has its own Whey protein in its product basket claiming to have the best product in the market. Let us look more closely at the whey protein varieties ourselves to get a picture of respective qualities.
Whey protein concentrate
Whey protein concentrate is the least processed kind of Whey protein. Quite simply put, Whey Protein Concentrate is obtained by filtering out Whey protein from the milk protein, removing the liquid and drying out the product. This gives a concentrated whey protein, called Whey Protein Concentrate. The advantage with this form of whey protein is that all of the bioactive substances are still intact while the disadvantage is that there are still residues of lactose and milk fat in whey protein concentrate. Basically, the first is not a problem as long as one does not have lactose intolerance or wants to consciously avoid lactose. However, if one wants to avoid lactose for any reason, he should normally go for a Whey protein Isolate.
The target group for Whey protein concentrate is basically everyone looking to meet or enhance his protein needs with high-quality protein components.
Whey Protein Isolate
As the name suggests, Whey Protein Isolate refers to an isolated whey protein. Figuratively, this means that you take the whey protein concentrate and "clean" it once again. The residues of lactose and milk fat are largely "washed out". Depending on how strong the isolation takes place in this process, you end up with hardly any residue with near-100% pure protein. The products can then also be declared as "lactose-free".
Advantage of this type of whey protein is quite clear; one has the pure quality whey protein in a concentrated form. Disadvantage is that, under some circumstances, important bioactive components can also get removed along with the milk sugar and the milk fat. In addition, it should necessarily be ensured that this product is prepared exclusively in water otherwise it makes very little sense to mix an expensive isolate, which has been extensively cleared of lactose and milk fat, with milk, containing lactose and milk fat.
Whey protein isolate is therefore more suitable for the ambitious athlete, those athletes preparing for competitions or for people with lactose intolerance.
Whey protein Hydrolysate
Whey protein hydrolysate, strictly speaking, is an already "pre-digested" whey protein. Proteins exist in their basic structure of long chains of amino acids. During the course of hydrolysis, the long chains of protein get split into shorter fragments. The higher the degree of hydrolysis, the smaller these fragments become and the less work the body's own enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract have to do.
Depending on the source of the Whey protein, Hydrolysate can or cannot be a lactose-free protein. A Hydrolysate can be derived both from a conventional whey protein concentrate, as well as from a whey protein isolate. The fact remains that the cost of hydrolysis is quite high and this is also reflected in the price. Hydrolysis can also destroy protein subgroups such as Beta-lactoglobulins available in whey.
This protein is mainly suitable for top performance athletes and athletes with particularly high demand, such as, during the times of competition preparation.
Whey protein is a high quality form of protein and is generally suitable for any healthy and ambitious athlete. The form of whey protein finally used must be according to their own goals and requirements.
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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.
Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team.
In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!
Find out more about Evie's experience here.