Get the inside “scoop” on one of the most popular supplements on the market: whey protein. Learn what it is, how it benefits you, and if it can be used when lactose intolerant.
Christine Hronec is co-owner and the food scientist behind Muscle Gauge Nutrition.
Whey is a “complete” protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that the human body requires for proper repair and function. Whey protein is also a rich source of the branched chain amino acids, L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine. This high-quality source of protein naturally found in dairy, is commonly marketed and ingested as a dietary supplement, was once considered a useless by product of cheese manufacturing.
Whey protein is one of the highest quality sources of protein and an ideal choice for men and women of all ages. Not only does whey protein provide serious athletes with essential and branched-chain amino acids, it also helps to repair and rebuild muscle tissues.
Whey protein is absorbed quickly due to its short chain length of amino acids which provides optimal recovery and growth. The health benefits provided by Muscle Gauge whey protein are abundant and include areas such as weight management, cardiovascular health, and bone health to name a few.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, whey protein isolate is a natural dairy protein powder made up of at least 90% protein. Muscle Gauge Nutrition’s Whey Protein Isolate contains 25 grams protein per 30 gram serving (taking flavoring into account).
As a protein source, whey protein isolate contains more protein than whey protein concentrate, which contains about 80% protein. In addition, whey protein isolate contains almost no sugar, lactose or fat. Although whey protein isolate packs more protein, whey protein concentrate is the most economical option per gram of protein.
Every protein powder, whether it’s whey, soy, casein, etc., has moisture. In fact, 5% of the total formula is water. Another 3-5% is made up of naturally occurring minerals in whey. The remaining 10-12% is a combination of carbs and fat.
Whey protein powder is made from pasteurized whole milk as a raw materials, however whey is processed at low temperatures in a sterile environment to prevent the protein from being denatured. Whey can be denatured by heat.
High heat (such as the sustained high temperatures above 72 °C associated with the pasteurization process) denatures whey proteins. While native whey protein does not aggregate upon acidification of milk, denaturing the whey protein triggers hydrophobic interactions with other proteins, and the formation of a protein gel.
All whey protein products have a printed best by date on the label or container. Consuming protein past the best by date may cause upset stomach or more severe conditions due to breakdown of the excipients in whey protein powder, such as colorings and flavors.
The likelihood of the product going bad due to micro-bacterial growth is low since whey is stored as a powder in an opaque container free of water and moisture. Although whey protein products are low in fat, if any fat is present, such as whey protein concentrate, or whey protein blend, the fat can go rancid due to the chemical decomposition of fatty acids from oxygen in the air. It is best to strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s best by date to be 100% safe.
Whey protein isolate is virtually free of lactose, but may contain trace amounts (<0.5g per serving). Most people who are lactose intolerant are able to safely consume whey without any negative side effects however a medical practitioner should always be consulted before taking if there are any doubts.
Whey Protein contains a very small amount of soy lecithin to help it dissolve more easily and completely in foods and beverages. After membrane filtration, spray drying is utilized to turn the highly concentrated solution of protein into an instantized, ready to mix powder for a broad array of commercial applications.
The instantizing process typically involves the use of soy lecithin (a natural component found in a number of foods) in trace amounts (<1 wt%) that is lightly coated onto the whey particles during the spray drying process to enable the protein to readily disperse in water.