The Australian protein supplement market was worth $122mn in 2020. And nearly 55% of it was due to whey powder. Apart from being Little Miss Muffet’s preferred snack, whey has won over the fitness world for being the most reliable means of building muscle mass. Read on to learn more about whey and how to select the right product for your specific goal.
What is whey, and how is it made?
Whey is the liquid that remains after milk has been curdled and strained. The best whey manufacturers source milk exclusively from grass-fed cows. This milk is curdled to make cheese, which contains casein and a residual liquid. The liquid containing whey, fats, and carbohydrates is subjected to filtration to remove the fats and lactose. What’s left behind is called whey protein liquid. It is then dried to form whey protein powder. Higher quality of milk, naturally, results in better quality whey.
Major forms of whey powder available commercially:
Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) contains 70-80% proteins, and the rest is mainly fats and lactose. The latter components give WPC a rich, creamy taste without compromising on the protein supply. It is considered an ideal “all-round” protein as it contains a rich amino acid profile and is fast digesting. WPC, made by top suppliers, also contains vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, and iron. This balance of ingredients makes it ideal for an everyday gym enthusiast who intends to use whey protein for post-workout recovery, building lean muscles or weight loss.
If you are new to trying whey powder, the flavoured versions may appeal to you. Users swear by the rich chocolaty flavour and benefits of flavoured 80% WPC.
Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) contains up to 90% protein and less than 1% fats and lactose. This is achieved through dual filtration (micro-filtration, followed by ultrafiltration) to produce an extremely pure protein powder. Due to its higher protein content, it is preferred by people who train more frequently or seriously. It helps in the rapid gaining of lean muscle mass.
Top suppliers understand that many consumers are confused about which product suits them the best. They offer sample packs that contain sachets of a variety of whey protein powder in myriad flavours – including chocolate, caramel, banana, and vanilla.
Usage and benefits of whey
Muscles are primarily made up of protein, so whey provides your body with the necessary ingredients to build more muscles. Skeletal muscle protein is in constant flux. Sometimes the rate of protein synthesis is higher than protein breakdown (a positive protein balance), and sometimes it is the other way round (a negative protein balance). If you aim to increase muscle mass, you must increase the duration when your protein balance is positive. Additional protein in your diet, therefore, becomes vital. A study conducted on healthy young males found that whey protein was more potent in increasing muscle protein synthesis. It was 31% more effective than soy protein and 136% more effective than casein.
During workouts, your muscle can sustain a substantial amount of protein breakdown. Post-exercise protein intake can help in speedy muscle recovery. Carbohydrates also play an essential role, and a protein to carbohydrate ratio of 3 or 4:1 is ideal for muscle recovery.
Whey protein has been proven most effective in promoting weight loss. Protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates, leading you to feel satiated for longer. Specifically, when your body breaks down protein, a chemical called phenylalanine is released, which triggers leptin- a hunger suppressant. Several studies have found that whey protein ingestion leads to the most significant reduction in appetite vis-a-vis other types of protein.
With many proven benefits of protein, incorporating it into your diet is essential. Consider consuming either food sources of protein such as dairy, fish, meat, eggs, and soy, or reach out for protein powders, concentrates, and isolates to give your body the required amount of protein.