What is Whey Protein?

Roslyn Yee | Accredited Sports Dietitian by Roslyn Yee | Accredited Sports Dietitian 15 November 2018

You’ve heard of protein and you know you need it, but why? We explore what whey protein is and how it enhances your performance

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What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein powder is one of the most common sporting supplements available, and for good reason. It is heavily researched with strong scientific evidence to show it can help you build lean muscle mass, improve strength and shed fat1,2.

What is whey and where does it come from? 


Whey is a component of dairy milk. Milk is made up of various nutrients including water, vitamins, carbohydrate and two proteins: 80% being casein and 20% being whey.

During the processing of milk for making cheese, whey is separated from the casein (the curds) as a result of an enzymatic reaction. The whey component is filtered to remove all other non-whey ingredients, it is then purified and later dried to create a powder.

Whey protein is a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids including the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine and valine, renowned for their involvement in muscle protein synthesis and protection from muscle breakdown for energy, known as catabolism. 

True Protein offers premium whey protein powders that are naturally nutritious and delicious, derived from the dairy milk of New Zealand grass-fed cows.

How can whey protein help me gain muscle?

Dietary protein supplementation is both proven and recommended to optimise muscle mass in men and women, young and old, trained or untrained1. In saying that, taking whey protein alone doesn’t mean that you will magically look like a bodybuilder overnight. 

The best and most efficient way to gain muscle involves a few key principles:

 

  1. Create a modest energy surplus - By eating and drinking more calories than your body needs you will gain weight, so choose quality whole foods over junk foods to limit fat gain.

  2. Consume enough protein at least four times over the day - Generally, you will see muscle gains with between four and seven meals/snacks per day where each meal or snack contains about 20-25g (for females) and 30-35g (for males) of protein.

  3. Follow a well-designed exercise program for hypertrophy - exercise and nutrition go hand-in-hand when it comes to building lean muscle.

 

How can whey protein help me get stronger?

In certain sports such as powerlifting or strongman, increasing strength is the ultimate goal. A recent systematic review of the scientific literature found that incorporating a protein supplement to support strength training can have up to 9% increase of 1RM (one repetition maximum)1.

It may be well-known that strength training and adequate calcium attributes to healthy and strong bones, but did you know that protein consumption is also an important influential factor? Another systematic review found that a higher protein diet has a positive influence on reducing bone mineral density (BMD) losses associated with ageing when compared with a lower-protein diet3.

How can whey protein help me lose weight?

High-protein diets are a proven weight-loss strategy for overweight and obese individuals2. One of the mechanisms behind this is by reducing hunger and appetite as protein has a high satiety value, which means you feel full and satisfied for longer after eating protein-rich foods. A protein hit is the perfect weapon to fight off afternoon sugar cravings that might otherwise lead to a blow out of your energy budget. 

Including a whey protein supplement can help you gain lean muscle. The more muscle you have the more energy you require to maintain that muscle on the body, so increasing your muscle mass will increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR) over time4. Why is this important? Because this allows you to eat more food (consume more energy) whilst maintaining your body weight and hard-earned definition and muscle tone.

What is the difference between whey protein concentrate and isolate?

True Protein offers whey protein powder in two different forms: whey protein concentrate (WPC80) and whey protein isolate (WPI90). Both protein powders are essentially very similar. Both can assist you in achieving your strength, muscle gain or fat loss goals but with subtle differences.

Whey Protein Concentrate

True WPC80 is a whey protein concentrate powder that contains low levels of fat and low levels of carbohydrate in the form of lactose. 
 
True WPC80 is rich in nutrients including an 80% protein content, which equates to 23.9g of protein for each 30g serve. True WPC80 possesses an exceptional amino acid profile, it contains all essential and non-essential amino acids including BCAAs. It also contains a small amount of carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals. 
 
True WPC80 is an ideal ‘all-rounder’ protein to complement an active lifestyle and assist in achieving your fitness goals.

Whey Protein Isolate

WPI90 is True Protein’s most loved and longest-standing supplement. Essentially, it is whey protein concentrate that has been further processed to remove the remaining fat and lactose, yielding a pure and premium powder with a 90% protein content. One 30g serve of True WPI90 provides an impressive 27.2g of protein. 
 
As True WPI90 has very minimal lactose, it is often well tolerated by those who find that dairy milk usually upsets their stomach or those with mild lactose intolerance.

How do I take whey protein?

As whey protein is one of the most versatile supplements available, it can be easily incorporated into most dietary regimes and lifestyles. How you choose to supplement with whey will depend on your goals. However, it’s most common to take whey protein straight after a workout to assist with muscle recovery. Try one serve (30g) of True WPI90 or WPC80 mixed in a shaker with 200ml water. 

Key message

Whey protein is widely considered to be one of the most important and effective supplements in sports nutrition and these claims are backed by years of scientific literature. Whether you're an elite athlete or everyday fitness enthusiast, a high-quality protein powder should form the cornerstone of your supplementation.

 

References:

  1.  Morton RW, Murphy KT, McKellar SR, et al A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression of the effect of protein supplementation on resistance training-induced gains in muscle mass and strength in healthy adults Br J Sports Med 2018;52:376-384.

  2. Kim JE, O’Connor LE, Sands LP, Slebodnik MB, Campbell WW. Effects of dietary protein intake on body composition changes after weight loss in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition Reviews. 2016;74(3):210-224. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuv065.

  3. Marissa M Shams-White, Mei Chung, Mengxi Du, Zhuxuan Fu, Karl L Insogna, Micaela C Karlsen, Meryl S LeBoff, Sue A Shapses, Joachim Sackey, Taylor C Wallace & Connie M Weaver. Dietary protein and bone health: a systematic review and meta-analysis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 105, Issue 6, 1 June 2017, Pages 1528–1543, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.116.145110

  4. Speakman, J., & Selman, C. (2003). Physical activity and resting metabolic rate. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 62(3), 621-634. doi:10.1079/PNS2003282

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