Wheying in on Whey Protein Isolate

What is whey protein?

Whey protein is derived from cow’s milk and consists of a high quality protein powder that can be split into two separate types of protein:

  • Casein ( roughly 80%)
  • Whey Protein (roughly 20%)

Between the two, whey protein reigns supreme due to the fact that it is more soluble (easier to digest) and is also the most nutritious protein currently available.

Whey Protein vs. Whey Protein Isolate

Yes, there IS  a difference between whey protein versus whey protein ‘isolate’!

  • Whey protein isolate is the most pure as well as the most concentrated form of whey protein available. It contains around 90% or more protein and very little fat and lactose.  Because it contains trace amounts of lactose, it is also a much better option for those who are lactose intolerant or who have an allergy to dairy products.
  • Whey protein concentrate is not nearly as pure as whey protein isolate, and is comprised of anywhere between 29% to 89% protein, depending on which brand you buy (and believe me, there are TONS of different brands out there). Typically, whey protein concentrate or whey protein blends contain significant amounts of fat, lactose and cholesterol, which is why you’ll want to be somewhat selective with the brand that you purchase.

Why should I care about whey protein isolate?

If you are an athlete, you should definitely be thinking about the amount of protein that you are taking in. For example, an athlete who is training for a 100-mile bicycle race will want to make sure that he or she is getting extra protein in order to help his/her body:

  • repair and build tired muscles
  • strengthen bones
  • have enough energy for endurance training
  • properly metabolize energy that the body needs [source]

….but more about that later. For now, take a look below at other sources of protein, which can be found in the foods that you probably already eat.

5 Natural Sources of Whey Protein

According to Muscle and Strength, the following are five sources of protein found in everyday foods:

  1. Lean Red Meat (20% protein)
  2. Chicken and/or Turkey (20% protein)
  3. Fish (20% protein)
  4. Eggs (6-8% protein)
  5. Cheese (10-30% protein, but high in fat)

Side Effects of Whey Protein/Whey Protein Isolate

Although whey protein is extremely beneficial, there are also some drawbacks.

UPSET STOMACH (bloating, gassiness, diarrhea, nausea, queasiness, etc.)

Why this might be happening:

  • You’ve consumed a whey protein blend/concentrate that contains additives such as sucralose or lactose that your body is disagreeing with.
  • You are lactose-intolerant.
  • You’ve chugged down your protein shake too quickly before or after exercising at a moderate-intense level.

What you should try:

  • Switch to a 100% pure whey protein isolate mix.
  • Take whey protein isolate with water instead of milk.
  • Consume a smaller amount of the whey protein isolate than what is recommended. Do this to start out and then gradually increase the amount of protein that you consume throughout the week/month, according to how your body feels. Consuming too much concentrated protein in one sitting can (and will) often lead to bouts of bloating, queasiness, diarrhea, nausea or other stomach discomfort if you’re not careful.

On the + side, not all people experience bad side effects from whey protein, and it should be noted that most people who DO encounter negative experiences typically do so because of a preexisting medical/genetic condition, or because they are using a whey protein blend/concentrate. This isn’t to say that all whey protein blends are bad for you. It should simply be noted that most whey protein blends/concentrates have a TON of extra stuff added in; and it is that ‘extra stuff’ that (more often than not) interferes with your stomach. Therefore, you would be none the wiser to really make sure that you read the labels before you buy. Personally, I prefer whey protein isolate because it doesn’t have anything else added to it.

5 Benefits of Whey Protein Isolate

  1. Increased Physical Performance | Because whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey protein available, it is unsurpassed as a source of the essential amino acids required in the daily diet. Rich in Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), athletes especially benefit from whey protein isolate because it is metabolized directly into the muscle tissue, replenishing your body post-exercise and rebuilding lean muscle tissue [source].
  2. Fast Post-Workout Recovery Meal | According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), making a protein shake and consuming it immediately following a fitness/endurance workout provides athletes with a healthy alternative as well as a source of nourishment.
  3. Stabilizes Blood Sugar | Whey protein slows down the assimilation of carbohydrates into glucose in the bloodstream, which is a good thing for those who are pre-diabetic [source].
  4. Raises Glutathione Levels | Whey protein enhances the immune system by raising the body’s levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that is produced by the body in order to protect cells and neutralize toxins [source].
  5. Encourages Bone Growth | Especially for women, making sure that you consume adequate amounts of protein can help to ensure bone growth, thus preventing osteoporosis as well as other injuries, such as stress fractures.

How much protein do I need?

If you are not a competitive or semi-competitive athlete (someone who trains for at least 30 minutes, 5X/week or more), the recommended daily intake of protein is around 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For non-competitive folks, there is probably little need to consume whey protein (or any type of protein supplement) as most of your protein intake can be acquired from a healthy diet. However, for athletes, supplementing a healthy diet with whey protein can prove to be beneficial as your body may require more nourishment to meet the demands of your particular sport/activity.

Simple Whey Protein Isolate Shake

  • (2) scoops whey protein isolate
  • (1) TBSP nut butter
  • (1/2) cup water
  • Blend together and enjoy!

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art. -La Rochefoucauld


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