What Is Whey Protein Powder?

Holly Collins

Whey protein is the highest quality and most nutritious protein available. Comprised of approximately 80% casein and 20% whey proteins, it is sometimes called the “fast protein” because of its quick metabolic absorption and speed of nourishment delivery to muscles. Whey protein powder is highly soluble and efficiently absorbed by the body.

The structure of leucine, which is often included in whey protein powder.
The structure of leucine, which is often included in whey protein powder.

Valued by athletes and body builders, whey protein powder has the highest known biological value of any protein. Whey’s proportion of proteins that can be absorbed and incorporated into the proteins of the body is very high. Athletes and body builders use the powder as a diet supplement to help them train and compete at peak performance levels.

Whey protein powder.
Whey protein powder.

Whey protein powder is the best source of the natural branched chain amino acids; leucine, isoleucine, and valine that are so important to athletes. The branched chain amino acids are central to fighting fatigue and aiding in recovery during and after exercise. They are burned at higher levels by active bodies, thus requiring athletes and bodybuilders to consume more of them.

Proteins are made of essential and non essential amino acids. They serve to repair cells and control many metabolic functions. Proteins are the body’s source of energy and function to build and repair muscles and bones.

The human body organically manufactures non essential amino acids, but can only get essential amino acids from the consumption of high quality protein foods like whey protein powder. Whey protein is a naturally complete protein. This means it contains all of the essential amino acids.

Whey is a byproduct of cheese. After milk is processes into cheese, a liquid called milk plasma remains. Whey is extracted from milk plasma.

Whey protein powder comes in three forms; concentrate, isolates and hydrolysates. Isolates is whey’s purest form containing about 90% pure protein and virtually no lactose or fat. It is sometimes flavored and most commonly consumed by dissolving in milk or water to drink.

Whey protein can be an effective general health tool and aid in weight loss. Whey protein powder isolate’s combination of high protein content and lack of fat, make it attractive to those trying to lose weight. Whey protein also has high levels of glutathione, an antioxidant required for a healthy immune system. Because of this, whey protein powder can be very beneficial to those battling degenerative disease. Being a pure and complete protein, it is also thought to help regulate blood sugar levels benefiting the management of diabetes.

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Discussion Comments


Is whey protein vegetarian?


Whey protein is not gluten free.

I would not recommend a lactose intolerant person using any whey or soy protein powders. Not only is there still some amount of casein (dairy protein) left in the powder but milk sugars, too (lactose)

Hemp based proteins are a much better option for a "protein powder". Hemp is a great source of bio-available protein and adequate amounts of Omega 3 and 6 and it actually aids in digestion where as most people have some bloating or other digestion problems with whey based proteins.

Nutiva or Navitas are great brands to try!


Is whey protein gluten free?


Can lactose intolerant people use whey powder?

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