If you walk into a health food store or your local vitamin shop, you can’t help but notice all the shelves packed with glossy whey protein bottles. I was shocked to learn that the market value of the whey protein industry is expected to reach approximately $11.7 billion in 2017.
That’s a lot of protein powder. Though bodybuilders have popularized and praised whey protein, the truth is, we can all benefit from adding whey protein to our diets.
Protein is so essential for our bodies; so we need to make sure we get enough. Without protein we wouldn’t be able to build muscles or repair our tissues. Protein also gives us energy, transports nutrients so our bodies can use them, and produces enzymes and hormones we need.
What Is Whey Protein?
Long back before we were able to separate casein protein and whey protein from milk, we used to only get whey as a byproduct of cheesemaking. Once the curds, or firm cheese parts, were separated from the milk, the liquid that remained became known as whey.
Since most of the lactose is removed from the milk in the form of casein, whey becomes very low in lactose content, but very high in protein. Whey is actually considered a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids.
There are three different kinds of whey:
Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey concentrate has low levels of fat and carbohydrates (lactose) depending on the concentration amount. Lower end concentrates tend to have 30% protein; higher concentrations can be up to 90% protein.
These are typically the cheapest to start out with, but they’re also the hardest to digest.
Whey Protein Isolates
Whey protein isolates (WPI) are further processed to remove all the fat and lactose. WPI is usually at least 90% protein.
These tubs are going to be a little more expensive than whey concentrate, but they’re perfect for those watching their carbs since they’re mostly straight protein. Whey isolates are also quicker to digest than whey concentrate.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate
Hydrolysate protein is considered to be the ‘predigested’ form of whey protein as it has already undergone partial hydrolysis – a process necessary for the body to absorb protein. It’s highly absorbed and easy to digest, so your body can readily use it.
This is the most expensive type of whey protein. It’s commonly used in medical protein supplements and infant formulas because of it’s improved digestibility and reduced allergen potential.