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Whey Protein 101: What exactly IS Whey protein?

Whey is one of two types of proteins found in milk (the other being casein) and it is a by-product of the transformation process of cow’s milk into cheese. As we all know, protein is the building block of life but not all proteins are created equal!

Whey is considered by many to be the ultimate source of protein due to its exceptional branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) profile and high biological value.  When your body converts protein, it breaks it down into amino acids. These amino acids help to repair torn muscle tissue and build new ones. The higher the amino acid profile of a product, the more effective it will be at helping to rebuild and create new muscle tissue and at helping you manage weight. As for the biological value (BV), it is a measure of the nitrogen retained for growth or maintenance, expressed as a percentage of the nitrogen absorbed. In other words, it represents the measure of the efficiency of a protein, and how it can be absorbed and used by the body for growth. Egg protein sets the standard with 100. In comparison, beef can be found at around 75, while whey protein stands as high as 170.

Whey protein supplements generally fall into 3 categories: whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate and whey protein blends. Whey protein concentrate typically contains 75% pure protein by weight and has a higher fat and lactose content than whey protein isolate. In contrast, whey protein isolate is processed to remove fat and lactose, delivering an outstanding 90% + pure protein by weight and literally zero carbs, lactose and fat. However, isolate is also more expensive to produce than concentrate so to balance out the cost, whey protein blends – combining whey protein isolate and concentrate – are increasingly popular in the whey protein powders market.

I hope you found this article insightful, please feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts or other questions you might have!

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[i] [i] Renner E., 1983 – Milk and Dairy Products in Human Nutrition, Munich, Germany

Chantal Ann Dumas, ND

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