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Whey Protein Facts

To help you get a basic understanding of whey protein, let's take a look at some of the facts surrounding it.

What is Whey Protein?
Types of Whey Protein?
Why is Whey Protein Important?
Whey Protein Side Effects?
When should I take whey protein?
How much whey protein do I need?
Can I Mix my Whey Protein Shake Up the Day Before?
II am Vegetarian. Can I take Whey Protein?
Can I take whey if I am a Teenager?
Is it right to Take Whey Protein Without Doing Regular Exercise?
Does Whey Protein Have an expiry Date?
Could I take too Much Protein?

What is Whey Protein?

Whey is essentially a by-product of cheese,which is manufactured from cow’s milk. The curds are set and either cooked or piled upon one another and then cut to release the whey. This whey is the raw material that will eventually make up whey protein powder. The whey protein powder is a collection of globular proteins and it contains four main protein fractions and six minor ones. The four main are: beta-lactoglobulin (approx. 65%), alpha lactalbumin (approx. 25%), serum albumin (approx 8%) and immunoglobulins. These all combine to give whey protein the highest Biological Value (BV) of any known protein. Biological value is the measure of the efficiency of a protein and how well it is absorbed and used by the body for growth and repair. The higher the number, the better. With BV, 100% egg protein sets the standard with 100, with all other forms (except whey) lower. With whey protein, however, BV can be as high as 170. Whey protein isolate has the highest bio availability of any of the different types of whey protein, usually about 30-60% more than concentrate.

Types of Whey Protein?

There are three main types of whey protein:

Whey Protein Concentrate
Low in fat
75% pure protein by weight
Lower cost

Whey Protein Isolate
Purest form of whey protein
Contains 90% or greater protein with minimal lactose (<1%) and virtually no fat
Higher cost

Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
Hydrolysis is the process which breaks down the protein chains into small fractions called "peptides".
Easily digested and less potential for allergic reactions.

There are also many blends of the three types discussed above available. Typically the cheapest form of whey will make up the highest content with the remaining content being based on cost. So a blend would be largely concentrate, with only small amounts of isolate. This is why you can find 5 lb tubs pretty cheap, especially when compared to a smaller container of pure isolate.

Why is Whey Protein Important?

Protein is the most essential macro-nutrient for any weight training enthusiast. It is critical for the growth and repair of muscle tissue. It's what we are made of after water. The higher quality allows for greater absorption with the amino acids, content being superior to lower quality forms of protein. Higher amounts of the BCAA's (leucine, iso-leucine and valine) as well as glutamine are also found in abundant supply, these are important for energy and recovery after a hard workout. Since protein requires more calories to digest than either carbohydrates or fat, it's important to fat loss goals as well. Additionally, it can be important medically, aiding in things such as type-2 diabetes, wound healing and even cancer.

Whey Protein Side Effects

Soy Allergy

Although whey protein powder does not contain soy protein as such, many powders contain an additive called lecithin and the major source of this currently is soybean oil. Due to the fact that some people are allergic to soy, shifts are being made toward lecithin being manufactured from sunflower oil instead but as far as I am aware this is still a work in progress. At Whey Protein King, we recommend that you check any products for this ingredient or check on the “Allergy Advice” section of their labeling before purchase.

Gluten Allergy

At Whey Protein King, we recently had an issue raised over whether whey was safe to take if you suffer from a gluten allergy. Again, this can depend on the brand, so you need to check with respective manufacturers (although many brands will have a list of potential allergens on the label along with the words “free of”. After research performed by Whey Protein King however, we discovered a brand of whey that is gluten free. It is NOW Sports Whey Protein Isolate, available from IllPumpYouUp.com .

General Advice

Please always read the manufacturers label if you have any special dietary requirements or medical conditions (such as lactose intolerance) or if you have any allergies. More information can be found under the "Whey Protein and Allergies" tab.

Gastro-Intestinal Side Effects

With some whey protein powders, there can be some gastrointestinal side effects (such as bloating, wind and stomach cramps.) This is something though more traditionally associated with the older powders and this isn't such a problem with the newer protein powders.

PLEASE NOTE: Remember the whey protein supplement is just that, a supplement. It should not take the place of dietary protein but provide an additional source. In relation to whey protein's medical benefits, it should never take the place of any prescribed drugs and your medical practitioner should always be consulted before taking.

When and how much whey protein to take.

These are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding whey.

When should I take whey protein?

A main advantage of Whey Protein, because it is quickly digestible, is that it can be taken both pre and post workout. Generally, a larger dosage is taken post workout, so it can begin to aid the muscle repair and growth from your training session. Whey protein can also be taken in one or two of your other ‘snack’ meals throughout the day but should not be used as meal replacement.
Another good time to take whey is first thing in the morning. Overnight, your stores of glycogen can be diminished and your body will be breaking down muscle for energy. If you are bodybuilding or looking to add muscle mass, this is the last thing that you want! A quick whey shake first thing in the morning will give your body that vital protein it requires.

How much whey protein do I need?

For any hard training bodybuilder or weight lifter, total protein intake on a daily basis should be 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of body weight. For women, I suggest about 75% of those numbers. You need to take the total number and divide that by six – the number of meals per day you should be eating. Of those six, whey protein can be used as discussed above and anytime you cannot get to a whole food meal. This is important because you never want to go more than three hours without getting in some protein. This means, depending on your school or work obligations, a protein shake may be your only option. Remember the total grams divided by six calculation? That number is what you want to use per shake.

For adults who are not training with weights but may be performing light exercise, I suggest .75 grams per pound of body weight. The reason I suggest that number is if you are trying to get in shape and lose weight, you will want a higher protein intake as well as a lower carbohydrate and fat intake. In this case, choose only lean food sources of protein. If you are doing no exercise whatsoever, drop that number to .50 grams per pound of body weight but remember, if you begin to exercise your needs will go up.

NOTE: It is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18 to be using supplements.

Can I Mix my Whey Protein Shake Up the Day Before?

Yes this generally is fine, although I wouldn't recommend any more than a day before. I would also suggest you keep the made up shake in the fridge. This can be convenient to do, especially if we are trying to fit in nutrition around our busy lives. Another option is to carry one or two servings of powder with you along with a shaker cup as long as you have access to water. I've done this for years and it's quick and easy. Still another choice is to pre-make the shake in the morning before you leave and add some ice to it to keep it cold.

Whey Protein and My Health

As with any Supplement, you may have some questions surrounding it or some point you would like to check. These are the last of our whey protein FAQ's. If your question has not been covered or you still have an issue, please do not hesitate to contact Whey Protein King and we will do our best to assist you.

II am Vegetarian. Can I take Whey Protein?

Whey can help with the protein levels that may be lacking in a vegetarian diet. As mentioned before, the whey is part of the cheese making process and therefore a dairy product. There are no involvements with any animal flesh or meat and therefore is acceptable in the lacto and lacto-ovo vegetarian diets. A lacto vegetarian will eat dairy products but not eggs and a lacto-ovo vegetarian will eat dairy products and eggs, but not meat, fish or poultry. 

An ovo vegetarian however will eat eggs but not dairy products. Whey in this instance is not really suitable in accordance with the guidelines of this particular type of vegetarian diet. An alternative option if you do not want to consume dairy products may be to take soy protein instead

Can I take whey if I am a Teenager?

It is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18 to be taking supplements. Protein is an important part of the diet but in these teenage years, it is better to get your protein from whole foods from the daily diet, rather than supplements. This does not mean supplements are dangerous but natural dietary sources of protein are more applicable up until this age.

Is it right to Take Whey Protein Without Doing Regular Exercise?

This can depend on why you are taking the whey. The body does not store protein, so if you are looking to gain muscle mass, consuming whey on its own without exercise will not help you muscle size. Along with a weight training or bodybuilding program, whey is an ideal supplement to provide essential protein and Branch Chain Amino Acids to help build and repair muscles.

This is because the body at this time has an extra requirement for protein and so the whey is effectively utilized. If you are taking whey protein to assist recovery from cancer or help with diabetes or wound healing, then exercise isn't essential to take whey. The protein you consume will perform its appropriate function and then be excreted from the body.

Does Whey Protein Have an expiry Date?

All whey protein products have a printed expiration date on the label or container. People have complained of severe stomach upset and other illness from taking out of date powder, this is most likely due to breakdown of the excipients in whey protein powder, such as colorings and flavors. The whey powder itself is usually dated from a couple of years after manufacture and after this, the nutritional values cannot be guaranteed as still being accurate. For these reasons, the expiration date should be adhered to.

Could I take too Much Protein?

This isn't really a risk PROVIDED you are in general good health. If you have any liver or kidney problems, or family history, please check with a medical practitioner first. The body will generally utilize the protein it needs and excrete remaining nitrogen in urine, after the protein has been broken down. This is why it is important to have healthy liver and kidney functions. If you are undertaking a high protein diet, i.e. from supplements and diet, then you need to make sure you are drinking plenty of water.

If you have any concerns about taking whey protein or you need extra assurance, please contact a medical practitioner.

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