Whey protein is regarded as a supplement staple, used by athletes, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts to help with muscle recovery, lean muscle growth, and general health.
Welcome to Muscle and Strength complete guide to whey protein! This page contains everything you need to know about whey protein and the information you need to choose the whey protein powder that is right for you. At the bottom of the page you’ll find a list of whey protein powders that we have on sale, or you can just check out the protein powders section of the M&S Store. If you still have questions after reading the whey protein information on this page ask one of our experienced members on the forum.
Whey protein powder is undoubtedly one of, if not the most, utilized supplements by physique competitors, strength trainers, athletes, and even just general health/fitness enthusiasts. This doesn’t come as a surprise given the vast collection of research that has shown protein demands to be greatly increased in active individuals and especially those who lift weights regularly.
Due to the inherent high bioavailability and anabolic properties of whey protein, it should be a staple in most any trainees supplement stash. The rest of this guide will teach you what exactly whey protein is, where it comes from, how its produced, what types there are, how you might benefit from using it, and any side effects it poses. There will also be answers to commonly asked questions and ideas for whey protein recipes to get your culinary side stirring.
The term “whey” refers to milk serum, which is the liquid by-product produced during the curdling of milk. Whey proteins make up about 20% of the protein content in animal milk, with the rest of the content being casein fractions (~80%). (1)
Whey proteins come in a variety of fractions, such as albumins and globulins, that vary according to the species from which they are secreted; since we are primarily consumers of dairy cattle milk, the major whey proteins we ingest are denoted alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin. For simplicity and cohesiveness, the term “whey protein” throughout the rest of this guide will remain singular and encompass the variety of specific fractions it’s found as.
Whey protein is a complete protein source, which denotes that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids (*more on why this is important in the “Benefits” section). In contrast to casein protein, whey protein remains readily soluble in liquid environments and over varying pH ranges. (2) This is the basis for production of many dairy products such as defatted milk, cheese, cream, etc.
For example, whey protein is the by-product of cheese production due to the precipitation of casein fractions after treatment with acidic solutions (since casein is insoluble at low pH, i.e. acidic environments). Hence the gelatinous property of cheese is primarily due to casein coagulation, but there is still some whey in certain cheeses. (3)
Analogous to the production of various dairy products, digestion of milk starts with separation of casein and whey proteins via stomach acid. But enough with the food chemistry lets move on to our other intended topics.
Whey itself contains whey proteins, lactose, minerals and minute amounts of fats. The production of whey protein from whey itself can proceed via several membrane filtration methods depending on the desired protein content (such as microfiltration, ultrafiltration, etc). (4) After the protein is filtered it is spray dried to give the desired powdered product which may then be utilized by the supplement manufacturer for further modifications like flavoring, coloring, etc.