Whey protein – while arguably the most talked about – it’s just one of the several types of protein including casein, egg and soy. So what makes whey so special in the world of sports nutrition supplements? What sets it apart from the rest? And, most importantly, when should you take it to achieve maximum results?
I’ll tell you. But first…
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is an all-natural by-product of cows’ milk which comes to be during the production of cheese. To avoid going into too much detail, we’ll keep it simple: During industrial cheese production, rennet (a complex set of enzymes) is added to milk which separates the milk into curds and – you guessed it! – whey. Because it’s naturally occurring, it has just the right proportion of essential and branched-chain amino acids. This means that it has something called a high biological value.
What does that mean?
In layman’s terms: It’s good for you. We (as humans) digest it quickly and our muscles reap the benefits.
Concentrate vs. Isolate and Hydrolysate
Depending on the production process and in particular how the whey is filtered, there are a few specific types of whey protein.
When the curds and whey are continuously filtered, its protein percentage drops to anywhere between 30 and 90 percent. The whey solution is then warmed and spray dried and – ta da! – you’ve got protein powder. When the powder still contains a small amount of lactose and fats, you have whey concentrate.
When producing whey isolate, water is removed along with bits of the lactose and fats. This leaves you with a final product with 95 percent protein concentration.
Finally, whey hydrolysate is broken down by enzymes. This ‘pre-digestion’ allows amino acid peptide bonds to be broken down into smaller chains which allows the protein to be more quickly absorbed into the body. Quicker absorption means faster-acting amino acids. This type is best consumed directly after a workout.
But more on that later.
How is Whey Protein Different From Other Proteins?
Different types of proteins have different absorption rates within the body. This absorption rate is based on the biological value of the protein. Remember (up there) we mentioned that whey protein has a high biological value? Check out the chart below to see how it stacks up to the other types of protein. A score of 100 indicates maximum amino acid digestibility.
With absorption rate and biological value in mind, let’s answer the question of the hour.
When Should I Take Whey Protein?
There is no hard rule that dictates when. Of course, there are benefits to taking whey protein at different times, as is the case with other supplements such as Creatine Monohydrate.
While there are several benefits of whey protein, the most notable is how it helps in muscle recovery. With that in mind, it should go without saying that the two most important times for you to incorporate whey protein into your diet are before and after a tough workout.
By ingesting 20-30 grams of whey 30 minutes to 1 hour before your workout, you’re setting your body up for success. You’ll create a positive nitrogen balance, helping to increase endurance, stimulate protein synthesis, and encourage muscle growth. Why not go for TOTAL PROTEIN which offers 22 grams of protein per serving, with a dual protein matrix of whey protein concentrate and soy protein isolate.
Alternatively (or in addition to!) your pre-workout, you should look to finish a protein shake with up to 40 grams of whey no more than 30 minutes after an intense training session. After the stress of a workout, your muscles need amino acids to aid in repair. As we’ve said, whey protein absorbs quickly into the system and is therefore the perfect choice when looking for a fast-acting and powerful supplement that’ll help you meet your fitness goals. You can choose any product from our PROTEIN RANGE to help you.
You can also take whey protein first thing in the morning. By getting a good 20-40 grams of protein as soon as you wake up, you’re ending your overnight fast, restocking glycogen stores, and subsequently stopping muscle breakdown. This high dose of protein will also support fat loss, increase energy levels and can even help with concentration. Consider our ULTRA WHEY PROTEIN which offers 35 grams of protein per serving.
For the same reasons as it’s a good idea to drink a protein shake first thing in the morning or take it right before bed. While it may seem counterproductive to sip at night, you’re actually helping your body stock up on the nutrients it needs before entering a catabolic state. If your body has amino acids from protein, you’re discouraging muscle breakdown.
Where to Find Whey Protein?
As you might have been able to guess, because whey protein comes from milk and the cheese making process, you can find whey in those products.
Specifically look for whey protein in:
- Ricotta Cheese
- Skim Milk
- Parmesan Cheese