Which Whey is Best for You?
Whey protein has long been considered the benchmark for athletes to use as it is so highly bioavailable. In addition, it is unsurpassed at building/maintaining muscle mass. This is due partly to its high biological value (usability) as well as its high level of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are primary fuel for muscles. For many years, when protein powders were consumed primarily by athletes or body-builders, these attributes were well-known and appreciated. Protein powders today are not only much more widely available but are in demand by a much broader demographic than just athletes. We will discuss the benefits and uses of whey protein as well the different options available.
What is Whey Anyway?
There are two main proteins in milk: casein and whey. Simply put, casein is the solid protein, or curds, and whey is the liquid protein and amino acid components extracted during the cheese making process. Despite the source, there is very little lactose or casein in regular whey products so people with these allergies/sensitivities generally are able to tolerate whey protein products.
Concentrate vs Isolate
There may be some confusion over the difference between these two types of whey protein. In a nutshell, whey isolate contains more protein per gram (and serving) than a concentrate. Generally isolates contain about 90-96% protein content. In contrast, concentrates are 12-20% lower in protein content, containing 25-89% protein. A typical isolate, for instance, contains about 24 grams per serving, being the high end. There is one more major difference between the two however, and that we will explore below.
Whey Concentrate's Compounds
The processing to make an isolate for its higher protein levels removes a large range of micronutrients, some of which possess great value. This makes a quality whey protein concentrate a valuable, medicinal food. In addition to conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a beneficial fatty acid involved in healthy metabolism, it will contain compounds which benefit immune function, intestinal health and more. Whey is high in the amino acid cysteine, which raises levels of the antioxidant glutathione. This amino acid is vital to immune and lung health. It is particularly important for liver detoxification also, helping to excrete heavy metals and other harmful compounds. Certain portions of whey are prebiotics, influencing the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria. Lactoferrin present does this as well as its role in regulating iron absorption. Immunoglobulins present are involved in passive immunity, antimicrobial activity in the gut and also neurotransmitter production (serotonin).
Additional Health Benefits
As a result of its superb nitrogen retention, whey protein may facilitate muscle growth and prevent muscle breakdown, making it useful for not only athletes but people with (muscle) wasting conditions. In particular, it may help prevent the sarcopenia (muscle atrophy) which occurs in aging. Whey's ability to promote glutathione synthesis may help eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration, as these conditions are hastened by poor antioxidant status in the eye. The glutathione-boosting properties helping the liver may prevent cirrhosis and improve liver function in hepatitis B patients. Respiratory health depends on adequate glutathione production in the lungs and thus whey protein may help alleviate COPD symptoms as well as asthma. Finally, whey's immunoglobulins have been shown to enhance antibody and neutrophil production and may therefore help to prevent various bacterial and viral diseases.
There's More Than One Whey at Evergreen
For customers who prefer the highest amount of protein per serving isolate forms are available. Garden of Life's Sport line offers their Sport Certified Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate, containing 24 grams per serving. This is guaranteed to be free of growth hormone and comes from truly grass-fed cows from lush Irish pastures. (Choosing a grass-fed product will offer additional nutrient benefits such as CLA.) It also offers 2 Billion CFU of B. lactis Bl04 probiotics and has no added sugars.
The very popular Jay Robb Whey Isolate contains 25 grams of protein per serving and is also sourced from grass fed cows. It contains no fat, no cholesterol and is guaranteed free of hormones and GMO ingredients (made with lecithin from non-GMO sunflower seeds).
For customers desiring the myriad benefits of a concentrate, Natural Factors offers their Whey Factors at 22 grams of protein, a minimum 3 grams glutamic acid and 4 grams branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) per serving. This product is also from grass-fed cows and growth-hormone free.
Want the Benefits of Isolate and Concentrate?
Solgar's Whey To Go is a good choice for you if you want to have it both ways. It offers 26 grams of protein per serving plus free-form L-glutamine and free-form branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and it is guaranteed growth-hormone free. By the whey, all of these products are gluten free.
Whether you want the muscle-building power of isolates, the additional health benefits of a concentrate or both, Evergreen has many options for you. Make your whey in to see the selection!
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The information provided here is for educational purposes only. None of the research or evidence presented here is intended as a substitute for consulting an appropriate healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you believe that you may have a disease condition, please consult your healthcare practitioner before using this or any other dietary supplement.
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