Whey Protein Benefits: Whey protein is one of two proteins that are found in milk. It can be separated from the second protein and formed while making cheese. The end product is low in lactose and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is popular in the fitness world as it is often used in powder form to aid in weight loss and bodybuilding. It has several health benefits when used properly. People who are allergic to milk or overuse products containing whey protein may find themselves with unpleasant side effects.
The most common forms used in supplements today are whey protein concentrate (80-85% protein), and even more highly filtered and purified whey protein isolate (about 90% protein).
Whey protein has the highest Biologic Value (BV) of any natural protein source. This means it is digested and absorbed by your body better than beef, soy, egg or milk protein!
Whey protein is also a terrific source of Essential Amino Acids (EAAs). These are amino acids that your body can’t produce by itself and which must come from your diet. Approximately 50-60% of the amino acids in whey protein are EAAs. Many vegetable sources of protein are low in one or two EAAs, making it harder for your body to utilize vegetable protein completely.
Whey protein contains the highest Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) content of any natural protein source. BCAAs (valine, leucine and isoleucine) are three EAAs that are critical for building and maintaining muscle during exercise. After intense training or exertion, the body breaks down muscle (catabolism) so the BCAAs can be used energy. All types of athletes need a good source of BCAAs to help minimize this post-training muscle breakdown. BCAAs may also promote muscle growth through increased release of growth hormone.
Whey protein is approximately 5% bovine serum albumin, a protein rich in glutamylcystine. Glutamylcystine and the amino acid cystine are needed by your body to make glutathione, an amazing molecule found in every cell of your body. By increasing glutathione production in the body, whey protein may provide health benefits for athletic performance, HIV, certain cancers, hepatitis and even macular degeneration. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant and intracellular “manager,” controlling vital cell functions on an immediate basis. Whey protein can increase intracellular glutathione levels and may optimize the function of every cell in your body! More research is ongoing in this new area of glutathione metabolism.
Additionally, whey protein supplements have been shown to increase the amount of tryptophan in the bloodstream and reduce the negative effects of stress on the body. Whey protein is 15-20% alpha-lactalbumin, which has a naturally high tryptophan content. Tryptophan is a building block of serotonin, a powerful neurotransmitter.