Why Whey is the King of Proteins

Written by Tim Skwiat

Is whey protein good for you?

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey…

The popular “Little Miss Muffet” nursery rhyme, which first appeared in print in the early 19th century, demonstrates how long whey protein has been part of a healthy diet. Indeed, whey protein is one of the most well-known, ubiquitous dietary supplements. While particularly popular among active men and women, whey protein is an excellent source of protein for individuals of all ages, as it can provide tremendous support to anyone who values a healthy lifestyle.

What is Whey Protein?

The two major components of (cow’s) milk protein are whey, which is rapidly digested, and casein (also known as “curds”), which is digested much more slowly. Whey makes up 20% of the proteins in milk and is the liquid portion of milk. It is separated from the curd, which comprises the remaining 80% during the cheese-making process. Whey contains 5 major peptides (including β-lactoglobulin, α-lactalbumin, and glycomacropeptide) and hundreds of low-abundance peptides (including lactoferrin), which together provide a host of benefits.

whey protein good

What Are the Benefits of Whey Protein?

1. Protein Quality
Protein quality refers to the balance of amino acids, the digestibility of the protein to release amino acids for absorption, and the availability of the absorbed amino acids for protein synthesis.1 Protein quality is also often defined as a protein’s capacity to provide essential/indispensable amino acids, arguably the most important of which is leucine.2

Traditionally, there have been several measures to assess protein quality, including Protein Efficiency Ratio, Biological Value, Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), and most recently, the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score, or DIAAS, which has been suggested to be “ostensibly superior” to the previously more commonly used PDCAAS.3

Special Offer: Get $10 OFF (or more) per Bottle of BioTrust Low Carb Protein Powder Along with 3 FREE Bonuses (expires soon)

Regardless of which scale is used, animal-based proteins, such as milk (e.g., whey), eggs, and beef) rank at the top with the highest scores. For instance, DIAAS scores for whey, eggs, and beef are all above 100% whereas plant-based proteins typically fall below 80%. Whey is an ideal source of protein because it is rapidly-digesting, and it contains the highest concentration of leucine (13.6%).4,5

2. Muscle Recovery, Growth, and Strength
Two primary factors governing muscle recovery and growth are muscle protein synthesis (MPS), or the rate the body rebuilds muscle, and muscle protein breakdown (MPB), or the rate the body breaks down muscle. Whey protein is an abundant source of essential amino acids (particularly leucine), the “building blocks” of muscle. It’s rapidly digested, making it an excellent protein source for increasing MPS and regulating muscle mass.

When whey protein is consumed after resistance training, there is a synergistic effect on MPS along with a complete abolishment of MPB, which leads to muscle gain over time. Numerous studies have confirmed that whey protein is effective at increasing muscle mass, improving recovery, and increasing strength.3,6,7 A good rule of thumb is to consume 20 – 25 grams of whey protein within a couple hours before and/or after exercise.

3. Appetite Control
Consumption of whey protein can have a powerful effect on appetite, which can help control cravings and food intake. While it’s commonly accepted that protein in general increases satiety, some research suggests whey may have specific advantages. For instance, whey protein has been shown to decrease hunger to a greater extent than other sources of protein (such as soy, tuna, turkey, and eggs). Whey (perhaps through glycomacropeptide) consumption leads to an increase in hormones like GLP-1, GIP, and CCK, which suppress appetite and promote satiety, and a decrease in levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin.8,9

4. Body Composition and Weight Management
In general, high-protein, reduced-calorie diets promote healthy weight management, and compared to normal-protein diets, they tend to accelerate fat loss, help maintain calorie-burning lean muscle mass, and prevent weight regain. In a recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials published in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers concluded, “The current body of literature supports the use of WP [whey protein], either as a supplement combined with resistance exercise or as part of a weight loss or weight maintenance diet, to improve body composition parameters.”10

While most people focus on weight loss, fat loss combined with muscle gain/maintenance (“quality weight loss”) is ideal, as it is key to achieving a lean, toned appearance and promoting long-term weight maintenance. Because muscle is metabolically active, a loss of muscle mass—from dieting or being sedentary—is a major risk factor for weight regain. This is not only because of the impact on metabolic rate, but also because the body compensates by driving overeating—a phenomenon referred to as “collateral fattening.”

5. Healthy Aging
As we get older, we tend to experience a slow and inevitable decline in muscle mass along with significant reductions in strength. This can have tremendous consequences, adversely affecting mobility and physical function, leading to a greater incidence of falls, contributing to several age-related health conditions, reducing independence, and overall decreasing quality of life.

Certainly, a sedentary lifestyle (“use it or lose it”) plays a substantial role. Yet inadequate consumption of protein can accelerate age-related muscle loss. Conversely, regular resistance training combined with adequate protein intake can help limit muscle loss and promote healthy aging.

Bonus Aging Tip: Slow Cellular Aging, Revitalize Your Skin, And Significantly Reduce The Belly-Fat Storing Hormone Cortisol With Ageless Body!

==> Get Ageless Body 14% Off + 2 Free Reports (Limited Time).

6. Immune Support
Compared to other protein sources, whey protein is unique in its ability to optimize immune function. On one hand, whey protein can boost levels of glutathione, commonly referred to as the body’s “master antioxidant.”11 Glutathione supports immunity by replenishing the body’s primary defense system. It is also a natural detoxifier, helping to eliminate potentially harmful toxins.

Whey is also rich in the amino acid glutamine, which is required for optimal immune system function. Whey protein also contains immunoglobulins and lactoferrin, which are established immune-enhancing constituents.12

7. Carbohydrate Management
Numerous studies have shown that high-protein diets lead to significant improvements in glycemic (the effect of food on blood sugar levels) control and metabolic function in as little as 5 weeks. In particular, the addition of whey protein to a carbohydrate-containing meal has been shown to significantly reduce the glycemic response. This acute improvement in metabolic function seems to be related to whey’s influence on insulin.13

8. Cardiovascular Health
Generally speaking, research suggests that milk consumption and intake of dairy proteins are associated with reduced blood pressure.14 Of course, maintaining healthy blood pressure is imperative for cardiovascular health. β-Lactoglobulin, the most abundant protein in whey, inhibits angiotensin-I-converting enzyme (ACE), which in turn has a beneficial effect on blood pressure.15 Whey protein may also support healthy levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides, suggesting additional heart health benefits.

Buyer Beware: Not All Whey Protein is Created Equally

Figuratively speaking, you may already have one foot out the door looking to add whey protein to your arsenal. And with all those benefits in mind, we wouldn’t blame you. However, as is the case with supplements in general, not all whey protein supplements are created equally. In fact, there are a few important things to keep in mind when searching for a top-quality whey protein.

Finally, the addition of digestive enzymes to a whey protein supplement may significantly improve digestion and absorption. On one hand, digestive enzyme capabilities and production decrease as we age.24; this may be one explanation as to why we need MORE protein as we get older. In addition, one of the factors that may contribute to limiting how quickly the body can digest and absorb protein is saturation of the body’s limited supply of digestive enzymes.

Indeed, research has shown that the addition of protein-digesting enzymes (i.e., proteolytic enzymes) to whey protein results in a substantial increase in protein absorption and utilization.25 In other words, digestive enzymes can help give you more bang for your buck. That’s precisely why we include the patented, research-backed digestive enzyme blend ProHydrolase® in our BioTrust Low-Carb whey protein powder. The latest research shows that ProHydrolase is more than twice as effective at delivering protein to your body than any other enzymes used in other protein products. That means it delivers more protein to muscles per serving than most protein powders you may find online or on supermarket shelves.26,27

Our Top Whey Protein Recommendation: BioTrust Low Carb Protein.
==> Get Up to 20% Off + 2 Free Reports (Limited Time).

What about Plant-Based Proteins

Certainly, you have a choice when it comes to choosing a protein supplement, and plant-based proteins are available. As mentioned above, there’s no question that whey is superior in terms of protein quality, digestibility, and amino acid profile.

What’s more, concentrated plant-based proteins have not been shown to have the same laundry list of health benefits associated with whey, nor do they contain the same beneficial bioactive peptides, which have immune boosting, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and health-promoting other properties.

Certainly, eating a diet rich in plant-based foods is important for overall health, and there some good plant-based proteins available for folks (e.g., plant-based eaters) who are looking for options besides whey or animal-based proteins. However, to claim that plant-based proteins are somehow superior to whey and other animal-based proteins is simply not true; it’s a claim unsupported by research.

In conclusion, whey protein is lauded for its benefits—and rightly so. Having said that, not all whey protein supplements are the same, and there are important considerations when choosing a natural and quality whey supplement and how you use it as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Our Top-Rated Protein Supplement:

Our top recommended protein powder is BioTrust Low Carb. Here’s exactly what makes BioTrust Low Carb stand head and shoulders above any other protein powder on the market:

It contains 24 grams of pasture raised, grass-fed protein per serving.

• It’s made with certified, hormone-free proteins (if a protein powder doesn’t state it’s hormone-free on the label, it’s not).

It’s soy-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made with natural ingredients. That means it contains no artificial additives, colors, flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners… at all.

It’s sweetened naturally (NO artificial sweeteners).

• It contains 4g of fiber per serving (and only 1 gram of sugar!)

• It’s built around a 4-protein time-released blend that fuels your body with quality nutrition and helps keep you full for hours on end.

• It’s cold-processed to protect the quality of each protein, unlike common high-heat and acid processing practices that denature the protein as it’s manufactured.

• It is the very first protein to contain ProHydrolase®, a natural enzyme blend that has been shown through research to substantially boost protein absorption and optimize digestion for stomach-friendly results. That means BioTrust Low Carb is maximally absorbed while being super easy on your stomach!

And did we mention it tastes incredible? Every time you mix up a BioTrust Low Carb shake, it’s just like enjoying a rich and creamy milkshake from the ice cream shop—only it comes in at just 150 calories while supporting your fitness goals and helping you stoke your fat-burning metabolism!

==>Try BioTrust Low Carb today and get up to 42% OFF + 3 FREE Bonus Reports(Limited Time)

BioTrust Nutrition- Share on Social

Share To:

More From Tim Skwiat

References

  • 1. Pencharz PB, Elango R, Wolfe RR. Recent developments in understanding protein needs – How much and what kind should we eat? Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. April 2016:1-4. doi:10.1139/apnm-2015-0549.
  • 2. Lemon PW. Beyond the zone: protein needs of active individuals. J Am Coll Nutr. 2000;19(5 Suppl):513S-521S.
  • 3. Phillips SM. The impact of protein quality on the promotion of resistance exercise-induced changes in muscle mass. Nutr Metab. 2016;13(1). doi:10.1186/s12986-016-0124-8.
  • 4. Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson MP, Maubois JL, Beaufrère B. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997;94(26):14930-14935.
  • 5. van Vliet S, Burd NA, van Loon LJ. The Skeletal Muscle Anabolic Response to Plant- versus Animal-Based Protein Consumption. J Nutr. 2015;145(9):1981-1991. doi:10.3945/jn.114.204305.
  • 6. Phillips SM, Loon LJCV. Dietary protein for athletes: From requirements to optimum adaptation. J Sports Sci. 2011;29(sup1):S29-S38. doi:10.1080/02640414.2011.619204.
  • 7. Morton RW, McGlory C, Phillips SM. Nutritional interventions to augment resistance training-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Front Physiol. 2015;6. doi:10.3389/fphys.2015.00245.
  • 8. Veldhorst MAB, Nieuwenhuizen AG, Hochstenbach-Waelen A, et al. Dose-dependent satiating effect of whey relative to casein or soy. Physiol Behav. 2009;96(4-5):675-682.
  • 9. Baer DJ, Stote KS, Paul DR, Harris GK, Rumpler WV, Clevidence BA. Whey protein but not soy protein supplementation alters body weight and composition in free-living overweight and obese adults. J Nutr. 2011;141(8):1489-1494. doi:10.3945/jn.111.139840.
  • 10. Miller PE, Alexander DD, Perez V. Effects of whey protein and resistance exercise on body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014;33(2):163-175. doi:10.1080/07315724.2013.875365.
  • 11. Zavorsky GS, Kubow S, Grey V, Riverin V, Lands LC. An open-label dose-response study of lymphocyte glutathione levels in healthy men and women receiving pressurized whey protein isolate supplements. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2007;58(6):429-436. doi:10.1080/09637480701253581.
  • 12. Krissansen GW. Emerging health properties of whey proteins and their clinical implications. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007;26(6):713S-23S.
  • 13. Frid AH, Nilsson M, Holst JJ, Björck IME. Effect of whey on blood glucose and insulin responses to composite breakfast and lunch meals in type 2 diabetic subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(1):69-75.
  • 14. Pal S, Ellis V. The chronic effects of whey proteins on blood pressure, vascular function, and inflammatory markers in overweight individuals. Obes Silver Spring Md. 2010;18(7):1354-1359. doi:10.1038/oby.2009.397.
  • 15. Mullally MM, Meisel H, FitzGerald RJ. Angiotensin-I-converting enzyme inhibitory activities of gastric and pancreatic proteinase digests of whey proteins. Int Dairy J. 1997;7(5):299-303. doi:10.1016/S0958-6946(97)00018-6.
  • 16. Renan M, Mekmene O, Famelart M-H, et al. pH-Dependent behaviour of soluble protein aggregates formed during heat-treatment of milk at pH 6.5 or 7.2. J Dairy Res. 2006;73(1):79-86. doi:10.1017/S0022029905001627.
  • 17. Abou-Donia MB, El-Masry EM, Abdel-Rahman AA, McLendon RE, Schiffman SS. Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2008;71(21):1415-1429. doi:10.1080/15287390802328630.
  • 18. Suez J, Korem T, Zeevi D, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature. September 2014. doi:10.1038/nature13793.
  • 19. Abhilash M, Sauganth Paul MV, Varghese MV, Nair RH. Long-term consumption of aspartame and brain antioxidant defense status. Drug Chem Toxicol. 2013;36(2):135-140. doi:10.3109/01480545.2012.658403.
  • 20. Potera C. The Artificial Food Dye Blues. Environ Health Perspect. 2010;118(10):a428-a428. doi:10.1289/ehp.118-a428.
  • 21. Zhao X, McBride BW, Trouten-Radford LM, Golfman L, Burton JH. Somatotropin and insulin-like growth factor-I concentrations in plasma and milk after daily or sustained-release exogenous somatotropin administrations. Domest Anim Endocrinol. 1994;11(2):209-216.
  • 22. Ludwig SKJ, Smits NGE, van der Veer G, Bremer MGEG, Nielen MWF. Multiple Protein Biomarker Assessment for Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rbST) Abuse in Cattle. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(12). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052917.
  • 23. Ludwig SKJ, Smits NGE, Bremer MGEG, Nielen MWF. Monitoring milk for antibodies against recombinant bovine somatotropin using a microsphere immunoassay-based biomarker approach. Food Control. 2012;26(1):68-72. doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2011.12.011.
  • 24. Borgstrom B, Dahlqvist A, Lundh G, Sjovall J. Studies of intestinal digestion and absorption in the human. J Clin Invest. 1957;36(10):1521-1536. doi:10.1172/JCI103549.
  • 25. Oben J, Kothari SC, Anderson ML. An open label study to determine the effects of an oral proteolytic enzyme system on whey protein concentrate metabolism in healthy males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008;5(1):10. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-10.
  • 26. ProHydrolase |. http://deerlandenzymes.com/prohydrolase/. Accessed December 23, 2016.
  • 27. Deaton J, Davidson J. ProHydrolase with milk protein whey in a sports protein drink. A controlled study to evaluate efficacy. April 2016.
  • 28. Tang JE, Moore DR, Kujbida GW, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. J Appl Physiol Bethesda Md 1985. 2009;107(3):987-992. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00076.2009.
  • 29. Tahavorgar A, Vafa M, Shidfar F, Gohari M, Heydari I. Whey protein preloads are more beneficial than soy protein preloads in regulating appetite, calorie intake, anthropometry, and body composition of overweight and obese men. Nutr Res N Y N. 2014;34(10):856-861. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2014.08.015.
  • 30. Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Macdonald MJ, Macdonald JR, Armstrong D, Phillips SM. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(4):1031-1040.
  • 31. Hartman JW, Tang JE, Wilkinson SB, et al. Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(2):373-381.
  • 32. Yang Y, Churchward-Venne TA, Burd NA, Breen L, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Myofibrillar protein synthesis following ingestion of soy protein isolate at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men. Nutr Metab. 2012;9(1):57. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-57.
  • 33. Phillips SM, Tang JE, Moore DR. The role of milk- and soy-based protein in support of muscle protein synthesis and muscle protein accretion in young and elderly persons. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009;28(4):343-354.
  • 34. Purpura M, Rp L, Jm J, et al. A Comparison of Blood Amino Acid Concentrations Following Ingestion of Rice and Whey Protein Isolate A Double-Blind Crossover Study. J Nutr Health Sci. 2014;1(3). doi:10.15744/2393-9060.1.306.
  • 35. Joy JM, Lowery RP, Wilson JM, et al. The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutr J. 2013;12(1). doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-86.
  • 36. Minevich J, Olson MA, Mannion JP, et al. Digestive enzymes reduce quality differences between plant and animal proteins: a double-blind crossover study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12(S1). doi:10.1186/1550-2783-12-S1-P26.
  • Very nice article informative content thanks we liked it.

    • Cristina

      Hi Maurice. I am delighted to hear that you found this article to be informative.

      Our team is hard at work exploring ways to deliver great content that will allow others to improve their health and wellness, and we are always on the lookout for topics of interest to our readers.

      It is through feedback like yours that we are able to confirm we are headed in the right direction, and we appreciate you stopping by.

      Have a great week, Maurice.

      • Max Sieger

        WOW!! Perfect picture of natural feminine Beauty!! Designed by the Artist of artists!!! SooooOO very inspiring!!!

  • Thank you for this article, very useful and informational.

    • Cristina

      Hi Cynthia. On behalf of the entire BioTRUST Nutrition team, I want to personally thank you for taking the time to leave your feedback.

      We strive to provide valuable content in an effort to inform and educate our readers on topics that are beneficial to improving their health and wellness.

      We are pleased to see this information was helpful for you, and we encourage you to let us know if there are any topics we can cover in the future that will enable you to be the best version of Cynthia possible.