What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is a high quality and nutritious type of dairy protein that is isolated from whey, the liquid material created as a by-product of cheese production. Learn more here…

Whey is an excellent protein choice for individuals of all ages who value the role of a healthy diet in helping to maintain and improve their health. Whey-protein isolate, the purest form available, is unsurpassed as a source of the essential amino acids required in the daily diet.

Essential amino acids are the building blocks for healthy muscles, skin, nails and other body tissue. To learn more about whey-protein and how it contributes to good health please read below for your specific area of interest.

Benefits of Whey Protein

  • Physical Performance

Whey-protein has long been considered the "Gold Standard" of protein for serious athletes who work hard to develop and sustain a lean, strong and well-defined physique. Research studies support this belief.

Athletes need more protein in their diet, often as much as twice the recommended daily allowance. The protein they choose makes a difference and here are several reasons why whey-protein is a preferred choice for athletes of all types.

It is a naturally complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids required in the daily diet. It has the ideal combination of amino acids to help improve body composition and enhance athletic performance.

Whey-protein is a rich source of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), containing the highest known levels of any natural food source. BCAAs are important for athletes since unlike the other essential amino acids, they are metabolized directly into muscle tissue and are the first ones used during periods of exercise and resistance training.

Whey-protein provides the body with BCAAs to replenish depleted levels and start repairing and rebuilding lean muscle tissue.

It is an excellent source of the essential amino acid, leucine. Leucine is important for athletes as it plays a key role in promoting muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth.

Research has shown that individuals who exercise benefit from diets high in leucine and have more lean muscle tissue and less body fat compared to individuals whose diet contains lower levels of leucine. Whey-protein isolate has approximately 50% more leucine than soy protein isolate.

It is also a soluble, easy to digest protein and is efficiently absorbed into the body. It is often referred to as a "fast" protein for its ability to quickly provide nourishment to muscles.

It helps athletes maintain a healthy immune system by increasing the levels of glutathione in the body. Glutathione is an anti-oxidant required for a healthy immune system and exercise and resistance training may reduce glutathione levels. Whey-protein helps keep athletes healthy and strong to perform their best.

  • Whey Protein and Weight Management

Studies show that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can add years to your life and help prevent weight related complications, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Diet plays a key role in any weight management program and adding whey protein often helps make a positive difference. Here are some of the reasons why;

  • The body requires more energy to digest protein than other foods (thermic effect) and as a result you burn more calories after a protein meal.
  • Whey-protein isolate is pure protein with little to no fat or carbohydrates. It is a perfect complement to any low carbohydrate or low glycemic index diet plan.
  • Recent studies by Dr. Donald Layman, a professor at the University of Illinois, have highlighted that high quality whey protein is rich in leucine to help preserve lean muscle tissue while promoting fat loss. It contains more leucine than milk protein, egg protein and soy protein.
  • Protein helps to stabilize blood glucose levels by slowing the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. This in turn reduces hunger by lowering insulin levels and making it easier for the body to burn fat.

Whey-protein contains bioactive components that help stimulate the release of two appetite-suppressing hormones: cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). In support of this, a new study found that whey-protein had a greater impact on satiety than casein, the other protein in milk. When added to a mid-day snack or beverage, it provides healthy energy and may help control food intake at the next meal.

  • Whey Protein and Cardiovascular Health

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in the world. With the average life expectancy rising each year, it becomes increasingly important to adopt a nutritious diet and regular exercise program to help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Whey-protein should be part of that nutritious diet.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the leading causes of heart disease and stroke. Exciting new research has shown that whey-protein may help in the battle against hypertension. Both human clinical and animal studies found that a hydrolyzed whey protein isolate assisted in reducing the blood pressure of borderline hypertensive individuals.

Elevated cholesterol is another factor associated with heart disease and whey-protein has been shown to reduce cholesterol in a number of animal and clinical studies. Certain bioactive components in whey-protein may be responsible for the cholesterol reduction however additional research is needed in this area.

  • Whey Protein and Cancer Patients

Cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy often have difficulty in meeting their daily nutritional requirements due to nausea and lack of appetite. This may lead to weight loss, muscle loss and protein calorie malnutrition.

Whey-protein is an excellent protein choice for cancer patients as it is very easy to digest and very gentle to the system. Whey-protein may be added to a wide variety of foods and beverages to increase the protein content without affecting taste.

As with serious athletes, cancer patients often have reduced glutathione levels and a weakened immune system. Numerous studies have shown that whey protein, rich in the amino acid cysteine, provides an extra boost to the immune system by raising glutathione levels. This may help reduce the risk of infection and improve the responsiveness of the immune system.

Potential research demonstrated that women with the highest levels of plasma cysteine had a 56% reduction in the risk of breast cancer compared to individuals with the lowest levels of plasma cysteine.

  • Whey Protein and Infant Nutrition

Whey-protein contains many of the same components found in human breast milk and for this reason, is a key ingredient in a wide variety of infant formulas, including those for premature infants.

Certain types of whey-protein based infant formulas have also been shown to help reduce crying in colicky infants.

While breast-feeding is preferred, infant formulas containing whey protein are the next best thing when breast feeding is not an option. In addition, whey protein is an excellent protein choice for the expectant mother who needs increased amounts of protein.

Pregnancy can increase the body's protein needs by up to 33%. Before making any changes to their diet, it is recommended that expectant mothers consult with a physician to determine their unique protein needs.

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