So, what exactly is whey protein? Whey is a by-product of the process when milk is being turned to cheese. It is during that process that whey protein is removed. This removal process usually occurs through drying. But why has this particular protein come to light for the weekend warriors, including bodybuilders and powerlifters? Because it can be digested very quickly and thus made readily available for building muscle. Not only building mass but in reducing recovery time as well. The long and short of it is that protein is made up of amino acids and some well known amino acids are known for their muscle building effects. Whey protein is high in BCAA’s (branch chained amino acids) which can not only help to build muscle but also quicken recuperation.
Years ago if you wanted a high bioavailable protein as a food, you would choose eggs. Sure, you could purchase protein powders, protein supplements, BCAA’s, and individual amino acids but for bioavailability, it was known that eggs were on top of the list. The only issue is that eggs in themselves had a bad rap (and incorrect) in regards to cholesterol and the yolks which were seen to be high in fat. If you chose to be a proponent of egg whites, you weren’t getting the full benefit of this natural food. Not eating the egg yolks meant that you were missing out on added protein as well as biotin. So.. who cares about the extra protein? I’ll just eat egg whites. Yeah, but there is the biotin issue. Again, eggs are a whole food and by just eating egg whites you are missing out on the other nutrients within the yolks, including biotin. Ingest enough egg whites without yolks and you’ll soon find your hair may start to fall out. Ughhhh…. we don’t want that.
It was then found that whey protein had a higher BV (biological value), which is how well the body can absorb and utilize protein. So why don’t we just go out and eat a bunch of whey protein? Because you won’t find it in steak, chicken, eggs, vegetables, etc… Here is the issue with whey protein. You can not find it directly in a food. That is where the supplement industry comes into play. They found a great way to make whey protein powder, protein bars, and yeah.. even protein shots from whey (just saw this product in a Meijer store today).
So, if we want protein with the highest BV (whey protein), we must find it in supplement form. The best way to get that is either through protein powder or a protein bar. There are plenty of manufacturers that make whey protein powder in single serving packs, and sizes from 1 lb. all the way up to 10+ lbs. sold in multi-packs. Single serving packs work well when you take them to work, while keeping the larger bulk protein powders at home.
All protein is not created equal. As with nearly everything else, there are a few major types of whey protein and of course as impurities are removed or the product is made into a more pure form of protein, the price goes up. As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. When it comes to protein, make sure you do not buy the cheapest brand on the market.
There are plenty of supplements on the market today. Some good and some bad. Two of the best weight training supplements available for building mass today are whey protein and creatine monohydrate. Make sure to take the one-two punch and start having the best workouts of your life. What a great combination!