You’ve just put in a good hour of intense training at the gym. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for your muscles to grow.
If only putting on mass was that easy!
Nutrition plays about 60-70% of a role in the muscle building process while your training contributes to only 30-40%… experts say. I say, you can’t place more importance on one over the other, because without nutrition you can’t build muscle, and without training you can’t build muscle, it’s as simple as that… they’re both equally crucial!
Supplements can play an important role in an effective muscle building nutrition plan, when used correctly.
Whey protein powder is one of the most, if not the single most, well known and used supplement by bodybuilders, athletes and average Joe muscle seekers alike. Fact is, most of the bodybuilding and sports supplements on the market are complete rubbish and won’t do anything to increase your muscle size or strength. What they will do, with their cool looking labels, scientific sounding names and pro bodybuilder indorsed marketing plans is steal the hard earned money out your pocket and leave you with no results.
However, if theres one supplement that’s a proven muscle builder its whey protein powders, and should be a staple in your supplement regime. If under some strange circumstance you could only buy one supplement, your choice should always be whey protein.
As most people know, the building blocks of muscle in our body are protein. Muscles are made up of many small fibers which get broken down while working out, and as the muscle recovers over a period of time, you need protein to rebuild those fibers, making them stronger and bigger.
To get bigger muscles you need protein, and plenty of it. But it’s not always easy getting in 6 – 8 quality solid food protein sources a day. This is where protein powders come in, with their high bioavailability, brand chain amino acids and anabolic properties they make a very convenient and easy way to cover your daily protein requirements.
Now, it’s important to understand that every protein type has different levels of quality and absorption. This is your complete guide to whey protein powder and choosing the best protein supplements you need to make noticeable gains in lean muscle mass.
What Is Whey Protein?
Have you ever noticed the clear liquid that lies on top of the curd when pulled out of the fridge? That’s what whey protein is. It’s a byproduct that comes from the process of the curdling of milk. Protein quantity in whey protein powders can vary anywhere from 20% to over 90% of the total weight. This depends on the type of whey protein being consumed.
The types of whey protein are classified based on the filtration process. The more filtered it is, the purer it is and hence the more the protein it has. You’ll find that the price of more filtered forms of whey protein is higher since the protein content is higher and the filtration process is more advanced.
What Are The Types Of Whey Protein?
Whey Protein Concentrate
The process of making whey protein concentrate basically involves ultrafiltration process in cheese production. Of all the whey proteins available in the market, whey protein concentrate is the most common and cheapest. It’s a good source of protein powder with a moderate absorption and digestion speed. It generally comprises anywhere between 70-80% of protein while the rest of it is made up of fats and carbs in the form of lactose.
Although most whey protein concentrate sources are between the 70-80% range, as I stated before, it can start from as low as 20% of the total weight, so watch out for those super cheap shakes. Be sure go with a reputable brand and read the label before buying a powder containing just whey protein concentrate.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is created by filtering milk proteins, and as the name suggests, is a purer form of protein. This is due to the additional membrane filtration process that the protein goes through. This results in the protein powder having over 90% of its weight as pure protein. This thorough filtering process removes unwanted lactose, fats, and particles. The end product is a cholesterol free, very high quality and pure form of protein.
The longer and advanced ion-exchange filtration process makes it easily absorbable by the body when compared to whey protein concentrate powder. Whey isolate is the king of protein powders and is the best choice, but is the most expensive. If you’re unable to afford pure isolate powder you will find a lot of supplements with a mix of isolate and concentrate which would be an ideal alternative.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate
Whey protein concentrate or whey protein isolate when put through an additional step of processing called hydrolysis gives us a type of whey protein called whey protein hydrolysate. This process predigests and breaks the bonds created between the amino acids, thus making it the fastest digesting protein available on the market. Since it’s the fastest digesting protein, it is the ideal post workout protein source to start the recovery and muscle hypertrophy process.
Casein is very similar to whey protein powder and is a supplement you’re likely to come across, so I thought I should give it a mention in this guide. Casein is well known for it’s slow digestion rate, it’s much slower than concentrate and isolate at getting absorbed by the body.
Casein is a great protein source and is most commonly used as the last portion of protein consumed in a day. Because it’s so easy to take, low in fat and carbs, it makes it the ideal protein source just before going to bed. It will provide a sustained release of protein throughout the night as you sleep to keep your muscles in an anabolic state.
Advantages Of Whey Protein Supplements
- Whey protein powders are a complete source of protein that is rich in BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) which are essential for the development of muscle growth and repair. It is especially high in L-leucine which plays a key role in the rebuilding of your muscle tissue.
- It is a great tasting and convenient source of protein that can be added to one’s diet very easily. This means you don’t need to consume as much whole food protein as you otherwise would have had to without whey protein supplements.
- Whey protein, due to its pureness, is rapidly absorbed into the body which makes it a perfect post workout supplement.
- Improves overall health of the body and increases your metabolism rate.
- Protein powders come in a variety of flavors which can easily make it your favorite meal of the day if you’re on a strict diet.
- Good whey protein powders can give your favorite milkshake a good run for their money in terms of taste and consistency, with the added bonus of it being very healthy!
- Whey protein powders are easily soluble in water or milk making them easy to blend into one of the two for a quick after workout shake or any time during the day.
- If you’re in a rush in the morning it can be a real setback having to prepare a protein rich meal. Downing a whey protein shake with breakfast is a great way to start the day.
Which Whey Protein Powder Should I Buy?
Whey protein concentrate is a great choice for someone that’s on a budget and doesn’t mind a few extra carbs and fat that come along with it. The advantage of this additional fat, carbs and lactose is that this adds to the taste of the whey protein concentrate making it the tastiest whey protein option. As mentioned, whey protein concentrate contains lactose, so for lactose allergic people this whey protein source is out of the question. It has lower protein content than whey protein isolate does on a per gram basis and because it is not as pure as whey protein isolate it is absorbed a little slower into the body.
Whey protein isolate contains over 90% protein of its total weight and is more expensive because of the higher cost of production involved due to the additional filtration processes and higher protein levels in the product. So for someone with a slightly more flexible budget, whey protein isolate works well. It eliminates the excessive fat and carbs contained in the concentrate, although you may still find traces of it in the remainder of the 10% of the protein powder.
For those people that are lactose intolerant whey protein isolate is a great choice since whey protein isolates are free from lactose. Some isolates don’t taste quite as good as whey protein concentrates though because of the limited sugar and lactose. They are the perfect source of protein to be consumed immediately after your workout as it’s absorbed rapidly into the body.
The ideal choice for most people would be a protein powder that contains a mix of two or three of the proteins available – isolate, concentrate, hydrolysate and casein. Always read the ingredients label before buying so you know the quality of the protein powder, and you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
That should clear up any questions you might have had on whey protein powders. Make sure you read through this thoroughly before making your decision on which protein powder you decide to go ahead with. Do make sure to include whey protein as a part of your diet and you’ll see some great gains in the coming months.
Until next time, happy lifting folks!