If you’re a regular reader of our Daily Dose of Joy blog, you might know by now that a high-protein diet is beneficial not only for bodybuilders but for anyone trying to stay fit, lose weight, improve the quality of their skin/nails/hair, get better energy or enjoy more sleep. But you might not guess that different kinds of protein can actually have different effects. Plenty of nutrition brands tout whey protein as a principal ingredient. Why is that? What’s so special about whey protein, and how can it benefit your health?
For one thing, whey protein is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids. Those are organic compounds that are vital to our health. When amino acids are absorbed into our bloodstream, one thing that occurs is muscle protein synthesis, or MPS, the process that allows the muscle to be created.
The cells in our bodies produce certain amino acids, but there are others we need to get from our food sources. These are known as essential amino acids, and there are nine of them. Not all proteins contain all of these nine amino acids, however, and if they do, they often contain fewer per gram than whey protein.
But first things first. What is whey protein, anyway? You know that cloudy liquid that sits on top of your yogurt? Well, that’s whey. Whey is one of the main proteins in milk (the other is casein). In simple terms, it's the watery part of milk that separates from the solid curds and is discarded during cheesemaking. When Little Miss Muffet was eating her curds and whey, she was eating something akin to what we’d call cottage cheese.
Whey is further processed by one of several different methods. The result is different types of whey proteins: isolate, concentrate, and hydrolysate. Whey protein isolate is 90% or more protein, but it doesn’t have some of the nutrients that whey concentrate has. Whey protein concentrate is 70-80% protein, along with these beneficial nutrients, fat, and lactose. Many people think it tastes better. Finally, whey protein hydrolysate has been pre-digested. This means that your body absorbs it at a faster rate, and as a result, it has a significantly greater spike in your insulin levels. (1)
FitJoy protein bars contain both whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate.
Did you know that 60-90% of human breast milk is whey protein? Yup! Also used in baby formula, it’s extremely beneficial to human health and growth. Its antibodies and lactoferrins help our immune systems fight infection.
Whey protein can also help you lose weight! is also highly satiating. In several studies, protein has been shown to help individuals burn significantly more calories while consuming significantly fewer calories. That's partly because protein is by far the most satiating of all three macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats). You’re likely to be less hungry and have fewer cravings if you’re consuming protein like whey as opposed to other calories.
Like we said, whey protein, as a complete animal protein, contains all of the amino acids that we humans need to feed our bodies. These essential amino acids include important “branded-chain amino acids,” or BCAAs, which are important in muscle building. BCAAs have also been shown to decrease muscle damage and soreness after working out. It can prevent muscle fatigue during your workout and help speed up your recovery time in between workouts.
Whey protein is rich in BCAAs like leucine, which is the highest muscle-growing amino acid, and it’s also rich in cysteine, helping your body’s antioxidant production. Whey protein is also absorbed and used by your body faster than casein and other proteins like pea protein.
How to Use Whey Protein
If you’re trying to build muscle, it’s recommended that you eat 25-50 grams of whey protein per day, within an hour or two before or after you work out, or during your anabolic period, for the full effects of MPS. If you’re using whey protein to satiate your hunger for weight loss or glean its other health benefits, simply consume it when you would normally snack or eat.
Whey protein comes in many forms—one of the most popular being powders. You can stir some whey into a drink or smoothie, but just be aware that it might be paired with artificial sweeteners or other unwanted ingredients for the flavor to be enhanced.
An easy way to get whey is simply to buy healthy snacks that contain whey supplements, like protein bars, but you should also be wary of the ingredients, as many contain maltitol, sucralose, or other suspect sweeteners.
Shop FitJoy bars for a 20 grams of a premium protein blend free of artificial ingredients, GMOs, gluten, and grains. These bars aren’t just for fitness junkies. They’re for anyone who wants a healthy snack or meal replacement. If you’re an adult over 50 and have higher protein needs than you used to, or if you’re trying to sneak more protein into your child's diet, try our fun-size bars, which are made using the same whey protein formula at a third of the size. They’re a delicious and filling snack that covers palates and protein needs of all ages. You won’t even notice that they’re healthy!
The FitJoy Team
Our team likes to stay in the know and ahead of the game when it comes to eating, exercise, and wellness in general! We take the latest buzz in the nutrition world and make it easily translatable for your own life.