What is Whey Protein Isolate?
If you’re shopping around for protein supplements and want a bit of clarity that science offers, you came to the right place, my friend. There are three types of protein you’ve probably seen:
- Protein concentrates: Extracted from food using acid or enzymes and heat, concentrates contain 60-80 percent protein, the rest being carbs/calories.
- Protein isolates: A step up from concentrates, protein isolates are subjected to an additional filtering process to remove fats and carbs. You get 90-95 percent protein from an isolate.
- Protein hydrolysates: Uber processed– hydrolysates use additional heat and acid/enzyme processes. During this method, bonds between amino acids are broken so your body can absorb them quickly—but they also destroy some amino acids in the process and completely break some peptide bonds on others.
Pretty simple. Out of the three, today we’re talkin’ about whey protein isolate. The best form, in our humble ol’ opinion.
So, let’s start with the basics. Protein.
Protein Plays an Anabolic Role in the Body
Everyone knows protein makes muscle, right?
Proteins contain nitrogen and are formed by amino acids. They are major structural components of muscle and tissues. They also produce enzymes, hormones and hemoglobin.
The primary role of protein is for its use in anabolic processes in the body. Anabolic is the ‘molecule-building’ process in the body. Most people reference it when talking about building muscle.
This is why athletes consume protein.
Training breaks down proteins in the body. Increasing protein availability increases protein synthesis which results in a greater anabolic response to training.
Why is that?
It’s no secret the body treats training like a teenager treats chores. It’s soooo stressful. So when the body is stressed out, amino acids are called to the front line.
Some are used for protein synthesis and others are used for energy or sent to infantry-aka–oxidative processes.
During this trauma-induced state, changes in amino acid concentrations and protein synthesis are significant. The concentration of amino acids in your body can impact whether these reactions result in changes in muscle growth or muscle loss.
So, short story is—the more protein, the more amino acids, the more anabolic—or muscle building, your body will be.
This is important because your body can break down its muscle protein for up to three hours post-workout. Three hours! Do you have enough protein in your body?
If so, is it the right kind?
Types of Protein: Whey and Casein
Where do protein babies come from? Well, whey and casein come from milk, honey.
Whey protein is the water-soluble part of milk. It’s very popular as a protein supplement because whey is absorbed by the body faster than other forms of protein. As such—it boosts protein levels, amino acid levels and muscle protein synthesis super quickly.
In other words, it staves off that dreaded catabolic state and helps return the body to a muscle-building machine.
To boot, it also helps with weight loss and fat loss. Finally, whey also provides the body with a ton of cysteine which is an amino acid that improves metabolic conditions in the body.
Whey-t a minute. Aren’t we supposed to be talking about isolate?
You got me.
Yes, we are. To summarize, there are three forms of whey:
- Concentrate is 35-80 percent protein by weight.
- Isolate is purest with more than 90 percent protein by weight
- Hydrolysate which is a highly processed for that is treated with acid and enzymes to reduce its size to increase absorption by the body. It is reduced to peptide bonds and free amino acids through the process. We don’t like this stuff because the acids used during the process actually remove some amino acids and break peptide bonds on others.
So how do we get protein from whey? It’s kinda cool. After cheese is made, the stuff left over is are whey proteins which are then separated and purified.
During processing of whey isolate, after water is removed, large loads of lactose and fat are removed.
Cold Processed or Raw Whey Protein
Called cold-processed or raw whey protein, it is a higher quality, more effective protein.
A lot of protein out there—especially the cheaper brands,use acid-flushed and heat-processed methods of processing which strips protein of nutrients and immune-benefits raw protein has to offer.
Cold-processed whey protein avoids the high-temperatures that denatures and destroys the good stuff.
This is achieved through pasteurizing the milk at the FDA minimum temperature rather than over-heating to save money.
By processing at the lowest temperature, amino acids aren’t denatured or destroyed as they would be in heat-processing, and are more bioavailable.
So, if you have the option, choose raw or cold-processed—it does a body good.
So, now that your brain just got buff on our blog, let your body catch up. Get some muscle building cold processed whey protein isolate and feed your muscles…fuel your results. Boom.
Need more muscle food? Go here.