Alison is a freelance writer on health, nutrition, skincare, and pets, especially cats and dogs.
Which is The Best Type of Whey Supplement for You?
In this article we explain when and how to consume whey protein, which of the three main types, concentrate, isolate or hydrolysate would be best for you.
Before we look at the best way to consume whey protein, we first need to understand the three main types available and find out about the differences between these three, quite different products.
It is important to establish which type would be best for you, depending on your goals and health issues, before moving on to how and when you should consume whey protein for optimum benefits. We will also look at any side effects, whether it might not be suitable for you.
Protein foodstuffs are rated on a scale according to their biological value or BV. In simple terms, the higher the BV, the more of the protein in the food that can be absorbed by the body for building muscle and repairing tissues. The benchmark on the BV scale is egg protein which scores 100, beef scores around 75 but whey protein can score over 150!
Whey protein in its natural state, contains quite a lot of fat and milk sugar (lactose) so it needs to be filtered during the manufacturing process to remove a lot of this.
The Three Forms Of Whey Protein Available
Whey protein is extracted from milk and comes in three main types. The cheapest form is the concentrate, then there is the isolate and finally, hydrolysed whey protein or hydrolysate as it is sometimes called.
The cheapest form is the Concentrate
The protein content of concentrates is good at 70% – 85%. However, they are not suitable for everyone because there is a lactose content of around 5% which can cause problems for people with lactose intolerance.
I can recommend the Bob's Red Mill All Natural Whey Protein Concentrate product pictured right. The link provided will take you to the product page on Amazon where you can get more details.
This whey protein concentrate product gets great reviews from Amazon customers. It dissolves quickly in shakes and smoothies and is easy to add to your baked goods. The pack I recommend gives the best value, it has four separate 12 oz packages and you can save an additional 10% if you use the subscribe and save service too!
Some people prefer the Concentrate to the Isolate form because it is cheaper, but many more prefer it because they believe that less filtering means that more of the immune boosting properties remain in the protein.
The next price point is the Isolate
Whey protein Isolates have been processed to get rid of both fats and lactose and contain more than 90% protein in most cases.
I chose the NOW Foods Whey Protein Isolate product (pictured right) because it not only gets great reviews from Amazon customers, it also is guaranteed to be 100% pure and unflavored.
It mixes instantly and is micro-filtered to provide high levels of branch chain amino acids - pictured is the 5lb pack but you can also buy a smaller 1.2 lb pack or the big value 10 lb pack! Please use the link provided to visit the product page for more information.
This type of protein powder is better for people who have lactose intolerance and some manufacturers include the enzyme lactase in the formulation. This is to break down any remaining lactose and so even for those suffering from lactose intolerance, it will eliminate the digestive problems with wind and so on, often caused by using the Concentrate product above.
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein or Hydrolysate
These are the most expensive, but many, especially those using protein powders specifically to build muscle, agree that they are the easiest to take as there are fewer digestive problems.
The protein is more quickly absorbed and utilized by the body because treating the whey with enzymes produces easy to absorb amino acids and peptide chains. In addition, there are fewer allergy problems than are sometimes associated with the less expensive products.
What Does Whey Protein Do?
Because whey protein provides the body with protein in the perfect form to build muscle and to recover from a strenuous workout. Because it is absorbed by the body so quickly, it is used by most professional athletes, sportsmen and body builders, especially to provide that vital protein boost which the body needs post-workout.
In addition, whey protein has a powerful antioxidant action which strengthens the immune system and regular use will help to develop a strong immune system over time. If you are interested in consuming whey protein shakes for this purpose, you might like to check out my hub on the ten best ingredients to add to smoothies and shakes for boosting your immune system.
As an additional benefit for anyone trying to lose weight and concerned about muscle loss as well as the desired fat loss, whey protein helps to prevent this. It has been proven that those consuming whey supplements as part of their weight loss program, feel less hungry and eat less at meal times - so whey could help you reach your weight loss goals too!
Who Should Be Taking It?
You should be considering taking whey protein if you are looking to increase your body’s lean muscle mass, get a faster recovery time after your workouts and a boost to your metabolic rate. However, athletes are not the only group who would benefit from supplementation as scientific studies have found benefits for using whey protein supplements to help many groups of people including Seniors, those on weight reducing diets, very young children, those undergoing cancer treatment, to help healing after surgery or injury and to ensure adequate protein intake for vegetarians.
Are There any Side Effects to Consuming Whey Protein?
If you are allergic to the proteins in dairy products or to the milk sugar, lactose, you may not be able to consume whey proteins. Those who suffer with ‘gas’, bloating and generally feeling uncomfortable after consuming Concentrate, will probably find they tolerate the Isolate much better.
When Should You Consume Whey Protein?
The first thing to say is that if you are considering supplementation with any of the forms of whey protein mentioned, you should first consult your doctor. You need to be sure that it is both safe and helpful for you to take a supplement like this so you should discuss why you feel you need protein supplementation and which type would be most beneficial for you.
There are numerous sites online that go into great detail on how much protein in grams you should be taking on a daily basis, depending on your weight, your workout levels, what you hope to achieve in terms of muscle mass gain or whether you are on a weight loss diet. You might also be considering supplementation for other health reasons.
Because there are so many variables, including the protein quantity of individual products, it is not possible to advise specifically on how much any one person should take.
Many people like to take a protein shake in the mornings as a breakfast drink to replenish the nutrient stores used during a night’s sleep in growth and repair of the body’s tissues. These shakes are also popular as pre- and post-workout drinks as a quick and easy way of taking in the required amount of protein.
People on a weight loss diet often use whey protein isolate as a meal replacement. It helps them to feel fuller on fewer calories. However, taking more than 50 grams of Isolate is not recommended and you should also be eating a balanced diet containing a wide range of other foods including other sources of protein.
How Consuming Whey Could Benefit You
Who Should Not Take Protein Supplements?
Whey protein supplementation is not a good idea if you suffer from any problems with your kidneys or have diabetes or other underlying long-term illness. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to get checked out by your doctor if you are thinking of using whey protein powder supplements.
Easy Ways To Take Your Whey Protein
The easiest way is to simply mix it with water. A shaker cup that will blend this into a smooth mixture is a very useful addition and these are available inexpensively online and in health food shops.
For a tastier way to take your supplement, why not try whey protein smoothies? Single serve smoothie blenders are great. Check out the offer from Amazon, pictured which offers a great little smoothie maker blender which has a take and go cup that you can carry with you to work or to your workout and drink right out of the mixing cup. Here are a couple of simple recipes, each one making a single serving – these are my favorites – although both are best consumed immediately after making them.
- 12 Ounces Water
- 1 Banana
- 1 Tablespoon Chocolate Hazlenut Spread, Try Justin's Nut Butter Natural Chocolate Hazelnut Blend for the delicious chocolate taste
- 1 Scoop Whey Protein Powder, You determine the type according to your dietary needs and protein quantity requirements
- 1/2 Cup Pitted Cherries, Use cherries with their stones removed or substitute other sweet, red berries
- 3 Ice Cubes
Just place everything into your blender and whizz together. Make sure that your blender is capable of crushing ice. For an even creamier shake, you could chop and freeze the banana beforehand as frozen banana makes this recipe extra thick and delicious!
Sticky Toffee Peach Make
- 12 ounces almond milk
- 1 Banana
- 1 peach, skinned and stoned
- 1 Scoop Whey Protein Powder of your choice (as above)
- 1 small serving toffee ice cream
Just blend everything together as before and drink straight away because of the ice cream content. For variety, instead of the almond milk, you could use rice or soy milk.
Whey Protein Bars
Consuming Ready Made Whey Protein Foods
Ready-made whey protein products may be more expensive than preparing your own recipes at home, but for convenience and the reassurance of knowing exactly how much protein is in each serving, they cannot be beaten. Many people also say that the protein shakes, in particular, are more tasty than home-made.
Ready to Drink Shakes
Consume Whey Throughout The Day!
For breakfast, it is easy to supplement your normal cereal with whey protein. It can be sprinkled over packet cereal or added to hot oatmeal. You can also add it to scrambled eggs for a high protein breakfast treat.
To consume whey protein whilst you are out and about, in addition to drinking shakes and smoothies, you can add whey protein to your baking.
It is easy to add extra protein into a cake or some muffins. At home, if you want to indulge in a few treats from time to time, it is even easier to add it to desserts such as cheesecake, homemade frozen yogurt or ice cream.
For a quick and tasty any-time snack, why not add it to either cottage cheese or yogurt?
- If you are adding it to cottage cheese just mix in the required amount of protein powder, add berries, nuts or seeds to taste (or a mixture of all three) and if any sweetener is required, add a little honey.
- If you are adding it to flavored yogurt, you really do not need to add anything else – liven up plain yogurt in the same way as the suggestions for cottage cheese already mentioned.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on June 18, 2015:
Hi Entourage_007 - I think this hub is coming up to an update as I have been reading more about the benefits of whey and the importance of choosing a product from organic, grass fed cows and one that is labelled 'undenatured' - I am now drinking a morning smoothie including whey every morning for my bone health and have found it gives me a lot of energy!
Stuart from Santa Barbara, CA on June 10, 2015:
Great article, one of my favorite whey supplements is also by optimum nutrition. Its the 100% whey protein, it mixes in great and it tastes great. I also experienced great results when using protein powder.
actionbronson on December 06, 2012:
Very useful hub. Whey protein can help one attain lean muscle mass. I need to get some more soon. Thanks for the very informative hub!
Alison Graham (author) from UK on December 03, 2012:
KawikaChann, thanks for your comment, I like the idea of adding it to Greek yogurt too! I think vanilla flavored whey protein powder would be delicious in honey yogurt - I agree, yum!!
Kawika Chann from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place on December 03, 2012:
Thanks Allison for the information - I used to used whey protein when I was working out for the extra fuel and for recovery from lifting weights. I like the idea about adding it to my greek honey yogurt - yum! Voted you up/useful. Peace. Kawi.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on November 23, 2012:
ChitrangadaSharan, thanks so much for your comment, I am glad you found the information useful, I certainly enjoyed writing this hub.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on November 23, 2012:
Very nice and useful information, shared by you about whey protein. Thanks for suggesting some delicious recipes also. Well written and researched hub.
Alison Graham (author) from UK on November 23, 2012:
Thanks Dreamhowl, always good to get a personal view, thanks for the vote too.
Jessica Peri from United States on November 22, 2012:
My brother used to use whey protein back when he was working out more, and I have to see, he was seeing some good results. I like that you included some simple recipes of your own. Voted up.