Whey protein is known for its high BCAA content, also known as branched chain amino acids. It actually has a higher amount of naturally occurring branched chain amino acids than any food. This makes it very high quality and knowing this goes a long way when determining the pros and the cons.
Protein itself is responsible for hundreds of functions in the body. It helps with muscle preservation, weight maintenance, cell regeneration, hair growth, immunity and healthy skin just to name a few things.
There are two different types of whey protein. They are called whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Of the two, whey isolate is more pure. It is approximately 90 percent pure protein while the concentrate is 75 percent. In supplement form, they come in concentrate, isolate and a blend that contains both varieties.
Whey protein is one of the two protein extractions from the milk of cows. It is actually a by-product of cheese when it is going through production. Other than a marginal amount found in milk, there are no actual foods that contain whey protein, but it can be bought in powdered form. Whey protein is assimilated well by the body and it contains all the essential amino acids. Whey protein isolates are very low in fat, carbs and lactose. Whey concentrates are cheaper but they have higher fat and lactose contents. The best bang for your buck is the combination protein powder that has both varieties in it. This powder also has a great amino acid profile.
Hydrolyzed whey protein is a form of whey that is mostly used in baby formulas or for medical purposes. It is broken down into tiny fragments called peptides. This type of whey protein is also less likely to cause allergic reactions.
Whey protein is also a good choice for vegetarians, but only if they allow dairy in their diets.
People with lactose intolerance can also take whey protein. But the important thing to do is always get a whey isolate form with less than .1 grams of lactose per tbsp. Whey concentrates should be avoided as they are generally high in lactose and the content tends to vary with different brands.
Eating the right amount of protein can help facilitate weight maintenance or loss, it can boost immunity, strengthen bones and repair damaged muscle cells, especially right after a hard workout. It is also an effective resource for burn victims as protein is lost through wounds and it requires more for the healing process.
Although whey protein is a great source it should still be used in correct amounts. According to RDA guidelines, the recommended amount of protein a day is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Another thing to take into consideration is overdosing on whey protein. The body can only process and digest so much at a time. If an overabundance is taken, it will be excreted from the body, stored as fat or ultimately used for energy. But processing these high amounts of protein can really tax the liver and kidneys which can lead to problems down the road. One more consideration to take is if you have any allergies to dairy proteins, it would be a good idea to consult with your doctor before taking whey protein.
High amounts shouldn't be taken by people with pre-existing kidney problems. In either case, proper hydration is of utmost importance when supplementing with whey protein as it takes the body a lot of water to metabolize. An easy rule of thumb is drink eight, 8 oz. glasses of water a day.