Protein is an important macronutrient for body composition and overall health, even if you’re not exercising every day. Protein plays many roles in the human body, including: neurotransmitter, energy production, cardiovascular function and immune system regulation. Above all this, protein is key for building and repairing muscle tissue. You can spend hours each week training hard, but if you’re not replenishing afterwards, you are doing yourself a disservice and will not obtain the best results possible.
When considering what type of protein powder you should be consuming around training time, you should be looking at a complete source, containing all essential amino acids; Whey Protein. So what is it, and why is Whey beneficial for women?
What is Whey?
Whey in its original form is the milk serum by-product you get when you heat and curdle milk in the cheese making process. Milk is made up of two types of protein, Whey & Casein. Whey is one of nature’s few complete sources of protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids that humans must obtain through diet.
The beginning process for creating whey protein is membrane filtration, such as microfiltration or ultra-filtration. Once filtered, the whey is spray dried and micro-encapsulated into a powdered product which is then usually altered by the manufacturer with specific flavouring and colouring to make it more pleasant to consume.
There are two types of whey protein powders:
Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) and Whey Protein Isolate (WPI).
• Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC): Produced by the ultra-filtration of whey, WPC is whey protein that contains less than 90% protein concentration, and could be as low as 20%. Usually, the exact proportion of whey will be notated following the term “WPC” such as WPC “70.” The rest of the powder is made up of lactose, fat, and micro-nutrients.
• Whey Protein Isolate (WPI): May be produced by a variety of membrane filtration techniques, with the goal of reaching >90% protein concentration and removal of most (if not all) lactose. Manufacturers will also often combine filtration with an ion-exchange technique to selectively filter out particles by their ionic charge rather than just molecular size.
What are the benefits?
During an intense workout, you’re breaking down muscle tissue. To rebuild, you need to give your body the right fuel and a big part of this is replenishing the nine essential amino acids that can’t be naturally produced by your body. With a whey protein supplement, amino acids will be readily available, particularly the three most important branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’S): leucine, isoleucine and valine which are essential to repair damaged muscle, easing muscle soreness and aid in toning muscle.
Whey also provides other key benefits for women:
– Stability of energy levels and appetite compared to carbohydrates, protein takes longer to break down and digest. This slow digestion time means you’ll stay fuller longer and keep hunger at bay, making it easier to hit your caloric intake and macros for body-weight maintenance.
– Helps you burn calories more efficiently
Protein has one of the highest thermic effect of food (TEF), which is the rate at which your body burns calories while digesting food. Since your body uses more energy to process proteins than it does to digest carbohydrates and fats, people who consume more protein throughout the day might see faster fat-loss results than people on a lower-protein diet plan.
– Prevents the loss of muscle
As already described, if insufficient amino acids are present, your body will start breaking down muscle tissue to get individual aminos. For you, this could mean a loss of muscle and a slower resting metabolism. Supplementing protein will prevent this.
– Boosts your immune system
Research has shown that several components in whey protein work together to improve immunity. A group of blood proteins called immunoglobulins (IgG1, IgG2, IgA, and IgM) are incorporated into milk and whey. They help pass on immunity to infants and adults as well. Colostrum, the first milk following birth, contains the greatest concentration of these compounds.
Which Whey to go?
There is no “best” whey protein as choosing the right whey protein for you ultimately comes down to several factors including budget, quality/flavour desired, lactose tolerability, and what you are using the product for.
Here is a summary of the pros and cons of each type of whey protein powder:
Pros and cons of whey protein concentrate (WPC)
WPC is a bit higher in fat and carbohydrate content, and for this reason tends to be a bit sweeter and creamier than WPI. There will be a small amount of lactose in most WPC products, so if you don’t tolerate milk sugar very well then your best bet is to stay clear of WPC.
Pros and cons of whey protein isolate (WPI)
If you want a lactose-free, low-fat, and easily digested protein then WPI is tough to beat. A small drawback of WPI is that doesn’t have as sweet and creamy of a texture that WPC does (but this is subjective).
Usually, I would recommend a high-quality Australian brand that uses New Zealand grass-fed dairy to ensure it contains the finest and purest ingredients, so you can be sure you’re getting the very best grade of whey protein isolate possible to nourish your body. Not only is whey protein isolate the best choice for post-workout recovery for muscle toning, it’s also the most ideal protein to use throughout the day to stabilise blood sugar and suppress food cravings. It helps you to stay fuller longer, so it satisfies your appetite.