Whey protein isolates (sometimes called whey isolate or WPI) is a dietary supplement created in the process of filtering milk protein. It is actually the tansluscent liquid that you can see when the casein protein is removed to make cheese. It is basically a by-product of making cheese. This cheese making process yields 3 forms of whey: whey isolate (WPI), whey concentrate (WPC), or whey hydrolysate (WPH). However, as it is processed and purified into whey protein isolates it can lose some of its biologic activity, but the amino acid sequences do not change when this happens and the protein is denatured. If a protein is denatured during this process, it does not have any effect on its muscle-building qualities. All large proteins are broken down during digestion into smaller protein chains and individual amino acids (denatured). Whether this process occurs in the gut or in the factory doesn’t affect how they are absorbed in the body.
What is unique about whey protein isolates is that the protein content is concentrated to levels as high or higher than 90%, and yet has very little fat and lactose (about 0.5%). This is the primary difference between whey protein and its isolate form. In contrast, whey protein contains around 10-15% protein, 60-75% lactose and 1% milk fat. Whey protein isolate is popular with people who are lactose sensitive or intolerant and unable to easily digest the lactose in whey protein. Many people definitely prefer whey protein isolates for its high protein concentration, especially athletes. It’s easy to add carbohydrates to your whey protein isolate if you want them, just by mixing it in a smoothie with fruit or fruit juice.
Whey protein can be easily reconstituted for consumption by mixing it with water, juice, milk, almond or coconut milk, or another liquid. It is very popular today, especially among athletes and people on the go, because of its ability to be digested very rapidly and it is an easy and very healthy source of high quality protein.
Significant HEALTH BENEFITS of whey protein:
Muscle Growth – Whey protein isolates contain ALL the essential amino acids our bodies need every day and that our bodies alone cannot manufacture on its own. These types of essential amino acids must be obtained through our diet. Equally important is the actual quality of these amino acids. There are two important components of whey protein isolates that make these important muscle builders 1) they have branched chain amino acids which are unique because they are directly metabolized by the muscles 2) the amino acid leucine which promotes muscle growth and development.
It is very healthy to consume whey protein isolates all through your life, but especially later in life to prevent the natural degradation of muscles that occurs with age. This will also help reduce the chance of developing obesity and all of the problems associated with it.
The pure protein content of whey protein isolates is very quickly used by the body helping in the synthesis of muscle building. It gives you more strength and stamina for athletic activities and a decreased recovery time with muscle building.
Weight Loss – This is beneficial for weight loss in two ways 1) it requires more energy to digest whey protein isolates which causes the burning of more calories after a meal 2) it also aids in suppressing the appetite. Whey protein isolates contain two hormones that contribute to weight loss: cholecystokinin and glucagon-like peptide-1. Many recent studies have found that low fat diets with the highest protein content—the low-carbohydrate diets—have the best results in weight loss. Another component is its ability to help in decreasing triglycerides and total cholesterol while increasing the good cholesterol (HDL).
Immune System – Whey protein isolates increase the levels of glutathione, your body’s main water based anti-oxidant, which has the power to greatly reduce the number of free radicals in the body. These free radicals can potentially cause cellular damage to the body. It also contains immunoglobin antibodies and other molecules that are foundational for the immune system. It even initiates the growth of new healthy skin.
No supplement can replace a diet of whole, natural, unprocessed foods, but whey protein isolates are the next best thing and can be incredibly useful for people with a very busy, on-the-go lifestyle as a supplement, snack or full meal replacement to their normal diet routine. There is almost an endless list of benefits in consuming high-quality whey protein isolates every day! It is a life preserving product that we should all incorporate into our diets.