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Protein Comparison of Whey Concentrate, Isolate and Hydrolysate

Aug 01, 2014 10:15AM

When it comes to protein, the type, amount, and timing are all important. Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows that whey (the serum, or strained liquid component of milk) protein is one of the best protein sources to consume regularly for maximum satiety, thermogenesis and muscle protein synthesis. To truly reap those benefits, studies support consuming 20 to 40 grams of protein at each meal, as well as after strenuous workouts.

We can consume whey protein as a concentrate, isolate or hydrolysate, and they vary widely in form and effectiveness. The nutritional effects that a protein exerts on the body mainly depends on its amino acid profile, the rate of absorption and the bioavailability of the amino acids in the body. Whey is a complete protein, which means it contains all essential amino acids, including those the body can’t make, for supporting optimal muscle tissue growth, maintenance and repair.

Whey naturally has the highest percentage of branched-chain amino acids, including leucine, which plays the biggest part in muscle protein synthesis. Because protein is a good source of the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine, it also benefits the immune system. Cysteine and methionine are used to make glutathione, which protects DNA from damage during cell division and maintains antioxidant status in the body. Because whey protein is easily and rapidly digested and absorbed, its amino acids are readily available to muscle and can be used to support muscle growth and repair better than other protein sources such as soy.

Whey protein concentrate typically contains around 80 percent protein in addition to a small amount of fat, minerals and lactose. Because it’s more complete, whey protein concentrate usually has more bioactive components and proteins that add to concentrate’s benefit. Concentrate is a very suitable form of whey protein for use in complete meal replacements for its overall benefit.

Whey protein isolate is the isolated protein fraction from whey protein concentrate, providing 90 percent or more of protein, making it the purest protein source. While purity is certainly a positive attribute, many isolates don’t have the other benefits of concentrate due to bioactive components and proteins being broken down during processing. Whey protein isolates are typically used in products aimed at bodybuilders and are also widely used in snack and meal replacement bars.

Whey protein hydrolysate is predigested, meaning the long chains of amino acids typically found in isolates and concentrates have been broken down into single amino acids, similar to what happens in the body during digestion. However, studies have shown that because whey protein absorbs so quickly in its original form, predigesting it to a hydrolysate does not lead to significantly faster absorption. Also, whey hydrolysate has a bitter flavor, which must be masked with heavy use of sweeteners and flavoring to make palatable.

While there are pros and cons to each form of whey protein, all three can assist in weight loss and maintenance, muscle building and retention and benefit to overall health.

Sylvia Moore is an independent associate with Isagenix International and is involved in promoting health and wellness and generating opportunities help others achieve their dreams—physically and financially. For more information, visit SylviaMoore1.Isagenix.com.

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