Whey protein is a traditional choice for active individuals.
It remains popular because of its unrivalled bioavailability (the amount of protein that can be utilised by the body after digestion) and rapid rate of absorption. Whey is actually a by-product of cheese making \u2013 it is the liquid part that remains after the curds are removed. This is then strained and dried to form a powder that is rich in protein; it is an abundant source of amino acids to include leucine, which has been viewed as the most important amino acid for muscle growth and repair. It also contains additional nutrients including calcium and vitamin B12.
Besides augmenting muscle protein synthesis, research suggests that whey protein may help to stabilise blood glucose levels and promote insulin sensitivity, leading to a sated feeling that is conductive to weight (fat) loss. It has also been shown to help maintain levels of glutathione \u2013 a substance found in the body which can assist in protecting the cells from oxidative damage, as well as supporting immune health and energy metabolism.
Whey protein concentrate is the basic material from which the other grades of whey (isolates and hydrolysates) are produced using further manufacturing techniques. It contains varying amounts of fat and lactose (milk sugar), and a protein percentage that varies approximately between 30-80%. Concentrate is usually the most affordable type of whey. Another advantage is that it is apt to contain bioactive protein peptides that have been shown to support health, which are more likely to remain intact during minimal processing. Low temperature manufacturing methods help to maximise levels of bioactive peptides by helping to prevent heat damage, or the \u2018denaturing\u2019 of proteins. This can produce a superior quality whey in terms of its nutritional composition and bioactivity, as it remains as close to its native form as possible.
Whey sourced from grass-fed cows has been shown to contain higher levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Along with organic varieties, these are becoming more sought after in terms of their nutritional composition and bioactivity.
Flavoured varieties of whey are usually enjoyed as a shake, mixed either with water (ideal for straight after a gym session) or milk (to produce a richer consistency). To boost exercise performance and recovery, drink your shake in the morning, as part of breakfast; after training, or at any other time of day as a lean snack alternative.
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