How Protein Took Over The Nutrition & Supplement World



Protein…there is no other macronutrient that has attracted as much attention in the nutrition and supplement sector as protein, and more specifically…WHEY PROTEIN!

Humble beginnings of whey protein

Protein is a timeless nutrient, to put a specific date on protein is like putting a date on the rise of life…who really knows (plus, you can’t have one without the other). So it’s fair to say that protein goes back for millennia, however the humble whey protein we all know and love now is more of a recent development. Well I say recent, but people have been consuming curds and whey for thousands of years, since the time of the Neolithic revolution, a period in time when we domesticated animals and first noticed dairying could occur. Times have moved on significantly since then, and we now process dairy in numerous ways in order to draw out the different nutritional components including lactose, and the proteins whey and casein.


What’s the difference between whey & casein?

What’s the difference, and what should you have may be a more suitable question. Well, if you’re targeting this at a seasoned resistance trainer, powerlifter or bodybuilder OR at an elite distance runner or athlete of any kind, then the answer would be a resounding BOTH! Why both, well the two are unique from one another and offer different benefits to training and muscle growth and recover. Whey protein is key to delivering a quick digesting, readily available source of protein, whilst Casein protein provides a slower digesting and more gradual releasing source of protein for prolonged times when you may not have access to a protein source such as at night.


So where did protein shakes come from?

Now you got all of these nutritional components and benefits back in the Neolithic ere too, the difference is that you would have had to consume a considerable amount of dairy i.e. milk in order to yield the requisite amounts from them. Whey and casein protein shakes have come about via the precise processing of milk in order to filter out the nutritional components of most importance and interest (whey and casein). In doing so you are left with a globular white substance called casein (curds) and the more widely known, liquid substance known as whey. Following on from this (in simple terms) the manufacturers will dry these leaving a substance that is high in protein and low in everything else…perfect! This saw the birth of the highly commercial and highly effective protein shake.


Your Nan was having protein shakes before you…Super Gran!

Yep, I can as good as guarantee that your dear ancestors were (and may still be) using a whey protein powder (or something as close to as you’ll get) ‘whey’ before you were (see what I did there). Their protein powder will have come in the form of a dried skimmed milk powder, something that has been around before the protein shake as we know and love it today! Granted, the protein shakes of today are far more concentrated and deliver more protein per gram, but the principle of the classic dried skimmed milk powder was much the same.

Protein is now the most common nutritional supplement in the world, and rightly so I might add. It’s all very well having other supplements out there such as the pre- workout which is amazing at fuelling and energising training sessions, and creatine, arguably one of the most effective supplements out there, but the truth is that all of these are less effective if they are not supported by a whey protein. Whey protein is the building blocks and growth potential that your muscles and body tissue need to grow. It is for this reason (not to mention that they are delicious) that protein, and particularly whey and casein protein rule the nutrition and supplement world!




Web MD, (2014). Vitamins and supplements lifestyle guide. Retrieved 9th September, 2014, from 4

"Food Outlook – Global Market Analysis". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. May 2012. pp. 8, 51–54.


About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
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