How should you alter your whey intake?
Whey is one of the best sources for those looking to build muscle and increase their protein intake. But how do you know if your supplement is any good? The answer lies in absorption rate, which is different for each brand out there
Protein can be split up into two significant parts
A mixture of different proteins, and the two main components of whey protein are beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin. Beta-lactoglobulin accounts for 55% of the total content in whey, while alpha-lactalbumin makes up around 17%.
In addition to these two major components, other minor ones, like immunoglobulins, glycomacropeptides and lactic acid bacteria, are sometimes included in lists of ingredients on some food labels.
Beta-lactoglobulin is the most prevalent protein
It’s important to note that beta-lactoglobulin makes up 55% of the total content in whey. It’s a high-quality protein with a good concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAAs are essential amino acids that help with muscle growth and maintenance. They impact brain function and can help reduce inflammation, which is why they’re often used for athletes recovering from injury or those with chronic pain conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Another thing about beta-lactoglobulin is that it has a high concentration of glutamine, an amino acid that promotes cellular health by supporting gut health and aiding the immune system.
Alpha-lactalbumin is a minor protein
There are several other types of whey besides beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin and immunoglobulins. One such protein is alpha-lactalbumin, which contains about 30% of the total whey. It’s found in cow’s milk and is a good source of protein with a good amino acid profile that doesn’t cause allergies as it isn’t allergenic.
Different forms of whey vary hugely
One study compared six different kinds of whey protein and discovered that some versions were absorbed much better than others.
The bioavailability of a nutrient refers to how much of what you ingest ends up in your blood as opposed to being broken down, metabolised or excreted from the body. In other words, bioavailability is the percentage of a substance that enters the bloodstream and becomes available for use by cells. Whey protein is highly bioavailable because it’s already broken down into constituent amino acids for easy bodily assimilation.
In a study, the researchers compared the absorption rates of six different kinds of protein, including a standard whey concentrate, an isolates formula and three different types of hydrolysed whey (a process that breaks down the protein molecules to enhance its bioavailability).
The results varied widely: isolate had the highest efficiency rate at 96%, while concentrate came in at 69%. The difference between these two was driven by how much glutathione and cysteine each contained—two amino acids that help promote absorption. Hydrolysate also had higher levels of these two compounds, but not enough to boost it past isolate by any significant margin.
The study also found that those with higher levels of glutathione and cysteine in their blood had far better absorption rates, with their bodies absorbing between 94-98% of their supplement intake. Glutathione is an antioxidant that helps fight against harmful free radicals, while cysteine is an amino acid that helps form glutathione (and many other things). Both are found in protein powder and are essential for the body to absorb whey. If you don’t get enough of them, your body won’t be able to absorb the nutrients from the protein powder you take.
Whey protein is one of the most beneficial supplements on the market, and it can be used in various ways. While some of the basics have been covered here, there are many different types of protein supplements out there, and the best style for you depends on your individual needs.