Whey Protein

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What you can achieve by taking it
Facilitates muscle recovery after training
This is the one that contains all the essential amino acids in the most adequate proportion for the human body among all types of protein (vegetable, animal, mixed, etc.). Amino acids are the core building blocks of muscles. Good quality whey protein is rich in BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and glutamine - these are essential for post-training muscle regeneration, as well as in di- and tri-peptides, that are essential for supporting the immune system.
It helps to prevent muscle degradation during a weight-loss diet
It is and excellent protein source during a weight-loss diet due to its unique amino acid profile that helps to prevent muscle degradation caused by the low carbohydrate and calorie intake.
Immune booster effect
Denaturation (damage) of the di- and tri-peptides and other components that support the function of the immune system is minimalized in good quality CFM whey proteins These components increase the body’s glutathione level. Glutathione is an important antioxidant that protects the cells against the harmful oxidative stress and free radicals.
Complete source of protein
As stated before in the general description of proteins, the characterization of proteins is based on whether they contain all the essential amino acids indispensable for the function of the human body. Whey protein in this regard is the most complete protein: its biological value is higher than clean egg white’s; it may be as high as 130 in case of an optimal manufacturing process. Whey protein is a fundamental component of good quality MRPs and weight-gainiers.

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Several scientific studies have demonstrated that the protein requirement is increased in the body of individuals living a physically active lifestyle and athletes. Some protein supplement is recommended to cover this requirement. Whey protein is set apart from other protein sources by its several positive characteristics. Whey protein is an essential and unmissable supplement not only for body builders but for every athletes.

Why it is worth using

Muscle build is impossible and unthinkable without the intake of an adequate amount of proteins. Whey protein is the best protein for muscle build concerning its composition. It is easy to digest, quickly absorbed and has an amino acid profile that has several other benefits next to supporting muscle build. Whey protein is recommended not only for muscle builders but for those athletes as well who want to supply their muscles with the best quality nutrients in order to provide the quickest possible regeneration.

Whey protein can be found in different products as a basic ingredient or component. From good quality carbohydrate-based weight gainers (10-30% whey protein), through MRPs (20-50% whey protein) to the so-called designer proteins (that contain different amounts of whey protein together with other, typically slow absorbing protein sources). Even weight loss protein products contain whey protein (with vegetable proteins and fiber).

How to use it

Quantity: The first step is to determine the complete protein intake (usual food + supplements). It should be taken into account that the protein needs of the physically active individuals is higher than that of those living an inactive lifestyle. The protein needs of muscle builders is even higher since they have above average muscles even among athletes. The aim pursued (muscle gain, weight gain or weight loss - shredding) should be taken into account as well during the determination of protein needs.

  • The optimal protein intake for muscle build (anabolic state) is 2-3 g/kg daily (1-1.5 g/pound) for a healthy man. This amount should be consumed in several, equally (more or less) divided parts at every meal all day long. A 90-kg (200-pound) bodybuilder (intensive workout with weights), for example, would need 180-270 g protein a day, which is 30-45 g protein per meal (with 6 meals).
  • The optimal protein intake for muscle maintenance or man-like muscle build in women is 1.5-2 g/kg. A 58 kg bodybuilder woman, for example, would need 90-115 g protein a day, which is 15-20 g protein per meal (with 6 meals).

Notes: Scientific studies have demonstrated that the daily protein needs of heavy athletes and regular body builders (4-6 trainings a week) reaches and even exceeds 200-250 g/day, no matter what dietetics say. Yes, the increased protein intake MAY have side effects. It puts strain on the kidneys, the whole excretory and gastrointestinal systems; it increases the risk of food allergy as well, etc. BUT! Intensive and regular training with inadequate nutrition (containing low amounts of protein) may have even WORSE side effects, like deficiencies, chronic malnutrition and weakening of the immune system. A man (and a healthy woman) who cannot be talked out of weight lifting trainings and the desire for big muscles should provide his/her body with the nutrients necessary for development, at least.

Timing: A part of the daily protein needs (determined as described above) must be be consumed with the "regular" meals (chicken breast, lean white and red meat, egg white, low fat and sugar-free dairy products or vegetable proteins) In all those cases when it is not possible for more than 3-4 hours it is advisable to drink a protein shake or an MRP.

The most important time for protein intake is the meal after training and the one before going to bed. The body MUST be supplied with proteins during these meals. The period of time after training is called “anabolic window” in the scientific literature. This is the time when the body transports the biggest amount of amino acids to the muscles and this is when the muscles need them most since this is when they can utilize the amino acids in the most effective way. Whey protein is easy to digest and it provides the fastest way to transport free amino acids to the bloodstream among all protein sources. Unfortunately this effect has the shortest duration possible among all protein sources, therefore whey protein is a "fast-absorbing" sources of proteins.
The other meal, the one before going to bed is also important, since sleeping is the longest period of "starving“. Proteins before going to bed should be slow absorbing ones that can provide free amino acids to the body as long as possible. One of these is the other milk protein: casein. Whey protein is not bad before going to bed, but it isn’t the best.

Tips: The more intensive the weight loss diet is (less calories) the more important is the quality and the absorption of the nutrients. Here is where whey protein supplements enter the picture. The carbohydrate and fat content of a good quality whey protein supplement is very low; its biological value is high compared to other protein sources and its unique amino acid profile is able to provide the most effective way to supply the muscles with nutrients even during a very strict diet.


The combination of creatine (monohydrate) and whey protein was shown as the best post-training regeneration boosting drink in a recent study.

Natural sources

Whey is the left over from milk after the process of cheese production. Whey protein (powdered) is produced by filtrating and cleaning (removal of lactose) this liquid.

Possible side effects

Safety: Whey protein is a safe foodstuff, but people with milk protein or milk product allergy should avoid its use or be careful when using it for the first time. Whey Protein Concentrates (WPCs) may contain some lactose, therefore people with lactose intolerance should choose whey isolate products (containing only or mainly whey isolate) labelled “lactose free”.

Toxicity: Not known.

Prohibited list: Whey protein is a completely natural foodstuff, it is not on any list of non-approved substances, therefore everybody can use it freely. However other substances may occur in the combined products, like MRPs and weight gainers; these should be checked individually.

History of whey protein

I believe that everybody is familiar with the fact, that muscle tissue cannot be produced without proteins (which are degraded to amino acids by our body during the digestion and then new proteins are constructed from these building blocks). To cut a long story short it is impossible to build muscles without proteins. And without the right amount of proteins. Should we be more specific? Proteins should be the basis of every body building (moreover every athletes and individuals living a physically active lifestyle) diet and dietary supplementation. This is the beginning of everything. If your protein intake is inadequate you will fail in muscle building. If you don’t believe it read our interviews: PROTEIN INTAKE is the basis of every preseason and competition diet for every bodybuilding athletes. All the studies (well, not all, only the best and most important ones) have shown that not only the sport but even physically active lifestyle (and be honest, who feels today he/she shouldn’t be ‘active’?) increase the protein needs of the body; and if you meet this requirement by consuming protein supplements (and not the ‘usual’ food filled with fat and sugar) than the function of your body will be more effective.

Two types of proteins are produced from milk: whey protein and casein. The combination of these two is the complete milk protein. Whey protein is considered to be the faster absorbing of these two. Besides, whey protein has several benefits:

  • It has the highest biological value (BV) among all the protein sources. It means that THIS is the type of protein which the human body can utilize the most; on the one hand, because it has the best amino acid profile for the human body, on the other hand, because unique processes occur in its absorption.
  • It has a high glutamine and cysteine content. These amino acids are the precursors of glutathione, one of the most important antioxidant in the body, therefore whey protein intake protects the body against cell-level oxidative stress and harmful free radicals.
  • Glutathione supports the whole immune system indirectly.
  • Whey protein is rich in immunoglobulins and lactoferrin. These substances support the function of the immune system, though the mechanism has yet to be clarified.
  • Good quality (no added sugar, not mixed, high purity) whey protein has a low carbohydrate and fat content (therefore it is low in calories as well) and it can be produced almost lactose free (during proper manufacturing processes).

According to the above, whey protein is a fundamental food supplement that should be present on every athletes desk; it can be high purity protein product or mixed with MRPs or weight gainers (depending on the aim pursued - shredding, weight gain or maintaining body composition).

Increased physical (and mental) activity increases the protein needs
Studies have demonstrated that training and other physical activities increase the amino acid needs of the muscles, especially the needs for BCAAs (isoleucine, leucine and valine - branched chain amino acids). A relatively large proportion of the muscle tissue are proteins (built from amino acids); the increased requirement can only be covered efficiently by protein supplements. The proper amino acid profile of whey protein (about 50% of it are BCAAs) makes whey protein the best food supplement supporting strength training and muscle building.

Whey protein boosts the function of the immune system
Intensive training, especially when accompanied by psychical stress from other fields of life, puts the immune system under extensive pressure. The high levels of L-glutamine and L-cysteine in whey protein supports the production of glutathione, one of the most important antioxidant in the body, and therefore it supports the function of the immune system as well. Lactoferrin is the other peptide component of whey protein that contains multiple amino acids and boosts the function of the immune system. Therefore whey protein consumption is important not only during training and muscle building, but also in the protection of health (with long term use). It has been shown that whey protein supports the recovery after an illness or an operation.
Whey protein provided protection against colon cancer in animal studies; it even promoted the normalization of cancer cells in some studies.

Whey protein is easy to digest
Whey protein (after an appropriate manufacturing process) has a low lactose content. People with lactose intolerance may experience several side effects when they use different supplements containing milk proteins; their use may even be impossible for them. Besides, whey protein is easy to digest and highly absorbable; gas production is not typical and it tastes good (unlike soy protein).

Which whey protein is the good one?
Two kind of protein can be produced from milk: whey protein and casein. When the milk curdles the solid, white part (cheese) contains the casein (with fat and milk sugar) - it represents about 80% of the protein content of milk. The liquid whey that was left over contains traces of fat and lower quantities of lactose; the remaining 20 % of protein can be extracted from it. There are two different methods for it: one of them is the production of whey protein concentrate (WPC), the other is the production of whey protein isolate (WPI). The first method involves the filtering out of the undesired substances (mainly fat and lactose) with more and more refined processes from whey. The better (more expensive) the filtration is, the more concentrated (more purified) is the protein we get. The other method involves the isolation of the useful part, the protein from the liquid whey by different processes. Completely purified protein can be obtained during this method. Both methods have its benefits and disadvantages. In the first method, where the undesired substances are filtered out, all the original and useful components of the whey are kept. The purity of the protein depends on the type (and price) of the filtration in this method. The original content of the whey is modified in this (more expensive) method, since only the undesired substances are filtered out; but you get highly pure whey proteins as a reward.

Whey protein concentrates contain some fat and lactose: its amount depends on the quality and the price; on the other hand the whey protein is not changed and therefore this form is rich in immunoglobulins.
Whey protein isolates contain higher percentage of pure protein, they are practically fat and lactose free, but their immunoglobulin content is also low. The three most common methods of whey protein isolate production are the following:
  • Ion exchangers: this method creates highly pure whey proteins, but lactoferrin and other biologically active proteins are also removed.
  • Micro- and ultrafiltration: the produced protein contains higher level of lactoferrin and other bioactive peptides, but its album content is lower.
  • CFM (Cross-flow microfiltration): this is the best method, since the amino acid matrix of whey protein remains unchanged and undenatured - this method preserves 90% of natural microfractions, but it is able to filter out fat and lactose completely (unfortunately it is a costly method, and therefore the produced protein is very expensive, so only a few manufacturers use it in their products).

So the point is: if your purse is small and you don’t have lactose intolerance (known) you can choose any whey protein concentrate product, since it contains all the useful components of the complete whey. Unfortunately the cheaper the product is, the more lactose is in it. High protein content is essential if you prepare for a competition (lactose cause fluid accumulation in the tissues and it doesn’t support fat loss either). If you can afford it, choose a whey protein isolate or a more expensive whey protein concentrate with high protein content. The best choice is CFM-Whey for those who can afford it.

When, and what quantities?
The first step is to determine our daily protein needs. What you need to know is that the daily protein needs may range from 2 to 3 grams per kilogram of body weight when lifting weights. If you got it, you have to calculate the protein content of your regular food (meat, egg, milk). The missing quantity (approx. 100-150 gram) should be supplemented with protein shakes. The basis of a bodybuilding diet is consuming 6 meals per day; if 3 of them contain protein, than the other three should be supplemented. Let’s check it for a bodybuilder around 90 kg:

  • the most important thing after the early morning training is a carbohydrate and protein shake, containing 42 grams of protein
  • 2.5 hours later two chicken breasts with some broccoli and kefir, followed by a glass of water - it is 45 grams of protein
  • another 3 hours later a MRP or protein shake (42 grams of protein) should be enough to get you through till the afternoon snack,
  • which is a tuna fish sandwich, some low fat cheese and yoghurt, containing another 40 grams of protein
  • 3 hours later a lean beef steak with potatoes for supper adds another 50 grams of protein (at least)
  • you can finish it with another protein shake (45-50 grams of protein) before going to bed to provide amino acids to the muscles during bedtime.

If you have gone all right, it means 250-260 grams of protein divided into six meals. The problem is that you have to repeat it day by day to be able to build new muscles. If you are starving you will break down your existing muscles. It is obvious that it would be very difficult to consume all the protein with chicken, tuna fish, egg white, steak and cheese; not to mention that it would take all day to prepare these meals.

We have seen that the basic requirement of a muscular body is the proper protein intake. Protein should be consumed in its best form possible. Whey protein is the form that is able to provide the necessary amino acids and other substances in the most effective and healthiest way for building muscles (or for regeneration in the case of other sports) As you have seen even the cheapest whey protein contains everything that the best one does; the question is whether you want to pay for the undesired lactose and fat (and added glucose in case of some manufacturers) in the price of whey.


Bill Phillips: Sports Supplement Review 3rd Issue
PDR for Nutritional Supplements, First Edition, 2001

Further references:
Agin, D., et al., "Effects of Whey Protein and Resistance Exercise on Body Composition and Muscle Strength in Women with HIV Infection," Ann N Y Acad Sci 904 (2000) : 607-9.
Bounous, G., and Gold, P., "The Biological Activity of Undenatured Dietary Whey Proteins: Role of Glutathione," Clin Invest Med 14.4 (1991) : 296-309.
Bounous, G., et al., "The Immunoenhancing Property of Dietary Whey Protein Concentrate," Clin Invest Med 11.4 (1988) : 271-8.
Bounous, G., et al., "Whey Proteins in Cancer Prevention," Cancer Lett 57.2 (1991) : 91-4.
Rankin, J.W., "Role of Protein in Exercise," Clin Sports Med 18.3 (1999) : 499-511.

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