WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF WHEY PROTEIN?
What Is The Best Type Of Whey Protein?
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Whey protein is one of the most popular and biggest selling supplements on the market today. This is due to the numerous scientific studies that demonstrate the range of great benefits it provides for both health and performance. These include:
- Increasing muscle mass (1, 12, 15, 16,)
- Reducing body fat (1, 2, 4)
- Helping to maintain muscle mass during weight loss (4)
- Suppressing appetite to aid fat loss, increasing metabolism (2)
- Improving immune function (5)
- Reducing blood pressure (5)
- Reducing unhealthy blood fats (7)
- Improving blood glucose levels in type 2 diabetes (7)
- Increasing the production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant(8)
- It also confers benefits against a wide range of metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular complications, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cancer and phenylketonuria(17).
However, while it may say whey on the label, not all whey proteins are created equally; the quality and effectiveness of the product can vary greatly between brands. It is not just a matter of how much protein you get per gram of product. There are various types of whey protein, which differ slightly in the processing they have undergone, their composition and the benefits they provide.
What Is The Best Type Of Whey Protein? – Whey isolate versus concentrate
Time 4 Whey Protein is a blend of low temperature undenatured whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate.
While both whey isolate and concentrate are great sources of complete protein, providing you with all of the amino acids you need to build and maintain a lean, muscular physique, and both increase the release of anabolic hormones, they are slightly different. Therefore, each can provide particular benefits.
Both whey concentrate and isolate undergo several processing steps to increase their protein content. After a sufficient protein concentration is achieved, the liquid can be dried to form whey concentrate powder. This comprises up to 80% protein by weight and is typically low in fat and cholesterol and contains bioactive compounds as well as growth factors and small amounts of carbohydrates in the form of lactose. It is also rich in both branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and glutamine. In comparison to other protein sources, such as meat, whey concentrate is quickly absorbed by the body, although not as quickly as whey isolate.
Whey isolate goes through a more intense processing phase than whey concentrate. This removes virtually all of the carbohydrates and fat yielding highly pure protein content of 90% or more by weight. It is also more quickly absorbed by the body than whey protein concentrate.
Although the processing steps used in the production of whey isolate result in a higher protein content, they also result in a reduction in some bioactive compounds and growth factors and lower levels of carbohydrates, lactose and fat than whey concentrate. Therefore, combining both whey isolate and concentrate provides you with benefits of each.
Absorption and dose size
Another factor to consider is the rate of absorption. In their position stand on protein and exercise, the International Society of Sports Nutrition (28) suggest that rapidly digested proteins that contain high proportions of essential amino acids (EAAs) and adequate leucine, are most effective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis.
Therefore, as whey isolate is absorbed faster than whey concentrate, it can access the muscles faster and the regeneration process can begin more quickly.
So, you may be thinking that in order to maximise muscle growth and repair, consuming as much fasting acting protein as possible would be the best approach. However, it is a little more complicated than that.
A study by Bilsborough and Mann (29) showed that the rate at which the gastrointestinal tract can absorb amino acids from dietary proteins is limited to between 1.3 to 10 g/h.
The size of the protein dose is also important, and bigger is not always better. Symoms and colleagues (30) compared changes in muscle protein synthesis and anabolic efficiency in response to a single 30g and a 90g protein meal. The results of the study showed that ingestion of more than 30g of protein in a single meal does not further enhance the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. Findings such as these have led the International Society of Sports Nutrition (28) to recommend a protein dose of 20–40 g to maximize muscle protein synthesis.
While post-exercise ingestion (immediately to 2 hours after) of high-quality protein source is important, as it stimulates significant increases in muscle protein synthesis, the anabolic effect of exercise is long-lasting (at least 24 hours) (31). Therefore, the body requires a consistent supply of amino acids over an extended period of time. Consequently, it is recommended that protein doses should ideally be evenly distributed, every 3–4 hours (31) across the day to accommodate this demand.
Consuming protein this often can be difficult for many people, due to the constraints of a busy life and work schedule. The difference in absorption rates of the types of whey proteins in Time 4 Whey Protein helps to ensure your body is supplied with a steady stream of vital amino acids to optimise your recovery and adaptation to exercise. To further enhance this effect, Time 4 Whey Protein also contains the more slowly digested low temperature undenatured micellar casein protein. This has been shown to be particularly effective when taken before bed to increase overnight muscle protein synthesis. We will discuss the benefits of casein protein in-depth in the next article in this series.
What Is The Best Type Of Whey Protein? – Denatured versus undenatured
Another factor to consider when purchasing a whey protein is the temperature at which the whey is processed. This has important implications for the precise benefits you will gain from the product.
Time 4’s whey protein is not produced as a by-product of yoghurt and cheese production, which requires it to be heated to high temperatures. Rather, it is low temperature undenatured. This means that it is processed at lower temperatures allowing it to retain the bioactive compounds, growth factors and antibodies, which provide significant health benefits but must remain in their undenatured form in order to exert these properties.
For example, all whey proteins are rich in the amino acids, cysteine and glutamate, which together with glycine form a substance known as glutathione. This plays a role in many chemical reactions in the body and acts as an important antioxidant. This means that it helps to combat molecules known as free radicals, which can damage the cells of the body. Glutathione also helps detoxify chemicals, including some that your body creates naturally, as well as pollutants and drugs. In fact, glutathione is a super antioxidant, as it has the ability to recycle other antioxidants so that they can be reused by the body.
However, cysteine is very fragile and easily destroyed by heat. Therefore, whey must be cold processed to prevent the destruction of cysteine and, consequently, to allow it to play its role in glutathione.
What the science says about undenatured whey proteins
Undenatured whey is rich in bioactive peptides and immunoglobulins which provide numerous health benefits.
Bioactive peptides (BP) are organic substances formed by amino acids joined by peptide bonds. They play a significant role in human health by affecting the digestive, endocrine, cardiovascular, immune, and nervous systems. They have immunomodulatory, antibacterial, anti-hypertensive, antioxidative and opioid-like properties, and help to decrease cholesterol levels.
Bioactive peptides are derived from a number of proteins found in whey. These include:
Beta-lactoglobulin (beta-Lg) is the major whey protein of ruminant species, such as cows, and is an important source of biologically active peptides. It plays a particularly important role in modulating the human immune response andincreases human immune cell proliferation. However, a study by Tai et al., (18) showed that beta-Lg’s ability to promote cell proliferation was lost when the protein is denatured. The authors concluded nondenatured beta-LG is the major component in milk that modulates immune cell proliferation.
A review by Hernández-Ledesma et al., (19) also highlighted the importance of Beta-lactoglobulin (beta-Lg) as an important source of biologically active peptides, which play important roles in the human health, including antihypertensive, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities.
α-Lactalbumin (α-La) is the second major protein of whey, and is a very good source of health promoting peptides. It accounts for about 20% of the total whey proteins. It has a naturally high content of all essential and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). The most significant amino acids in alpha-lactalbumin are tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, (also known as a ‘good mood hormone) and cysteine, together with the BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine and valine), which drive muscle protein synthesis. α-LA, also has prebiotic and antibacterial actions, which help to ensure a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
A review by Layman et al., (20) highlighted α-lactalbumin as an important source of bioactive peptides and essential amino acids, including tryptophan, lysine, branched-chain amino acids, and sulfur-containing amino acids. It also highlighted α-lactalbumin’s ability to support neurological function and sleep in adults, owing to its unique tryptophan content. The authors noted that other components of α-lactalbumin that may be beneficial in nutritional supplements include the branched-chain amino acid leucine, which promotes protein synthesis in skeletal muscle, and bioactive peptides, which possess prebiotic and antibacterial properties.
Obesity-induced fat tissue inflammation has been shown to be a key cause of insulin resistance. Gao et al., (21) investigated the effects of peptides derived from α-lactalbumin (α-LAH) on adipose insulin resistance and inflammation induced by high-fat diet (HFD)in mice. The results of the study showed that α-LAH significantly reduced body weight, blood glucose, and serum insulin.
In addition to its health benefits, α-lactalbumin has also been shown to aid athletic performance.
A study by Qin et al., (22) investigated the effect of pre-exercise ingestion of α-lactalbumin on subsequent endurance exercise performance, muscle pain and mood states. The results showed that α-lactalbumin elevated pressure pain threshold (PPT) and reduced the feeling of fatigue and cortisol levels.
Oikawa and colleagues (23) investigated whether supplementation with α-lactalbumin (LA), with high leucine and tryptophan contents, would improve responses to short periods of intensified aerobic training compared with supplementation with collagen peptides (CP). The results showed that protein synthesis was enhanced to a greater extent when trained participants consumed α-lactalbumin compared with CP during intensified aerobic training, suggesting that protein quality is an important consideration for endurance-trained athletes aiming to augment adaption to exercise training.
Bovine serum albumin (BSA)
Bovine serum albumin is a large protein found in milk. It comprises about 2-5% of whey protein. It has a high concentration of sulphur amino acids and glutamylcycsteine, both of which are precursors for glutathione. BSA promotes cell growth, health and longevity. It carries nutrients to cells and binds free radicals and toxins to reduce cell damage. It also binds hormones and growth factors in order to act as a buffer and keep them stable.
A study by McManus et al., (24) found that when bovine serum albumin was used as the dominant form of dietary protein it reduced fat mass and increase lean muscle in mice in comparison to a high fat diet.
Lactoferrin is a bioactive peptide found naturally in milk. Its main functions in the body include binding with iron and transporting it, and fighting infection. It has been found to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasite and antitumor effects, and has a protective effect on the lining of the gut.
A study by Berluttie et al., (25) highlighted lactoferrin’s important role in immune regulation and defence mechanisms against bacteria, fungi and viruses. Lactoferrin’s iron withholding ability is related to inhibition of microbial growth. It also interacts with microbial, viral and cell surfaces thus inhibiting microbial and viral adhesion and entry into host cells.
Lactoferrin, along with lactalbumin, has been shown to improve weight loss and glycaemic control. A study by Zapata and colleagues (26) showed dietary lactalbumin and lactoferrin improved energy balance and metabolism, including glucose clearance, and decreased adiposity.
However, like other milk proteins, in order to gain the maximum benefit provided by lactoferrin the whey protein must be undenatured. Nguyen and colleagues (27) found that that low-heat-treated whey protein had elevated levels of lactoferrin compared with that of standard whey protein.
It also contained higher levels of transforming growth factor-β2. This a form of cytokine, a type of small protein important in cell signalling. It helps to regulate cellular immune responses cell growth and differentiation, the controlled death of cells, cell movement, the production of new blood vessels and extracellular matrix production (material secreted by cells that fills spaces between the cells in a tissue, protecting them and helping to hold them together).
Immunoglobulins are a class of proteins which occur naturally in whey, and function as antibodies, helping to fight infection. Whey protein contains about 10-15% immunoglobulins. These bind to bacteria, toxins and other harmful molecules and remove them safely from the body.
There are a number of different immunoglobulins found in whey, which play specific roles in immunity:
- IgM can be thought of as being the first line of immune system defence. These large antibodies respond quickly and have low specificity so they can attack many types of potentially dangerous organisms, particularly bacteria and viruses. IgM antibodies are released when an organism is exposed to infection for the first time and help to initiate the attack of microbes by other immune cells.
- IgG is the primary immunoglobulin class present in cows’ milk and whey. This is also the most common type of human antibody and makes up about 75-80% of the antibody population. Once in the intestine, IgG inactivate harmful organisms by binding to them, thereby, reducing the microbes’ ability to cause illness.
- IgA inhibits bacterial and viral adhesion to epithelial cells, which line the surfaces of organs in the body and function as a protective barrier, and neutralise bacterial toxins and virus. It is also immunosuppressant that helps to inhibit proinflammatory responses in the intestines
What Is The Best Type Of Whey Protein? – Conclusion
Having looked at the scientific evidence, it is clear that both whey concentrate and whey isolate can provide numerous benefits, which vary depending on their level of processing. It is also clear that in order to maximise the benefits that whey can provide, it needs to be cold processed to preserve its undenatured state, thereby, allowing it to retain the important naturally occurring bioactive compounds.
In the next article in this series on Time 4 Whey Protein, we are going to look at low temperature undenatured micellar casein protein and how it can benefit your health and performance.
Time 4 Whey Protein contains a time release blend of undenatured whey protein concentrate, undenatured whey protein isolate and micellar casein. We have also included a fermented amino acid blend of glutamine, leucine, isoleucine and valine and we have added probiotics for gut health.