Whey protein is a natural byproduct of the cheesemaking process. It typically comes in the form of a powdered supplement, available in most health food outlets, or for purchase online.
As a supplement, whey protein is available as whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolates. Isolates contained in excess of 90% protein, with little or no fat, and no lactose. Many people who have allergies to dairy, have a sensitivity to casein, which is a larger milk protein, and they do not actually have a problem with whey protein.
Whey protein contains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are the building blocks needed for the development and repair of muscles and other tissues.
Whey protein has a number of fascinating properties, and research has gone into its benefit in the treatment of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, hepatitis B, HIV and cancer.
Whey protein boosts your immune system, adds to your muscle mass, prevents muscle wastage, increases bone density and stimulates the body to produce cholecystokinin (CCK), a hormone that is released after eating to give a sense of satiety. This has been shown to help with weight loss by suppressing hunger urges. (Almonds do the same thing).
Studies have shown that whey protein inhibits the growth of breast cancer cells. Another clinical study showed the regression of certain types of cancer when patients were given 30g of whey protein per day.
Whey protein contains a high level of the amino acid cysteine, which enables your body to produce a cell protector called glutathione. This water-soluble antioxidant protects your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals and it helps to neutralise toxins including heavy metals, peroxides, carcinogens and more.
Animal studies have shown that whey protein increases glutathione levels more than any other form of protein, including soy protein.
A number of diseases, including atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, AIDS and cancer are associated with reduced glutathione levels, and studies with whey protein have helped to reverse this imbalance. For example a study of HIV positive men showed that whey protein supplements could restore their glutathione levels, with two out of three men able to return to an ideal weight.
But not all whey proteins are the same! For health benefits, you should choose a brand which is organic, cold-processed and made from milk from grass-fed cattle with no GM feed, antibiotic residues or hormone injections.