It is surprising to see just how much whey protein is produced on an annual basis in the United States. More than one quarter of the world’s whey and lactose products, 1.1 million metric tons per year, is manufactured at some 200 whey plants throughout the country. That is quite an astounding amount! From this production there are several varieties and types available for purchase. Every company says that their product is either the best or it will increase your strength level to some amazing level. What really is the best whey protein? What should you look for when you are buying?
Undenatured vs. Denatured Whey Protein
What is undenatured whey protein? If you didn’t already know, whey is a by-product of cheese. During the initial stages of the cheese making process, milk becomes curdled. The curdled milk is then strained. So now there are two separate components, curds and whey. The lumpy material is the curd which is used to make cheese and the liquid left behind is whey. The proteins found in the whey, casein and whey proteins (Beta-lactoglobulin, Alpha-lactalbumin, Serum albumin, and Lactoferrin), are separated from it. The whey proteins can either be processed into whey powder, reduced-lactose whey, demineralized whey, and whey protein concentrate (WPC) or whey protein isolate (WPI).
Three of the four proteins found in whey, Alpha-lactalbumin, Serum albumin, and Lactoferrin, while in the liquid phase are very sensitive to heat. Since milk and milk products require pasteurization, most whey products are raised to a temperature level that destroys these proteins. When this happens the product is now denatured. On the other hand, if the proteins are kept intact the product is undenatured. Undenatured whey protein is very important in order to maintain good health. Remember this: Undenatured>denatured.
Bioactive Whey Protein
Alpha-lactalbumin, Serum albumin, and Lactoferrin are called bioactive proteins. They share many of the same immune promoting and enhancing properties that are present in breast milk. These proteins contain exceptional amounts of cysteine, the all-important molecular precursor of glutathione. Cysteine is an amino acid and when it is combined with glutamate and glycine (also amino acids), it forms glutathione.
Bioactive whey protein has been clinically proven to increase glutathione levels in the body. Glutathione is a natural antioxidant, immune system enhancer, and detoxifier. Research studies have proved that when the protein is bioactive it enhances both healthy and deficient immune systems, is safe for those with autoimmune diseases (antiphospholipid syndrome, celiac disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, Graves’ disease, lupus…etc.) and is validated as an effective nutritional and biological supplement by the medical community (FDA and Health Canada).
When two amino acids are joined together it is called a dipeptide. Cysteine + cysteine = cystine. In this case cystine would be the dipeptide. Cysteine actually occurs in two different dipeptide units, cystine (cys-cys) and glutamyl cysteine (glu-cys). Both units are held together by a disulfide bridge or two sulfur molecules connected together (S-S); this being a very strong bond between both dipeptide units. So now we have two different dipeptide units each joined by a disulfide. These units need to be able to resist the heat of pasteurization. Amazingly, this molecular structure (dipeptide + disulfide) allows these units to be kept undenatured under severe conditions (heat) or even remain intact as it passes through the stomach’s acid for absorption into the cells. So when the protein is undenatured and bioactive it maintains this molecular structure. It is very important and very much needed in order to maintain good nutritional and biological (physiological) health.
Best Type to Buy
Whey protein comes in three forms – concentrate (WPC), isolate (WPI), and hydrolysate (WPH). Which is the best? The major difference between WPI and WPC is that the WPI is more pure; it contains more protein with less fat and lactose per serving. Isolate contains 90-94% pure protein with less than 1% lactose, whereas, WPC has significantly less amounts of protein, 70-75%. WPH is processed even more than WPI, it is easily absorbable like WPI but is extremely expensive to purchase. For the money, WPI is the best type to purchase.
Hopefully you found this article very helpful in regards to narrowing down which whey protein is the best buy. Sometimes it just takes a little research to find the best.
Michael has been working in the medical field as an EMT for the last 16 years and has been a consultant for the health and wellness firm, Immunotec, since October 2008. He received a B.S. in Information Systems in 2011. His goal is to educate you regarding ways to ensure that your health reaches an optimum level and it stays that way. If you would like to comment on this article and others like it please visit My Blog. If you would like to learn more about or purchase some products mentioned in the article please visit the Product Page.
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