The term “whey protein” is somewhat of a household name these days. Almost everyone knows that protein is a vital part of a healthy diet and most people have heard of and tried various protein supplements like shakes and bars…but when it comes to specific types of protein supplements like whey versus casein, most people consider it “fitness-ese”. Do you really know what’s in your protein? And should you?
If you’ve been in a gym (or a smoothie bar or even a supermarket), you’ve likely seen whey protein on the shelves. So, what is it good for?
Whey protein is one of the most bio-available types of protein you can consume. Translation: your body is able to process it efficiently, so that you get more bang for your buck. Whey protein contains branch chain amino acids, which are critical for muscle building and energy during workouts. It also contains components that can boost your immune system, provide antioxidant benefits and help your muscles recover after workouts.
But once you make the decision to try whey protein, you have to look a little further than the subtitle on the label. Unfortunately, like all packaged foods, you have to read the back of the label to get a better idea of exactly what you’re ingesting (and buying). And almost always, the old saying is true: you get what you pay for. Why are some tubs of protein half or a quarter of the price of others?? It’s simple: they only contain half or quarter of the amount of quality protein…the rest is just filler.
Some tips to finding the best whey:
1. Check the ingredients list. “Whey protein isolate” or “hydrolyzed whey protein (whey protein hydrolysate)” should be the first thing listed.
2. Check the amounts of carbs and fat on the label. This is a protein supplement, not a rich dessert.
3. Do a tiny bit of math. Divide the amount of protein (in grams) per serving by the amount of grams that constitute a serving. This will give you a decimal that represents the percentage of protein per serving. A good whey protein will be at least 70-80% protein (preferably 90%).
In summary, whey protein is a fabulous way to pump up your workout and your results, but choose wisely. Not every whey is the right whey. For more tips on nutrition, check out our news section or meet with one of our trainers for professional nutrition counseling.