8 Questions About Whey Protein

Although it is no substitute for more "solid" foods, it is perfect for protein supplementation not only for bodybuilders and powerlifters but also for long distance runners because regular cardiovascular exercise tends to create a gradual catabolic muscle wasting effect in the long term.

Protein is extremely important to the human body.  The only component more prevalent in the body besides protein is water. The skin, hair, muscles and nails are all made out of protein.  Protein is made out of amino acids.  The body takes protein that we consume and breaks it down into amino acids to build and repair tissue such as muscle.  If you exercise for the purpose of hypertrophy or any kind of muscle building, you are probably not getting enough of this nutrient in your diet.  It may be a good idea to supplement with whey protein.

 1) What is whey protein?WHEY PROTEIN

Whey is a complete protein which means it consists of all 9 of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of human beings.  These 9 essential amino acids include tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine+cystine, phenylalanine+tyrosine, valine and histidine.  Whey is a complete protein in the sense that you do not have to eat anything else along with it.  It has a complete amino acid profile by itself just like red meat, fish or chicken.  It is commonly available in powdered form.

2) What is the difference between whey protein and the other protein foods that I eat?

The difference is in what is called the biological value which is the yield of nitrogen produced and retained in the body for every gram of protein absorbed.  Years ago whole eggs (with their fat content) were given a perfect BV (biological value) of 100.  Powdered egg whites were considered the gold standard of protein to consume because of high protein, low fat and low sugar.  Then along came the processing of whey protein.    Below is a chart laying out the biological value of various protein foods.




Whey Isolate


Whey Concentrate


Whole Eggs


Cow’s Milk


Egg Whites











Because of its high biological value, whey is the fastest absorbing protein available today.  As you can see, whey protein is given a biological value above 100.  Go figure.

 3) Where does whey protein come from?

Whey is derived from dairy milk protein but does not contain the fat or lactose (sugar) of regular milk.  During the cheese making process, the whey is separated along with another protein called casein.  During this process, the whey is removed.  Then the fat is removed and the whey is processed for human consumption.  The protein content can be increased by further removing non-protein materials such as lipids (fats).  Approximately 20% of the protein in cow’s milk is made up of whey with the remaining 80% being casein (casein is slower in absorption).  The product you buy off the shelf in your friendly neighborhood grocery or health food store may have a protein content of between 40 to 80 percent–or more.

4) What is the difference between whey isolate and whey concentrate?

Whey isolate is more pure; it has a higher biological value.  Whey concentrate can contain between 70 and 85% protein whereas whey isolate can have between 90 to 98% protein.  The speed of absorption into your blood also differs.  Generally speaking, whey isolate is absorbed quite quickly within 30 minutes whereas whey concentrate take about 60 minutes.  Whey isolate is pricier than whey concentrate.  There is a difference of opinion among those who use both if whey isolate actually makes a difference and is worth the extra money.

5) What is the nutrient profile of whey protein?  If I take too much will I get fat? 

Anything may make you fat if you consume more than your calorie limit but generally speaking, whey protein will not make you fat.  A typical scoop of whey protein powder that you buy from a health food store or somewhere else has about 26 grams of protein (a combination of whey concentrate and isolate), contains only about 1 gram of sugar, 2 grams of fat and 4 grams of carbohydrates altogether making up less than 140 calories.  The scoop size may be approximately 34 grams so you may calculate the protein amount of 26 grams at around 76% (24 / 34 * 100).  The better quality, the more it will cost.  The amount of whey protein powder in this example usually costs no more than a serving of chicken or ground beef.  Before you buy, it is best to first look at the amount of protein per scoop and divide by the scoop size.  Then look at the price and divide by the number of servings.

6) It sounds as if whey protein may in some instances be cheaper than food protein.  Can’t I just consume whey shakes instead of meals?

First of all, whey concentrate or isolate IS a food but although this is true, it should still be perceived as a supplement.  You should get the bulk of your protein from all types of food sources:  Beef, chicken, fish, soy, beans, wheat, etc.  Although it is no substitute for more “solid” foods, it is perfect for protein supplementation not only for bodybuilders and powerlifters but also for long distance runners and swimmers because regular cardiovascular exercise tends to create a  gradual catabolic muscle wasting effect in the long term.  The elderly should also supplement their diet with whey protein because as we get older we tend to lose muscle mass.  Incidentally, many brands you can drink as a shake also contain the supplements glutamine and creatine as well as nutrients and vitamins.

7) How much protein should I consume daily?

It depends upon your needs.  According to some research, you require between .7 and 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body weight.  If you weight train and weigh 200 lbs. at 15% (30 lbs) body fat, your lean body weight would be 170 lbs so your requirements would be between 119 and 170 grams a day.  If you don’t eat enough protein in the form of food, you can supplement with whey.

8)Are there any negative side effects from taking whey?

No, as long as one understands to use it only in a supplementary fashion.  Whey Protein is a great supplement and will be around for a very long time.

One of the better protein power supplements out there is AST – VP2 Whey Protein Isolate. Here are some reviews:

” . . . AST always maximizes my gains, though one other protein comes close, VP2 is unsurpasssed. While using VP2, my weight went from low 120 to about 138 at 5″7″ with single digit body fat. “

“. . . This is the best tasting, easy mixing whey protein I have ever tried.”

“. . . Its low calorie, practically no carbs and no fat! Since it has no carbs I mix it with my oatmeall in the morning and stay full until lunch. Its great for after an evening workout since its high protien and practically no carbs! I love this stuff!! “

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One Response to “8 Questions About Whey Protein”

  1. Brad says:

    Great article the bv chart is very helpful.

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