It's no surprise most people associate whey protein concentrate with post-workout shakes. Whey protein helps you build muscle and recover faster. But it's so much more than just a post-workout supplement.
Whey protein concentrate is one of the most digestible and bioavailable proteins around. It’s a valuable way to add complete protein to your diet - at any time of day.
In this article you will learn:
- The benefits of whey protein concentrate
- How whey protein concentrate is made
- How to choose the best whey protein concentrate
- The best ways to use whey protein concentrate
The Benefits of Whey Protein ConcentrateThere’s a reason bodybuilders and athletes love whey protein - it’s excellent for muscle growth and repair. But whey protein concentrate offers much more than that:
- Fat loss. Want to lose a few pounds? Try adding whey to your diet. Whey keeps you fuller longer, stabilizes your blood sugar, and protects your cells from stress, all of which contribute to consistent fat loss. People who took 50g a day of whey protein concentrate saw gradual, consistent fat loss over 6 months.
- Decreased cravings. Have you been struggling to keep away from sweets and snacks? Whey can help. Whey concentrate can decrease blood sugar spikes by about 20% after a carb-rich meal. Stable blood sugar makes you far less likely to crave unhealthy food.
- Easing stress and boosting immunity. Whey contains precious enzymes and cofactors that increase glutathione, your body’s strongest antioxidant. Glutathione protects your cells from stress. It also boosts your immune system, keeping you healthy in trying times. Take whey concentrate when you’re feeling overwhelmed or sick; it may help.
- Bioavailability and easy digestion. Not all proteins are created equal - some resist digestion and don’t actually have much nutritional benefit. Researchers created a scale called the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) to account for those differences in digestion and figure out the true value of proteins. The scale runs from 0-1, with 1 being the most bioavailable, highest-value protein. Guess what? Whey is one of the few proteins that scores a 1. It’s exceptionally bioavailable, which makes it an especially valuable source of protein. As an added bonus, whey’s easy digestion makes it good for people who have sensitive guts or struggle with nutrient absorption.
How Whey Protein Concentrate is Made
Whey comes from cheesemaking. Cheesemakers heat milk and then add an acid (often lemon juice or vinegar) to it. The acid causes solids (curds) to form; when they’re removed, the liquid that remains is whey. Whey protein concentrate is that liquid, dried into a powdered form.
Whey concentrate is mostly protein with minimal fats and carbs. It’s special because of its host of precious bioactive compounds, which are what give whey its immune-boosting and antioxidant benefits.
Another option is whey protein isolate, which is further filtered to increase the protein content (although it loses some of those special compounds). Curious about which type of whey is better for you? We wrote an in-depth article comparing the two.
Choosing the Best Whey Protein Concentrate
Watch out for additives in whey concentrate. When you’re shopping for whey, be sure you check the label for sugar, artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame-potassium, and any artificial flavors or colors.
Organic, grass-fed whey is the best of the best. It comes from cows that lived happy lives out on pasture, instead of in factory feeding operations. These cows produce better quality milk with a more favorable nutritional profile. Grass-fed dairy (and the whey that comes from it) is also far more sustainable and humane. If you want to know more, here’s a complete breakdown of organic vs. conventional whey.
Summing up, the best whey concentrate is:
- Artificial sweetener-free
- Naturally flavored
How to Use Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey concentrate is versatile. It’s great in smoothies, shakes, frostings (thickens it up nicely), and no-bake cookies and desserts. (Keep in mind, it’s better not to heat your whey, so if you want to add protein to pancakes or baked goods, we suggest collagen protein instead - collagen is heat-stable.)
Since whey protein keeps you full and free from cravings, consider keeping some on hand in for:
- Busy mornings
- Working through lunch
- Hectic travel days
- A quick, muscle-building post-workout meal
- A protein-rich snack in between meals
- Nighttime, to blast hunger and cravings
For simple, robust nutrition on the go, throw some protein powder in your blender bottle and just add water when you’re ready to drink. It’s an easy way to keep your nutrition on track and your energy high when you’re too busy for a meal.
How do you use whey? Have you seen benefits from it? Let us know in the comments.
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