The importance of dietary protein
Protein is a macronutrient obtained from the diet. It is essential for all aspects of health, including maintaining a healthy metabolism, muscle recovery after exercise, and building muscle in response to exercise. If insufficient protein is consumed in the diet, the body starts to break down the muscles in order to supply the vital organs with sufficient protein. Nutritionists estimate that the minimal amount of protein necessary per day is around 45 to 55 grams, but it must be emphasized this is the bare minimum to keep the body running. Growing individuals, active individuals, and older individuals need far more protein than this, two to four times this amount, or even more per day for very active athletes.
In order to obtain sufficient protein from the diet, an athlete may need to consume a breakfast of five eggs and steak, a fillet of salmon for lunch, and two chicken breasts for dinner. Every day. It is thus not surprising that many people reach for protein supplements to ensure they are consuming sufficient protein while not consuming excess calories. One of the most common protein supplements on the market is whey protein concentrate. You may be wondering what it is and whether it is a healthy, natural choice.
Whey protein concentrate
Whey protein concentrate is a by-product of the dairy industry. When cheese is made, during the pressing process, a liquid is forced out of the cheese curd. This liquid is called whey. Whey is turned into whey protein concentrate by removing most of the non-protein components, like fat. Then the water is removed by ultrafiltration followed by rapid drying to produce a powder that is around 85% pure protein (the rest is fats and carbohydrates). It is an all-natural product that contains several different proteins. It is popular because it is very high in protein, is readily digested and absorbed, and per tablespoon of powder, it has around 35 kcal, 7 grams of protein, and only about 0.5 grams each of fat and carbohydrates. It should be noted that the carbohydrates in whey protein concentrate consist primarily of lactose, which may be troublesome for individuals who are very sensitive to lactose.
Safety of whey protein concentrate
Whey protein concentrate is very safe. Before cheese making, the milk is pasteurized to destroy any bacteria and mold contamination, and it is subjected to extensive quality testing. After the concentration of the whey by ultrafiltration, it is pasteurized again in case any remaining bacteria or mold has become concentrated. The rapid spray-drying process to turn the concentrated whey into powder is conducted under sterile conditions. Once the powder has been produced, it is room temperature stable, and as long as it is kept dry, it will not spoil. Microorganisms also cannot grow in it.
Other nutrients present in whey protein concentrate
Since it is made from milk, many people assume it must have other essential nutrients, such as calcium. This is, in fact, the case. A tablespoon of whey protein concentrate will supply 5% of the daily required amount of calcium and will also provide small amounts of essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It does not, however, supply any measurable levels of any vitamins. In particular, its vitamin D level is negligible even if the milk it was made from was supplemented with vitamin D.
Uses of whey protein concentrate
Whey protein concentrate has many possible uses:
Building muscle mass and strength
Many people go to the gym, work hard, and then wonder why their muscles aren’t bulking up and becoming stronger. This lack-of-result is commonly due to not consuming sufficient protein in the diet. Muscles are primarily made out of protein. In order to preserve itself, the body automatically prioritizes the protein needs of vital organs over that of the muscles. Thus, to build muscle mass, protein intake needs to be above and beyond the needs of the vital organs. Whey protein supplements are an easy, convenient way to reach this goal.
Accelerating muscle recovery after exercise
The muscles work hard during exercise, and this invariably causes minor levels of damage that have to be repaired. This repair process requires a lot of dietary protein. Whey protein concentrate is noted for not only being a very complete, high-quality protein, but also for being very rapidly digested and absorbed by the body. Thus, consumption of whey protein concentrate rapidly supplies the raw materials the body needs to repair muscles after exercise, reducing soreness and fatigue.
Losing body fat
Whey protein concentrate can be beneficial for individuals trying to lose body fat. Often, calorie-restrictive diets end up restricting protein intake as well, and sadly the dieter loses muscle mass instead of body fat. Thus, adding whey protein concentrate to a calorie-restrictive diet can protect the muscles, targeting only the body fat for removal. In addition, consuming whey protein concentrate can ease hunger pains and reduce food cravings, making it easier to stay on that diet and achieve faster results.
Boosting the immune system and easing stress
One of the components of whey protein concentrate is glutathione, the body’s “master antioxidant.” It acts to protect cells from oxidative stress. Consuming whey protein concentrate while under stress or while feeling borderline sick can help protect the body and boost the immune system.
Enhanced workout products
In addition to consuming whey protein concentrate to build muscle, individuals wishing to build muscle mass may want to consider taking one of the natural products available to enhance workout efficacy, such as Gaspari’s Anabolic stack. The first product, SuperpumpMax, is intended to be taken about 30 minutes before a workout to improve the effectiveness of the workout. The second product, SizeOn, is taken mid-workout in order to enhance energy levels, improve hydration, and speed recovery after the workout.
They both come in several delicious flavors such as lemon ice and orange cooler. SuperpumpMax has been enhanced with natural stimulants, citrulline, creatine, and BCAAs. SizeOn contains carbohydrates, ATP-enhancing compounds, BCAAs, and electrolytes. A regimen of whey protein concentrate and Anabolic stack can help you achieve your goals. Follow Gaspari on Facebook for tips on exercise and nutrition and to get the latest updates about nutritional supplements to enhance your life.