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A whey protein isolate (often whey isolate) is a dietary supplement created by filtering milk protein. Whey is a by-product of the cheese-making process. Whey can be processed to yield whey protein in three forms: whey isolate, whey concentrate, or whey hydrolysate.
Whey proteins are highly bioavailable, are very quickly absorbed into the body, and have a high concentration of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)  which are highly concentrated in muscle tissue, and are used to fuel working muscles and stimulate protein synthesis.
The difference between the whey protein forms is the process used to filter the proteins. Whey isolates yield a higher percentage of pure protein and can be filtered enough to be virtually lactose free, carbohydrate free, fat free, and cholesterol free.
Whey isolates have had their base component (water) removed and are generally considered almost lactose and cholesterol free — they are at least 90% protein by weight.
Two filtration methods are widely used. One method, utilizes ion exchangers which denature the proteins with heat, and may or may not damage the proteins. The second method, microfiltration, uses other filtration methods. Both methods yield a very high protein to non-protein product ratio.
Whey and other protein powders can be reconstituted at the time of usage by the addition of a solvent such as water, juice, milk, or other liquid.
Whey protein is popular among athletes today because of its ability to be digested very rapidly and help return the post-workout body back from a catabolic (muscle-wasting) state to an anabolic (muscle-building) state. Because of their filtration methods, whey isolates tend to be less allergenic than concentrates and other bovine milk or dairy products.
Dehydrated (powdered) concentrates and isolates have reduced packaging and shipping requirements, and extended shelf lives. They are readily available.
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