May 4, 2023

Whey Protein: What You Need to Know

Major Team

What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is a group of proteins found in whey, a byproduct of cheese production. It is the water-soluble portion of milk and is sold as a supplement in the form of dry powders. The degree of processing determines how concentrated a source of protein is and how quickly it is absorbed.

Some benefits of whey protein include increased protein intake, muscle gain when combined with resistance training, and limited muscle loss during low-calorie diets. It can also help limit fat gain when calorie consumption is high, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, and relieve symptoms of stress, depression, and hepatitis. Additionally, it helps improve bone mineral density.[1]

Different Types of Whey Protein: Which One is Right for You?

The main difference between the types of Whey Protein is in the way they have been processed.

  • Concentrate: This variation is present in many protein-rich products such as drinks, bars, supplements, and even infant formula. With 70 to 80% protein content, it also contains some lactose and fat and has the best flavor of all three. 
  • Isolate: Whey protein isolate is a more purified form of protein, with a protein content of 90% or higher. It contains less lactose and fat than whey protein concentrate, but it also lacks some of the beneficial nutrients found in its counterpart. 
  • Hydrolysate: Also known as hydrolyzed whey, this type is pre-digested to get absorbed faster (meaning that its long protein chains, called peptides, are pre-broken down into shorter ones to facilitate digestion). It leads to a 28 to 43% greater spike in insulin levels than isolate. Specialized infant formulas and medical supplements for nutritional deficiencies often use hydrolyzed whey protein.[2]

Whey protein concentrate seems to be the best option, not only for being the cheapest but because it has most of the valuable nutrients found naturally in whey.  However, if you have an intolerance to the concentrated form or are trying to emphasize protein while maintaining carbs and fat intake low, whey protein isolate — or hydrolysate — may be the better option.

How Whey Protein Impacts Muscle Mass and Strength

Whey protein promotes muscle and strength gain by providing protein and amino acids, acting as building blocks for augmented muscle growth, and increasing the release of anabolic hormones that enhance muscle growth. Besides that, it is rich in the amino acid leucine and more quickly absorbed and used than other types.

As a result, whey protein is beneficial for preventing age-related muscle loss as well as improving strength.[3] Some studies suggest that whey protein may be somewhat better for muscle building than other forms of protein, such as casein or soy. [4] [5] [6]

It is important to note that unless your diet already lacks protein, supplementing with whey protein is unlikely to affect your results significantly. If you already eat high-quality protein abundantly, the advantages of adding whey will probably be minimal.

Whey Protein and Weight Loss: Is it Right for You?

Whey protein is an excellent way to increase protein intake, which helps with weight loss. According to research, replacing other sources of calories with whey protein and partaking in weightlifting can result in an 8-pound weight loss while stimulating the building of lean muscle mass.[7] Furthermore, whey is more filling than other types of protein, such as casein and soy, making it an alternative for people looking to consume fewer calories and accomplish weight loss goals.[8] [9]

Practical Tips for Using Whey Protein

People with lactose intolerance or potential allergies should be mindful of whey protein.[10] Always read the ingredients list when buying whey protein, as some products may contain unhealthy additives like refined sugar.

Also, excessive protein consumption is not helpful and can cause digestive issues such as pain, bloating, nausea, cramping, flatulence, and diarrhea. So ingest it moderately to avoid these adverse effects.


1. Kamal Patel, M. M. (2022, September 28). Whey Protein Health benefits, dosage, safety, side-effects, and more | Supplements - Examine. Examine. Retrieved February 17, 2023, from

2. Whey Protein: Health Benefits and Potential Side Effects. (2021, January 4). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved February 17, 2023, from

3. Paddon-Jones, D., & Rasmussen, B. B. (2009). Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 12(1), 86–90.

4. Hartman, J. W., Tang, J. E., Wilkinson, S. B., Tarnopolsky, M. A., Lawrence, R. L., Fullerton, A. V., & Phillips, S. M. (2007). Consumption of fat-free fluid milk after resistance exercise promotes greater lean mass accretion than does consumption of soy or carbohydrate in young, novice, male weightlifters. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 86(2), 373–381.

5. Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., Kujbida, G. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. Journal of applied physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 107(3), 987–992.

6. Pennings, B., Boirie, Y., Senden, J. M., Gijsen, A. P., Kuipers, H., & van Loon, L. J. (2011). Whey protein stimulates postprandial muscle protein accretion more effectively than do casein and casein hydrolysate in older men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 93(5), 997–1005.

7. Miller, P. E., Alexander, D. D., & Perez, V. (2014). Effects of whey protein and resistance exercise on body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 33(2), 163–175.

8. Pal, S., Radavelli-Bagatini, S., Hagger, M., & Ellis, V. (2014). Comparative effects of whey and casein proteins on satiety in overweight and obese individuals: a randomized controlled trial. European journal of clinical nutrition, 68(9), 980–986.

9. Veldhorst, M. A., Nieuwenhuizen, A. G., Hochstenbach-Waelen, A., van Vught, A. J., Westerterp, K. R., Engelen, M. P., Brummer, R. J., Deutz, N. E., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2009). Dose-dependent satiating effect of whey relative to casein or soy. Physiology & behavior, 96(4-5), 675–682.

10. El-Agamy, Elsayed. (2007). The challenge of cow milk protein allergy. Small Ruminant Research. 68. 64-72. 10.1016/j.smallrumres.2006.09.016.