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Difference between whey and protein

What is the difference between whey and protein?

There are a variety of protein sources on the market, including protein powders, such as whey, but also solid proteins found in our diet: meat, fish, eggs, or plant proteins, for example. Scientific research has shown that protein can contribute to the maintenance and growth of muscle mass (1). Therefore, we will distinguish between whey protein and solid protein in our diets to help you in your future consumption choices.

What is the difference between whey and protein?

What is whey protein?

Whey protein is one of the most widely used and popular supplements for bodybuilders. It is a highly bioavailable protein powder that is rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), consisting of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. According to a scientific study, BCAA supplementation before and after exercise had positive effects on reducing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle protein synthesis (2). These protein powders are available in various forms, such as whey concentrate, whey isolate, natural whey, hydrolyzed whey, lactose-free whey, or normal (unflavored) whey.

When to consume whey?

Whey is considered the queen protein in bodybuilding, as it is probably the most widely used dietary supplement. Its most important property is its rapid assimilation, which means it can be assimilated quickly by the body and is therefore readily available to the muscles. Therefore, it is an excellent choice when used before, during, or after training to rapidly supply the muscles with protein and amino acids. Therefore, it is a so-called "fast" protein because of its rapid assimilation.

Whey can also be consumed as a snack and is an excellent choice for a healthy, balanced snack. It can be added to your preparations such as waffles or protein pancakes because it is easy to prepare!

The similarities between whey and protein

Whey and protein have a lot in common and very little in common. Proteins in our diet, such as red meat, chicken, fish, and eggs... contribute to optimal recovery and muscle growth, as does whey protein. However, it is always advisable to prefer solid proteins to protein powders, which are much richer and better absorbed by the body. The latter is more accessible to consume during training, as they only need to be mixed with water and can be consumed immediately due to their very rapid assimilation. They are also cheaper in the long run. One study showed that consumption of high-quality meat or whey protein has significant benefits on body composition (3).

Solid proteins in our diet are ideal for consumption in the main meals of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and also in snacks. During exercise, they are more sensitive and require more effort to digest. The choice between these two protein sources depends on your budget and consumption preferences. It is good to know that protein powders, such as whey protein, are not mandatory but can supplement the diet.

You can see also: Whey protein bar recipe

(1) Devries MC, Phillips SM. Protein supplementation to promote muscle mass and health: the benefit of whey. J Food Sci. 2015;80 Suppl 1:A8-A15.

(2) Shimomura Y, Murakami T, Nakai N, Nagasaki M, Harris RA. Exercise promotes BCAA catabolism: effects of BCAA supplementation on skeletal muscle during exercise. J Nutr. 2004;134(6 Suppl):1583S-1587S.

(3) Sharp MH, Lowery RP, Shields KA, et al. The effects of beef, chicken or whey protein after exercise on body composition and muscle performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2018;32(8):2233-2242.


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