Proteins: Whey, Soy, Casein….. Decoded

My mother’s colleague has been worrying herself to death and the cause of this…. Her 16 year old son wants to take protein shakes for body building. She doesn’t want him to start taking the supplements as she thinks these will have negative effects on his health. So she wanted a little help from me; to persuade him not to take these. What do you think was my reply? Excerpts from what I explained to him…

Milk constitutes of two kinds of proteins: Casein and Whey, which are widely used in Sports field and medicine to fulfill the excess protein demands which are not satisfied by diet alone. Out of 100% of the protein content of milk 80% is casein and remaining is whey protein. When cheese (paneer) is extracted from milk casein stays with cheese and the by-product (yellowish green liquid) comprises of whey protein.

Whey: Whey Protein is quickly absorbed in the body and has a high concentration of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) which are used to fuel muscles and which stimulate protein synthesis. Commercially whey protein is available in three major forms: concentrate, isolate, and hydrolysate.

  • Whey concentrate has 29-89% protein depending upon the product. The lower the amount of protein, the amounts of fat and lactose in that formulation increase.
  • Whey Isolates yield a higher percentage of pure protein and can be virtually lactose, carbohydrate, fat and cholesterol free. They are at least 90% protein by weight.
  • Whey Hydrosylate: Whey protein is hydrolyzed (chemically changed) to synthesize hydrolysates. Long protein chains are broken down into smaller segments called “peptides”.

Hydrolyzed Vs Non-Hydrolyzed Whey: Hydrolyzed Whey is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than non-hydrolyzed one. It is most commonly used in infant formulas and specialty protein supplements for medical use.

Whey Isolate Vs Concentrate: Whey Isolates tend to be less allergenic than Concentrates. Whey isolate is the most pure and concentrated form of whey protein available.

Whey protein is essential in the field of bodybuilding, athletics, and sports today because of its ability to be digested very rapidly. It helps in returning the post-workout body back from a catabolic to an anabolic state.

Casein: This protein is also derived from milk and is popular because of a very unique property. It forms a gel in the stomach which leads to slow digestion and slow release of amino acids sometimes lasting for several hours. Due to this property casein is slowly digested and thus it can used as an excellent post workout supplement.

Soy protein is extracted from soybean. Soy protein is commercially processed into concentrates and isolates. Soy protein isolate is a highly refined form of soy protein with a minimum protein content of 90%. It is made from soy flour from which most of the fat and carbohydrate has been removed. Soy protein concentrate is about 70% soy protein. Soy protein concentrate is easily digestible and thus is well-suited for children, pregnant, lactating women and elderly. Soy protein is considered to have a similar protein quality as animal proteins. A study published on the effect of soy protein on lipids concluded that soy protein is related with decrease in total cholesterol, LDL and triglyceride concentration. After this study FDA granted that “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Can be taken safely by a lactose intolerant person.

These proteins are derived from our usual food sources but are more beneficial because of the processing techniques they undergo. They do not cause any side effects whatsoever if taken by someone who really needs them.

How to determine the need?

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