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Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

Whey Protein Isolate (also known as WPI) - Derived naturally from cow’s milk is a pure, rich source of essential amino acids, the building blocks required to produce lean muscle tissue. In its purest form as whey protein isolate (WPI), it contains little to no fat, lactose, carbohydrates or cholesterol. Considered one of the most valuable sports supplements used by athletes and bodybuilders across the globe, whey protein is essential to muscle repair, growth and strength. The difference between whey protein isolate and the alternate whey protein concentrate (WPC) is that Isolate has a much higher pure protein content at about 87% plus. Concentrate supplements usually contain anywhere between 60% and 80% of protein and can incorporate a blend of whey protein isolate & whey protein concentrate1. As the protein percentage decreases, the fat, lactose and cholesterol count actually increases, so for best quality always opt for a product with higher protein levels.

Found naturally in foods such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, milk and cheese, protein is a vital element in everyone’s diet. While feeding the body sufficient amounts of protein is easy for the average person, bodybuilders and athletes in particular will find it hard to consume enough protein to maintain their physical lifestyles. Whey protein isolate is separated during the process of turning milk into cheese. In fact, before its benefits were realised, whey used to be disposed as an unwanted by-product. There are two major methods for manufacturing whey protein isolate; ion exchange filtration and ultra/micro filtration. Ion exchange filtration involves using hydrochloric acid and sodium hydroxide to separate proteins based on electrical charge. Due to the chemicals used in this process, some amino acids and nutrients can lose their value. However, this method does ensure that less fat and lactose are present in the final product. Ultra and micro filtration utilise semi-permeable membranes which allow small elements such as water, sugars and electrolytes to pass through, whilst preserving larger ones. The difference between ultra and micro is the size of the membrane pores – ultra filtration pores are about four times smaller. Cross flow filtration is a similar variation of this method. This process does not denature (damage) any amino acids or other nutrients; however, it may have higher fat and lactose content2,3. Another form is hydrolysed whey protein. This product is formed when its amino acid peptide bonds are broken to make shorter ones. This leads to improved and faster absorption; however, it is known for its bitter taste, which has made it unpopular with some users. As the body uses more energy to digest proteins as opposed to carbs or fats, hydrolysed whey protein makes it much easier for the digestive system. However, most forms of whey protein supplements will contain added digestive enzymes for this reason.

As whey protein isolate is derived from milk and made up of short chain peptides, the body can easily absorb feeding your muscles in as little as 15 minutes. In fact, Whey protein isolate has a more superior biological value (BV) than any other type of protein on the market. This means that it provides the largest useable amount of branched chain amino acids and other essential amino acids. Many manufacturers also add aminos such as l-glutamine & taurine. Due to its superior absorption qualities, Whey protein isolate is the perfect post-training supplement immedietely fueling muscles with vital recovery nutrients in this important nutrition window. Fats will slow the absorption of food but whey protein isolate can counter this and aid in more efficient digestion. Further to this, the fact that whey protein isolate contains little or no lactose means that lactose intolerant people can safely use it.

The benefits of whey protein isolate do not end there. Studies have revealed a strong link to immune system protection and the ability to act as an anti oxidant, so much so that people with immune deficiencies have been known to supplement with it to increase anti oxidant levels. Whey protein isolate can also increase glutathione levels4, which may lead to decreased chances of developing prostate cancer5. Whey protein isolate is available in powder form and is usually slightly more expensive than whey protein concentrate due to its purity factor. It is essential that protein is consumed daily, as the body cannot store it. An average daily intake calculation for adults is 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram. For example, a 100 kilogram man should consume between 80 and 100 grams per day. The average intake is higher though for athletes and bodybuilders at 1.3 grams to 2.0 grams per kilogram. WPI protein stacks well with other muscle building & strength supplements such as pre workout supplements, post workout supplements, GH supplements as well as testosterone boosting supplements including tribulus & ZMA.

Whey Isolates are commonly presented & sold as Formulated Supplementary Sports Foods in Australia . WPI is not a sole source of nutrition and should be used in conjunction with an appropriate physical training or exercise programme. Not suitable for children under 15 years or pregnant women. Should only be used under medical or dietetic supervision. Always read label prior to use.

1. Jay R. Hoffman and Michael J. Falvo (2004). "Protein - Which is best?". Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (3): 118–130.
2. Piry A, Heino A, Kühnl W, Grein T, Ripperger S, Kulozik U. ‘Effect of membrane length, membrane resistance, and filtration conditions on the fractionation of milk proteins by microfiltration.’ J Dairy Sci. 2012 Apr;95(4):1590-602.
3. El-Sayed MM, Chase HA. ‘Trends in whey protein fractionation.’ Biotechnol Lett. 2011 Aug;33(8):1501-11. Epub 2011 Mar 19.
4. Micke P, Beeh KM, Schlaak JF, Buhl R. ‘Oral supplementation with whey proteins increases plasma glutathione levels of HIV-infected patients.’ Eur J Clin Invest. 2001 Feb;31(2):171-8.
5. Kent KD, Harper WJ, Bomser JA. ‘Effect of whey protein isolate on intracellular glutathione and oxidant-induced cell death in human prostate epithelial cells.’ Toxicol In Vitro. 2003 Feb;17(1):27-33.
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