What types of whey proteins are available in the market?


Whey proteins (WP) refer to the individual protein which is separated out from the casein during cheese making. These proteins are purified into different concentrations based on the end composition desired (Shankar and Bansal, 2013; Asgharet al., 2007). WP is commercially available in 3 types which include whey protein concentrate (WPC), whey protein isolate (WPI) and whey protein hydrolysate (WPH). The varieties of WP are results from various processing techniques used in separating WP. This leads to the differences in the physical-chemical composition of WP supplements that potentially influences its nutritional effect on the human body (Manninen, 2009). However, whey protein in any of its form has an excellent digestibility and amino acid profile.

Whey protein isolate and whey protein concentrate are the most common forms of whey proteins. Whey protein isolate is the purest form of protein as it contains protein concentrations of about 90% or higher. Having being labelled as ‘ the purer protein’ than other variants, the processing of WPI is relatively expensive as significant amounts of non-protein components are removed. (Zadow, 2012; Chandan et al., 2009; Hayes and Cribb, 2008). This refined form of isolates contributes to a greater digestibility profile.

Whey protein hydrolysate contains about 90% protein by weight and less than 1% of its content is fat and lactose (Lyewellyn, 2009). It is a peptide product derived from whey protein through a process involving enzymatic hydrolysis or microbial fermentation. The exposure of whey protein hydrolysate to heat, chemicals or enzymes during processing have broken apart the bonds linking amino acids (Chandan et al., 2009), allowing a more rapid digestion after consumption for a faster result during endurance training and muscle building activities (Kersick, 2011).

Whey protein concentrate has around 25-89% protein. Its production process will also remove ash, lactose, some minerals and water (Listing of Specific Substances Affirmed as GRAS, 2018; Foegeding et al., 2011; Chandan et al., 2009; Food and Agriculture Organization, 2007). Whey protein concentrate is the least expensive type because it is less processed and closer to its natural state. When compared against whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate contains more biologically active proteins and components which make it an attractive supplement in the sports and athlete market (Shankar and Bansal, 2013).



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Shankar, J.R. & Bansal, G.K. (2013). A Study of Health Benefits of Whey Proteins. International Journal of Advanced Biotechnology and Research, 4(1), 15-19.

Zadow, J.G. (2012). Whey and Lactose Processing (p. 141). Berlin, Germany: Springer Science & Business Media.

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