Whey Protein: Should You Use It?

Whey Protein: Should You Use It?

We all hear about 1,000 different things that can help when it comes to our health and fitness goals. For this reason, it can be really hard to know what's out there that can help the most.

Whether you're trying to gain muscle, lose weight, or even improve your quality of life ... Using the right tools can play a big role in helping you reach your goal. What's even more important is making sure your body is getting the right nutrients.

Now, while all nutrients can be important ... I would argue that for any fitness-specific goal, protein is the most important. This can even be true when it comes to helping you look and feel your best!

That's why one thing that should be at the top of your list when it comes to tools/supplements is whey protein. Today, I'll tell you everything you need to know about whey protein and how it can help you reach your goals!

Why Is Protein So Important?

Before we dive right into whey protein, why is protein itself so important?

Well, protein is one of the 3 important macronutrients. In short, it's essential for the health of your body. Proteins are even known as the building blocks of your body.

To expand on this, protein plays a role in nearly every cell that is inside of your body (1). That alone should tell you how important it is.

You see, protein is made up of amino acids. Your body actually uses these amino acids to carry out several daily processes and functions.

When To Use Amino Acids

For example, amino acids can help repair damaged cells, regulate hormones, and improve hair, skin and nail health. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The list really does go on and on.

But, as it pertains to your fitness goals, protein is important for building and maintaining lean muscle. However, that doesn't mean protein is only necessary when you're trying to build muscle.

I say this because the more muscle your body has, the more calories your body will burn at rest. This is a big reason why it's important to get enough protein even if your goal is to lose body fat.

You see, the more calories you burn, the easier it is to lose weight. You must burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight. There is no way around it.

Not only does protein help you maintain muscle to burn more calories, but it can help you eat less calories too. It’s more filling, so when you add more protein to your meals, you’re more likely to eat less. So all in all, protein is one very important nutrient to help in your weight loss efforts.

Now that you know a little bit about the importance of protein, I'm sure you're all wondering the same thing.

What’s so special about whey protein? I’ll answer that, but first you need to know what whey protein is.

What Is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is a type of protein that comes from milk (2). During the cheese making process it gets separated from everything else in the milk, and then it is dehydrated into a powder.

That’s where you get whey protein powders from.

Whey protein is a complete protein source. This means it has all 9 of the essential amino acids that you have to get in your diet every single day.

Most typically, you'll find 3 different types of whey proteins. These are Whey Protein Concentrates, Whey Protein Isolates, and Whey Protein Hydrolysates. I'll explain what each of these are below:

1. Whey Protein Concentrate

Whey protein concentrate is the one that you'll see most often in protein powders. Heck, you'll even find whey protein concentrate as the main ingredients in many protein bars and snacks.

All whey protein supplements are filtered to a certain extent to remove the carbs and fats from the milk. Each type of whey protein is left with a different concentration of protein, and this is how they are most often categorized.

Typically, whey protein concentrates are between 35%-85% protein by weight. The remaining percentage of these powders are carbs and fats.

A higher quality whey protein concentrate will normally have above 80% protein. Some can definitely be lower, so you want to find a company you trust that will use higher quality ingredients.

The carbs and fats aren’t bad though, and they do serve a purpose in this type of whey protein. You see, the leftover 20% or so of carbs and fats help to slow down the digestion of the protein.

This makes it digest slower, and makes it a great option to supplement your meals with it. That’s why many companies market whey protein concentrate as a meal replacement supplement.

Now let’s move onto whey protein isolate.

2. Whey Protein Isolate

Now, what is whey protein isolate? Well, a whey protein isolate is exactly what it sounds like. It's an isolated source of whey protein. As opposed to whey protein concentrate, whey isolate has most of the fats and lactose (milk sugars) removed.

By more, I mean whey protein isolate must by definition be at least 90% protein by weight. With it being more protein and even less carbs and fats, it will digest much faster.

For this reason, whey protein isolate is the king of proteins when it comes to post workout recovery. It can spike a process called muscle protein synthesis very quickly compared to other proteins.

That process is what helps you build and repair muscle tissue damage from your workouts. After a workout, you want this process to happen rapidly.

For your meals though, you want a slower digesting protein source like whey protein concentrate. That’s why we leave whey protein isolate in the post workout setting.

That’s where it does its job best.

1st Phorm Post-Workout Stack

3. Whey Protein Hydrolysate

Whey protein hydrolysate is a form of whey protein that can actually come in concentrate or isolate form. I know this sounds confusing, so let me explain.

Basically, whey protein hydrolysate is a hydrolyzed form of whey protein. So, what does that mean?

Well, hydrolysis is a process where the protein chains are broken down with the help of enzymes. Instead of hundreds of amino acids in a single protein chain, hydrolysis leaves many chains of 2-3 amino acids.

This makes it digest much faster because there is less work for your digestive system to break the protein down. This is most beneficial when done to whey protein isolate because it further speeds up the digestion.

Oftentimes, you'll find that whey protein isolates come hydrolyzed as an extra benefit for post-workout use. Just know that a protein can come hydrolyzed at any degree, measured by the degree of hydrolysis (DH). So, to keep it simple, 0% DH would mean the protein is not hydrolyzed ... 100% DH would mean the protein is broken down to its absolute most pure form.

The most pure form being individual amino acids not bound together at all. This is pretty rare though because many times it makes the protein taste really bitter. 

Now that you know all about the main 3 types of whey protein, let’s dive into some benefits!

Benefits of Using Whey Protein

Whey protein can be beneficial for helping you reach your goals in many ways. For example, a rapid-digesting whey protein can be great for improving recovery. This is where a whey protein isolate, or even a hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, can make a difference.

On top of that, whey protein can be a great way to increase your daily protein intake. Whey protein concentrates and whey protein blends are quick, easy, and affordable. In fact, they're often less expensive than any other complete protein sources you can find.

I don't have much time during the day to sit down and eat a high-quality protein source like beef or chicken. That's why I'll mix up a whey protein blend to help hit my protein goal for the day in just a matter of seconds!

The Difference Between Whey and Casein Protein

Now, I always recommend using whey protein to complement your diet. Whole-foods should always come first. But when you're falling short on protein, whey protein is a phenomenal option to help you get more.

On top of just being a great way to get more protein in, whey protein has also been shown to help:

• Improve body composition
Reduce cardiovascular risk factors
Support the health of nearly every single cell in your body (2)

With all of these great things, you may be wondering, are there any downsides?

The Downsides of Whey Protein

Whey protein is one of the most researched supplements in the world. I am happy to say that there are very few negative side effects that are associated with it.

Unless you have a dairy allergy, or lactose intolerance, there really isn't much you have to worry about.

Even so, it's important for me to mention that not ALL whey protein products are made equally. In fact, there are a lot out there that you'd be best avoiding altogether. Some are high in sugar, taste gross, or most importantly: come processed poorly.

I always advise people to look for 2 things when looking for a whey protein to use. You’ll know it's a high-quality whey protein when it comes:

1. Low-Temperature Processed

2. Cross-Flow Micro-Filtered

These are two processing methods that are the gold-standard in the world of whey protein.

Low-temperature processing is when the whey protein comes processed at lower temperatures. This can help spare heat-sensitive parts of the protein from being denatured in the process.

Proteins are chains of amino acids folded in specific ways. When denatured, they can open and refold in ways that make it harder to digest. There are enzyme receptor sites on the protein that may become blocked when it is refolded.

That can ultimately leave you with an upset stomach , and less absorbed protein.

Benefits of Whey Protein For Weight Loss

Cross-flow microfiltration is another thing to look for, and for good reason. This is a filtration method that uses ceramic membranes to remove fat, lactose, and non-dissolved particles. An alternative to cross-flow micro-filtration would be ion-exchange filtration.

Ion-exchange filtration is where chemicals and high heats separate the amino acids by ionic charge. This denatures more protein and exposes it to harsh chemicals. Oftentimes, this makes the protein taste gross and over-processed too.

One Last Tip With Whey Protein

As I mentioned earlier, not all whey protein powders and supplements are made alike. Some taste good, and some taste bad. Some are processed well, and others are not. Some are ideal for meals, and some are more ideal for after your workouts.

At 1st Phorm, our mission is to help real people get real and long-term results. Part of that is understanding that the best results come from the best products possible. That's why our whey protein powders check all the right boxes when it comes to processing, filtration, and flavor.

If you're looking for a whey protein that can help you recover faster, look no further than our Phormula-1! Phormula-1 is a hydrolyzed whey protein isolate that comes available in over a dozen delicious flavors. Plus, if you're looking to cut out artificial sweeteners, we also offer Phormula-1 Natural.

If you're looking for a whey protein powder that's ideal for meals and snacks, that's where Level-1 comes in. Level-1 is a whey protein blend of whey protein concentrate, milk protein, and whey protein isolate. Like Phormula-1, Level-1 is also available in a naturally-sweetened version: Level-1 Natural.

1st Phorm Level-1 Protein Powder

Like I said, there are some whey protein powders that are going to trump others in quality and taste. The same can be said when it comes to helping you reach your goals as well!

But no matter what your goals may be, I want you to know we're here to help. We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches for that reason! Just reach out to our team at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com or give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 any day of the week from 6 AM - 10 PM Central.


(1). Kreider, Richard B, and Bill Campbell. “Protein for exercise and recovery.” The Physician and sportsmedicine vol. 37,2 (2009): 13-21. doi:10.3810/psm.2009.06.1705

(2). Wirunsawanya, Kamonkiat et al. “Whey Protein Supplementation Improves Body Composition and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition vol. 37,1 (2018): 60-70. doi:10.1080/07315724.2017.1344591