How is Whey Protein Made?
Whey protein has been a popular sports nutrition supplement for over 20 years. Its a high-grade globular protein found in milk that contains many additional vitamins and nutrients (such as vitamin D & amino acids).
Creating whey protein begins with milk from dairy cows. Once collected, the milk is sent to a processing plant where it is curated and pasteurized to kill any bacteria. After pasteurization, some of the milk is transported to a different plant to make cheese.
During this cheese creating process, certain enzymes are mixed with the milk that create the chemical properties of the milk to separate the curd from the liquid. The curd is taken to make cheese, while the remaining liquid is the whey.
The protein is then extracted out of the liquid whey through a complicated dehydration process that turns it into a powdered substance. This dehydration process must be done with extreme care, and utilizes specialized equipment in order to ensure that the molecular structure of the whey protein doesn’t change and all of the desirable properties remain.
Different Types Of Protein
There are different variances in the type of protein powder that is created depending on the process. This results in three different forms of whey protein:
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate– This is a protein that has gone through the most extreme processing to empty out almost all the milk from the composition of the whey. As such, it is the most expensive of all three forms of whey protein, and helps individuals who have a propensity to be lactose intolerant.
- Whey Protein Isolate– Isolate protein is almost entirely pure protein after the dehydration period. It is refined several times over to the point where almost all of the milk has been emptied out of it, though not as much as hydrolysate. This is why isolate protein is widely used by individuals who want higher quality protein in their body to help develop large muscles.
- Whey Protein Concentrate – This is the least processed of all forms of whey protein. This has only gone through the dehydration process a single time, which results in it being between 25% and 80% protein (depending on how fine the processing was done). The remaining parts are lactose and fat. This is a more popular style for the general population due to it being cheaper and easily accessible.