Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) is possibly the most sold product in the field of Sport Supplementation due to its properties, benefits, and results.
What is Whey Protein Concentrate?Whey Protein surpasses the quality of other types of sources, such as egg or meat, due to its aminogram which has a great percentage of BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) as well as Essential Amino Acids (BCAAs also belong to this group). It is also the protein with the highest biological value, which means that it has an improved absorption rate from which our organism will benefit.
It can be consumed before or after the workout, when you wake up or with breakfast, as well as between meals. It is a product that will help us to meet the recommended daily amount of proteins according to our nutritional profile.
It has qualities that make it suitable for any type of diet: high protein percentage, low calories, small supply of sugars, fats, and cholesterol, and it supports the following tasks: increasing muscle mass, or preserving it during cutting phase.
It is generally sold as powder in order to mix it with liquids, preferably water, although it can also be combined with milk or juice (with a consequent increase in the supply of calories). Even though taste is something personal, almost everyone that has tried a WPC shake has enjoyed its taste.
How is Whey Protein Concentrate obtained?
Whey Protein Concentrate comes from the manufacturing of milk, more specifically from the production of cheese. In this process, the milk is divided into its two main component, which are an 80% of casein and a 20% of whey. Precisely, the latter is the one used to obtain the Protein Concentrate and its most important quality will be its absorption rate.
Usually, whey protein concentrate is made up of 80-90% of pure protein approximately. It has more lactose, carbs, and fats than a protein isolate.
Quality of Whey Protein Concentrate
When it comes to measuring the quality of WPC, we will have to take into account a lot of factors:
A protein is made of amino acids chains, and there are mainly two types among them: essential and non-essential. The first group is the most important one, given its “essential” condition, which indicates that our organism cannot synthesize them, and therefore it needs to be externally supplied through the diet or through a Whey Protein Concentrate supplement. WPC is a complete protein because it gathers all essential amino acids.
Each of the non-essential amino acids can be obtained from the essential ones, so including a lot of the essential amino acids, or EAAs, should be a priority.
Isoleucine, Leucine, Valine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Histidine.
Some of their essential tasks are: synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters, enzymes, regulation of the metabolism, creation of new muscle tissue, synthesis of hemoglobin, maintenance of the hepatic function, the nervous system, and the brain…
The Biological Value (BV) is rated from 100 to 0, which measures how effectively our body absorbs the proteins, which means that it measures the percentage of protein that is actually absorbed into the proteins from the human body.
Here we have a comparative table with protein sources and their BV:
WPC is actually higher than 100, which is the value assigned to eggs that was previously used as a reference point in this scale of percentages, until whey was later discovered.
The importance of the BV lies on the fact that the higher the rate, the more complete the protein is, without any deficit or limited amino acid (as it happens with lysine in some vegetable proteins). It will be closer to meet the requirements of the organism. Moreover, unlike fat and carbs, amino acids are not stored, but excreted. So even if we eat a lot of protein with a low BV, it would not be affective at all.
Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acids Score (PDCAAs)
The Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acids score is another indicator of the quality of the WPC. The digestibility of the protein takes into account the total amount of protein that will be absorbed after the digestion process. A food must have all the essential amino acids in the stipulated amounts in order to be considered a good source of protein. Therefore, only the amino acid with less presence in food is taken into account to obtain the PDCAAS.
The highest PDCAAS value is 1.0, which means that our body will absorb 100% of the essential amino acids per unit of protein. WPC has such value.
A denatured protein is a protein that, after being processed and ready to be consumed, contains fractions that existed in the raw ingredient, without losing any of their properties. Depending on the manufacturing methods, WPC may end up with a higher content of these protein fractions than those that have not been denatured.
The CFM or Cross Flow Microfiltration process practically guarantees the integrity of these nutrients.
These protein fractions possess a wide variety of benefits for human health, such as: anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial agents, strengthened immune system, and enhanced absorption and transport of iron. We can find the following elements in this group: Lactoferrin, Glycomacropeptide, Immunoglobulins, Alpha-lactalbumin (alpha-lac), Beta lactoglobulin (beta-lac) and Lactoperoxidase.
Properties of Whey Protein Concentrate
The main properties of WPC are:
- Fast Absorption
- Support for Growth of Lean Mass
- Improved Recovery
- Enhanced Protein Synthesis
What are the functions of Whey Protein Concentrate?
WPC can be consumed at any time of the day and it is important to support the recovery, regeneration, and growth of the muscle, specially before intense workouts.
Proteins are the key macronutrient for life, along with essential fatty acids and water. We have to provide a daily amount of protein according to our requirements if we want to support the organism in its task of tissue regeneration and “protein turnover”.
Increasing Muscle Mass
Those who want to improve their physical shape by increasing the size and volume of the muscles can use WPC as a tool to achieve their goals. This protein will provide a complete aminogram, which is specially rich in BCAAs, and specifically in L-Leucine, which has the unique property of being able to activate the protein synthesis pathway (mTOR), which is a physiological network that will start up the machinery that generates new muscle tissue.
Improving the Physical Composition
This process fundamentally involves two objectives: reducing fat and preserving muscle mass. In order to achieve the first point, it is necessary to follow a diet which involves a calorific deficit, so that the organism burns stored fat. For the second objective you will need to balance the lack of calories through an increase in the intake of proteins to avoid losing muscle mass. WPC provides a proper supply of amino acids, specially glutamine, which has important anti-catabolic properties (reducing the breakdown of muscle tissue).
Differences between Whey Concentrate and Isolate
When it comes to purchasing a protein, most people ask the same question: “…Concentrate or Isolate? ”
Both the concentrate (WPC) and the isolate (WPI) are excellent sources of proteins that will meet the daily protein requirement of our bodies, by providing a splendid aminogram with high concentrations of essential amino acids (EAAs), branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), as well as Glutamine and its precursors.
They also have a fast absorption rate, which makes them very useful choices either before or just after the workout, or at both times. Naturally, they can be used at any time of the day when our diet demands an extra protein supply.
However, in terms of purity and composition, we could perhaps choose WPI, since its manufacturing method results in a highly-refined product, practically without any trace of carbs, fat, nor lactose, and with the highest percentage of protein.
However, they are not so different from each other, so both will work in any diet.
A subjective and arguable point is the texture and flavor of the protein which, according to most opinions, tends to be more pleasant in the case of WPC.
To conclude, one could say that WPC may be the best choice, if we compare the Price/Quality.
Comparison between Whey Concentrate and Isolate
|High Amino Acids levels (Glutamine, BCAAs, EAAs)|
|Higher percentage of proteins|
|Less amount of carbs and fats|
|Fast absorption rate|
|Best Price/Quality relation|
How to consume Whey Protein Concentrate and how can we combine it?
WPC has a wide range of possibilities when it comes to its consumption and combination, either with other supplements or with certain recipes.
How to consume WPC?
The best times to use whey protein concentrate are:
- On an empty stomach
- Before and/or after the workout
However, as we have previously seen, WPC is a nutritional supply of proteins and its intake can be done at times when our dietary plan demands it. For instance, it can be consumed during fasting along with breakfast, as well as a mid-morning snack or even as an evening snack or before sleeping. Although in this case other products would be more suitable, such as Time Released Proteins or Casein.
How to combine WPC?
- With carbohydrates: we can combine carbs with proteins in the same shake, with a 1:1 or 2:1 rate in favor of the carbohydrates. The best moments to use them would be before or after the workout.
- With Creatine: creatine is an excellent ergogenic element that improves sport performance. It can be combined directly with the protein shake. Its consumption will vary, depending on whether or not we are on a loading phase or a maintenance phase, which is made of 1g of creatine for every 10kg of bodyweight.
- With Fat Burners: these products are designed to stimulate fat loss as part of a hypocalorific diet. We should provide enough protein to avoid the loss of muscle mass.
- With Natural anabolics: specially for bulking phase where we are looking to increase the volume, in order to optimize the release of hormones. The protein will provide amino acids to support the growth of muscle mass.
- With Vitamins and Minerals: the supply of micronutrients is extremely important, since they are necessary and essential reagents and cofactors in different metabolic reactions that happen in our organism, and of course in the synthesis of proteins.