Hopefully, after reading Chapter 3, as a keen bodybuilder you should recognise the usefulness of protein supplementation. A few years ago, a new system of filtration identified ion-exchange whey protein as a top quality protein source. This is a process of microfiltration which sieves out all other constitutions of milk (whey is one of the milk proteins). Before the discovery of filtered whey, most protein powders were based on cheap, poor quality soya protein, or egg white protein (which mixes poorly).
There is a debate as to whether ion-exchange whey protein is the best, or whether other quality protein powders are better. There is no doubt as to the high biological value of whey, its large percentage of branched-chain amino acids, its similar amino acid profile to that of human muscle tissue, and that it is digested, absorbed and taken up by muscles quickly. However, some researchers feel it passes too quickly through our gut, so not all is available for absorption. In this case it may be that quality protein powders based on a combination of different protein sources, may be optimal. These contain two or more sources of protein, and often include whey with other sources like casein, whole egg, amongst others, so there is a more staged digestion of the protein. Remember what we discussed in Chapter 3 about mixing protein sources for optimum quality? ".the popularity of whey protein continues."
For reasons other than its quality, the popularity of whey protein continues. It is so easily digested and doesn't lie on the stomach like many powders, and is generally palatable, and mixes well in water. Studies have also shown that whey protein has immunostimulating actions too, i.e. it also has the right profile of amino acids for the immune system, and exerts positive actions on immune proteins. It has also been found to increase levels of the antioxidant glutathione (Bounous, et al 1989; 1989; 1991).
Quality whey protein or combination protein powders are invaluable to the bodybuilder, as it is often impractical to eat the amount of high protein food required in order to achieve optimal gains. Despite the fact that protein powders are often costly, it may still be cheaper, protein gram for gram than consuming food sources. Protein powders are best mixed with water, and then consume them in between or as a compliment to meals. The two best times to take a protein supplement are first thing in the morning, and directly after a workout. Taking one last thing before going to sleep at night is also useful, and some bodybuilders benefit from waking in the night and having a protein drink. Taking food sources quickly at this time would be impractical and would probably cause indigestion.
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