Powdered whey protein is a popular dietary supplement.
Credit: marekuliasz / Shutterstock.com
Whey protein is one of the two major proteins (along with casein) contained in milk, and appears in many foods and dietary supplements.
Whey protein is found in whey, the liquid left behind when milk curdles into cheese. (The casein protein goes into the cheese.) Further processing, usually involving drying and filtration, extracts the whey protein from this liquid.
You'll find whey protein in a variety of foods, including bread and infant formula. Food manufacturers also use whey protein in milk-replacement products or as a substitute for fat in, for example, low-fat ice cream.
The body easily digests whey protein, so the nutrient is popular as an exercise supplement. Bodybuilders frequently use the substance, in powdered form, to boost their protein intake. Health professionals agree that whey is an excellent source of protein.
The nutrient has been also used as a dietary supplement due to a host of other claimed health benefits, some with more scientific support than others. A number of studies show evidence for whey protein as an appetite suppressant and as an aid in fighting diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stress and even cancer. In all cases, however, more research is needed.