What is Whey? Whey Protein 101

May 13, 2014

During your last visit to the local grocery store or walk through the health food aisle, you may have noticed drink mixes, protein bars, even yogurt cups calling out one specific ingredient: Whey. Whey is one of two major proteins found naturally in cow’s milk and, while seeing a resurgence today, whey actually has been around for centuries.

Whey is a byproduct of the cheese-making process, when special enzymes are added to the milk to separate it into curds and whey. The curds are used to make cheese, and the whey protein serves as a key ingredient in some drink mixes, protein bars and other foods.

While most of us meet our minimum protein requirements, some (including athletes and older adults) may benefit from more protein in the diet, and that’s where whey protein can help.   

Whey protein contains essential amino acids (or “building blocks”) that your body needs, plus it’s easy to digest. Some folks add more whey to their diet because it’s one of the best sources of certain amino acids, including leucine, which has been shown to stimulate muscle growth.

If you’re looking to try whey protein, one simple way is to add whey protein powder to smoothies, oatmeal, soups, baked goods and other recipes. You can also and how you can incorporate it into your day.


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