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The Benefits of Whey Protein

Whey protein is a milk-based meal replacement supplement frequently used by athletes – particularly those concerned with strength training and muscular gains. Typically it is sold as a powder that can be mixed into water or milk. This article will not address the use of whey protein as a treatment for malnutrition disorders or other medical problems. Individuals with such deficiencies or similar conditions should seek nutritional advice from their primary care physician.
The main benefit of whey protein is that it is an easily digestible protein source. Following a period of strenuous physical activity such as a workout, the involved muscles become increasingly permeable to nutrients circulating in the blood stream. This heightened state lasts approximately half of an hour and is commonly referred to as the “window of opportunity” in the fitness community. During this window, feeding the muscles is imperative in order to promote healing and growth. Even if a meal consisting of whole foods was consumed immediately following the exercise, the process of digestion would not be fast enough to allow the nutrients an opportunity to reach the muscles within one half hour. Consequently, due to its rapid bioavailability, whey protein has become the supplement of choice for post-workout recovery.
In addition to its digestive properties, whey is the richest protein source for the Branched Chain Amino Acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. These amino acids are further classified as “essential”, because the body is incapable of manufacturing them internally. The Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) provide a crucial role in muscle development as both an energy source and as a building block for muscle growth. By providing ample BCAA’s during the “window of opportunity”, whey protein encourages muscle repair and development. (For more information on BCAA’s, go to http://www.helium.com/tm/552900/amino-acids-building-blocks)
Finally, whey protein contains nutrients called “peptides” that have been demonstrated to promote muscle gains. Specifically, these peptides cause blood vessels in the muscles to dilate. The result is an increased blood flow to the muscular tissue, essentially providing nutrients more rapidly and in greater abundance. This allows even greater certainty in maximizing timely distribution of alimentary substances immediately post-workout.