Following this processing, certain terms can emerge: total protein, protein isolate, protein concentrate, protein hydrolysate, peptides or pure amino acids...
A protein is a molecule made up of a long chain of amino acids (more than 100). Here, we find the essential and non-essential amino acids.
Essential amino acids are essential to the body and must be provided through diet.
Non-essential amino acids can be manufactured by the body.
When a protein comprises less than 100 amino acids, it’s called a polypeptide, and when there are less than 10 amino acids, we call them peptides.
During digestion, the proteins are cut up to become peptides that can be assimilated by dedicated transporters. Amino acids themselves don’t have specific transporters to be absorbed, which is why they will be assimilated much less quickly than peptides. So it’s not recommended to consume amino acids on their own.
What are the Manufacturing Processes?
A protein concentrate comes from a technique called ultrafiltration. This technique, when performed cold, does not denature the protein because the milk is not heated. This method consists of using membranes containing microscopic holes to retain the proteins and let the rest, ie water, sugars, fats and minerals, pass through.
The protein powder obtained by this technique contains around 80% protein.
- Microfiltration technique: this technique is mechanical and therefore natural. We use the same process as for protein concentrates, but the pores of the membranes are even smaller (0.1 to 10 mg). The protein is thus more purified and can reach 95% concentration. This is the least aggressive technique, and the protein keeps its biological properties. The only negative point about such a protein is its price - this process is expensive.
- Ion exchange technique: This is a process of concentration and purification on ion exchange columns. This technique requires the use of chemical elements (chloridic acid...) so as to remove only the protein of interest. It’s an aggressive treatment that removes all lactose, fats and impurities, but the quality of the protein is slightly impaired.
The protein powder obtained by this technique contains around 90% protein.
This technique starts from a protein concentrate or isolate that will undergo hydrolysis, which amounts to digesting the protein chemically to allow the protein to be assimilated very quickly. Thus, casein hydrolysate is comparable to whey hydrolysate in terms of speed of digestion.
The drawback with this technique is the bitter taste that results.
What are the different products found?
- Gainers: these are mixtures of proteins and carbohydrates. The goal of this product is to provide a large amount of calories to promote weight gain.
- Whey protein: it’s a whey that’s also called whey protein. It makes up 20% of milk proteins. It’s a protein of high digestibility and has a high content of branched chain amino acids. It’s a rapid-assimilation protein. It has a rather anabolic effect.
- Whey concentrate: this product contains about 80g of protein per 100g of powder
- Whey isolate: this product contains 90g of protein per 100g of powder or more
- Whey hydrolysate: This product contains about 80% peptides (small proteins). It’s the product that can be assimilated the most rapidly
- Bio-active whey: These are usually peptide-enriched whey with specific properties for muscle growth.
- Casein: this is the other component of milk, and constitutes 80% of milk protein. Casein is a slow-assimilation protein. They have a rather anti-catabolic effect.
- Calcium caseinate: This is usually a concentrated product. Here, casein is denatured and has lost its configuration (micelles) so it is less well absorbed
- Micellar casein: it’s a kind of casein isolate. The protein is preserved, allowing a slow diffusion of the amino acids. It is also found in whole milk proteins
- Soya proteins: these are proteins used mainly by vegetarians or vegans. It is a rather anti-catabolic protein
- Amino acids: They are absorbed relatively quickly, which gives them the property of being slightly anabolic. However, this property remains very weak
- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): They optimise recovery and muscle mass gain as BCAAs are used during exercise.
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