However, of all the protein products on the market, whey protein stands out head and shoulders above the rest with regard to muscle recovery, because unlike most other protein products, whey is a complete protein and contains all nine essential amino acids.
What is a complete protein?
A complete protein is a protein that contains all nine essential amino acids - histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine, with isoleucine, leucine and valine being the three branch-chain amino acids which play an important role in the muscle repair process.
These nine essential amino acids are the ‘building blocks of protein’ and as they’re not produced by the body they must come from the food we eat.
Eggs and meat are complete proteins, but as we can’t rely exclusively on eggs and meat for our protein intake needs, we need to get protein from other sources as well, and this is one of many reasons why whey protein proves so invaluable.
What is whey protein?
Whey protein is derived from milk and can be produced using either of two methods; as a by-product of cheese making, or separated from the other protein in milk, casein.
There are three primary types of whey protein products to choose from - whey protein concentrate, isolate and hydrosolate, all of which contain alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin and immunoglobins.
How does whey protein stimulate muscle repair?
Whether you’ve just completed a long ride or workout in the gym, your muscles are going to be tired, stressed, and in need of repair.
Because muscle tissues are predominantly made of protein, you need to consume protein immediately after your ride or workout to start the muscle recovery process. This involves increasing the bulk of existing muscle fibres with the integration of newly synthesised muscle fibres.
Whey protein, which is rich in essential amino acids, is the best source of protein you can consume to aid the recovery process because it provides your muscles with the nutrients they need.
However, whilst whey is the best protein product to aid muscle recovery, you also need carbohydrates to spike your insulin levels, so consider making a protein shake with high-carb fruits like bananas, mangos and pears.