Whey is a byproduct of cheese making process often considered a waste in the dairy industry. However, technological advancements in the food processing industry have given a new meaning to whey. Whey protein fraction consists of many useful nutrients (milk solids (50%), lactose (100%), and 20% of the total protein) that can be beneficial for human nutrition. The key products obtained from whey include whey protein concentrate (WPC), whey protein isolate (WPI), and hydrolyzed whey protein (HWP).
Applications of whey protein in the food industry
High-value whey-based ingredients can also be incorporated into food products to increase their nutrient levels and exceptional functional properties. It can work as a texture enhancer, thickening agent, gelling agent, surface-active agent, as well as a foaming agent. According to research published in Food Structure (2017), nanocomposites containing whey proteins have been used as effective encapsulation systems. That is for enhancing the solubility, transport, dispersibility, bioavailability, and bioaccessibility of active food and drug components.
The functional properties of whey proteins have encouraged food technologists to use them in a wide variety of products, replacing other traditional ingredients such as egg albumin and milk powder. It has a wide range of applications in the food industry. Examples are: Meat – WPC-80 in minced fish products can readily replace egg powder; Dairy – whey protein is a cheaper source of milk solids, not fat. WPC can be used as a fat replacer because it possesses fat-like properties, improved water binding capacity, and the mouthfeel of fat. Due to its high solubility, it can be used in fruit and vegetable products like beverages, juices, and wine to increase the protein concentration. In Confectionery – whey protein is used as a partial and complete replacer of milk powder among its other uses.
Whey protein for supplementation
Whey protein is also used for supplementation to help improve muscle protein synthesis and promote the growth of lean muscle mass. Mumbai-based Scitron operates in the sports nutrition category with a product range, including whey protein, weight gainers, amino acids, and others based on various fitness needs. With the awareness of fitness growing in India, the consumption of supplements is also on the rise. Ravi Rohra, the founder of Scitron, speaks about the importance of supplements and says, “The youth understand the importance of including supplements in their early lives to avoid the common lifestyle diseases. They are taking it positively as compared to the supplementation that was taken almost a decade ago.”
According to research published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, whey protein supplementation during resistance training offers more benefits compared to resistance training alone. The study also adds that males who had whey protein had a higher relative gain in lean tissue mass. Rohra also advocates the use of whey proteins and states that protein is an essential micronutrient required by everyone for their daily needs. However, due to busy lifestyles, the daily diet may not be able to fulfill this requirement, and that’s where supplementation with whey protein can help.
Intake and possible side effects
“The quantity of whey protein, just like any other supplement, is mostly tailor-made for every individual and is based on their lifestyle and goals of the customers.” Commenting on the side effects, he says, “Excess of anything could be harmful, and whey protein is no exception. If taken in excess, kidneys will take a toll to process the excess protein. We should stick to the prescribed limits by our fitness practitioner or a qualified nutritionist.”
Scitron products are available in supplement and nutrition stores across India and also available through online portals, including Scitron.com (their website), Amazon.in, Flipkart.com and VitaminPlanet.in.
Rohra is a big believer in innovation, and he sees his company become one of the top brands in the sports nutrition industry in India. He adds, “We are one of the first movers to launch vegan BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) and are now planning to launch a hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, and also in single-serve pre-workout sachets that are easy to use and consume.”