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Hydrolyzed Whey

Which Whey?


Hydrolyzed Whey

What are the benefits?

What is Hydrolyzed Whey Protein [HWP]?

  • Think of hydrolyzed protein as a pre-digested protein. In other words when you consume a protein, enzymes in the stomach [pepsin] and in the small intestine [protease enzymes e.g. trypsin and others], break down the protein into smaller peptides and eventually into amino acids for absorption and distribution in the body.
  • Whey protein is subjected to enzymes that do a similar job to the stomach and the small intestine breaking this protein into readily digestible oligopeptides [up to 12 amino acids long] such as di-peptides [2 amino acids linked together], tri-peptides [3 amino acids linked], tetra-peptides [4 amino acids linked], penta-peptides [5 amino acids linked] and so on. This process is called hydrolysation of the protein and the end result is hydrolyzed [pre-digested] protein.

So why are smaller peptides important

  • The rapid digestion and absorption of amino acids makes this an important protein product.
  • Whey is a complete protein with a high biological value --- see Whey Protein so you will benefit from a complete range of amino acids that your body will need for tissue repair and growth.
  • Rapid absorption and assimilation of the amino acids is important in groups such as the elderly where loss of digestive capacity can occur due to aging and where hydrochloric acid production can impair the first stage of protein digestion in the stomach as the stomach pro-enzyme pepsinogen, cannot be converted to the active enzyme, pepsin if hydrochloric acid is lacking.
  • During exercise and post-exercise, blood is diverted to the periphery [muscles and skin] and the last thing you want is to interrupt this blood flow by redirecting blood to the gastrointestinal tract for digestive purposes. It is important if you use a protein pre, intra [during] and post-exercise, that blood diversion to the muscles is not impaired. By using the wrong type of protein i.e. a slowly digested protein, it will sit in the stomach and small intestine and need intense enzyme action to break the protein down into its constituent amino acids over 1 - 2 hours. During this slow digestive process, blood will be shunted to the gastrointestinal tract [away from your muscles] to help absorption and distribution of the digested amino acids to the rest of the body.
  • The small peptides in hydrolyzed whey protein are rapidly absorbed pre, intra and post-exercise and will not significantly interfere with blood needing to be diverted to the muscles.
  • Low osmotic glucose polymers and peptides are needed immediately after exercise. Click on the following for more information:

Hydrolyzed whey products: See a comprehensive comparison table in 'Whey Protein'

  • Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Concentrate [HWPC]:

    More palatable and may contain more lactose and less protein than a Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate. However, this is the form of protein that should be used for general protein consumption and not pre, intra or post workout. It has a lesser potential to spike insulin levels which can promote fat gain and unlike HWPI and is digested more slowly providing a tickle effect of amino acids being released into the blood stream over a few hours after consumption.
  • Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate [HWPI]:

    Ideal for pre, intra and post workout protein supplementation. Why? HWPI has a higher protein contant usually, less lactose and fat and has a much greater capacity to stimulate an insulin response63 due to the rapid absorption of this protein. Insulin is an anabolic hormone that shuttles amino acids into muscle cells that have been stimulated by resistance training. The muscles are flooded with amino acids due to insulin but this will only occur within a 3 hour window post-exercise. After this 3 hour period, the muscles become less sensitive to insulin. The high insulin response to HWPI at times other than exercise is not something you want as insulin is a storage hormone and will increase fat storage and may result in insulin resistance.

So an important rule to follow with hydrolyzed protein types:

Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Concentrate [HWPC] or
Whey Protein Concentrate [WPC]

For general use e.g. in your muesli in the morning to provide that all important protein component at breakfast or in smoothies. This will limit the insulin response of a highly hydrolyzed protein such as the isolates.

A Branched Chain Amino Acid [Leucine] may be beneficial inbetween meals to ensure that muscle is not lost in this fasting [between meal] state. See 'Whey Protein' for more details.

Hydrolyzed Whey Protein Isolate [HWPI]

For pre-exercise, intra-exercise and post-exercise use to get the best of your resistance training and for muscle growth.

Degree of Hydrolysation [DH]

  • The degree of hydrolysation or DH may or may not be displayed on the product label.
  • The type of enzymes used will determine the type of peptides produced in the end-product.
  • Don't be confused by the percentage DH e.g. a DH of 25% does not mean that only 25% of the protein has been hydrolyzed. What this states is that 25% of the specific peptide bonds targeted by the enzymes have been broken down.
  • So in fact product stating a lower DH may in fact have a higher level of biologically functional peptide fractions.
  • As a general rule-of-thumb, the greater the degree of hydrolysation, the more bitter the product. Look for products that use natural sweeteners such as sucralose or xylitol and not aspartame. 

Link to Exercise References

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