If you are familiar with bodybuilding supplements at all, you are certainly aware of whey protein. You are probably also aware that it is the most popular and common type of protein supplement. Hydrolyzed whey protein has been partially broken down with chemicals, which makes it easier for your body to absorb. These chemical processes mimic the natural actions of digestion, which means that they are basically just pre-digesting your protein for you.
How Does Hydrolyzation Work?
As you probably know, you are carrying a bag of acid with you right now. It’s called your stomach. You may not be aware that stomach acid is just a dilute form of hydrochloric acid, the same acid that is normally added to swimming pools and used in many industrial processes. Thus, hydrolyzation involves treating the concentrated whey protein with a dilute hydrochloric acid solution.
When Should I Use Hydrolyzed Protein?
There are certain situations in which hydrolyzed protein is preferable to normal protein supplements. If you are engaged in frequent, intense training, hydrolyzed protein can be very helpful because it maximizes recovery time, making it possible to do more sets per day. It gives you a quick boost rather than a slow burn.
If you are combining your weight training program with a special diet program, you may find it useful to use hydrolyzed whey because the quick delivery can compensate for the relative lack of carbohydrates in most diets. One problem with combining a strict diet with a strict weight training regimen is the fact that you will find it harder to build up your energy. Hydrolyzed proteins won’t totally alleviate this issue, but they can definitely help.
Finally, hydrolyzed concentrates might also be a good choice when you are doing a “burnout” workout. That is to say, the kind of workout where you are pushing your endurance as long as you can. For long workout marathons, the performance-enhancing aspect of hydrolyzed protein may be useful in pushing the envelope just a little farther.
What Benefits Do Hydrolyzed Proteins Offer?
Here is a short list of the benefits. Be aware that, although a lot of good research on hydrolyzed proteins has been done in recent years, this is still a relatively new subject and much research remains to be done.
Superior Amino Acid Delivery
Normally, as proteins are digested, your liver takes many of the amino acids out so that they can be distributed to the body’s various organs. While this is normally a good thing, a bodybuilding supplement should send all the aminos straight to the muscle, and that’s exactly what hydrolyzed proteins do. Since the material is already partly digested, it is much easier for the body to finish breaking it down. It is therefore absorbed more quickly, give the liver very little time extract amino acids. This means that your muscles get a supercharged dose of amino acids all at once.
One of the reasons for this phenomenon is the fact that hydrolyzed proteins contain significantly higher levels of leucine and casein when compared to traditional whey isolates. Scientists have studied these chemicals quite a bit due to their ability to regulate the flow of amino acids to the muscles.
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Amino acids have a whole host of positive benefits. By sending a huge shipment of them directly to your muscles, you are giving them the best set of building blocks that they could possibly have. Amino acids are literally the building blocks of all muscle, which may explain why hydrolyzed proteins result in a greater degree of muscle protein synthesis (see the section below about improved performance).
After a heavy workout, your body experiences a drop in glycogen and this usually results in a feeling of being very weary. To combat this, it is a common practice to ingest some carbs post-workout to re-start the glycogenic processes and stimulate your body’s recovery. This study tells us that hydrolyzed proteins do clearly enhance the effects of this practice. The glycogen content of the muscles can effectively be used as a measuring stick with which to see exactly how long a person’s muscle tissue takes to recover from a strenuous, high-impact workout.
In this study, conducted on rats, it was found that hydrolyzed whey increased the glycogen levels of skeletal muscles. The rats were stimulated to perform tiring exercise and were then fed carbohydrate-rich foods and hydrolyzed whey. measurements were taken after the strenuous exercise to show how low the glycogen had been depleted. Measurements were taken again after administering the whey protein. It was found that ingestion of hydrolyzed whey did indeed raise the glycogen levels in the muscles of the rats at a significantly higher rate compared to the control group.
There is good reason to believe that hydrolyzed whey can have some enhancing effects upon physical performance when taken in the middle of a workout. This study, which we already cited above, tells us that hydrolyzed protein consumed mid-workout offers substantial benefits, though the study did also say that more research was needed to confirm these findings.
A possible explanation comes from this study, conducted by Tang and Moore. This one was conducted on humans, which makes it more reliable than studies conducted on rats. The researchers found that hydrolyzed protein stimulated muscle protein synthesis to a much greater degree than traditional concentrates. They also confirmed the higher level of leucine present in hydrolyzed whey.
Muscle protein synthesis is the exact process that allows muscles to build and grow, which means that hydrolyzed proteins don’t just offer advantages in terms of recovery, but also in terms of performance. Knowing this, it is a wonder that they aren’t included in more workout supplements.
As you can see, hydrolyzed proteins offer a slightly different way to deliver protein to your body at just the right time. While they are not the ideal solution for all people or for all situations, they can be a useful tool in your bodybuilding arsenal that allows you to tailor your supplements to your daily activities so as to obtain maximum pump for your efforts.
If you are not completely satisfied with the results you get from traditional protein concentrates, you might want to give the hydrolyzed stuff a try. Chances are, you are already using whey protein to one degree or another. It may be that this particular form of it will not suit your style or needs, but there is no risk in trying. More to the point, you have little to lose and much to gain by trying an interesting alternative.