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What's That: Hydrolyzed Whey

What is hydrolyzed whey protein, and why should you take it?

Hydrolyzed whey protein—you take it, but let’s be honest, what the heck is it? Hydrolyzed whey is like the hot, young cousin of whey protein. It comes from the same gene pool, containing the same amino acid and microfraction content, but the hydrolyzed version is smaller and faster.  

How it’s made: Whey protein is broken down into smaller protein fragments through a process called “enzymatic hydrolysis.” It may sound complicated, but this production step facilitates more rapid digestion, fast-tracking its aminos to your muscles, enhancing growth.

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On days when you feel completely drained at the gym, a great whey supplement can be extremely helpful in keeping your energy levels up during training sessions. In addition to boosting your energy, it’s also one of the richest sources of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids, which are crucial for muscle growth), it provides antioxidant benefits, boosts immune function, and enhances muscle recovery. Though these benefits are undeniably important, it’s the digestion rate that makes this protein stand out above the rest. Unhydrolyzed whey digests in fewer than 30 minutes, which means that the hydrolyzed version works its magic pretty damn fast.

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Choosing the right whey protein can be a serious headache, but Optimum Nutrition communications coordinator Tim Weigard spells it out for us. He says, “Because ingredients must be listed in ‘descending order of predominance,’ the first protein source you see on the facts panel ingredients list should be Hydrolyzed Whey Protein if you’re looking for the fastest-digesting whey. Of course, it would be even better if Hydrolyzed Whey Protein was listed as the only protein source.”

So, next time you're staring at a wall of whey protein supplements wondering what it all means, you won’t be in the dark. Hydrolyzed whey is simply a broken-down version of whey that’s easier on your digestive system and delivers muscle-friendly protein to your body the fastest way for speedier recovery. If it shows up at the very top of the ingredient list, you’ve got a good product on your hands.
 

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