Why Hydrolyzed Protein? Expert Guide Reveals Vital Information Below…

There are some principles in the field of fitness and health that everyone seems to take as common, incontestable knowledge…

Cut carbohydrates to lose weight, consume protein to gain muscle, take your cardio seriously, don’t forget your strength training.

However, in the case of most casual fitness enthusiasts, their knowledge of diets and supplements do not go deeper than these basic principles.

As a result, they miss out on the opportunities to be fitter and healthier provided by the constant influx of new research about the effects of certain new foods and exercises.

Many casual dabblers into fitness may not be aware of the revolutionary effects of hydrolyzed protein!

But anyone wanting to gain muscle will benefit from the now-extensive research on the effects of its consumption.

Editor's Suggest: Checkout our full review of top Hydrolyzed Whey Protein brands here

What is hydrolyzed protein?

Hydrolyzed protein is pure protein, usually sourced from whey, which has gone through the process of hydrolysis.

It can also be referred to as hydrolysate.

Hydrolysis is the process in our body that breaks down protein into single amino acids and smaller amino acid peptide strands; the process starts in the stomach during digestion and ends in the liver.

There are 23 kinds of amino acids, each with a different function, and these are synthesized into different kinds of proteins needed in our body including blood protein (albumin) and muscle protein.

Commercially available hydrolyzed protein is produced by mimicking the digestion process; the protein is heated in acid or has proteolytic enzymes added to it.

Hydrolyzing the protein before ingestion would increase the speed and volume in which amino acids are delivered to your muscles, therefore causing speedier muscle recovery and gain.

Editor's Suggest: Here are top Hydrolyzed Whey our readers voted for…


hydrolyzed protein Workout

5 Unique Benefits of Hydrolyzed Protein to General Health

Now let's take a dive into the ocean of it's numerous benefits,

  • Faster Absorption

Because hydrolyzed proteins are already “partly digested,” the time it takes for them to be absorbed from your small intestines, and for your liver to extract amino acids from them is much shorter (1).

This is important in the process of muscle hypertrophy or muscle growth, which involves the careful timing of intense exercise and protein consumption.

There is a 90-minute to two-hour window after working out in which protein absorption and muscle growth can take place.

If the digestion process of proteins takes too long, as is the case for intact proteins, the window for muscle growth is missed, and the amino acids extracted from the proteins will be left unutilized by your body.

Fast-acting proteins like whey hydrolysate bypass the typically lengthy digestion process and deliver amino acids to your muscles as quickly as possible.

  • More Leucine, Increased Anabolic Rate, Decreased Catabolic Rate

It has been proven to have a higher percentage of the amino acid leucine than whey isolate and whey concentrate [2].

The amount of leucine in the proteins you ingest determines the amount of muscle protein synthesis that will take place in your body.

This is because leucine promotes hyperinsulinemia, or increased blood insulin, which influences both the processes of catabolism and anabolism.

Catabolism is the state in which your muscles’ proteins are broken down, while anabolism is the state of muscle protein synthesis.

Your body has to have a positive net protein synthesis in order to build muscle, which means it has to be in an anabolic state longer than it is in a catabolic state.

Increased insulin as a result of leucine presence helps with your net protein synthesis by both increasing anabolism and decreasing catabolism.

  • Faster Muscle Recovery

As previously mentioned, the heightened insulin production induced by the leucine in hydrolyzed protein helps with decreasing catabolism or muscle breakdown.

It also aids in distributing nutrients to fatigued muscle, making muscle recovery more efficient [3,4].

This is evident in a study published in the Journal of Science in Medicine in Sport [5].

In the study, 28 respondents in 3 groups were asked to perform eccentric leg extensions for 100 repetitions.

Each group was then told to consume 25 grams of whey isolate, whey hydrolysate, or placebo immediately after exercise.

Each subject’s recovery rate was measured in increasing intervals using blood markers, subjective ratings, and performance testing.

The results were impressive: subjects who took whey hydrolysate were able to return to peak performance levels a mere 6 hours later; subjects who took the other supplements weren’t even able to fully recover after 24 hours.

Editor's Suggest: Here are top Hydrolyzed Whey our readers voted for…

  • Faster Glycogen Replenishment

Increased insulin levels also speed up the rate of glycogen replenishment.

Glycogen is a form that glucose takes in our body when it is stored for future use.

Insulin helps our body convert the carbohydrates we eat into glycogen, replenishing the stores we’ve just burned, thus preparing us for our next bout of intense physical activity.

Insulin production can be stimulated by the presence of carbohydrates as well as protein.

However, compared to other protein sources like intact protein, whey concentrate, and whey isolate, whey protein hydrolysate induces the greatest amount of insulin production [6].

  • Longer-lasting anabolic state

Though whey protein, in general, has a high level of leucine, whey concentrate is widely considered to be “anticatabolic” rather than truly anabolic; it helps stave off muscle breakdown rather than actually aid in muscle protein synthesis.

This is because the hyperaminoacidemia (or a spike in saturation of amino acids in the body) that whey concentrate induces is very short.

While the body is in hyperaminoacidemia, muscle protein synthesis is greatly stimulated; this is why the goal is to prolong this state to maximize muscle gain [7].

When whey concentrate is taken, amino acid levels spike at first and then crash 2.5 hours after ingestion.

The case is slightly different with the ingestion of whey isolate; amino acids levels in the body remain elevated for hours, but no significant spike takes place.

Whey hydrolysate marries these benefits: after ingestion, amino acid levels shoot up in the first 2 hours and remain at a constant high for the subsequent hours [8].

This makes for an incredibly efficient anabolic state.

Recovery, Absorption and Fitter

Why Should You Consider Taking Hydrolyzed Protein for Sports, Fitness or Bodybuilding?

Because the health benefits of whey hydrolysate are so specific to muscle gain!

People who need to rapidly gain and maintain muscle mass such as athletes, fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders should consider incorporating hydrolysate consumption into their routine.

Typical protein-hoarding habits, like chugging protein shakes with outdated formulas, or stocking up on dairy and chicken breast, look very inefficient when stacked up against hydrolyzed protein and its merits.

As was mentioned above, timing your exercise and intake is incredibly crucial in inducing muscle hypertrophy.

Because of the speed and efficiency that hydrolyzed protein is converted into muscle protein, taking it as a dietary supplement eliminates much of the guesswork as to when to ingest it and how much protein will be synthesized.

Also, people with lifestyles and professions that require intense physical activity have to maintain a low body fat percentage.

A high amount of muscle mass can help the make the maintenance easier [9].

For this reason, you can use hydrolyzed protein for weight loss and fat loss.

Muscles burn fat even while you’re resting, so focusing on strength training and bulking up with high-protein foods and whey hydrolysates will help lower your body fat percentage.

Of course, one cannot forget the role of cardiovascular exercise in fat loss. Simply put, performing more cardio means more fat loss for you.

An enhanced muscle recovery time, as well as an efficient way to replace the glycogen stores you burn through, would be a great help in maximizing the amount of exercise you can plough through.

As proven in the study above, hydrolysates can greatly assist in making your body recover as quickly as possible, helping you stick to your exercise routine no matter how frequent or intense it may be.

Hydrolyzed Protein vs. Isolate vs. Concentrate

While all three kinds of protein supplements are usually sourced from whey, their greatest differences lie in the way they are processed, their nutritional content, and therefore in the speed in which they are metabolized by our body.

There are two kinds of protein in milk: whey and casein.

Human milk has a higher ratio of whey to casein than cow’s milk, which speaks to its important role in our physical development [10].

Whey is present in the watery byproduct of cheese manufacture.

Filtering this byproduct would yield either whey concentrate or whey isolate depending on the kind of filtration used, and the amount of protein in the final product.

Whey concentrate has around 70-80 percent protein, while whey isolate is even purer, with its 85-90 percent protein content [11].

The main difference between concentrate and isolate is the carbohydrate and fat content: since concentrates are less filtered, they are fattier and more calorie-dense than isolates.

Whey isolate has an advantage over concentrate in this case because its protein is, well, isolated from all the carbohydrates, fat, lactose, and cholesterol in intact whey.

However, some of the micronutrients found in milk (like growth factors, conjugated linoleic acid, lactoferrins, beta-lactoglobulins, and immunoglobulins) are kept intact in concentrates but are lost in the filtration process that makes isolates.

Even though whey concentrate and isolate provide you with such pure shots of protein, they cannot beat their hydrolyzed counterpart in the arena of absorption rate.

Whey isolate and concentrate would still go through the same lengthy route of digestion and synthesis as the other proteins we ingest.

Hydrolysate, on the other hand, bypasses that route because of its pre-digested nature.

It is simply a more efficient supplement.

However, hydrolyzed whey protein is typically much more expensive than concentrate or isolate, and is incredibly bitter. Check some out on Amazon here.

The Truth About Hydrolyzed Protein: Plant vs. Animal

The overwhelming nutritional advantages of whey are the reason why it might be difficult to find protein supplements that are sourced completely from plant material.

That doesn’t mean that they are completely absent, it’s just that vegetarian or vegan options are very few.

Most plant protein supplements on the market are in isolate form (like soy and pea protein), and virtually none of it further processed into hydrolysate for supplemental use.

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein can be found in various foods as an umami flavor enhancer, but it is currently not available on the market as a protein supplement.

What foods are they derived from?

Are there any vegetable-based hydrolyzed protein sources?

Whey remains the top source of protein supplements because, among the usual sources of supplemental protein (soy, egg protein, hemp, whey, casein), whey has the highest amount of amino acids [11].

Whey is a complete protein, which means that it has all nine of the essential amino acids.

You see, among the 23 amino acids, nine are sequestered as “essential” because they are not found in your body.

In contrast, the other 14 non-essential amino acids can be synthesized by your body from the nine essential ones.

Three of the essential amino acids are called BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids). These help build and maintain muscle, and can also function as an energy source during intense exercise.

Leucine is the most notable of all the BCAAs because it has the greatest influence on the process of muscle protein synthesis, as discussed in the previous sections.

Whey protein has the highest concentration of leucine compared to other supplemental proteins like soy protein and casein.

25 grams of whey concentrate has 3 grams of leucine, casein has 2.5 grams of leucine per 25 grams, and soy only has 1.5 grams [12].

The overwhelming nutritional advantages of whey are the reason why it might be difficult to find protein supplements that are sourced completely from plant material.

That doesn’t mean that they are completely absent, it’s just that vegetarian or vegan options are very few.

Most plant protein supplements on the market are in isolate form (like soy and pea protein), and virtually none of it further processed into hydrolysate for supplemental use.

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein can be found in various foods as an umami flavor enhancer, but it is currently not available on the market as a protein supplement.

Editor's Suggest: Here are top plant based (ORGANIC) protein love by our VEGAN readers…

What are the side effects of taking hydrolyzed protein?

Hydrolyzed protein is a relatively new product compared to isolates and concentrates, and the consensus about its effects is constantly changing as new research comes in.

However, it has been proven that whey hydrolysate does away with many of the side effects that lactose intolerant people have with whey protein isolate and concentrate because it is the purest kind of whey supplement among the 3.

It has virtually no lactose, which makes it safe for lactose intolerant and people with casein allergy to use [10].

However, as is the case with all kinds of whey-derived supplements, taking too much may cause stomach pain and bowel movement issues.

Also, some studies show that a high whey intake is linked to acne, and, while often debated, too-high doses of protein on a regular basis can possibly contribute to kidney stone formation.

A good way to avoid these side effects is to maintain a balanced diet while taking hydrolyzed protein.

Foods that are rich in fiber help keep the digestive system healthy.

Avoiding replacing whole meals with hydrolyzed protein helps make sure that you are still getting the necessary range of nutrients required for a healthy body.

Conclusion: Should you take it?

With all the evidence that we have discussed here today, the answer seems to be yes, definitely.

While dietary needs and levels of physical activity differ from person to person, the muscle-building qualities specific to hydrolyzed protein would help improve anyone’s general health.

In the foreseeable future, expect the popularity of the use of hydrolyzed protein for bodybuilding, weight loss, and fitness to only grow, especially in the face of its incredible proven benefits.


1. Tang, J. E., Moore, D. R., Kujbida, G. W., Tarnopolsky, M. A., & Phillips, S. M. (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolysate, casein, or soy protein isolate: effects on mixed muscle protein synthesis at rest and following resistance exercise in young men. Journal of Applied Physiology, 107 (3), 987-992

2. Bucci, L., & Unlu, L. (2000). Proteins and amino acid supplements in exercise and sport. Energy-Yielding Macronutrients and Energy Metabolism in Sports Nutrition, 191-212.

3. Calbet, J. A., & MacLean, D. A. (2002). Plasma glucagon and insulin responses depend on the rate of appearance of amino acids after ingestion of different protein solutions in humans. The Journal of Nutrition, 132(8), 2174-2182.

4. Brown, M. A., Stevenson, E. J., & Howatson, G. (2017). Whey protein hydrolysate supplementation accelerates recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in females. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, (ja).

5. Buckley, J. D., Thomson, R. L., Coates, A. M., Howe, P. R., DeNichilo, M. O., & Rowney, M. K. (2010). Supplementation with a whey protein hydrolysate enhances recovery of muscle force-generating capacity following eccentric exercise. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 13(1), 178-181.

6. Power, O., Hallihan, A., & Jakeman, P. (2009). Human insulinotropic response to oral ingestion of native and hydrolysed whey protein. Amino Acids, 37(2), 333-339.

7. Tipton, K. D., Elliott, T. A., Cree, M. G., Aarsland, A. A., Sanford, A. P., & Wolfe, R. R. (2007). Stimulation of net muscle protein synthesis by whey protein ingestion before and after exercise. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 292(1), E71-E76.

8. Koopman, R., Crombach, N., Gijsen, A. P., Walrand, S., Fauquant, J., Kies, A. Van Loon, L. J. (2009). Ingestion of a protein hydrolysate is accompanied by an accelerated in vivo digestion and absorption rate when compared with its intact protein. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,90(1), 106-115.

9. Wang Z., Ying Z., Bosy-Westphal A., et al. Evaluation of specific metabolic rates of major organs and tissues: comparison between men and women. Am J Hum Biol. 2011;23(3):333-8.

10. Lockwood, C. (2018). Your Expert Guide To Whey Protein Hydrolysate. Retrieved from www.bodybuilding.com

11. Smithers, G. (2008). Whey and whey proteins—from ‘gutter-to-gold’. International Dairy Journal, 18(7), 695–704.

12. Devries, M. C., & Phillips, S. M. (2015). Supplemental protein in support of muscle mass and health: advantage whey. Journal of Food Science, 80(S1).

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