Whey protein is a popular and convenient snack on the go, particularly for those following a high-protein diet. When you are searching for new ways to prepare high protein meals, you might wonder whether whey protein is a possible addition to your morning oatmeal. Some proteins, such as caseins, are able to better withstand heat. Whey protein is susceptible to heat, but do not let that deter you from adding it to your nutritious recipes.
Whey comes from cow's milk during the cheese making process. Whey protein powder is a powdered form of the proteins obtained from that liquid. Whey is useful in protein powders because it contains all of the essential amino acids, a high quality protein for those seeking to gain muscle and lose weight. There are numerous types of whey protein, including isolate, concentrate, hydrolyzed and undenatured. Each form differs in its amount of protein, fat, minerals and lactose.
The Heat Effect
Chains of amino acid molecules make up proteins, with each type of protein having its own unique sequence of amino acid. When proteins are "unfolded" from their natural chain or shape, they are "denatured," according to the Cornell University site. While very high temperatures may cause denaturation of whey protein, according to Cornell University, heat treatments generally will not affect the composition of amino acids or their nutritional content. Severe heat treatments may slightly affect nutrition and amino acids that are particularly sensitive to heat.
Heat may not affect the amino acid structure of the protein or its nutrients, but it might affect the functionality of the protein. Functionality refers to the behavior of the protein, particularly its solubility. Solubility refers to the ability of a protein to dissolve in a particular solvent. Heat treatments may affect this important feature of whey proteins, making them less soluble. However, according to Ohio State University professor Mike Mangino, total solubility is not required for the protein to remain functional.
Heating whey protein may change the protein through the denaturing process, but this will not make it less nutritious or decrease its benefits to your health. Use protein powder to increase protein content of hot cereals, such as oatmeal. You might also find protein powder useful as an ingredient in making cookies, Belgian waffles, high-protein pancakes or for making your own homemade protein bars. Use whey protein to bake high-protein breads or muffins, using a recipe like the one on the Ultimate Nutrition website.