What Is Whey Protein and What Are the Benefits?
I am a food freak, not just any food, but good quality food.
I prefer to get my protein from everyday food sources such as meat, chicken, beef, and fish, for me that’s the best, however, there are some days that my training gets out of hand and I truly do try to kill the beast inside and train hard.
On those days, I want to make sure that I do get plenty of protein, why? Because without protein it's harder to gain muscle.
If you haven't heard of whey protein you must have been locked away in a cave somewhere.
Whey protein is one of the most common protein sources found in many sports supplements. Go to any commercial gym and if they have a juice bar they will usually have a variety of proteins to mix with your favorite sports drink or juice.
What is whey protein?
Whey protein comes from cows milk, it is what's left over from the cheese making process.
After the milk has coagulated, the fat is removed and then it can be used as an additive to different processed foods, the most common process is done by drying.
Protein can be increased by removing lipids and other non-protein substances.
In simple terms, whey protein is a globular “somewhat water soluble” protein that is isolated from the whey itself.
Types of whey protein
Concentrated whey protein contains low but significant amounts of fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates in the form of lactose and usually contain anywhere between 28% -90% protein by weight.
Hydrolysates are proteins that are predigested and partially hydrolyzed making it easier for the body to metabolize, digest, and absorb but are often more expensive.
Whey protein isolate is probably the most popular protein found in most supplements, isolates use a process to remove almost all of the fat and lactose, however, whey protein isolates are usually lower in bioactivated compounds but are more concentrated containing about 90% protein by weight.
Whey protein benefits
Whey protein is considered a complete protein because it contans all 9 essential amino acids.
Branched-chain amino acids not only helps improve muscle synthesis, but ongoing studies have shown that whey protein can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Reduce weight loss in AIDS patients
One study published in the Journal of Clinical and Investigative Medicine 1 showed that whey protein was able to reduce weight loss in people who are suffering from AIDS.
Lower blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular issues
Another study in the International Dairy Journal 2 found that sports drinks and supplements which contained whey protein helped lower blood pressure in patients who suffered from hypertension.
This may help lower the risk of certain kinds of heart disease.
Other benefits of whey protein include:
- Fuel muscles
- Improve metabolism
- Speed up muscle recovery times
- Accelerate fat loss
- Increase bone density
- Boost energy
Whey protein for the elderly
As men and women age, protein synthesis slows down, many times the elderly tend to consume less protein which is one of the causes for reduced muscle mass and bone density.
Taking a whey protein supplement can help prevent muscle loss and maintain normal bone density levels.
Whey protein and bodybuilding
Consuming whey protein after intense or vigorous exercise can help boost muscle hypertrophy.
Strength training and whey protein consumption go hand in hand and can help increase lean muscle mass.
There have been many studies that prove that proteins high in essential amino acids can significantly improve protein synthesis and reduce body fat while at the same time reduce triglycerides and insulin levels.
Whey protein is a great alternative for those athletes who are lactose intolerant.
How much whey protein do you need?
The recommended amount of whey protein for men is 56g per day, women need about 46g, these amounts will vary, a lot can depend on your age and activity level.
Are there side effects from whey protein?
Taking the recommended daily amount of whey protein should not produce side effects, however, exceeding those values may cause some side effects.
Common side effects from whey protein include:
- Reduced appetite
- Stomach pain
What is the best whey protein?
This is when things can get complicated, that’s kind of like asking what's the best gasoline to put in your car.
There are so many companies that sell whey protein supplements, many of the ingredients look the same or similar.
Some whey protein supplements are diluted and mixed with other substances making the actual concentration of the protein low.
For people who are not very active, most whey protein isolate formulas should be more than adequate to meet your required daily amount.
Men and women who are active or workout frequently may prefer to take special formulated pre-workout supplements.
These not only contain the right amount of whey, but they also contain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that can help improve your workouts and give you more energy.
If you like reading labels you can always go to your local GNC or supplement store they will surely have some decent whey protein products available, the main thing to look for is the protein to serving ratio.
A 30 gram serving of any quality whey protein should have at least 20-25 grams of whey protein per serving.
Whey protein is a good whey to ensure not only that you get enough protein, but it is also loaded with all 9 amino acids.
Unfortunately, since whey is derived from cows milk it is not considered vegan safe, which is the only downside of this popular supplement.