Whey protein ranks among the world’s most popular supplements, particularly favored by fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and bodybuilders. In this blog, we will address the benefits, side effects, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and the best way to use it.
Whey Protein and Types?
They are among two proteins found in milk, the other being casein. It can be separated from casein during cheese making or extracted from milk directly. These amino acids form the foundation for muscles, tissues, hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. There are constructed from these amino acids.
Three primary types of whey protein supplements exist; concentrate (WPC), isolate (WPI), and hydrolysate (WPH). WPC contains the most lactose, fat, and carbohydrates but has the most bioactive compounds that may have health benefits. WPI is more processed, has less lactose, fat, and carbohydrates and fewer bioactive compounds. WPH is the most processed, has the least lactose, fat, and carbohydrates and the highest digestibility and absorption rate.
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Uses of Whey Protein?
It has been shown to have various benefits for different health goals and conditions. Below are some of the benefits:
- Muscle building and weight loss: When combined with resistance exercise, whey protein aids in boosting muscle protein synthesis and promoting lean muscle mass. It can also help reduce body fat and preserve muscle mass when consumed in a calorie-restricted diet.
- Lowering cholesterol: It may help lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) in people with high cholesterol levels.
- Improving immune function: Whey protein contains immunoglobulins and lactoferrin, antibodies that can help fight infections and inflammation. It can potentially enhance glutathione production, a potent antioxidant that safeguards cells from oxidative stress.
- Managing blood pressure and cardiovascular disease: By enhancing the function of blood vessels, whey protein might aid in lowering blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. It may reduce heart disease risk by lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol.
- Supporting bone health: It may help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis by stimulating the growth of bone cells and increasing calcium absorption.
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What are the Side Effects of Whey Protein?
It is generally safe for most adults when consumed in moderate doses. However, some people may experience some adverse effects, especially if they consume too much or have certain medical conditions or allergies. Here are some of the likely side effects:
- Digestive issues: Whey protein may cause stomach pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting in some people, especially those lactose intolerant or sensitive to dairy products. These symptoms may be reduced by choosing a whey protein isolate or hydrolysate with less lactose than whey protein concentrate.
- Kidney damage: Whey protein may increase the workload of the kidneys by increasing the amount of nitrogen and urea they have to filter out. This may lead to kidney damage or failure in people with kidney disease or impaired kidney function. Therefore, people with kidney problems should consult their doctor before taking the supplements.
- Liver damage: Whey protein may also affect the liver by increasing the production of ammonia, a toxic byproduct of protein metabolism. Individuals with liver disease or impaired liver function may experience liver damage or failure. Therefore, people with liver problems should consult their doctor before taking supplements.
- Allergic reactions: Whey protein may trigger allergic reactions in some people allergic to milk or dairy products. Symptoms vary from mild to severe: hives, rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, or anaphylaxis. Therefore, people with milk allergies should avoid its supplements.
- Acne: Whey protein may increase the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone that stimulates cell growth and division. This may cause acne breakouts in some people prone to acne or hormonal imbalance. Therefore, people with acne should limit their intake of whey protein supplements.
What is The Required Amount to be Taken?
The optimal amount of whey protein varies based on age, weight, activity level, health goals, and diet. Experts recommend 0.8-1.2g protein/kg body weight daily for healthy adults. Active individuals, especially those with strength training, may increase to 1.2-1.6g protein/kg body weight daily. For example, a 70 kg individual doing moderate exercise may need 84-112g of protein and 20-40g. Nevertheless, individual needs can vary, so it’s best to seek advice from a nutritionist or doctor before using its supplements.
How Should it be Taken?
It can take various forms, such as powders, bars, shakes, or drinks. The most common way to take this supplement is to mix the powder with water, milk, juice, or other liquids and consume it before or after a workout. However, some people may prefer it with meals or snacks to increase their daily protein intake. It can also be added to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, or baked goods to enhance nutritional value and flavor. It may lose benefits in heat or acidic environments. Therefore, avoiding cooking, heating, or mixing it with acidic foods or beverages is advisable.