Whey Protein – Benefits, Nutrition Facts and Side Effects

Whey Protein – Benefits, Nutrition Facts and Side Effects

Bodybuilders and weight trainers commonly use whey protein, to supplement their regular diets for the following two reasons

  • It promotes lean muscle mass growth
  • It helps with muscle protein synthesis

Unlike most other protein types, whey protein consists of a variety of essential amino acids which are absorbed by our body quickly. It is also low in lactose content and possesses numerous other health benefits. The powder could just be the supplement you need to meet your fitness goals.

Table of Contents

What is Whey Protein?

Milk contains two kinds of protein predominantly – casein and whey. A mixture of proteins becomes isolated from whey during cheese production from milk. This protein mixture is known as whey protein.

Basically, the fatty substance in milk coagulates together during cheese production, and separates the whey, usually contained in the liquid portion of milk, as a by-product. For the longest time, cheesemakers would discard this whey, but not anymore. Now, whey protein is recognized for its nutritional value.

Whey protein powder usually contains added flavours, as it doesn’t taste very appetizing by itself. If you are considering buying whey protein powder though, make sure that it doesn’t have added sugar.

The protein content in it can easily supplement about 25-50 g of your protein intake. It’s an easy way for fitness enthusiasts, weight-loss hopefuls and other people, who lack adequate protein in their diet, to consume it. If you’ve happened to try flavoured whey protein, you wouldn’t want to miss out on this protein source. You can add it to your protein bars and shakes, or have it as a meal replacement.

Most people can consume whey protein without any problem. Some, however, like those with lactose intolerance or allergies may need to be careful.

Nutrition Facts of Whey Protein

One scoop (approx 32 g) of the average whey protein powder contains 113 calories, of which 4.5% is borrowed from the fat content.

  • Total fat content is 0.5 g, of which saturated fat is 0.3 g. Trans Fat is 0 g.
  • Polyunsaturated Fat and Monounsaturated Fat are 0.1 g each.
  • Cholesterol is 5.1 mg, which would make up for 2% of your daily requirement.
  • Sodium contained is 50 mg, which too, makes up for 2% of your daily nutritional value.
  • Potassium content is 160 mg, so you can expect 5% of your daily potassium requirement to be met from a scoop of whey protein.
  • The total carb content is 2 g, out of which, dietary fibre makes up 1%.
  • The protein content is 25 g. You will find 2% Iron and 12% Calcium in the measured amount of whey protein powder.

7 Proven Health Benefits of Whey Protein

Whey protein has several health benefits. We discuss a handful of these below.

It helps boost protein and BCAA intake by our body – Proteins are made up of amino acids. While a portion of our amino acid requirement is produced by the body itself, the rest has to be gathered from the food we eat.

The amino acids that our body derives from external food sources are called essential amino acids. Whey protein consists of nine essential amino acids. On top of that, they are rich in crucial branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) such as leucine.

Leucine is a growth-promoting amino acid. It also contains cysteine which encourages glutathione levels, which is a cellular antioxidant. Whey protein is most effective for inducing growth in our bodies. Human breast milk, fed to newborns, is 60% whey as compared to cow’s milk, which contains only 20% whey.

1. Increases Muscle Mass and Strength

With age one tends to have loss of muscle mass and strength. It is a serious health problem that diminishes bodily abilities and leads to physical dependence.

Studies show that whey protein increases muscle mass and strength by releasing anabolic hormones such as insulin, which is responsible for our muscle growth. The substance’s leucine content stimulates muscle protein synthesis in our body. Its protein and amino acids spur muscle growth. Whey protein, unlike other protein sources, generates muscle growth faster.

2. Protects Against Eczema and Allergic Conditions in Kids

Whey protein is beneficial not just for adults. According to studies, infants who are made to consume this protein mixture in the initial 3-12 months show lower risks of developing red, itchy skin and allergic reactions easily later in life. However, once the child has grown up beyond that age, consuming whey protein will not affect their resistance to these conditions.

3. Helps Control Appetite

Whey protein has an incredible effect on satiety. Protein ranks highest among every macronutrient when it comes to satiety. It increases energy expenditure, balancing the number of calories you consume.

Studies have found that, if you eat 1/4th of your daily requirement in proteins, you slash down your hunger cravings by 60%. If you combine whey protein intake with weight lifting, you can lose about 8 pounds of your weight, increasing lean muscle mass at the same time. In addition to boosting your metabolism, it also shrinks your appetite and preserves lean muscle.

4. Aids in Recovery from Exercise

There’s enough documented evidence that shows protein consumption before and after a workout leads to a significant gain in muscle protein synthesis.

It plays a positive role in optimizing physical performance and subsequent recovery process for both resistance training and endurance exercise.

5. Lowers Cholesterol

Studies prove that whey protein can help lower your total and LDL cholesterol more effectively than casein protein. Since cholesterol levels are directly related to various health conditions like strokes, whey protein keeps your heart healthy. 

6. Helps Regulate Blood Pressure

According to research, whey protein powder, when consumed by individuals with hypertension, has proven to be effective in reducing blood pressure, improving endothelial functions and regulating lipid profiles. 

7. Other Health Benefits

Whey protein has many other health benefits to boast. It contains anti-cancer properties, steps up immune function and may also protect against the symptoms of psoriasis to name a few. 

Side Effects of Whey Protein

Whey protein intake is generally considered safe for most adults when consumed in a proper dosage. However, overconsumption of the mixture may cause several digestive complaints like bloating, hyperactive bowel movements and diarrhoea.

You may also experience nausea, headaches, thirst, cramps, fatigue and a reduced appetite. You may end up with an acne problem if you are not careful in regulating your whey protein intake long-term. 1-2 scoops of the powder should be safe for consumption by most people.

Adequate research has not been conducted into how it affects pregnant women. So, it’s best to avoid the intake of whey protein if you happen to be pregnant or nursing. Additionally, if you happen to suffer from dairy allergies, its consumption may not be right for you.

Apart from the above, here are some other whey protein side effects:

1. Kidney Problems

If you happen to suffer from kidney issues, don’t consume whey protein. It could worsen your renal problems. It can cause kidney stones too.

To neutralize this side effect, you are recommended to consume adequate dietary fibre and water, as part of your diet.

2. Unwanted Fat Gain

Many whey protein powder offerings have sugar added, which adds to your carbohydrate consumption.

Some of them may also have fat added. So, instead of upping your protein intake to burn more calories, you may end up eating beyond your caloric requirement.

3. Gout

Research hasn’t found any direct link between the development of gout and whey protein consumption. However, it has been noticed that including whey protein in your diet when you happen to suffer from gout, worsens your condition further.

If you have a family history of gout, it’s best to consult a physician before starting on whey protein.

4. Increase Cardiovascular Risks

If you are a patient with heart disease, ensure that you always consume whey protein as per the specified dosage.

Exceeding this dosage could cause you heart arrhythmia, cardiac arrest and perhaps, even the complete loss of cardiac functions.

5. Osteoporosis

Sustained excessive whey protein intake could cause a mineral imbalance in your bones.

The imbalance could then deplete bone density, leading to osteoporosis.

6. Hike in Blood Acidity Level

Whey protein consumption increases the pH level in our blood. Our kidney finds it difficult to metabolize this excess protein.

As a result, our blood becomes more acidic.

7. Ketosis

A high-protein, low-carb diet uses energy from the burning protein in the lack of adequate body fat.

Ketosis is the condition when an abnormal amount of ketone bodies accumulate in the blood. Ketosis puts enormous pressure on the liver to function and can cause liver damage over time.

8. Wheezing and Swelling Up of Facial Parts

Individuals who are lactose intolerant may have difficulty breathing and develop allergic reactions such as wheezing, lip/mouth/throat swelling, and so on.

If you notice any of these symptoms forming, consult a physician at once.

9. Unbalanced Nutrition Consumption

When you consume natural protein, you may be doing so, along with other nutrients, but it is still more wholesome than protein supplements.

Whey protein powder is processed and disturbs the natural nutritional intake of our body.

Now, that we’re done discussing whey protein side-effects, let’s learn about the forms that they are available in.

Types of Whey Protein

The difference in the forms of whey protein stems from their manner of processing. They also determine their nutrition facts.

1. Hydrolysate Whey Protein

Hydrolysate or hydrolyzed whey is whey that has been pre-digested. It gets absorbed faster than the other forms. Hydrolyzed whey is responsible for a 28-43% spike in insulin levels than whey in the isolate form.

2. Isolate Whey Protein

Isolate whey protein contains 90% protein and sometimes, even higher. It contains less fat and lactose as well as lesser beneficial nutrients than is found in whey protein concentrate.

3. Concentrate Whey Protein

Whey protein in concentrate form contains around 70-80% protein. It also contains lactose and fat. Overall, it is the most delicious of all the whey protein variants.

If you do intend to start consuming whey protein, choose a concentrate as, not only is it cheaper – it also retains the most amount of naturally occurring nutrients in whey.

However, if you are strict about the carbs and fats you consume, the isolate or hydrolysate form may be a better option for you. Most of the research done on it has been carried out in an isolated form.

The hydrolysate form offers the best digestibility, making it the whey protein source for the medically ill and infantile. They also have the least allergenic potential, making them safe for use.

Summary

Whey protein powders and supplements are a healthy and effective way in which you can contribute more protein content to your regular diet. It is a stellar source of protein which is seamlessly absorbed by our body.

Whey protein works best for weight trainers, athletes, people who lack enough natural proteins in their diet and others, who could do with more muscle mass and strength, and less body fat.

Protein is the most effective nutrient there is, to encourage muscle gain and fat loss. It is among the best sources of protein there is. So naturally, anybody looking to add more of the nutrient to their diet would do well, to buy themselves some whey protein powder. The concentrate is the most popular form of whey protein because of its agreeable taste. You could mix it in your food, or beverage or have it as it is.

If your goal is to lose weight, starting a weight training regime alongside whey protein consumption is the route you should take. It will help boost your metabolism, preserve lean muscle mass and aid you in losing those extra pounds.

Whey protein powder can be used as a meal supplement, as it fills you up fast, and keeps you from experiencing hunger pangs. These hunger pangs are often the reason we end up overeating.

Whey Protein – Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q. Is whey protein safe?

A: If they are consumed in the right amounts, at the right intervals and frequencies, whey protein can be considered safe.

Q. Does whey protein cause hair loss?

A: No, hair loss is not one of the side effects of whey protein.

Q. When should one take whey protein?

A: Ideally, whey protein can be a very good post-workout food. About 15 minutes after your workout is complete, consuming some whey protein can help you recover faster from it. Whey protein also helps you improve your athletic abilities.

Q. What are the side effects of whey protein?

A: The consumption of whey protein in excess can lead to various side effects. Some of these side effects include too much load on the kidney and liver, resulting in these organs getting damaged. One must make sure to hydrate their body while having whey protein. Thus, make sure your whey protein consumption is accompanied by plenty of water.

Q. Can whey cause liver damage?

The consumption of whey protein can add too much load to the liver, eventually leading to liver damage. It is ideal to ensure that you drink a lot of water if you are consuming it.

Q. What are the benefits of whey protein?

Whey protein has several health benefits. It consists of nine essential amino acids essential for the growth and smooth functioning of the human body. It plays a positive role in optimizing physical performance and subsequent recovery process for both resistance training and endurance exercise. Infants who are made to consume this protein mixture in the initial 3-12 months show lower risks of developing eczema and other skin-related allergies later in their lives. Whey protein has an incredible effect on satiety. It increases energy expenditure, balancing the number of calories you consume. It is also linked to heart health and anti-cancer properties. 

Q. Why is whey protein bad?

Whey protein intake is generally considered safe for most adults when consumed in a proper dosage. However, overconsumption of the mixture may cause several digestive complaints like bloating, hyperactive bowel movements and diarrhoea. You may also experience nausea, headaches, thirst, cramps, fatigue and a reduced appetite. You may end up with an acne problem if you are not careful in regulating your whey protein intake long-term. 1 scoops of 10 grams of the powder should be safe for consumption by most people.

Q. Can whey protein make you gain weight?

Many whey protein powder offerings have added sugar which contribute to your carbohydrate consumption. Some of them may also have added fat. So, instead of upping your protein intake to burn more calories, you may end up eating beyond your caloric requirement. Therefore, it is advisable to check the content of your protein powder before buying it. 

Q. Should I drink whey protein every day?

Yes. A regulated amount of daily consumption of whey protein has several health benefits. It consists of nine essential amino acids essential for the growth and smooth functioning of the human body. Whey protein has an incredible effect on satiety. It increases energy expenditure, balancing the number of calories you consume. It is also linked to heart health and anti-cancer properties. Nutritionists and dieticians recommend 1-2 scoops i.ee 25-50 grams of whey protein daily. 

Q. Which is better milk protein or whey protein?

Whey protein is a kind of milk protein comprising 20% of its total protein content. However, both have different properties and varying benefits. One may choose either based on their requirements.  

Q. Is whey protein good for your hair?

Yes. Protein consumption promotes better hair health. It reduces hair loss and boosts hair growth. They also increase the thickness of hair making it look voluminous and radiant. Whey protein consumption may help you deal with issues like bald patches and a receding hairline. 

Q. Does whey protein help skin?

Protein consumption is linked to rejuvenated skin. Amino acids and collagen present in whey proteins increase skin elasticity and firmness making it look healthier and younger. Its antioxidant properties fight acne and pimples as well. 

Q. What happens when you stop taking protein powder?

When you stop taking whey protein, your body will work with other protein sources it receives from the diet. However, this might not be as effective as was with Whey protein. Taking this into consideration, some muscle loss might happen especially if the work-outs also reduce. This loss of muscle might be replaced with fat over the course of time, if the diet and work-outs slip.

Q. Does whey protein make your face fat?

Yes, overconsumption of whey protein leads to calorie build-up that is further converted into fat. The fat gets stored in different parts of the body including the face making it look plumper. 

Q. Will whey protein help lose weight?

Yes. Whey protein has an incredible effect on satiety. It increases energy expenditure, balancing the number of calories you consume. This further leads to better weight management. 

Q. Does protein powder make your muscles bigger?

Protein consumption coupled with proper diet and exercise can lead to muscle growth. Furthermore, protein consumption before and after a workout leads to a significant gain in muscle protein synthesis. It plays a positive role in optimizing physical performance and subsequent recovery process for both resistance training and endurance exercise. 

Q. Can I drink whey protein twice a day?

Yes, you can have whey protein twice a day. However, be mindful to limit your whey protein consumption to 1-2 scoops i.e 30 grams on a daily basis. 

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