Whey protein is a must for all fitness freaks who are into active sports, cardio, strength training, weight training, density training, HIIT, power-lifting, strength-lifting, body-building! Any activity as long as you are not leading a totally sedentary lifestyle. Such people, if they want to have whey, need to ask their dieticians or nutritionists. Also, people suffering long from any chronic illness or is under heavy treatment, need to ask their doctors/physicians.
Nowadays, foods contain protein but not that much to give us our daily recommended protein dose—0.8 g per 1 kg/2.2 lbs of bodyweight. It varies according to your body type and activity level. For example, if you are a body builder, you will require about 1.5 to 2 g (if not more) per 1 kg/2.2 lbs of bodyweight, if not a little more.
With the lack of effective protein in our daily food, whey protein seems to be the next best option. Remember that as we need food to keep us going, our muscles need food to be strong. Protein is the “food for the muscles”.
Now you can guess why doctors/physicians, dieticians, nutritionists give proteins so much importance.
The “weight loss concept” is clear here—have your daily required protein and strengthen your muscles. As the muscle strengthens, it would cut fat. When this happens, your body will start losing weight.
This means, no matter how much you try weight loss with daily exercises, if you do not have proteins (especially for breakfast and dinner), you cannot achieve great weight loss results and fitness.
What is Whey Protein?
Two types of protein are derived from whole milk—80% casein protein and 20% whey protein.
I am sure many of you make cottage cheese at home, isn’t it? What do you see when you add lemon juice to the milk? Milk coagulates to form cheese (casein protein), leaving its water behind. Right? This water is WHEY protein! It depends on which milk you use to make cottage cheese. If it is whole milk direct from dairy, the whey can be consumed. Vice versa, if you use packaged milk, whey will not give expected results.
Whey protein is composed of nutrients, such as alpha-lactabumin, beta-lactoglobulin, immunoglobins, lactoferrin, bovine serum albumin.
What is Whey Protein: Types
There are mainly two types of whey protein—concentrate and isolate.
- Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC): Most economical, WPC is quite low in carbs (lactose) and fat. People with lactose sensitivity can also have it. Some WPCs are as low as 30% in protein, whereas some are as high as 90% in protein. The consistency is thicker as compared to WPI.
- Whey Protein Isolate (WPI): Fat-free and lactose-free, WPI is the “further processed” version of whey. It has more than 90% of protein. The consistency is thinner as compared to WPC.
There is another type of whey protein – whey protein hydrolysate (WPH). It is used in infant formulas (as it can be easily digested and has reduced allergen) and medical protein supplements.
What is Whey Protein: Benefits
Whey protein is high in Cysteine (amino acid) that helps raising the levels of Glutathione (antioxidant). Concentrate or isolate, whey protein has a number of health benefits:
- builds and strengthens muscles, thereby giving you a leaner appearance
- improves satiety and reduces food cravings
- reduces depression and stress
- lowers blood sugar level
- lowers blood pressure
- helps in weight loss
- increases bone mineral density
- improves immune functions in patients with HIV
- reduces hepatitis symptoms
- protects against cancer
Contrary to what people believe or are made to believe about whey protein (and about protein in general), it neither contributes to osteoporosis nor does it cause any damage to your kidneys.
What is Whey Protein: Side Effects
As you know, too much of anything can land you in trouble. Similarly, if you go overboard with whey protein (thinking you might miraculously lose your weight overnight!), it will cause adverse effects:
- nausea and vomiting
- body cramps
- stomach pain
- headache and fatigue
- reduced appetite
What is Whey Protein: Bottom Line
If your daily protein intake is higher than your recommended daily dosage, you don’t need added whey protein (except if you are a body-builder).
Vice versa, if your daily protein intake is high but not the recommended daily dosage, you can take whey protein but you need to work on exactly how much you need.
Whey protein is known to boost metabolism, reduce calorie intake (suppresses appetite) and aid in weight loss. If you want to start with whey protein (variety available in the market), ask your personal gym trainer/coach.
If you ask me, I would personally recommend whey protein isolate (WPI)—this is what I use because it is fat- and lactose-free. Now the choice is yours.