Whey protein is a must for all fitness enthusiasts who are into active sports, cardio, strength training, weight training, density training, HIIT, powerlifting, strength-lifting, and bodybuilding!
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 dietitians 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 body weight, as recommended by the RDA. It varies as your body type and activity level. For example, if you are a bodybuilder, you will require about 1 to 1.5 g per 1 kg/2.2 lbs of body weight, if not a little more.
With the lack of effective protein in 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, dietitians, 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.
Table of Contents
What is Whey Protein?
Two types of protein are derived from whole milk:
- 80% casein protein
- 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 directly from the 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 and bovine serum albumin. These may not be available in the whey water when you make cottage cheese.
Types of Whey Protein
There are mainly two types of whey protein:
#1 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.
#2 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.
Benefits of Whey Protein
Whey protein is high in Cysteine (amino acid) that helps to raise the levels of Glutathione (antioxidant). Concentrate or isolate, whey protein has a number of 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.
Side Effects of Whey Protein
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 weight overnight!), you will face tremendous side effects:
- nausea and vomiting
- body cramps
- stomach pain
- headache and fatigue
- reduced appetite
If your daily protein intake is higher than your recommended daily dosage, you don’t need whey protein (except if you are a bodybuilder).
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.