If you are contemplating adding a protein supplement into your routine, why not whey protein? Whey provides a wide range of benefits, whether you are training or simply augmenting your diet. Since protein is necessary for building lean muscle and maintaining stamina, it makes sense to consider some good sources of this nutrient.
Whey protein is a mixture of proteins that is a by-product of cheese production, interestingly enough. When it comes to bulking up and adding lean muscle, whey protein has been lauded for being more effective than other types of protein supplements, like soy or casein.
There are many benefits of whey protein — here is what you need to know:
Whey Protein Powder Supplements
It helps to understand what whey protein is and how it differs from other protein supplements. Whey protein is a compound of eight different proteins found in dairy. The distinct proteins are:
- Bovine serum albumin.
Whey protein is a byproduct of cheese making and is found widely in powder and capsule forms. This protein contains 20 amino acids and the nine essential aminos that your body cannot manufacture on its own. These amino acids are critical to bodily function, so this is one reason why whey protein makes good sense for many.
Another situation where whey is a good option is when an athlete wants to improve their performance or when gaining weight is crucial, such as for individuals that are older or that have chronic health issues. More about the potential benefits of whey protein next!
Benefits of Whey Protein
As for the benefits of whey protein supplements and products, there is a lot to be excited about! Whether you are trying to optimize progress training, or you live with a chronic condition that makes it hard to maintain and gain weight, whey protein is a great resource with few, if any, side effects.
If training and athletic performance are important to you, you should also know that whey protein can increase recovery and facilitate healing after intense workouts. That means sore muscles and aches won’t interfere or disrupt your routine. Plus, it is easier to stay motivated when you feel good. This is good news for anyone with a pre-existing injury or condition, like joint pain, that can make it harder to power through.
Consider the many perks of adding whey protein to your diet!
- Most of the evidence shows that whey protein in conjunction with a rigorous strength training program improves strength and increases muscle mass. Want to bulk up and get the most from the time you spend in the gym? Whey protein supplements and pre-workout shakes are one way to do it. They provide the fuel that you want- and need- to make changes to your body.
- Whey protein has been shown to have efficacy at speeding up muscle recovery after intense or strenuous exercise. This can subsequently curb the risks of injuries and prolonged recuperation periods. When it hurts less to work out, you may be inclined to exercise with more consistency, frequency, and intensity — which can propel you further toward your fitness goals.
- If you have been diagnosed with conditions like HIV, AIDS, Wasting Syndrome or even Alzheimer’s disease, it can be difficult — if not impossible — to gain and maintain weight. Issues related to appetite and nausea might challenge caregivers and be an everyday battle. Whey protein can cause weight gain — including in those that have difficulty gaining and keeping weight on. You may see whey protein supplements, likely hydrolysates, in nursing homes, hospitals and facilities that serve patients, including older individuals.
- If you suffer from wounds, burns or chronic conditions that cause sores or hot spots on the skin, whey protein has been shown to hasten healing and help people recover faster.
- The benefits of whey protein are not exclusive to adults. It has been studied and shown that when babies are given infant formula made with whey protein, specifically hydrolysates, they are at a reduced risk of developing eczema than babies on standard types of formula.
- Furthermore, when you give a baby formula made with whey hydrolysates, it can actually lower the chance that your baby will develop an allergy.
- Perhaps the biggest reason people turn to whey is to help with building muscle. That is the number one reason why individuals choose to supplement with protein powders and products to begin with. Whey protein specifically contains branched-chain amino acids, which are a type of aminos that are fundamental in building lean muscle mass.
- What is your diet like? If you simply cannot get adequate protein from the foods that you eat, a protein supplement makes perfect sense, whether you are in training for an athletic event or not. Whey protein is the perfect and complete way to supplement a diet, particularly if you struggle with issues that may interfere with daily intake, such as swallowing issues, chewing problems or simply a lack of appetite. Whey protein can provide the protein you need for fuel while also contributing to a healthy weight.
- Another compelling benefit of whey protein, in particular, is that it is generally safe for any and all to enjoy, with a few exceptions. For instance, do not use whey protein if you have a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance. Instead, speak to your practitioner or physician about reasonable alternatives that are sensitivity-friendly for you. Pregnant women should never take supplements — including whey protein — without consulting with their doctor first.
While most people get the protein they need from a well-balanced and nutritious diet, not everyone can derive the necessary protein and nutrients from food. Therefore, protein supplements can be the perfect solution. If you struggle to get enough protein in your diet, speak with your doctor or provider about adding whey protein to your daily routine. It may be just the ticket to maintain or gain weight and muscle mass.
Whey Protein Options
So, you have made the decision to supplement your daily routine with whey protein — good for you! What are your options? When it comes to powder protein supplements, you have many that will provide respectable amounts of protein. Make sure to always read the labels and steer clear of products with lots of fillers, sweeteners and artificial ingredients. Ideally, look for whey protein supplements that contain whey protein — and that’s it! They are out there, just keep looking.
As for the different types of whey protein, they generally fall into three categories: concentrates, isolates and hydrolysates. Which one is the right one for you? Here is what you should know:
- Concentrate: Whey protein concentrates usually contain some combination of protein, fat and lactose — another reason why it is not advisable for those with sensitivity to dairy. This type of whey protein is often found in protein bars, drinks and some kinds of baby formulas, too.
- Isolate: Isolate whey protein is higher in protein and lower in lactose or fat. This is often seen in powder supplements that you mix yourself. Some nutritional bars or premade beverages might also contain Isolate whey protein.
- Hydrolysate: Hydrolyzed whey protein is called whey hydrolysate, and it might be easier on your system than the rest. It consists of protein peptides that break down easier and digest more gently. This is found frequently in medical supplements for patients struggling to keep weight on, such as the elderly or those who are ill. Some baby formulas also contain whey hydrolysates.
One of the reasons why people reach for whey protein is that it is considered to be a complete protein. That is, containing all nine essential amino acids. These amino acids are responsible for much of the body’s functioning, so it is crucial to supplement when your diet lacks these nutrients. If your goal is to build muscle mass, you must get your aminos, so whey protein is a valid option. While your body does make some aminos, it does not naturally create these nine essential amino acids contained in whey protein.
Even though your body doesn’t naturally make essential amino acids, you can still supplement your daily diet with foods rich in some of the aminos. The health benefits of any of these aminos are worthy of incorporating them into your routine. Add foods like legumes, leafy greens and whole grains to round out your regimen.
Safety of Protein Supplements
It bears circling back to discuss the safety of protein supplements: just how safe is whey protein to take regularly? Whey protein is considered generally safe for most people to take if you read and follow the label’s directions. Also, if you have a dairy allergy, do not take whey protein. This goes for lactose intolerance and sensitivity to milk products, too. Just don’t do it: other protein products on the market will work better and be safer for you to use.
It is important to remember that even though whey protein is good for you, it does contain calories, and in some instances, sugar and fat, too. Sure, it says that the product is low in carbs, but what else is in your protein powder or shake? Keep in mind that calories from anything will cause weight gain if not kept in check with physical activity: if you are watching your weight, watch the whey protein. While it can help speed up your metabolism and fuel an intense workout, if you are not burning calories and building strength in the gym, you could put on pounds. It really comes down to what your goals are and what the goals of adding whey protein to your diet are, too.
Read the product label and ideally buy products made and distributed in the USA. Check the ingredients on the label to determine if the product has added sugars, chemicals or processed ingredients. If so, keep looking for a different whey protein supplement. You have a lot of options. Keep an eye out for those that contain whey protein and only whey protein on the label!
It is always advised that you speak with your own physician and providers before embarking on any life changes, including taking whey protein supplements. There are so many benefits to whey that it is worth discussing with your doctor first to ensure no interactions or disappointment. Depending on your expectations, whey protein could be exactly what your daily regimen needs!
Possible Side-Effects of Whey Protein
Worried about possible side effects of whey protein? No need to be. If you take it as directed, the side effects are minimal to non-existent for most users. Whey protein is generally safe for consumption for those that do not have allergies to dairy or that take certain types of medications. For this reason, you should always discuss changes to your routine — like supplements — with your doctor to ensure no nasty interaction. The worst of the side-effects from whey protein powders seem to be some level of gastrointestinal discomfort or digestion issues.
Some medications that have been shown to interact with whey protein include:
- Albendazole, or Albenza
- Alendronate, otherwise known as Fosamax
- Certain antibiotics, like quinolone or tetracycline
Also, if you take more than what is recommended by the protein supplement manufacturer, you are at risk of stomachache, cramping or gastrointestinal distress. The best approach to integrating protein supplements into your daily regimen is to start small: begin with half of the recommended dose and see how you feel after your workout. Next, increase to the normal amount and do not exceed what is recommended to prevent interaction or discomfort.
Whey protein is a remarkable supplement for most diets, containing all 20 amino acids and the nine essential amino acids that the body does not naturally make. These amino acids are necessary to nutrition, immunity and wellness, so it makes whey protein a promising and viable option for many — from athletes to the elderly. It is relatively side-effect-free and shows promise in helping people meet their health, fitness and weight goals. Talk to your physician or provider about adding whey protein to your routine and whether it is the best option for your distinct objectives.