Whey protein, popular among athletes as a pure source of protein, is one of the most wholesome proteins that you can get from a natural source. This powdered form of protein has all the nine essential amino acids required for improved health. It is also low in lactose content that can otherwise cause allergic reactions to several people.
Health Benefits of Whey Protein
There are many great advantages of consuming whey protein on a regular basis. Let’s take a look:
1. Improves Athletic Performance: By consuming a good amount of whey protein with an active lifestyle and strength training regime, you can effectively increase the overall muscle strength, as well as lean body mass and muscle size. besides helping athletes and bodybuilders, it improves the recovery speed in untrained adults. Moreover, it improves the running speed by increasing the strength of leg muscles. It works at par with animal protein and soy protein to improve the overall strength.
2. Helps Lose Weight: Whey protein can help lose significantly more body fat than other fat-burning beverages. A strict diet regime with moderate amounts of whey protein can burn the body fat fast. It prevents the loss of lean mass in people with obesity. By reducing the fat percentage and maintaining lean muscle, it improves body composition. A recent study suggests that getting 25% of your daily calorie needs from protein can cut down your food cravings by 60%. This method also eliminates the desire for having late-night snacks.
3. Lowers Cholesterol Level: A significant decrease in cholesterol and total LDL cholesterol after taking whey protein was observed in a research published in The British Journal of Nutrition. A group of scientists gave whey protein to 70 obese male and female participants to monitor their lipid and insulin levels for 12 weeks. After the entire duration, it was found that the group of whey consumers had much lower cholesterol levels than the group taking casein.
4. Cures Eczema And Plaque Psoriasis: A recent study has shown that infants who consume whey protein during the age of 3-12 months have a significantly lesser chance of developing itchy and red skin in the future. Another study shows that consuming a specific quantity of whey protein continuously for 8 weeks can reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. Whey protein has also been found to improve the overall quality of skin.
5. Prevents High Blood Pressure and other Cardiovascular Diseases: Consuming a moderate amount of whey protein can lower blood pressure, according to a research paper published in the International Dairy Journal. It has also been that whey protein cures the symptoms of hypertension and also reduces the chance of developing heart diseases. Moderate but regular consumption of whey protein can also effectively lower the chances of stroke.
6. Helps to control diabetes: Consuming beverages with whey protein concentrate right before a meal can significantly decrease the blood sugar level in diabetic patients. However, further research is yet to be done to assess the long-term benefits of whey protein on a diabetic patient. As of now, early stages of studies suggest that daily exercise, with the consumption of whey protein, can yield good results for patients having diabetic tendencies.
7. Anti-Cancer Properties: Promising results have already been achieved by using whey protein concentrate in the latest cancer treatment, according to a research paper published in the Anticancer Research journal. However, more advanced research is yet to be conducted. Many theses also suggest that whey protein can significantly reduce the overall size of the cancerous tumor.
8. Effective relief from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): Consuming a moderate amount of a specific whey protein regularly for six weeks can improve the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, including shortness of breath. However, research also shows that it will not improve the overall lung function and only works on a short-term basis.
9. Eliminates the chance of Osteoporosis: By taking beverages containing whey protein regularly for up to two years, you can improve the overall bone density. And, with that, it lowers the chance of Osteoporosis. However, no such good effect has been found in postmenopausal women who are already suffering Osteoporosis.
10. Improves the symptoms of Asthma: According to a study report recently published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, children consuming whey protein have a far better immune response. Researchers conducted a study on 11 children, giving them a dose of 10 grams of whey protein twice daily for 30 days to check the result. After the specific time, they found that these children had much higher immunity against asthma.
11. Improves the cognitive functions of the brain: According to some early stages of research, taking an adequate amount of whey protein can improve the thinking skills and memory in adults who are very tired. However, further research is yet to be conducted to know about the long term benefits of whey protein to improve the cognitive functions of the human brain.
12. Polymyalgia Rheumatica: In a study conducted recently, people with Polymyalgia Rheumatica were suggested taking whey protein twice daily for eight weeks. It improved their overall condition, though it did not effectively help with the movement, walking speed, and muscle function of the patients. Further research is yet to be conducted.
13. Relieves symptoms of PCOS: Taking whey protein supplements for two months, continuously, can reduce the fat percentage, total body weight, and cholesterol level of patients with Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome. However, it also decreases the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is often referred to as good cholesterol.
14. Immunity against atopic diseases: A recent research shows that the children who took whey protein in the first 3-12 months of their lives after birth are much less likely to grow up as allergy-prone infants. They have better immunity against atopic diseases than the infants who are fed standard baby formula.
15. Prevents the weight loss in people with HIV/AIDS: Early stages of several research works have already proved that whey protein supplements can effectively stop the continuous weight loss in people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. However, advance research is yet to be conducted to assess its effectiveness in this case.
Side Effects and Risks of Whey Protein
The side effects of whey protein consumption are very few. But it is important to be aware of them and stay cautious:
1. Digestive issues: Daily consumption of whey protein in high doses can lead to bloating, nausea, increased thirst, fatigue, and mild headache. It can also increase bowel movement and reduce appetite.
2. Acne: Continuous use of whey protein in high doses can cause acne, although advanced researches are yet to be conducted to know how it affects the oil glands in our skin.
3. Dairy allergy: People with lactose intolerance are usually advised to avoid whey protein. However, studies have already shown that most of the allergic reactions from milk products happen due to casein that is not present in whey protein.
4. Avoid using while breast-feeding: There is yet to be some genuine research on the effect of whey protein on breast milk. So, it is better to stay safe and avoid using whey protein during pregnancy, as well as during breast-feeding of your child.
5. Reaction with levodopa: Whey protein reduces the absorption rate of levodopa in the body, thus reducing the effectiveness of this medicine. So, you should avoid using whey when you are on levodopa medication.
How is Whey Protein extracted?
Whey protein is extracted from the leftover liquid during the production of cheese. when whole milk is coagulated for the production process. The pH level of the milk is dropped down to 4.6 to extract element that is soluble. Besides producing some of the finest cheese varieties, this coagulation process also creates whey, from which whey protein is isolated. In layman’s term, the liquid that we see floating on the top of yogurt after opening a new container is actually whey.
What does Whey Protein contain?
There are four types of ingredients in whey protein: two types of lactalbumin (α and β), immunoglobulins, and serum albumin. Besides, several essential BCAAs (branched-chain amino acid) like cysteine and leucine are also present in it. The leucine BCAA found in whey is one of the most anabolic amino acids to promote the overall growth of muscles. Whey protein also has a very high amount of cysteine that regulates the essential cellular antioxidant called glutathione.
Why is Whey Protein consumed?
Cow milk is considered a great source of protein, especially for vegetarians. But, it consists of around 80% casein and just 20% whey. Whey has a higher absorption rate than casein or any variant of soy protein. Whey protein derived from whole milk is marketed as a dietary supplement. Besides promoting the overall growth of the body, it improves athletic performance and strength.
Recommended Dosage of Whey Protein
Whey Protein can add around 50 grams of protein to your daily diet. A good amount of it is advised if your protein consumption is below the recommended level. The suggested dose for an adult is around 25 to 50 grams (1-2 scoops) per day. You’ll get the best result if you take it right after the daily workout. But, if you are already in a high-protein diet, then taking whey along with that diet may be unnecessary.
Whey protein is definitely one of the best protein sources that you can consume on a regular basis. It has a higher absorption rate than any other protein supplements. It works like a miracle for bodybuilders and pro athletes. Besides, it also gives a decent result to people looking to lose or maintain weight. It is also popular among vegetarians as a reliable source of protein.
Whey protein is also available in a range of flavors, such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, banana, and more. Flavored whey powder tastes quite like milkshake; however, you should look at the label to check the carb content. All in all, whey protein can be a healthy and tasty addition to your daily diet.