Whey protein is a mixture of globular proteins isolated from whey (a byproduct of cheese production). It is popularly marketed as a dietary supplement. Currently research is being conducted on use of Whey product as source of amino acid and its effects on reducing the risks in various lifestyle diseases, cancer, inflammation and other complications. Though lot of its benefit are still to be proven clinically, we cannot underestimate its importance. Based on the data that is available we have derived following details.
Whey protein is available in three major forms
- Concentrate – It contains low level of fat and cholesterol but higher levels of bioactive compounds and carbohydrates in form of lactose – it has 29%-89% protein by weight.
- Isolates – They are processed to remove fat, lactose but are also low in bioactive compound – it contain 90% protein by weight. Isolates are very helpful for individuals with lactose intolerance as it contains very small percentage of lactose.
- Hydrolysates are partially digested and hydrolyzed. The purpose is to make them easier for metabolism. However they are usually very costly compared to other forms.
Benefits of whey proteins
- Losing Fat – Whey protein is rich in Leucine which plays an important role in protein synthesis, a process which burns few calories. It also satiates appetite better than any other type of protein, thus reducing hunger pangs.
- Building stronger muscles – How much muscle mass you gain depends mainly on your exercise and nutritional choices. It’s like, exercise is a spark but the fuel is provided by food. Whey protein provides this essential fuel and help build stronger muscles.
- Increase strength– Whey protein is undoubtedly one of most important food supplement used by strength trainer, athletes and fitness enthusiast. Due to its high bioavailability and anabolic properties it is a staple food for gaining strength.
- Fights various diseases – Whey protein plays a crucial role in fights against degenerative diseases through its anti-oxidative properties. Whey protein has also shown good results when used for patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.
- Improves immune system and posses anti-inflammatory properties – Whey’s lactoferrin activates immune system’s cells like neutrophils, macrophages and T-cell which are the first line of defense against harmful pathogens. Lactoferrin is also shown to have anti-cancer effects.
- Coping with stress – A fresh whey protein milk shake can reduce your stress considerably.
- Alternative to milk for people with lactose allergy – Whey protein may not be as rich as milk in terms of nutrients, yet it is a good alternative to milk for people with allergies, as most allergies are caused by casein in milk which is absent in whey. Also, the isolate form of whey protein contains almost negligible amount of lactose and can be consumed safely.
When and how to have whey proteins?
We are now sure, that Whey protein is an excellent muscle builder, strength gainer, immune system improver and has many other health benefits. Though, consumption of whey protein can be very favorable for a healthy and fit body, it is essential to understand when and how much of whey protein should be consumed.
The first step is to calculate your daily requirement of protein and then understand how much of it to get through whey protein. Once you know how much you need to consume, you can opt from amongst the several well-known brands in market. Whey protein is available in different forms and with several combinations. The one combined with chocolates can be tempting. You can select the one as per your taste. Also, you can either dissolve whey protein in milk, water or even juices. Adding little bit of honey or even oats enhances its taste. Adding whey powder to peanut butter or morning cereals is also a good way to please your taste buds.
There is a lot of difference of opinion on when to consume this protein especially when you are clubbing it with your exercise schedule. Some individuals believe that protein intake before exercise is highly beneficial. It results in better anabolic response and also maximizes protein synthesis due to ingestion of amino acids. However, some people think otherwise and are more pro on consuming whey protein after exercise. So the logical conclusion would be to have whey protein 30 to 45 minutes before exercise to allow better digestion and absorption, and also after exercise to maintain protein balance.
Associated risks and scrutiny
Whey protein is actually a by-product of cheese. Some of it may be of good quality while some others may be of cheap quality. The benefit derived from whey protein will depend a lot on its quality and a bad one can do damage than benefit. Make sure you check for following before you select the correct whey for consumption:
- Opt for an organic one, preferably made from unpasteurized milk.
- Cold processed is better as heat destroys the fragile molecular structure.
- Minimally processed one is better i.e. Concentrates are better than isolates.
- Whey protein should be water-soluble and naturally sweetened.
- Look out for those containing medium chain fatty acids.
Whey proteins are generally safe for most adults. However, avoid higher uncalculated doses. Some individuals may show certain side effects, especially in case of over consumption. Problems like nausea, thirst, cramps, reduced appetite, increased bowel movement etc can show up. Migraine and headaches are also commonly noticed, however experts believe it is not due to whey protein but as a result of MSG which is sometimes a hidden component and acts as trigger.
For all those, who are working hard in gym to gain a perfect shape, or those who wish to have a healthier body with strong muscles and great immune system, whey protein is a reliable choice.