There won't be anybody who hasn't heard the term 'whey protein.' Yes, it's a type of protein supplement which is widely consumed nowadays. Are you planning to include whey protein in your daily regime? But... You don't have a deep understanding of whey proteins? Got you! In this article, let us discuss everything about the whey protein supplements so you, as a beginner, won't be left with any confusion. Let's get started!
What is whey protein?
Milk, we know, is a good source of highly bioavailable protein. Milk protein mainly consists of two major kinds of protein: casein and whey. Normally, they both are in a liquid state, but both of these separate when curdling occurs. You might have seen; that in curdled milk, there is a coagulated cream-colored mass and a yellowish fluid. The solid mass is casein, whereas the liquid portion is what's called whey.
Whey is regarded as a complete protein as it has all the essential amino acids required by the human body. What are essential amino acids? Ok, so amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and there are several types of amino acids depending on their chemical structure.
Our body can produce some amino acids by itself; these are termed non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are the ones that cannot be produced inside our bodies and thus have to be supplied to the body through diet. Got it? Ok. Now let's go ahead and discuss whey protein supplements.
What are whey protein supplements?
Whey protein supplements are supplements made from milk whey. The whey is mostly sourced from the cheese-making process, where after curdling the milk, only the curd is used for further production. Thus, the whey remaining is utilized for making whey protein supplements. The liquid whey obtained is concentrated and made into powder. There are three major types of whey protein.
- Whey protein concentrates – These supplements are concentrated forms of whey protein where the concentration can vary from as low as 30% to as high as 90%. These have low levels of carbohydrates and fats in them.
- Whey protein isolates are further concentrated forms of whey protein where the fat and the lactose are completely removed from the whey. The isolated protein accounts for at least 90% of the supplement.
- Whey protein hydrolysates – These are the predigested form of whey protein. For making it, the normal whey protein is subjected to protein hydrolysis, where it gets partially digested. These types of supplements are easy to digest and have less allergic incidence associated with them.
Also Read: Your Go-To Guide for Whey Protein Powder
What are its health benefits?
1. Builds muscle
Muscles are lost as we age or unhealthy lifestyles. Doing adequate exercises and consuming high protein foods like whey can help you restore the lost muscle mass and build muscles.
2. Helps to lose weight
According to scientific studies, regular consumption of whey protein with proper exercise can help to accelerate weight loss and preserve a greater proportion of lean body muscles. Also, it provides high satiety.
3. Decreases blood pressure
Lactokinins in whey protein can reduce blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. This has been scientifically validated through several studies.
4. Helps with diabetes
Whey protein can increase insulin sensitivity and the level of insulin produced and thus helps with diabetes, according to several studies.
5. Reduces inflammation
In proper quantities, whey protein can decrease the C-reactive protein in our body, which is a potential inflammation marker. This helps to keep a check on inflammation.
6. Boosts antioxidant activity
Whey protein supplements high in cysteine, an amino acid needed for the production of endogenous glutathione, can help hike up your antioxidant levels. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant made by our bodies.
7. Lowers blood fats
It's scientifically proven to reduce bad LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels, which might indirectly protect us from several fatal cardiovascular diseases.
How much whey protein to consume?
It all depends on your daily protein intake. A healthy individual normally needs 0.8 – 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. If your diet is protein-rich already, you don't need to have any protein supplements. But for most of us, it becomes very difficult to include good quality proteins in the diet regularly, and thus, meeting the daily protein requirements is unlikely.
In such cases, 20-50 grams of protein supplements are recommended. If you are involved in intense training, the amount can be increased accordingly. Always check the serving instructions on the package, as each supplement has a different protein concentration. It's better to seek professional advice.
Does it have any side effects?
For a healthy individual, consuming whey protein based on the protein requirements won't cause any issues. If you are consuming large quantities of whey protein, wanting to build muscles faster, this would put an extra load on your kidneys, which might cause some problems in the long run. Increased bowel motions, breakouts, nausea, thirst, bloating, appetite loss, weariness, and headache may occur in high doses.
Recent research has shown that if consumption exceeds a certain limit, whey protein ISOLATES, which are highly purified forms of whey protein, can cause an insulin spike, increased inflammation, and some respiratory tract problems. This happens only when there is an arbitrary consumption without proper professional advice. Anyhow, it's better to go for a whey protein CONCENTRATE, and if it has added anti-inflammatory superfoods, it would be great!
As the bottom line, whey protein is an impressive source of protein. It has several health benefits if it's consumed in appropriate quantities, and this "appropriate quantity" differs from person to person. Any doubts? Comment below!