If you visit health food shops or go to the gym, you’ll have probably heard of whey protein. But what is it exactly, and how can it help with your health and fitness goals?
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Whey protein uncovered
Along with casein, whey is a protein found in milk. Whey is also a by-product of the cheese making process. As a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids, whey is considered a health powerhouse, and it’s commonly used as a supplement to improve muscle gains down the gym, or for other body benefits.
There are three different types of whey protein, according to how they’ve been processed. They vary in how much protein they contain, what they taste like, how much they cost and their digestibility.
‘Concentrate’ is probably the most popular type of whey protein, consisting of around 70-80% protein. It’s also the cheapest. ‘Isolate’ whey protein contains less lactose and fat than concentrate, but is made up of around 90% protein, while ‘hydrolysate’ whey is the easiest to absorb of all the three types.
Whey protein is generally well tolerated by most people, but if you experience indigestion, or are sensitive to dairy, choose isolate or hydrolysate whey over concentrate.
Why add whey protein to your diet?
Protein is a vital nutrient required to help the body repair itself and grow, but not all proteins are nutritionally equal. For example, some natural proteins may be high in fat or lack certain vital amino acids.
Many people favour adding whey protein to their diet as it offers a very high nutritional protein content. It’s also easy to prepare and quick to digest, so makes a convenient supplement for those with busy lives.
Whey protein is frequently used by gym-goers to improve muscle protein synthesis and muscle mass growth, but studies have also concluded that it can be useful to aid weight loss. Other research has suggested that whey protein may help to lower cholesterol and improve immune response in some people with asthma. Whey protein drinks have also shown promising results in reducing blood pressure and heart disease, and concentrate forms may be useful for those undergoing cancer treatment. Whey protein may also be effective at alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you want to gain the many health benefits from this complete protein, taking whey supplements could prove useful, especially if your diet lacks adequate protein or you want to enhance your efforts down the gym.
Can you have too much protein?
Whey protein is one of the most researched supplements on the planet, so there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that it’s safe to take at moderate doses. Potential side effects of excess consumption include headaches, nausea, acne, cramps and indigestion. You may also experience these symptoms if you’re lactose intolerant.
Bear in mind that your body can only synthesise a certain amount of protein at any one time, so keep a check on your daily protein consumption levels.
Taking whey protein
Whey protein is normally found in a powder format that can be added to liquids or soft foods. It’s also added to shakes, meal replacements and cereal bars. On its own, whey protein isn’t especially tasty, so it tends to be flavoured.
Some studies show that taking whey protein before and/or after a workout has the most benefits for aiding muscle mass. Read the recommended dosage instructions on the whey powder package, but generally aim for around 1-2 scoops (approximately 25-50 grams) daily.
If you’d like to benefit from adding extra protein to your diet, take a look at the enviable range of quality protein products available at Strength & Steroids.