By Summer Banks on Feb 01, 2017

There are numerous sources of protein, and one type that you may be familiar with is whey protein.

It’s found in shakes, bars, snacks and prepackaged foods. Some options are healthier than others [50].

Clinical studies conducted with this ingredient shows that whey protein offers a number of benefits to health and physical fitness [6] [7].

We will take a closer look at whey protein and how it impacts your overall health [1] [2] [3].

What is Whey Protein? Whey protein powder - what is it?

Whey protein is a byproduct of the cheese manufacturing process [1] [2] [3]. It’s less expensive than other types, making it a popular addition to powders and meal replacements, like 310 Shake.

This ingredient is fast-absorbing and contains immunoglobins, beta-lactoglobulin, bovine serum albumin and alpha-lactalbumin [7]. Furthermore, it is rich in amino acids [contains all nine], which are the building blocks of protein [4] [5] [22] [39].

Whey protein is most commonly used for improving muscle gains [8] [9] [10] and assisting with weight-loss [11] [13]. It can be consumed before or after workouts, or in place of meals in order to cut calories and fat.

To Sum It Up: This type of protein is taken from dairy, and it’s commonly used in workout and weight-loss supplements. Furthermore, it receives a significant amount of recognition for its nutrient properties.

Whey Protein Types

There are three different types of whey protein used in prepackaged foods and supplements. Companies like Isagenix offer meal replacements based on whey protein.

Whey protein concentrate is the most popular. This type contains anywhere from 30-90 percent protein [7]. It also provides some fat and lactose.

Another option is whey protein hydrolysate [35], which is also called the predigested form [7]. This ingredient is easier to digest, but can cause a more significant spike in insulin levels [35]. This may not be ideal for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

The final option is whey protein isolate [34], which has been further processed in order to remove cholesterol, fat and lactose. It generally provides the highest level of pure protein, which is 90 percent or more [7]. This variety is popular among serious weight lifters and bodybuilders.

To Sum It Up: There are three different kinds of whey protein, which are all different to some degree. All of them are used in the manufacturing of protein supplements.

How Much Do You Need? How much whey protein do you need?

The amount of whey protein you need really just depends on what your weight-loss, health and/or fitness goals are. Your size, age and weight are also important factors to consider.

Dietitians and physicians often recommend around 50 grams of protein per day for the average adult. However, if you’re trying to gain lean muscle mass, you may need more [8] [9] [10] [16] [19]. Some bodybuilders consume 1-2 grams of protein per pound of body weight [each day].

If you are consuming a whey protein powder or bar in place of regular meals in order to lose weight [11] [21] [27], you should be sure to get about 50 grams per day. You must also consider any other vitamins and minerals that the supplements may not provide.

To Sum It Up: The amount of whey protein you need just depends on your personal fitness goals. Those trying to bulk up will likely require more than those striving to lose weight.

Effects of Whey Protein on Muscles and Workouts Whey protein muscle gainer

As you may be aware, many men and women use whey protein products, like Almased, to help boost energy levels before workouts, build lean muscle mass and speed up recovery after exercising [17] [18] [19].

The branched chain amino acids in this ingredient help promote muscle protein synthesis, which aids in muscle building and repairs [4] [5] [10] [22] [23] [26].

One clinical study involving 192 participants given whey protein supplements resulted in increased muscle mass. This research included resistance training and 11 protein treatments [19].

Whey protein especially produces muscle gain results when taken right before, during or immediately following workouts [14] [16] [26]. It can also improve energy levels when consumed before exercising. However, other forms of protein have been shown to produce similar results [29] [34] [35] [39] [49] [50].

To Sum It Up: This type of protein can help improve energy, increase muscle mass and speed up recovery time after workouts, especially when consumed around the time of exercise.

Is Whey Protein For Weight-Loss Good? Whey protein for weight loss?

Some people look to whey protein shakes and bars to aid with weight-loss. This is often because these supplements are fairly low in calories and can be consumed in place of regular meals [11] [13].

Whey protein is considered a macronutrient and it can help with satiety [40] [41] [47] [48]. There are a number of snacks and meal-replacement shakes on the market that are specifically for dieting and weight management.

Since your body requires protein for muscle and body repairs/maintenance, this ingredient helps you stay full and satisfied longer than simple carbohydrates. Furthermore, studies have shown that carbohydrates are more likely to cause weight gain [41].

One 12-week study involving a Prolibra whey protein supplement resulted in participants shedding 6.1 percent of they body fat mass, while maintaining most lean muscle tissue [44]. A 500-calorie per day diet plan was also incorporated [27].

Additional research has shown that the bioactive components of whey protein provide greater health benefits than alternatives such as casein and egg proteins. One study revealed that whey helps protect muscle tissue, while increasing thermogenesis so more calories are burned [21].

To Sum It Up: This is a lean source of protein that does help preserve and maintain lean muscle tissue. Furthermore, it has been shown in some clinical studies to help elevate metabolism and improve weight-loss results, especially when combined with a reduced-calorie diet.

Other Whey Protein Health Benefits  What are the benefits of whey protein?

Clinical studies conducted determine the effects of whey protein on health and wellness [36]. Research shows it may help boost immune system health, combat type 2 diabetes, protect the heart and provide antioxidants to ward off damaging free radicals [6] [7] [25] [31] [38] .

One study revealed that substances found in whey protein such as beta-lactoglobulin, lactoferrin, alpha-lactalbumin, glycomacropeptide and immunoglobulins benefit the immune system by providing antioxidant protection. This can even have an anti-tumor effect [6] [46].

Additional research shows that whey protein supplements may reduce blood pressure [45], lower cholesterol levels and benefit patients with hypertension [7] [33].

A 2012 study demonstrated that dietary whey protein can help lower blood pressure [37], reduce inflammation, minimize oxidative stress and treat health issues such as type 2 diabetes and obesity [12] [25].

Moreover, this ingredient can lower blood glucose levels and improve overall cardiovascular health, especially when combined with regular strength training [15] [28].

To Sum It Up: It’s clear that whey protein does provide some health benefits [24] [32], especially when it comes to cardiovascular wellness, blood glucose levels and the body’s immune system.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Some people may experience certain adverse effects or bad reactions while using a whey [42] [43].

First and foremost, those allergic to dairy or lactose may not be able to use this type of supplement at all. There are alternative proteins available such as soy, vegetable, egg, rice, and pea [20] [29] [30] [49] [50].

Side effects that can occur include increased bowel movements, headache, fatigue, abdominal cramps, loss of appetite, swelling of limbs, bloating, constipation, gas and kidney dysfunction. These unwanted reactions often occur when too much whey protein is consumed. It’s best to take no more than 50 grams per serving [42] [43] [50].

To Sum It Up: Certain side effects can occur while using a whey protein product, but are less likely to happen if you consume 50 grams or less per serving and are not allergic to dairy or lactose.

The Bottom Line on Whey Protein Does whey protein work?

When all is said and done, whey protein is one healthy way to add some lean protein to your daily diet. Especially since it comes in convenient forms such as shakes and bars.

Aside from being lean and low in calories, this substance is fast-absorbing, which allows it to take effect quickly to reduce appetite, improve energy levels, and build and repair muscles. Similar to workout supplements and weight-loss products like Hydroxycut.

On a final note, just be sure to find a quality whey protein supplement that is low in both fat and cholesterol. Always keep in mind your fitness, health and weight-loss goals when selecting these products.


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About the Author:

Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.