Those who know supplements almost certainly know about whey protein supplements. If there is a standard for supplements that help with resistance and endurance sports workouts it is whey protein. Even people who are new to supplementation have heard of whey protein supplements.
Whey protein has gotten the status as a standard for athletes in training because it works. People can see results when they supplement their workouts with whey protein. Whey protein can help you achieve the results you are after for fitness and health.
Whey protein is also one of the most studied athletic training supplements you are likely to find. Because whey protein has been around for so long and with proven results, it now comes with an abundance of science behind the benefits of whey protein. It simply does the job of putting on muscle and repairing the damage to the muscle you can incur form serious workouts.
Like anything that is surrounded by so much talk, there can be misinformation out there on whey protein. What exactly is whey protein? How best to use it as a supplement for your training regimen? While you will probably not find a shortage of people who will tell you about their experience with whey protein, getting the facts can sometimes be a challenge.
This guide will help you sort through the talk and get to the facts about whey protein.
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is the short-hand term for the different proteins that can be isolated from whey. Whey is the liquid fraction of milk when it is separated during the process of making cheese. The protein found in milk consists of about 80 percent casein and 20 percent whey. In the process of making cheese, the fatty solids are coagulated leaving the protein-rich liquid in the form of whey.
Whey protein can be easily separated into a powder and used to enrich exercise and training supplements. Whey protein contains all 9 essential amino acids, the amino acids we must get from a food source. It also contains high levels of what is called Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). The BCAAs in whey protein can be metabolized by our bodies to form muscle tissue.
Whey proteins are called globular proteins. This means the protein is folded on the molecular level and contains large quantities of energy that are easily released. For this reason, whey protein makes an ideal supplement for people who engage in intense physical exercise. The specific nature of whey protein makes it easily accessible to the body to assist in protein synthesis. The globular proteins in whey build muscle.
Why Do People Supplement with Whey Protein
One of the primary reasons people supplement with whey protein is to help build muscle. Athletes who need serious strength and endurance to perform at competitive levels generally supplement their diet with whey protein to pack on muscle mass and build strength.
The baseline levels of protein we get from a balanced healthy diet provide enough protein to sustain fitness and good health. But exercise that vastly exceeds normal exertions will deplete your body of these baseline levels of proteins and amino acids. There is only so much you can consume through dietary sources of protein. Supplements add the extra protein required to pack on the muscle necessary for competitive sports.
Whey protein will also help repair the micro-tears and other damage that comes with high-intensity workouts. Anyone who has ever lifted weights knows the soreness that comes soon after lifting. Whey protein supplements give your body the protein and amino acids necessary to synthesize new muscle tissue and heal damage.
How does Whey Protein work?
Since whey protein is a rich source of all essential amino acids, it contains everything necessary to maximize protein synthesis in the body which results in muscle development. These same amino acids also rebuild muscle damaged from intense exercise.
Consumed in the correct doses, whey protein is readily metabolized in the body immediately made available for synthesis. The protein we consume form a steak, for example, must be digested and broken into component parts before it can be made available for metabolic protein synthesis. In other words, steak has to be converted into amino acids that the body can then synthesized into complex proteins like muscle tissue. For a normal level of health and fitness, this is fine.
For advanced athletes engaged in intense resistance training, dietary protein cannot keep up with the physical energy output. Whey protein supplements contain high levels of essential amino acids, including the BCAAs which are immediately converted into muscle protein. Whey protein effectively skips the digestive medium and allows amino acids to directly become muscle.
Studies have shown that supplementing with whey protein results in a net increase in available amino acids for building muscle. This means that even after intense workouts, whey protein provides the added protein required to continue building muscle and to repair muscle hypertrophy, the damage incurred from intense workouts.
Types of Whey Protein: Concentrate vs Isolate vs Hydrolysate
Whey protein supplements come in three main forms. What distinguishes each whey protein type is the method by which it is processed.
- Hydrolysate Protein: Often called hydrolyzed whey, this type of whey protein is digested first and gets absorbed into the body faster than the others. Named because the proteins are freed through the process of hydrolysis, hydrolysate whey protein contains free amino acids readily available for muscle development.
- Concentrate Whey Protein: This type contains about 70-80 percent protein. It also has some fat and lactose content that makes it taste a little better than the others. Concentrate whey protein is made through a process of ultrafiltration. This removes all non-nutritional nitrogen, leaving only the useful proteins.
- Isolate Whey Protein: Contains more than 90 percent protein. It is low in fat and lactose. Isolate typically does not contain much nutrient value beyond the protein. Isolates are made by a complex biochemical process that can effectively purify (isolate) the proteins we are after for supplements.
Whey Protein Benefits
That whey protein supplements provide valuable benefits to athletes is well known. But there are many other benefits of whey protein. Since there has been so much research on whey protein it should be no surprise that other benefits have been linked to whey protein supplements beyond the obvious benefits for fitness.
Other benefits include:
- Great source of high-quality protein: One of the best sources of supplemental protein. Highly digestible absorbs fast, and high in nutritional value.
- Promotes muscle growth: Whey protein contains branched-chain amino acids which are immediately accessible for muscle protein synthesis. The high concentrations of leucine promote muscle growth and muscle repair and regeneration.
- May reduce blood fats. One study showed that whey protein supplements can significantly reduce the amount of fat in the blood and this can lead to healthy weight management and lower blood pressure.
- Studies have shown that naturally occurring chemicals in dairy products can lower blood pressure. As whey protein is produced, these chemicals are converted into another chemical called lactokinins which have been shown to reduce blood pressure in people diagnosed with hypertension.
- May help in fighting diabetes. Whey proteins have been shown to simultaneously moderate blood sugar and raise natural levels of insulin in the bloodstream. This is a two-fold benefit that effectively combats Type 2 diabetes.
- Can have a positive impact on blood fats. High cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease. Significant doses of whey protein supplements have been found to reduce blood cholesterol.
Whey Protein Side Effects
Whey protein supplements are generally safe. They have been around for such a long time and have been in such widespread use that any hidden dangers would have been revealed. But there are a few issues related to whey protein.
- Some people experience digestive problems from whey protein. These can include, bloating, gas, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. However, most of these problems are associated with lactose intolerance rather than an intrinsic problem with whey protein.
- Some people are allergic to whey protein. Symptoms include hives, rashes, facial swelling, and runny nose. Again, this is due to a dairy allergy which is rare in adults.
- A more common side effect of whey protein is constipation. This is usually due to lactose intolerance, but it is also simply a common side effect of consuming whey protein.
Who Should Consume Whey Protein?
Athletes are not the only people who need to take whey protein supplements. People can benefit from whey protein for a variety of reasons.
- Whey protein is recommended for anyone who is ramping up their physical workouts. It is especially recommended for athletes who engage in high-intensity physical training that will likely deplete the natural dietary levels of protein.
- Whey proteins are also recommended for growing teenagers since it provides the extra nutrients and protein that rapid growth often requires.
- People recovering from injuries can also benefit from taking whey protein supplements. These supplements augment the physiological systems that speed the healing process.
- Finally, vegetarians can benefit from whey protein since it can be difficult to get all the necessary protein and essential amino acids from a meat-free diet.
How to Use Whey Protein
The best way to use whey protein is to obtain a chart that will allow you to calculate a dose according to your body weight and the types of activities you are engaged in. Someone who does serious weight training will need more whey protein than someone who works out for general fitness. Any good trainer or doctor can help with this.
NF Sports Whey Protein Powder is designed to be taken post-workout to maximize metabolic protein synthesis.
Beyond calculating how much whey protein you will need whey protein powders can be mixed in shakes and smoothies. Many whey protein powders come in different flavors. Whey protein does not taste all that good on its own.
Mix whey protein powder with fruits, soy-milk, almond milk, or coconut milk to cut down the extra fat intake and to boost the amino acids you can get from the shake.
Whey Protein Recommended Dosage
The actual dosage depends on several factors: your physical health, your fitness, and training goals, your age and weight, etc. These are things you need to think about as you begin taking whey protein supplements. There are some basic guidelines to start your dosage regimen.
An active athlete who wants to build muscle and lose excess fat should take 1.5-2.2 g per kg of body weight. This is just under a gram per pound.
If your goal is primarily to lose weight and preserve muscle mass, 1.5 g per kg of bodyweight will suffice.
For all-around maintenance of protein levels for a sedentary person, 0.8 g per kg of body weight is all you need.
Again, this is a general guide. You should work with a trainer or your doctor to determine exactly how much whey protein you will need to meet your fitness and training goals.
Best Whey Protein Supplement Product
Whey protein supplements are widely available. Some of the best whey protein supplements include NF Sports Whey Protein Powder mentioned above.
This post-workout supplement is great for post-workout muscle repair is high in BCAAs for building muscle.
Of all the fitness supplements around, whey protein is one of the most well-known. Whey protein has been widely studied for its health benefits and for any potential side effects.
What is now known and documented is that whey protein supplements work. They help build muscle, reduce fat, and repair damaged muscle from intense training and exercise. The science backs up what so many people already knew.
Almost anyone can benefit from taking whey protein supplements. High-intensity athletes and people involved in endurance sports generally require protein supplements just to keep up with the physiological demand of these types of sports. But anyone who does fitness training can benefit from whey protein supplements.
Whey protein also has a range of other benefits. From controlling weight to combatting diabetes and high cholesterol, whey protein has been proven to be an excellent nutrition supplement.
NF Sports offers whey protein supplements along with a full range of other fitness and training supplements.