The popular fitness and dietary supplement have been touted for its high-protein content. However, there has been some controversy brewing in the health community about the safety of this health supplement. Before we explore the benefits and the possible side effects of whey protein, let’s take a deeper look into what whey protein is.
What is Whey Protein?
Essentially whey is a liquid that separates from milk during the cheese-making process. There are three main types of whey protein that you should be aware of. One type is whey protein concentrate, which contains about 70%-80% protein. It is the most common type of whey protein and contains more fat, lactose and minerals from milk. There is also the whey protein isolate. This form of whey protein consists of 90% protein. It is also more refined and has lesser fat and lactose. However, this the whey protein isolate has fewer beneficial minerals. Lastly, we have the whey protein hydrolysate, which is pre-digested and allows the body to absorb the whey protein faster.
Whey protein is popular among fitness enthusiasts, athletes and people who are looking to lose weight or build muscle. Studies have shown that it can boost your recovery time after exercise, build muscle and strength and help you shed pounds by reducing your appetite and improving your metabolic rate.
Benefits of Whey Protein
Excellent Source of High-Quality Protein
It goes without saying that protein is necessary for a number of functions in the body. The macronutrient is essential for building and repair tissues. Proteins are also crucial for manufacturing enzymes, body chemicals and body chemicals. Whey protein has been touted for being a complete protein as it contains all the essential amino acids that the body needs. Additionally, it is extremely digestible and gets absorbed from the gut relatively quickly compared to other types of protein sources out there. These characteristics make whey protein one of the best protein sources available.
Promotes Muscle Growth
As you may be aware, muscle mass typically declines with age. This usually leads to fat gain and at the same time, increases the risk of a number of chronic diseases. This can be countered or reversed with a combination of strength and a balanced diet. It’s been shown that strength training coupled with the consumption of high-protein foods or protein supplements plays a large role in preventing the accumulation of fat. Hence, this is why most people who are looking to lose weight or gain muscle usually rely on high-protein sources such as whey to attain their health and weight goals. Whey protein is effective for preventing age-related muscle loss and for improving strength largely due to the high amounts of leucine that is present in the supplement. As for muscle growth, it has been proven that whey protein is relatively better compared to other kinds of protein sources such as casein or soy.
May Treat Type 2 Diabetes
Whey protein has been proven to be effective at regulating blood sugar levels in the body. This, in turn, increases the levels of insulin and insulin sensitivity as well. If you are not aware, insulin is a hormone that stimulates the uptake of blood sugar in the cells, ensuring that it is kept within moderate limit. Moreover, whey protein is higher in protein compared to egg white and fish. Because the properties in whey protein can be compared to diabetic drugs such as sulfonylurea, it is thought to be an effective substitute for treatments for type 2 diabetes. In fact, consuming whey protein supplement either prior to or together with a meal high in carbohydrates has been shown to regulate blood sugar in both type 2 diabetics and healthy people.
Possible Side Effects of Whey Protein
Although whey protein contains numerous benefits for the body, it also comes with a few side effects. In many cases, whey protein supplements contain extra carbohydrates—they usually take the form of sugars. There is also some fat present in them as well. This essentially means that instead of losing weight, you might actually gain more weight.
Kidney Stone Formation
Consuming excessive whey protein can lead to a risk of kidney stone formation. Experts have found that although consuming whey protein might not necessarily lead to kidney stone formation, it might exacerbate the condition if you already have it. Ensure that you are including an adequate amount of dietary fibre into your diet to prevent kidney stones.
Since whey protein consists of lactose, people who are sensitive to lactose may experience digestive problems. However, it’s not just people who suffer from a lactose intolerant that may suffer from this problem, even people who do not have lactose intolerant might compromise the health of their digestive tract. Hence, it is best to opt for a whey protein concentrate instead as it does not have as much lactose.