Whey Protein Latest Facts: Benefits, Types, Uses, and Side Effects

During cheese production, a liquid material is produced as a byproduct which is called whey. The mixture of protein when separated from whey becomes whey protein. While producing cheese, milk is coagulated and whey is left out. It contains all the soluble materials after the pH is dropped to 4.6 during the coagulation process. Whey proteins are mostly used as a dietary supplement for increasing muscle mass and strength. Many health advantages have been shown with the consumption of whey protein. In the aspect of taste whey protein usually is not nice for which it is flavored with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

Whey Protein

Whey Protein

Proteins and their importance in Our Body

Proteins are considered the building blocks of our body. They are important constituents of muscle, tendon, organs, and skins along with hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and other molecules.

Proteins are manufactured from amino acids which are linked together like a chain. Many amino acids are produced by our body whereas others are found in food. The amino acids which need to be taken from food are termed essential amino acids.

Whey protein contains most of the essential amino acids and is particularly rich in branched-chain amino acids like leucine and also contains cysteine. Whey protein also consists of lactoalbumin, lactoglobulin, serum albumin, and immunoglobulins.

Dosage of Whey Protein

It is better to follow the given instruction in the packaging for consumption. The usually recommended dose varies from 1-2 scoops or 25-50 gram per day generally after workouts.

The thing to keep in mind is our total protein consumption. Eating fish, meat, and other protein diets while consuming whey protein is unnecessary.

Types of Whey protein

Concentrates: The level of lactose is very high in these types while the level of fat and cholesterol is low.

Isolates: Lactose and fat are removed while processing and contains 90% protein by weight.

Hydrolysates: The process of predigestion and partial hydrolyzation is done here mainly with a motive of easier metabolism.

In comparison, whey protein concentrate looks to be a better option. It is one that retains the most beneficial nutrients present in whey protein. It also has a better taste as it contains lactose.

The problem with a concentrated form is that it is intolerable in some individuals, mainly due to lactose intolerance, in such cases, isolates and hydrolysate can be used.

Applications of Whey Protein

Whey protein is usually supplied in the market as a dietary supplement and is sold in powdered form so that it can be mixed with beverages. The major use of this supplement is muscle growth and development. While we are exercising, muscle proteins are reduced to amino acids and are then subsequently oxidized by mitochondria.

When we eat protein supplements it will improve protein recovery although it may not improve athletic performance instantly. It does so by increasing the amino acid pool in our body.

Usage in Muscle growth and development

According to research published in the Journal of sports nutrition and exercise metabolism, resistance training is benefited by whey protein supplementation. Along with this, it is also concluded that people with whey protein supplementation have relatively high gain in lean tissue mass.

In another similar study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and exercise metabolism, during 10 weeks resistance training program, among two groups, the group which was supplied with whey supplement gained greater strength, lean body mass, and decrease in fat compared to casein supplement.

Effects of whey protein on muscle mass and strength:

Whey protein is primarily used to increase muscle mass and strength, because of which whey protein is popular among athletes, bodybuilders, fitness models, and people going to the gym regularly. These are the ways by which whey protein increases muscle mass and strength:

  • Building blocks: As it supplements the body with various amino acids, it provides building blocks for the formation of proteins which in turn increases muscle growth.
  • Hormones: This protein facilitates the release of insulin and other hormones, which contributes to muscle growth.
  • Leucine: It contains leucine, which is known to increase protein synthesis at both the molecular and genetic level.
  • Fast absorption: Whey protein is rapidly absorbed and put into use instantly compared to other types of protein.

Whey protein is more effective at developing muscles when it is taken right before, after, and/or during a workout. Production of muscle is maximum in the period after training.

Whey protein effects are considered to be better compared to other proteins, like when comparing it with casein. Whey protein is used for short term muscle growth, whereas casein helps in long term muscle growth. We should also keep in mind that, only when our diet is deficient in protein or our diet needs more protein, then only whey proteins have significant effects.

In a 12 weeks study in older adults, who have sufficient consumption of protein, there were no significant changes in muscle growth when whey protein was given. So if one person is already consuming a high quantity of meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, the benefits of taking protein in muscle growth seems minimal.

Usage in weight loss

One Research conducted among 158 individuals, published in Nutrition and Metabolism, showed that the group’s who were supplemented with whey protein lost more body fat and also gained more lean muscle, compared to a group who drank other beverages. In fact, proteins can help with weight loss because they have satiating effects.

When we consume a diet rich in protein it can increase energy expenditure by 80-100 calories per day and help us consume up to 441 fewer calories per day.

In one recent study, consuming 25% of the calories of protein decreases cravings by 60%. It also decreases the desire for a late-night snack by 50%. Consuming whey protein is a good way to increase our protein intake which has a high advantage for weight loss. Various studies have demonstrated that replacing other sources of calories with protein or adjunction with weightlifting can reduce weight by 8 pounds while increasing lean muscle mass. Whey protein is an excellent way to reduce weight and increase the bulk of muscle.

Other usages and benefits

Lowering cholesterol: British Journal of Nutrition published an article in which supplementation of whey protein was given to 70 overweight males and females. Along with it, the measurement of parameters like lipids and insulin was done. It was concluded that whey protein decreases the level of Total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol significantly compared to the group in which casein supplement was given.

Immunity: Immune response is found to be improved by whey protein in children. One study published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition found that groups supplemented with 10 grams of whey protein had an increase in the immune response.

Blood pressure: A research was published in the International Dairy Journal, which showed that blood pressure tends to decrease while consuming beverages containing whey protein. It also concluded that the risk of having heart disease also decreases while taking whey protein supplements.

Reducing Wasting in people with HIV: In the Journal of Clinical and Investigative Medicine, researchers published an article that showed whey protein supplementation decreased wasting in HIV-positive patients.

Psoriasis: Research shows that consuming Whey Protein for 8 weeks can reduce the symptoms of psoriasis.

Atopic diseases: When infants aged 3-12 months are supplemented with whey protein, the risk of developing allergies reduces compared to infants who drink regular formula.

Eczema: The risk of developing eczema is reduced in infants consuming whey milk for the first 3-12 months.

Side effects of whey protein

A moderate dose of whey protein does not produce any significant adverse effect but if it taken in high doses various side effect may appear which are mentioned below:

  • Stomach pain
  • Cramps
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

Allergies may also develop in some individuals if taken in large amounts. Acne may also appear if we don’t consider the proper dose. Although there are some side effects of whey protein supplementation, the advantages outweigh the negative effects.

We can find some articles on the effects of whey protein in contribution to kidney damage and osteoporosis but much other research suggests the opposite. Whey protein seems beneficial to osteoporosis and does not damage the kidney.

However, it is always important to consult a medical professional if there is an underlying kidney or liver issue. It is better to prevent any complication of these diseases by avoiding whey protein, as there is not much substantial research done in these fields.

For some people, regular protein can be hard to tolerate, in such cases whey protein concentrate, isolate, hydrolysate can be used. If there is severe intolerance to protein then we can simply avoid whey protein and consume mildly protein-rich food instead.

On the bright side, various trends show that whey protein has an excellent safety profile and most people can take it without any negative health consequences.

Conclusion

By analyzing all data available we can conclude that whey protein consumed correctly provides various health benefits. It is a good source of protein that can be easily absorbed and effectively utilized by our body.

Whey protein is particularly beneficial for individuals who are involved in athletics, bodybuilding, or in people who desire to improve muscle bulk and strength while decreasing fat.

References

Whey Protein Production and Utilization

Whey Proteins in the Regulation of Food Intake and Satiety

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