Whey protein has gone through a number of phases over the years, from being used solely by bodybuilders to now being used by athletes, casual exercisers and fitness aficionado at all levels. In this article we will get you to the fundamentals of whey protein powders and the science behind it. You will learn whether or not, you should use whey protein and steer clear of silly myths about Whey Protein.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a “complete protein” that is enriched with all the 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose content. It is fast and easy to digest.
Advantages of Having Whey Protein
The benefits of whey have been known for centuries, as an old aphorism dating from about 1777 says, “If everyone were raised on whey, doctors would be bankrupt”. Also another expression from Florence, Italy around 1650 , “If you want to live a healthy and active life, drink whey and dine early” revealed the goodness of whey protein back in time.
Lose Fat And Preserve Muscles:
According to one study, published in Nutrition & Metabolism, people who consumed specialized whey fraction “lost significantly more body fat and showed a greater preservation of lean muscle compared to subjects consuming the control beverage”.
Increase Size and Strength:
Whey protein provides amino acids, which serve as building block for increased muscle growth. It also increases release of anabolic hormones such as Insulin which stimulate muscle growth. Its high content of amino acid “Leucine”, is known to trigger muscle protein synthesis at the molecular and genetic level.
Keep Hunger at Bay:
New studies suggest that whey may exceptionally influence food intake through its effects on cholecystokinin which is a satiety related hormone and it gives greater sense of fullness and satisfaction. Whey protein produced 28% increase in plasma amino acid concentrations , along with 60-65% increases in two hormones associated with satiety.
Whey may also support weight loss by adjusting levels of the paramount neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for a wide range of psychological and biological functions, and controls mood, anxiety, and appetite. Healthy level of serotonin is associated with relaxation, self-control, and an enhanced ability to overcome stress, whereas lower levels are corresponds to depression, anxiety, and poor appetite control.
A new 12-week study with obese adults, average age 48, showed that whey protein could significantly improve their metabolic profile on such important issues as reducing triglycerides, cholesterol, and improving blood sugar metabolism (less insulin resistance).
Stronger Immune System:
Whey protein increases the production of endogenous Glutathione that helps detoxify the body . This boosts your immune system and makes it stronger.
Whey protein may help in the fight against some common forms of cancer including prostate and colon. As per some recent experiments in rodents, it was found that there is antitumor activity in the protein fraction and to be more specific in the whey protein component of milk.
A recent study conducted at Boston University showed that elderly individuals who consumed low levels of protein suffered a significant loss of bone density four years after the start of the study, especially in the hip and spine areas. Thus a diet comprising of whey protein may help maintain strong bones as we age, especially when coupled with an exercise and resistance training regime. Whey protein is a very good source of calcium and is considered alkalizing to the body. A nutritious diet rich in vegetables, fruits, calcium rich foods, EFA’s, vitamin D and whey protein will help keep bones healthy and strong.
Disadvantages Of Whey Protein
As with anything else, there are disadvantages of whey protein. First, the quality whey protein products in the market are fairly expensive, making them inaccessible to most people who get into body building. However, most serious fitness enthusiast will search high and low to find a whey protein product that is of high quality, and economical at the same time, since the advantages are so plentiful as compared to it’s disadvantages.
Generally, most of the complications related to whey protein intake have to do with digestive issues, such as gas, bloating, cramps, headaches and fatigue. None of these are normally considered life threatening, more so than annoying complications.
Most of the research has shown that if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, they are most likely due to either the lactose, which is found almost in all whey protein concentrate or sweeteners used. With that said, there are various methods of whey production, such as ion-exchanged that can influence how well your body can utilize the protein, leading to improper digestion of the whey itself.
The biggest fear often expressed about the whey protein intake is that, too much protein is “bad for the kidneys”. Research though has shown this is not true in all healthy individuals. For those who already have a kidney disease, high protein diets can exacerbate pre-existing conditions. Healthy individuals, who do not have any underlying or unknown kidney disease have nothing to worry about with higher intakes of protein. Since in healthy individuals, your body is adapted to higher protein intakes and excess protein is flushed out by increasing glomerular filtration rates which means your kidney passes more fluid and there is an increase in urine production.
While high protein and low carbohydrate diet has proven to help lose fat in short term, its prolonged use may lead to Ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body burns more fat as a source of energy due to the lack of carbs. This is dangerous as it stresses the liver and causes destruction of muscle tissues.
According to Endocrineweb.com, osteoporosis is a condition in which bone becomes brittle and fragile due to depletion of calcium and bone protein. There is an increased risk of bone fracture in people having osteoporosis. Although there is no scientific evidence to prove the argument, it is believed that whey protein isolate taken in excess can cause mineral imbalance resulting in decreased bone density or osteoporosis.
Otherwise, whey protein has an excellent safety profile and most people can consume it without any problems whatsoever.