Whey Protein Powder: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re interested in staying fit and healthy, chances are you’ve already come across whey protein powder and its role in muscle building.

If you hit the gym to do cardio, lift weights or both, or you regularly pedal or pound the pavement for your fitness fix, consuming a lot of protein will help rebuild and improve your muscles for a lean, muscular body.

The best way to enhance your intake is a protein shake made with whey powder. Thus, if you wish to build a leaner and stronger physique, it’s time to invest in a tub of top-tier whey protein powder to make your muscles grow significantly.

What Is Whey Protein Powder?

Whey protein is a mix of proteins separated from the whey, which is the liquid bit of milk that isolates during cheese production.

Milk contains two types of protein: whey (20%) and casein (80%).

Whey can be found in the liquid part of milk. When cheese is manufactured, the fatty components of the milk coagulate and the whey is isolated from it as a byproduct.

When you open a yogurt container and find liquid floating on top, that’s whey. Before cheesemakers discovered its commercial value, they used to discard it.

After being isolated during cheese production, whey undergoes several processing steps to become whey protein, which is a powder added to meal replacements, protein bars, and shakes.

Whey protein tastes funny on its own; thus it’s normally flavored. Vanilla- strawberry- and chocolate-flavored powders are most popular.

Taking whey protein powder is an effective way to include protein atop your daily intake.

This can highly beneficial for bodybuilders and those lacking protein in their diet or simply looking to lose some weight.

How Many Types of Whey Protein Are There?

There are three different types of whey protein, including:

Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)

As the name indicates, the protein here is concentrated and it maintains more nutrients compared to other types of whey due to the unique processing methods.

Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

Easier to digest than WPC, the Whey Protein Isolate is usually removed of all carbohydrates; hence the lactose, making it effective for those with lactose intolerance.

Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH)

This process breaks down the small building blocks of proteins known as “peptides” into a pre-digested state for faster absorption. WHP does not require as much digestion as WPC and WPI.

What Are the Health Effects of Whey Protein?

Whey protein is among the best-studied supplements in the market, and for good reason. It has a surprisingly high nutritional value, and studies have revealed various health benefits. Let’s check them out!

Whey Protein Powder and Weight Gain

Muscle mass and strength decline with age.

Gaining weight can be challenging for those with genetics that won’t allow it. People who have a hard time gaining weight can opt for things that will help support them.  One of them is whey protein powder.

Whey protein, consumed as part of your weight gain diet, can help you pack on pounds. Including a whey protein shake to your usual diet can promote some weight gain. However, any pounds added through exercising and consuming whey will be muscle – a healthy addition to your body, in most cases.

All you have to do is to mix whey protein powder with water or milk (we recommend using milk) and add other ingredients like oats, fruits. You can also add your favorite ice-cream.

Whey Protein Powder and Weight Loss

While several studies support whey protein powder’s conventional use for muscle building, many others suggest it can aid weight loss, too.

A review and meta-analysis found that obese or overweight people who supplemented with whey protein powder lost more weight and gained more muscle mass compared to those who didn’t.

The same meta-analysis also reported that whey protein powder users also experienced improvements in blood sugar control, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

The Amino Acids In Whey Protein Are Significant

Your body cannot produce essential amino acids (EAAs) for itself. Therefore, it depends upon dietary sources. Luckily, high-quality, complete protein from whey contains all nine essential amino acids you need. These play a vital role in meeting your everyday protein demands for muscle growth and recovery.

Whey boasts the highest biological value (BV) of any protein, meaning the EAAs are absorbed and utilized more efficiently by your body than other sources of protein.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are an essential set of EAAs, pertaining to those looking to gain muscle mass.

Whey protein features the highest concentration of branched-chain amino acids of any dietary source of protein (26 g of BCAAs per 100 g of protein). The 3 BCAAs include leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are proven to directly impact muscle gain and maintenance of existing lean muscle tissue.

In a 2017 study, people who had a drink with 5.6 g of BCAAs after their resistance workout gained a 22% increase in muscle protein synthesis, as opposed to those who had a placebo drink. However, BCAAs cannot fully increase muscle protein synthesis without the other essential amino acids—this is where whey protein comes into play as it offers all the EEAs required to build muscle.

Liver Health

Researchers provided 20 grams of WPI daily to 38 patients with liver disease for 12 weeks, and by the end of the trial, not only did glutathione production enhanced — but the health of the liver cells themselves improved significantly.

In another study involving 11 obese women with liver disease who were supplemented with whey protein experienced a decrease in triglycerides and liver size.

Is Whey Protein Safe?

Whey protein powder is safe and you can take it without any unfavorable effects. That said, it can cause digestive symptoms in people with lactose intolerance, and those who are allergic to milk could be allergic to whey as well.

If you encounter side effects, consider a WPI or non-dairy alternative.

Whey Protein and Kidney Function

Protein powder on its own is not bad for the kidneys. However, more than your daily requirements constantly can do serious damage.

Athletes who do strength training on a regular basis are able to burn that extra protein from whey protein powder. While there’s little to no evidence linking whey protein and kidney function and health, people who aren’t doing any physical training or have pre-existing kidney diseases are more likely to harm their kidneys by consuming protein powder.

Whey Protein Is Best With Milk or Water?

If your goal is to gain muscle, take it with milk.

If you want to lose weight or are simply taking it to supplement your nutrition, consider mixing it with water.

If you have a dairy allergy, having it with milk might cause you more problems. On the other hand, consuming it with plain water may not suit everyone’s taste. Knowing what fitness goal you have should help you choose wisely.

Wrapping Up

Taking whey protein powder is an effective and inexpensive way to include more protein in your regular diet. If you’re a gym-goer, athlete, or just looking to lose a few pounds, whey protein can help you build and repair muscle efficiently.

Have any questions?

Feel free to leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.