Whey protein does not only help in muscle recovery after a workout session. Here are all the health benefits of whey protein and how to include it in your diet.

If you have ever made paneer or cheese at home, you must know about the liquid you obtain from it. You get two proteins from milk – casein and whey. You get whey protein after separating it from casein in milk. In other terms, it is the by-product of cheese making that contains all 9 amino acids required by your body. It is also low in lactose and contains several benefits which are good for your health. It is used as whey protein, a supplement that people use to boost muscle mass, lose weight, lower cholesterol levels, and more. Here are all the health benefits of whey protein, its side effects, and the types you should know.

What is whey protein?

Whey protein is a mixture of proteins isolated from whey during the process of cheese-making from milk. It is the watery portion of the milk that is separated as a by-product when the fatty part of the milk solidifies during the production of cheese. It is a complete protein because it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body is unable to produce on its own. This type of protein is most commonly used by athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts because it is quickly absorbed by the body. It increases protein intake and supports muscle growth and recovery. It comes in various forms, including whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate, each with different levels of protein purity and processing.

Whey protein: Benefits, types, how to use and side effects
Protein powder can help you lose weight. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock.

What are the types of whey protein?

There are many types of whey protein and the differentiating factor is the way they are processed. The most commonly used types of whey protein include:

  • Whey protein concentrate (WPC): It is a type of whey protein that contains different forms of protein (70-80 percent), low levels of fat, and low levels of carbohydrates. It is believed to be one of the least processed, which makes it more beneficial nutrients in the body.
  • Whey protein isolate (WPI): It is a processed form of whey protein that contains less fat and lactose, and high protein (90 percent or higher). It is a better option for people trying to minimize carbohydrate and fat intake while maximizing protein intake.
  • Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH): Also known as hydrolyzed whey, this type of whey protein is predigested or partially broken down, making it easier to digest and utilize. But it can cause your insulin levels to spike, found a study published in the journal Amino Acids.

What are the benefits of whey protein?

Whey protein offers several health benefits, including:

1. May aid weight loss

Consuming protein is essential if you want to lose weight. It makes you fuller for longer, which helps you lose weight by reducing appetite. A 2008 study published in Nutrition and Metabolism observed 158 people and it was found that people who consumed more whey protein lost significantly more body fat and showed better preservation of lean muscle in comparison to participants who had another beverage.

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2. May boost immunity

Whey protein is a soluble dairy protein that contains such as immunoglobins, alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, lactoferrin, and other factors. All of this helps boost your immunity and keep infections and diseases at bay. It also contains antioxidants, substances that help you fight against oxidation in your body and enhance the body’s defense system.

3. May reduce age-related muscle loss risk

As we age, our bodies tend to lose some muscle, and we become weak in terms of muscle strength. Whey protein helps in muscle building and strengthening. It also helps in reducing age-related muscle loss and is very easily absorbed by the body.

4. Good source of protein

If you are looking for a way to meet your daily protein requirement, whey protein can help you do that. It is a high-quality protein that contains all essential acids that are easy to digest. Whey protein is one of the best dietary sources of protein that you can include in your diet.

5. May lower blood pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension is when the pressure in your blood vessels is too high. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming dairy products can reduce blood pressure levels. It contains bioactive peptides called lactokinins which help keep your blood pressure in check.

6. May manage type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way your body makes and utilizes blood sugar levels. A study published in the journal Obesity found that including whey protein in your diet can help increase the levels of insulin and its sensitivity.

7. May reduce inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s response to damage. In some cases, it can be good but sometimes, it can be chronic and lead to problems. Chronic inflammation can lead to poor health and increase your chances of developing diseases.

8. May be beneficial for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

IBD is chronic inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract. It is a term used to describe Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In a study published in the Journal of Dairy Science, whey protein supplementation was shown to have a beneficial effect on IBD.

9. May lower cholesterol levels

Including whey protein in your diet can help you keep your cholesterol levels in check. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that giving whey protein supplements to overweight men and women can reduce your LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.

10. Alleviates heart disease risk

High blood pressure and cholesterol increase the risk of developing heart disease, and keeping these in check can reduce the risk as well. A study published in the International Dairy Journal found that whey protein helps reduce blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of heart disease or stroke.

How to use whey protein?

If you are a beginner, you should start with smaller servings to take care of your servings. Here are some of the ways to add whey protein to your diet:

  • You can mix it with water or healthy milk such as almond or soy to make it taste better and healthier.
  • Mix whey protein powder into oatmeal or yogurt to prepare an easy and quick protein-rich breakfast.
  • You can add whey protein powder to your smoothies for that extra boost of protein. Combine it with fruits, vegetables, and other nutrients.
  • Whey protein shakes can be extremely filling and make for a good alternative meal when you are in a hurry.
  • If you want to get creative, include whey protein powder in recipes such as pancakes, protein-rich soups, or sauces.Also read: Whey protein: How to use this protein mix to build muscle strength
protein powders
You can protein powders in your daily recipes as well. Image Courtesy: Adobe Stock.

What is the best time to include whey protein?

Whey protein can be consumed as a pre or post-workout supplement. You can have it in the morning as your breakfast or with it, or you can have it in the evening. Ideally, have it at least 30 minutes before your pre-workout meals and within 30 minutes if you are consuming it as a post-workout meal.

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Are there any side effects of whey protein?

Consuming too much protein can lead to problems which is why you need to consume it in moderation. Here are some of the side effects of whey protein if you consume high doses of it:

  • cramps
  • reduced appetite
  • fatigue or lethargy
  • nausea
  • headache
  • stomach ache
  • acne

Make sure you consume it in moderation and consult a doctor before including it in your diet.

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