When it comes to supplements for muscle growth whey protein is among the best studied in the world. These studies have revealed that whey protein has a high nutritional value as well as various other health benefits.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is actually a byproduct of cheese production and is found in the watery part of milk that separates during the production process. After the whey protein has been separated it then goes through a series of processing steps to make what we typically know as whey protein powder, which is added to protein shakes, protein bars and other meal replacements.
Milk contains two main types of protein, whey (20%) and casein (80%). And believe it or not, but cheese makers used to simply discard whey until they discovered its commercial value.
Types of Whey Protein: Concentrate vs Hydrolysate vs Isolate
There are a handful of whey protein supplements found in the marketplace. They are derived from the same source but the main difference is the way they have been processed.
- Whey Concentrate: 70-80% protein, this type of whey protein has the best flavor and contains lactose (milk sugar) and fat.
- Whey Hydrolysate: often referred to as hydrolyzed whey, this variation of whey has actually been pre-digested so that it can be absorbed faster once consumed.
- Whey Isolate: 90% protein, or higher why Isolate contains less fat and lactose and is also missing many of the beneficial nutrients found in the whey protein concentrate.
For many of you reading this the best form of whey is the concentrate not only is it the cheapest but it also retains more of the beneficial nutrients naturally found in whey. Whey concentrate also taste better due to the fact that it contains more lactose and fat.
However, some of you may have a hard time tolerating concentrate or you may be trying to keep your fat and carb intake low in-which case whey protein isolate (or even hydrolysate) may be a better option.
10 Health Benefits of Whey Protein Powder
So now you have an idea what whey protein is and the different types let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of whey protein.
1. Whey is an Excellent Source of Protein
I’m sure you have already come to the conclusion that whey is an excellent source of high quality protein. It contains all of the much needed and essential amino acids making it a popular supplements among bodybuilder’s, athletes, and others who want additional protein in their diet.
2. Whey Protein Helps to Promote Muscle Growth
When it comes to building muscle whey protein has been shown to be better at producing gains when compared to other proteins such as soy and casein making it a favorite with bodybuilders and gym goers. However, unless your diet is already lacking in protein taking supplements probably won’t make that much of a difference.
3. Whey Protein Enhances the Body’s Antioxidant Defenses
Antioxidants help to act against oxidation in the body which in-turn helps to cut the risk of various chronic diseases. There are various antioxidants but one of the most beneficial is glutathione. Glutathione is produced by the body (unlike most antioxidants we get from our diet) and its production is determined by several amino acids, some of which are often in limited supply such as cysteine. So high-cysteine foods such as whey protein, can help to boost your body’s antioxidant defenses.
4. Whey Protein May Help To Lower Blood Pressure
There have been some studies carried out that have linked dairy products with reduced blood pressure. This has been attributed to a family of bioactive peptides found in dairy, known as “angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors” (ACE-inhibitors). ACE-inhibitors are found in whey protein and are called lactokinins. So due to bioactive peptides found in whey, people with elevated blood pressure (hypertension) may find it beneficial and it may help to lower blood pressure.
5. Whey Protein May Have Beneficial Effects on Blood Fats
High cholesterol, especially LDL cholesterol, can increase the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that long-term whey protein supplementation may lower cholesterol levels in the body, however, the evidence is very limited at this point and it not conclusive and further studies are needed before any conclusions can be made. In one of the studies overweight participants were given 54 grams of whey protein per day, for 12 weeks which in-turn led to a reduction in the total amount of LDL cholesterol.
6. Whey Protein Can Actually Help You Lose Weight
When it comes to weight loss, eating plenty of protein is a well-known weight loss strategy. Some studies have shown that whey protein may help you to lose weight faster than other types of protein. By consuming whey protein you can help to promote fat loss by boosting your metabolism, which in-turn will help you to burn more calories, whey can also help to suppress your appetite leading to reduced calorie intake, and finally, regular consumption of whey can help to maintain muscle mass when you are trying to lose weight.
7. Whey Protein Can Help to Treat Type 2 Diabetes
Studies have shown that whey protein can be effective at moderating blood sugar, increasing the levels of insulin and helping with the sensitivity to its effects. As a result, consuming whey protein can be used as a supplementary treatment for type 2 diabetes. Other sources of protein such as fish and eggs don’t offer the same benefits as whey protein when it comes to treating type 2 diabetes.
8. Whey Protein May Help Reduce Inflammation
A large review study found that high doses of whey protein helped to reduce blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a key marker of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is part of the body’s response to damage. Some inflammation in the body can actually be beneficial, however, under certain circumstances inflammation can become chronic.
9. Whey Protein Can Be Beneficial for Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Recent studies in both humans and rodents have shown that whey protein may be beneficial for inflammatory bowel disease. However, studies are still in their early days and more tests are needed before any concrete claims can be made.
10. Whey Protein is Highly Filling Helping to Reduce Hunger
Whey protein can help you to feel full which in-turn can help to suppress those cravings for food and the desire to eat in between meals. So, if you are on a diet to lose weight or if you are simply trying to eat fewer calories, whey protein is very satiating (filling) making it a useful addition to a weight loss diet.