What is whey? Milk is made up of 80% casein and 20% whey. When milk is strained during the cheese-making process, whey is the liquid by-product. The liquid is separated and processed into whey protein powder to be used in protein bars or shakes. Whey protein is a popular dietary supplement, especially among fitness enthusiasts, bodybuilders, and athletes. In this post, we will discuss whey protein pros and cons.
Whey Protein Pros
1. It is a complete protein
Whey protein is a quickly digested protein that contains all the essential amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks of protein. The human body can produce a majority of these amino acids. Yet, there are 9 essential amino acids that the body cannot produce. You need to get them from food or supplements. Whey contains all 9 of these.
Supplementing with essential amino acids is associated with increased muscle protein synthesis, better muscle growth, reduced muscle damage, faster recovery, and improved performance. In addition to essential amino acids, whey is also high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs make up about one-third of your muscle protein.
2. Increased muscle protein synthesis after a workout
When people exercise, small tears in muscle fibers are created especially during resistance training. To prevent muscle breakdown, you need to replenish the muscles with protein. Studies show that whey is better than other types of protein when it comes to stimulating muscle growth and repair after a workout.
3. Boosts the immune system
Not too many people know that whey protein can also boost immunity. Whey is a rich source of cysteine, a type of amino acid. Cysteine boosts levels of glutathione, an antioxidant found in cells.
The primary function of glutathione is protecting cells from damage brought about by free radicals. It also supports the immune system by warding off viruses and bacteria. Also, whey contains nutrients such as alpha lactoglobulin, beta-lactoglobulin, lactoferrin, and immunoglobulins that further strengthen the immune system.
Whey Protein Cons
1. Some people may be intolerant
Some people are allergic to dairy products. Whey is derived from milk. If you’re allergic to milk, you may experience unpleasant symptoms such as gas and bloating from whey protein. As a by-product of milk, whey also contains lactose. If you are lactose intolerant, whey protein powder may not be the best supplement for you.
2. It is highly processed
Whey is a byproduct of the cheese-making process. After the liquid whey is separated from cheese, it is processed to remove carbohydrates and fats from the protein. Since it is highly processed, whey may contain ingredients like vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors. It may also contain fillers such as xantham gum and soy protein.
Final Thoughts on the Pros and Cons of Whey Protein
If your diet is lacking in nutrients, taking whey protein supplements is a good way to boost protein intake. Whey is a complete protein that provides lots of health benefits, including improved muscle growth and faster recovery. However, if you’re allergic to dairy or lactose intolerant, you may consider a plant-based protein instead. If you want to get fit and get the most out of your workouts, check out the best whey protein supplements.