You’ve seen the tubs and packets in the store. They’re usually in the medicine aisle, often by the protein bars and other health products. Whey protein is one of those promoted for men, but something even women should consider taking. This is especially the case if you struggle to get protein through your diet.
Whey protein is actually one of the most popular substitutes and additions to the diet. The industry is expected to make $11.7 billion next year alone! Just think of all that protein powder being sold.
Whether you’re a bodybuilder, trying to tone up, or just want to do something extra that will benefit your health, protein powder is likely one of those products that you’re considering. The truth is that it is extremely good for the body, especially when used with exercise and a balanced diet. After all, our bodies need protein—and we’ll go into more of that soon.
Here’s all you need to know about whey protein and why it’s good for us.
Wait, What Exactly Is Whey Protein First?
Okay, before we delve into the needs of protein and the benefits of the powder, you need to know what it is.
In short, whey protein is a supplement to help you get more protein into your diet. But there’s a lot more that goes into the development of it to make sure it’s healthy for you. It’s a low-lactose option to add to your diet, so those who do suffer from lactose intolerance or have difficulty with dairy can still get the protein they need.
It also contains all nine of the essential amino acids that natural forms of protein has. This makes it a complete protein, offering some of the many health benefits when you drink it. There are also few fats and carbohydrates. The exact amount of protein you get will depend on the brand, so you’ll need to check the full details before buying.
The cheaper options tend to have less protein—sometimes around 30%. These are beneficial for those just starting out. You can then work your way up to those that have the likes of 99% protein in them. It can be difficult for the body to absorb and digest the full proteins from the start.
Choose Your Whey Protein Carefully
You’ll find that there are different types of whey protein available when you go into the store. The most common are whey concentrate, which has already been mentioned above.
If you find whey isolates, they usually have a concentration level of around 90%. They go through an extra process that gets rid of any lactose and fat within the system, so you get as much protein in your body as possible.
The downside for many is that the isolate tubs are more expensive. After all, the companies need to get the money back for the extra process. If you’re on a low-carb diet, they are the preferred option. And they do tend to be quicker to digest compared to the other whey proteins out there.
Whey protein hydrolysate is your third option, which is the “predigested” form of powder. This just means that it has gone through a partial hydrolysis process and is ready for your body to digest the rest of it. Your body will actually be able to absorb far more protein from the lower concentrates and start using it much sooner.
If you have an allergy or you struggle with digestive issues, this is the type of protein powder to consider. It is the most expensive, but it will be worth it when you can concentrate on your health and fitness levels.
Do I Really Need Protein Supplements?
Sure, you can get protein from your diet but do you really get enough? Protein is one of the food groups that people tend to get the least of, especially the right types of protein. And it’s so important!
Protein gives us the building blocks our bodies need for everyday things. It creates the foundation for our muscles, tendons, ligaments and so much more! Without it, we’d build up from a weakened base and find ourselves more susceptible to injury.
But does that mean we need to get it in supplement form?
If you can’t get it through your diet, then you definitely do. Put it this way: how else are you going to get it?
Vegetarians and vegans tend to struggle the most to get protein into their bodies. Make sure you get it from somewhere else, even if that means supplements.
As mention, protein is the building blocks. But it’s not just to create a stronger base. The Protein helps our muscles develop. It helps them repair quicker, so they grow stronger and build bigger. When we start to the lose weight, the protein is what protects our muscles. Let’s not mention the fact that protein takes longer than other food groups to break down, so we feel fuller and don’t need to eat as much.
On top of that, the food group helps to speed up the metabolism and helps with the balancing of hormones.
So, by taking in more whey protein, you get more protein in your body. Here are 10 major health benefits of getting more whey protein in your system.
Lose Fat Without the Muscle Loss
How often have you lost weight only to find that your muscle mass has decreased too? If you lose weight quickly, you may find that you lose the muscle instead of the fat, especially at first. You have to work harder to lose the fat and build the muscles back up.
Most of the time, we end up reducing our protein intake to lose weight, despite knowing that we need a healthy diet. Whey protein has fewer calories than most meals but has all the protein we need. While we’re losing weight, we can focus on protecting and building the muscles. When the body needs to burn extra calories, it takes them from the fat cells rather than the muscles.
You’ll start to get that beach-perfect body without worrying about muscle loss. In fact, you’ll have a better look because you’ll keep your muscle definition and tone, making it clear that you work hard and are proud of your efforts.
By the way, studies have shown that whey protein is hugely effective for losing fat but not muscle. It’s also much more beneficial than other supplements and shakes, including soy protein and carb supplements.
You’ll Be Able to Do Much More!
What if I told you that your whey protein could help you do far much more when it comes to exercise? Could you ever believe that a simple, healthy shake could do anything for you like that?
Studies have shown that rats and mice that get more whey protein than others will do far more exercise. Even those that are sedentary will want to do more activity so they can burn more energy. Basically, their muscles have the ability to endure more, so you don’t feel the pain or the discomfort as quickly as you usually would. You don’t get fatigued too soon in your workout.
This helps you tone more muscles and burn more weight. It will also benefit you mentally. When you feel like you’ve done more, you’ll be happier that you are achieving better results.
And the endurance isn’t just about how long you can exercise for. The studies showed that the rats with whey protein improved their grip strength. When you take in more of the powder, you’ll be able to hold and lift far more than before. Your strength will build, which makes sense considering bodybuilders rely on protein powders to improve their strength.
Curb the Cravings Everyday
How often do you feel the need to eat? Do you remember when I said that protein breaks down in the body slower? This is a great benefit for your appetite—and therefore for your weight loss and fitness.
You’ll consume fewer calories throughout the day. There’s no need to worry about how you’ll feel either. The protein breaking down slower in the body means that you feel fuller for much longer than you would with anything fatty or full of carbohydrates.
Whey protein also tends to have fewer calories than food, so you’re getting the benefits without the bad stuff. If you just add one shake to your day, you could end up improving your weight loss efforts. By not feeling as hungry throughout the day, your mind remains positive. You’ll find it easier to stick to a diet plan or regimen.
Your cravings will also completely change. The whey protein gets rid of the lactose. This is sugar, so you’re cutting down on the amount of natural sugar your body gets. How can this help beat your cravings? Because you won’t fuel those cravings without even thinking about it! By taking in more sugar, you make the brain want more sugar.
Those cravings can make the mood dip, which also means you’re reaching for the chocolate. Before you know it, you’ve given into the cravings, haven’t done anything for your diet, and you’re coming down from a sugar high.
At the same time, the whey protein helps to balance your hormones. This is another great method to control those cravings. By not dealing with the hormonal imbalances, you won’t feel the need to reach for high sugared foods to pick your mood up. All you have is healthy additions for your body and mind.
All of this has been proven through studies. They involved humans, too! While those humans were men, they still count—yes, we like to pretend they don’t! During the study, the men either drank whey protein or types of fructose drinks. Those with the whey protein had fewer cravings than those who were fueling their bodies with extra sugar (anything ending in ose is sugar).
And You Keep Your Glucose Levels Under Control
While you’re cutting down on the cravings and fueling your body through more effective ways than sugar, you’re also keeping your glucose levels under control. This means you’re at a much lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other health conditions.
Wait, how does this work?
Well, you’re not putting the sugar into your system. Sugar breaks down extremely quickly, going into the bloodstream and causing the glucose levels to spike. The only thing the body can do is release insulin into the bloodstream to get rid of the sugar. It gets rid of it quickly so your body will come down from the sugar high with a crash.
The more insulin your body produces, the more your resistant your body becomes to it. Your body needs more insulin to be able to get rid of the glucose the lower levels once managed. As time goes on, you develop type 2 diabetes and could need medication to reverse the effects.
It’s best just to find something that will curb all this becoming a problem. Why not switch to a whey protein shake a day?
Gives You the Motherload of Antioxidants
You’ve likely heard about antioxidants and how good they are for you. We’ve mentioned them here on this blog time and time again.
Yes, antioxidants are amazing. They fight against free radicals that cause conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s. They offer the body protection against infections and diseases, giving the immune system a boost when it needs it.
The great news is that antioxidants are somewhat easy to get. Eat enough fruit and veg, and you’re perfectly fine. But what if you just don’t want to eat all that? Is there an easier way to get all the antioxidants?
Protein is the whey to go—I apologise for the pun. Whey protein is packed full of antioxidants, which will help to fight against various illnesses. So far, studies have found that the whey protein fights against prostate cancer in men. That’s great for them, but what about us? Well, the studies are still in development, but we already know that antioxidants are great for fighting against breast, bowel, and colon cancer.
If you currently know you need more kale and wheatgrass, then you can make a switch to whey protein and get the exact same antioxidants. The difference is you’ll find it easier to intake them.
Oh and your whey is drank, which makes it much easier for your body to absorb the health benefits. There’s no need for your body to digest everything first!
And yes, your immune system as a whole benefit from the whey protein. This could technically be the 11th benefit, but let’s join it in here because it’s for the same reason. The antioxidants help to support the immune system, even when it’s fighting another condition. You could be an HIV or cancer sufferer at the moment, but you’ll be able to support your immune system further. There’s no point dealing with colds and illnesses when you really don’t need to!
The antioxidants in your whey protein don’t just offer support but also help to remove toxins. They will flush the toxins completely out of the system while helping the body absorb more vitamin C, E, and many other much-needed nutrients.
If you currently do have cancer or you are going through radiation treatments, the antioxidants will be able to help flush the bad out. Your body benefits from all the good, and you could find the side effects from your treatments are reduced.
And if you don’t currently go through treatments you can still benefit. The environment is full of pollutants. No matter how much we try to avoid them, they can take over our lives, and they are absorbed through our skin. By drinking more whey protein, we take in the antioxidants that will help to fight against the toxins and get them out of the system.
Reduce the Risk of Common Health Problems
There are many conditions that people tend to suffer from more than others—and they tend to be when people get older. High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and even cardiovascular disease are all common problems and are mostly diet related.
We tend to eat unhealthy food that is high in saturated fats. While the food tastes good and is easy to make, it’s not doing out health any good. Our arteries are more likely to clog, and we end up running the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
When it comes to cholesterol, it is important to note that the whey protein helps to lower the levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol. When this type of cholesterol is allowed to build up in the arteries, it makes it easier to block them.
Studies have been conducted in women—yes, this benefit has been proven to ourselves—that the whey protein can help to reduce the LDL in our bodies. We still get the needed HDL (good) cholesterol to support our hearts and health. Even better is that the study was conducted in obese women, which shows that we can all benefit right away.
This study was also conducted using casein powders, which didn’t show the same benefits. It’s not just taking in more protein, but the type of protein that is important.
To make it even better, the use of whey protein has actually helped to show an increase in HDL cholesterol. The good cholesterol is a fat that supports every little cell in your body. It helps to reuse and recycle the LDL cholesterol in the body and gets it to the liver so it can be reprocessed and turned into something helpful for the body. It also helps to remove some of the bad cholesterol, while protecting the blood vessels. The HDL cholesterol creates a wall along the inside of the blood vessels, without creating blockages, to protect vessels from damage and bursting.
The inner walls of vessels are also scrubbed clean through the HDL cholesterol, which helps to prevent blockages that lead to heart attack and stroke.
If you haven’t already started taking whey protein on a daily basis, you may want to consider it just for this health benefit!
Repair Your Muscles After a Workout
Your workout will tear your muscles. This is the way that the muscles rebuild and strengthen. However, you will need to do something to help your body repair.
That doesn’t mean you have to sit down and do nothing! The best thing you can do is drink whey protein. Adding more of this into your diet will mean that your muscles get the building blocks they need. The essential amino acids are absorbed and will help to speed up the healing process.
This offers you more benefits than being able to get back into the gym. You will feel stronger and find that your recovery period for anything is improved. Recovering periods from illnesses and even genuine injuries can be sped up through the use of whey protein, as your body gets all the antioxidants, protein, and nutrients needed to heal and repair.
You can get this benefit from any protein, so why is whey so important? Your body absorbs more of the protein from the whey substitutes than it does from any others. You’ll see the benefits sooner and in larger amounts.
Your muscles are mostly made up of protein. They need more protein to build up after being damaged. If you don’t get the right nutrients, your body will struggle to do everyday tasks.
Balance Your Hormones and Improve Your Life
Our hormones are a major reason for so many problems in our lives. They lead to cravings, mood swings, health problems, and so much more.
The benefit of protein as a whole is that the hormones are kept in the balance. The production of each and every one of them is protected. We can even produce a little more testosterone to help balance out some of the oestrogens in the body.
You’ll know when your hormones are out of sync. You’ll feel more stressed and snap at the slightest thing. You can be tired, which makes it harder to remain calm in situations. Your body ends up making you want the bad stuff, just as a pick-me-up. You know that the sugar isn’t going to do anything for you in the long term, but you just can’t help giving into your cravings.
Switch for some whey protein instead. Not only are you getting the benefits mentioned above to help curb the cravings, but you’ll also see your hormones get back in some balance. You can also enjoy it with a relaxing bath or a great workout to help improve the mindset and boost the hormonal production to create a balance.
This can also help to keep the colds and sneezes at bay. Your hormones are part of the reason your immune system is a little wonky. If you start balancing out the hormones, you’ll find that your immune system works better—and you get the antioxidants in the whey protein supporting the immune system at the same time! You get two birds with one stone.
Give Your Serotonin a Boost
Serotonin is also known as the happy hormone. Your serotonin getting a boost is actually a side effect of all the other health benefits mentioned. Remember that your whey protein boosts your energy levels and endurance. Your hormones are in sync, so you’ll feel happier and want to get out and do more. Already, your serotonin levels are increased.
Now you feel like doing exercise. And when you’re out there, you’ll push yourself more and work harder. We’ve already looked at how this can help our mental health.
Have you also considered the fact that you’re losing weight while toning muscle? This also helps to boost your serotonin.You can see that your efforts are paying off and feel better about yourself. As your mind sees the results, you want to keep going and try harder. You’ll then get extra boosts because you’re still exercising and eating well. There’s still the benefit of losing more weight and toning more muscles.
Even when you stop losing weight, you will still get the benefit of your serotonin levels. It’s possible to keep the weight off, and you know that your body will remain toned and fit. You’re also able to do far more on a daily basis than you ever could in the past.
The brain won’t just release serotonin either. With your hormones in balance and your health benefits, you get the release of endorphins. These are the chemicals that help to reduce pain in the body. Whey protein helps to reduce the chronic pain and ailments that bother you on a daily basis. You’ll be able to do far more, which means you feel happier within yourself.
Anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses can be fought against through the use of a shake or two a day. You’ll be more confident in yourself.
Find It Easier to Cope With Stress
Finally, we’ll stay on the mental health. In fact, this health benefit is overall. Stress is the silent killer. If you don’t keep this under control, you’re at a higher risk of depression, high blood pressure, and heart attack. You want to keep your stress levels under control as much as possible.
Did you know that whey protein can help with that? Whey protein has all the essential amino acids that your body needs, which includes a pesky one called tryptophan. Why is this pesky? Well, it’s the calming amino acid.
When you’ve finished your turkey dinner, how often do you feel the need to sleep? In fact, this happens after any filling and protein-packed meal. That’s because of the tryptophan. The amino acid alerts all the sensors in your brain to release your happy hormone.
Yes, this benefit is all linked to the one we’ve just looked at: the boost in serotonin levels.
When you feel happier, you’re more likely to deal with anything that life throws at you. It’s easier to find the solutions to the problem because you’re more willing to take a step back. You’ll also find that it’s easier to get out and exercise, which clears your mind and helps you find the solutions to the problems.
This was tested through another study with humans. People were given whey supplements and then put through a series of stress tests. Those that had received the whey didn’t develop depression or stress illnesses as much as those who didn’t have the whey protein.
You’ll also benefit your overall health. Whey protein is so much better for your body than alcohol. The next time you feel like everything is getting on top of you, have a shake instead of a bottle of beer, and you’ll do yourself a lot of good.
How Much and When?
Now it comes to the important question. So you get all those benefits, but just how much whey protein do you need and when should you take it?
The answers will really depend on the type of benefits you want to take advantage of. The best time to have a protein shake is within 30 minutes of finishing your workout. This will help your body absorb the protein in time to get it to the muscles and start the repairing process.
You will want to make sure you consume the whey with some carbohydrates. After a workout, your body will need to replenish the energy in some way. You want a part of protein for four parts of carbohydrates. Opting for whole grain and complex carbs is the best way to keep your blood sugar levels down and give your body a slow boost of energy rather than a sudden spike.
Follow the instructions on the whey protein that you buy. The exact amounts you need with your milk or water will depend on the concentration of the whey. Drinking milk is a great way to get enough calcium in your diet, and some companies recommend chocolate milk! However, you can take the majority of them with water if you have a dairy allergy or you don’t want to drink milk.
It’s time to get the full benefits of whey protein. This doesn’t just help to boost your muscle mass, and it isn’t just for bodybuilders. Whether you want to train for a marathon or just want to get your beach body, whey protein is something that you will want to consider. Just one shake a day can help to boost your muscle mass, improve your mental health, and get the figure you have always dreamed of having.