What Are the Pros and Cons of Whey Protein?
What Are the Pros and Cons of Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a popular dietary supplement among athletes and bodybuilders. Proven to enhance muscle growth and reduce body fat, this supplement is used by many to improve their fitness and performance.
The beneficial effects of whey protein seem too good to be true, but does it stand up to the hype?
Although many people enjoy the positive effects of whey, the supplement also has its negatives, making it unsuitable for some.
So, is this supplement really needed to enhance your fitness performance? Let’s dig into the pros and cons of whey protein, to determine if it’s of help or hindrance to your fitness goals.
What Are the Different Types of Whey Protein?
There are three main types of whey protein. Each is processed in a different way, to give an end product with a slightly different composition
- Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) - The amount of protein in Whey Protein Concentrate varies, and can range from 30-90%. WPC also contains low levels of fat, lactose, and carbohydrates. As the least processed form of whey protein, WPC is the least expensive type.
- Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) - WPI is more heavily processed than WPC to remove much of the fat, lactose, and carbohydrates. This results in an end product that is purer, containing 90-95% protein. Although more expensive than Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate is a good source of protein for people with lactose intolerance.
- Hydrolyzed Whey Protein - The most expensive type of whey protein on this list, Hydrolyzed Whey Protein is ‘pre-digested’ to allow for faster absorption. During hydrolysis, the long protein chains in the whey protein are broken down into smaller pieces, called peptides. This makes it far more easy for the body to absorb and digest.
Why Do People Take Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders, who use it to boost their performance in a variety of ways. If taken correctly, whey protein can enhance muscle growth and recovery, and reduce body fat percentage.
But is whey protein really necessary for enhancing your fitness performance?
There is no doubt that protein shakes are touted as a ‘must-have’ for athletes intent on increasing their muscle mass, particularly bodybuilders. However, whey protein is not essential for muscle growth. In fact, your body should be able to synthesize muscle tissue just fine if you get an adequate amount of protein from your diet.
Although not strictly necessary for muscle growth, whey protein is a convenient way to top up your protein levels. This is useful for athletes who do not get a lot of the nutrient in their daily diet.
What’s more, there are many other potential benefits of taking whey protein. Research has found that it can boost immunity, lower cholesterol, and even reduce your risk of developing serious illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Although there are undoubtedly benefits to using whey protein to supplement your workout, is it healthy to do so? While many people enjoy positive effects of taking whey, many more suffer negative health effects as a result of taking the supplement. So is whey protein the right choice for you, or not?
Let’s weigh up the pros and cons of whey protein, to see if it’s really worth the hype.
Pros and Cons of Weigh Protein
Whey protein has many positive effects on the body and can boost your fitness and health in a variety of ways. The advantages of taking whey protein supplements have, in fact, been found to extend far beyond muscle growth and repair.
1 - Boosts Immunity
Whey protein is rich in glutathione, a strong antioxidant that helps to stimulate the body’s immune system. Strenuous exercise depletes the levels of glutathione in the body, so supplementing your diet with whey protein is a great way to give these levels a boost.
This can, in turn, significantly improve the health of your immune system. Enhanced immunity can help your body fight off a whole host of illnesses and infections, enhancing your overall health.
2 - Increases Muscle Protein Synthesis
Whey is a quickly absorbed, high-quality protein that delivers all of the essential building blocks for muscle growth.
Supplementing your diet with whey protein can, therefore, enhance muscle growth and strength more quickly than exercise alone.
This can boost the results you see from your workout, helping you to reach your fitness goals more quickly.
3 - Enhances Recovery
The high protein content of whey protein supplements can also aid muscle recovery. This can reduce the amount of rest time your body needs between workouts, allowing you to exercise more frequently and increase your fitness levels faster.
4 - Aids Weight Loss
Whey protein can help to melt away body fat, so it may be something to consider if your goal is to get lean.
It is also thought to curb appetite, by reducing the body's amount of ghrelin (the hormone that tells your brain you are hungry). This effect was found to last up to four hours, helping to prevent you from snacking after your workout.
5 - Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Studies have found that whey protein can significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension. This can consequently lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
6 - Reduced Risk of Cancer
Taking whey protein supplements when you work out increases the amount of glutathione in the body’s tissues. This powerful antioxidant plays a key role in protecting the body’s cells from damage by free radicals.
The formation of free radicals in the body increases during exercise, damage from which can lead to the growth of cancerous cells and tissues. Therefore, the antioxidant effects of taking whey protein supplements may actually reduce your risk of developing cancer.
7 - Complete Protein Source
Whey protein contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. This makes whey protein a complete protein source and delivers all the tools required for your body to build muscle mass.
Whey protein may seem like a miracle supplement for those wishing to build muscle strength, lose fat, and boost their overall health. However, whey protein also has its disadvantages, and may not be an appropriate choice for some people. So, what are the negatives of whey protein?
1 - Intolerance
Some people are intolerant to whey protein. This may be because they are allergic to some component in the supplement, such as lactose. High doses of whey protein can lead to stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, and fatigue in some people.
2 - Weight gain
Many people have a ‘the more, the better’ mentality when it comes to protein, but in actual fact, too much can do more harm than good. The recommended daily allowance of protein is 20-25g per day. Consuming more than this can cause the excess protein to be stored as fat, leading to weight gain.
Most people are able to get all the protein they need from their diet, so taking extra in the form of whey protein supplements may be harmful.
3 - Whey protein may be bad for your kidneys and liver
Whey protein can put strain on your kidneys and liver if you suddenly start to take it in high doses. It is advisable to increase your protein intake gradually to avoid potential damage to these organs. If you have pre-existing problems with your kidneys, it is wise to limit your protein intake.
4 - Whey protein is highly processed
Whey protein supplements are a highly processed byproduct of the dairy industry. Low-quality products are often produced at high temperatures, which can denature the proteins, reducing their effectiveness.
What’s more, whey protein supplements are often chock full of additives, incorporated to improve flavor. This can make them high in sugars and artificial sweeteners, which are not usually beneficial for your health.
Bottom Line: Are Protein Supplements Good, or Bad?
Whey protein supplements are well known to have a wide range of benefits for your fitness and health. However, there are also disadvantages to taking whey protein, particularly if you take large amounts on a daily basis.
Overdosing on protein can lead to weight gain, and can put undue strain on your liver and kidneys. This can negate the beneficial effects of the supplement and can end up doing you more harm than good.
So, is whey protein good or bad for you?
When weighing up the pros and cons of whey protein, it is important to consider your diet and your personal requirements. If you eat a diet that is rich in natural protein sources (such as meat, eggs, dairy, and beans) it is unlikely that you need to supplement this further.
However, you can still enjoy the additional health benefits of whey protein by taking the supplement sparingly, and only when needed.
Use whey protein to supplement your dietary intake of protein, and make sure that you are not exceeding the recommended daily intake of 20-25g. This way, you can enhance your muscle growth and strength, boost your immune system, and improve your fitness levels, without compromising on your health.
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Who am I ?
I'm Sam Rondot, the person behind the blog Running Addicted. I'm a French entrepreneur and I'm passionated about running. I started running since 12 years old and have covered 16 marathons (at the point of writing).I enjoy running and the exhausted feeling I have after a long run. I always follow one rule: I try to do my best and run until I can’t. This makes me feel that I can do anything. I know you have that feeling, too. Running has taught me that I am capable of so much more than I have ever imagined.Learn more
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