There’s no better feeling than biting onto a rich creamy flavourful sundae on a summer afternoon!
From gym trainers to fitness coaches, the uncle in your neighborhood to the teenager who’s eager to get a six-pack, everyone believes whey protein is the key to building their dream body. You sure have heard people recommend various brands of whey protein claiming that alone will help you gain muscle mass and there’s nothing better than a glass of a protein shake post-workout to beat that fatigue and help in the recovery.
We’ve all had such an encounter more often than we’d acknowledge, but the real question is, are these whey protein powders and supplements safe? Do we necessarily need to supplement whey protein to meet our daily protein requirements? Who really needs it and how much? This is where it gets interesting! If you want your queries solved by experts, you’ve surely landed at the right place. Come on, let’s get some myths busted!
What is Whey protein?
Before diving into a deeper conversation, let’s get the basics right. Milk comprises various kinds of proteins, of which, whey and casein make up the majority (80%). Whey is the liquid component of milk that is formed as a by-product after curdling milk. Whey protein is a cluster of proteins isolated from whey after processing. It comprises serum albumin, α-lactalbumin, β-lactoglobulin, and immunoglobulins.
How many types exist?
Whey protein is commercially available in three forms, depending on the stage of processing it has undergone and its nutritional composition.
- Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC): It consists of a low but significant level of fat and cholesterol. The processing of whey protein concentrate removes water, lactose, and some minerals. As compared to whey isolates, this has components that are more efficiently absorbed by the body, making it the most preferred supplement for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
- Whey Protein Isolates (WPI): Isolates are the purest form of protein source available. It has comparatively lesser amounts of lactose and fat with 90% of protein. However, this consists of denatured protein structures that are not as effective as the former.
Whey Protein Hydrolysates (WPH): This form undergoes predigestion and is partially hydrolyzed for easy metabolism. Thereby, it is less allergenic than other forms of whey and also easily absorbed by the gut.
Do we all need Protein powders?
Whey being a great source of protein attracts fitness enthusiasts. It is the most sought protein powder of all. But does everyone need whey protein to meet their daily requirement? No! An adult man or woman only requires 0.8-1g/kg/day of protein for the general maintenance of muscles and tissues. This can be certainly met by including protein-rich foods like legumes, lentils, soybean and its products, dairy products, meat, fish, and poultry. From non-vegetarians to vegans, everyone has plenty of options!
Whom does it benefit?
Whey can be included in the daily diet by individuals whose protein requirement is high and that is difficult to be met without a supplement. Let’s take a look at a couple of scenarios,
- Athletes: Sports individuals who require excessive muscle weight and agility can include whey protein powders as a supplement in their diet to meet their high protein requirement.
- Weight-loss: People who are focusing on weight loss tend to go on low-calorie diets. Whereas, the real catch is to shift the calories from carbs to other macros, such as protein and fat. Carbohydrate is the primary fuel for skeletal muscle cells. When the body is deprived of carbohydrates, the fat tissue is broken down for providing energy. So, an ideal way to lose weight is by going on a low-carb diet and a high-fat-protein diet. In such a case, whey protein comes in handy.
- Diabetes: Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are said to be suggested to go on a low card diet. That’s when protein and fat come into the picture. Compensating the body with protein and fat results in the metabolism of fat tissue and thereby increasing insulin sensitivity and enhancing glucose uptake by muscle cells. Further, it helps in gradually cutting down insulin dose and diabetes drugs. Hence, supplementing diabetic individuals with whey protein is an excellent step on the road to diabetes reversal.
- Meal replacement: With the rise in urbanization and the need for convenient meals, one is always on the lookout for simple ways to meet their nutrient requirement while saving time to cook elaborate meals.!
How can you relish it?
Whey protein is a versatile ingredient and can be consumed in more ways than you think. Mix it with a glass of water, stir into a milkshake or add two spoonfuls of oats, pop in a scoop of whey, fruits of your choice, blend blend blend…..and you’re good to go!
Now that we’ve discussed the importance and benefits of whey, our take is that whey being a natural source of protein has a wide range of benefits and there’s certainly no harm in including it in your diet. However, research suggests that 20-25g of whey protein consumption is regarded as optimal for muscle growth and development. Thereby, high protein consumption over a long period has deleterious effects on health. It is advised to consult a certified nutrition consultant prior. The current vegetarian diets are rich in calories, but poor in nutrition. Hence, adding whey protein to the diet helps in fulfilling the protein requirements.