What Exactly is Whey Protein Powder?
Whey protein is one of the most extensively studied supplements as it has many beneficial effects, and researchers keep trying to explore it more and more.
It is a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids (amino acids that your body cannot make). Several studies indicate that you can improve muscle strength, lose body fat, and increase bone mineral density by consuming it regularly.
Whey protein powder is very popular among bodybuilders and athletes. However, many of them don’t know what it exactly is. So, in this article, we have thoroughly explained everything you need to know about this healthy product.
So what it actually is Whey Protein?
Milk has two main proteins – one is called casein, and the other is called whey. When you coagulate the fatty part of milk during the cheese-making process, then a watery byproduct is produced called whey, and it abundantly has whey protein.
Whey is further processed and converted into “whey protein powder.” People add this powder to milkshakes and protein bars, etc., to increase the intake of protein. The original taste of whey is not very pleasing. That is why it is often flavoured. You should always check the list of ingredients before purchasing any whey protein product to make sure it has all the healthy constituents.
Many gym-goers and bodybuilders regularly drink whey protein shakes after their workout. You can also take it if you think you are deficient in protein. Whey protein is well-tolerated by people. However, if you have lactose intolerance, then you need to be more careful while consuming it.
What are the main types of whey protein?
Experts divide whey protein into three main types on the basis of their production procedures. These types include:
Hydrolysate whey is pre-digested to increase its absorption in the body. In it, heat or enzymes are used to break bonds present in between amino acids.
It has been concentrated more. Thus, it contains 80% whey protein. It may also have some fat and lactose (a milk sugar).
It contains 90% whey protein. The fat and lactose content is less in isolate compared to the concentrate. Whey goes through many steps in order to separate other healthy nutrients from it and leave behind most of the whey.
What are the health benefits of whey protein?
Whey protein is mainly used for muscle growth and muscle strength. It helps people increase their muscle mass through the following ways.
- Protein is the key element that makes up the muscles. Therefore, increasing its intake will certainly help your muscles to build more.
- Whey protein is also liked by people because it gets absorbed in the body very quickly compared to the other forms of protein. Due to this, it is considered more effective and fast.
- Whey protein boosts the production of certain anabolic hormones like insulin. These hormones are involved in increasing muscle mass.
- It contains an important amino acid that is known to increase the synthesis of muscle proteins in humans. 
Studies show that consuming whey protein right after, before, or even during the workout session is more beneficial than consuming it anytime during the day. Muscle protein synthesis gets stimulated after a workout. 
Whey protein supplements are effective for people if they lack protein or if they are spending more protein through regular exercises and tough training. In one study, people, who were already taking enough protein through their diet, were given whey protein for a certain period. Researchers did not observe any effect of whey protein on their muscle growth and muscle strength. 
May help people lose weight
Protein can make people lose weight by decreasing their calorie intake. It has the ability to increase energy expenditure by 80 to 100 total calories in a day. As a result, people may take up to 441 fewer calories. 
More health benefits of whey
Whey protein is very nutritious and contains other important components like immunoglobulin etc. as well. In addition to strengthening muscles and reducing weight, it is also known for many other health benefits. It is very beneficial mainly because it has many amino acids.
Whey is known to:
- Reduce blood pressure.
- Reduce blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production.
- Reduce symptoms of hepatitis.
- Improve stress and depression symptoms.
- Boost bone mineral density.
What is the right dosage of whey protein?
It is often suggested to take 1 to 2 scoops (25 to 50 grams) of whey protein in a day after a workout session. However, it is better to always follow the manufacturer instructions of the specific product that you buy.
Note that if you are already taking protein through protein-rich foods regularly, then taking whey protein powder might not be effective for you.
Are there any side effects of whey protein?
Whey protein is a safe supplement that people consume to increase their protein intake. However, if you have a kidney or liver disorder, then it is better to first talk to your health care provider before taking this supplement.
Taking more than normal amounts of whey protein may cause issues like nausea, diarrhoea, cramping, and stomach pain. If your body does not tolerate any form of whey protein, then you should try eating other protein-rich foods.
The bottom line
Whey protein is a healthy source of many important amino acids like branched-chain amino acids. If you perform resistance exercises and other forms of exercise, then increasing the intake of protein can help you with muscle strength and muscle mass a lot.
- Signaling pathways and molecular mechanisms through which branched-chain amino acids mediate translational control of protein synthesis - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Effects of resistance training and protein plus amino acid supplementation on muscle anabolism, mass, and strength - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Effects of whey proteins and carbohydrates on the efficacy of resistance training in elderly people: double blind, randomised controlled trial - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Gluconeogenesis and energy expenditure after a high-protein, carbohydrate-free diet - PubMed (nih.gov)