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#Whey #Protein Benefits of Powders and Shakes

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#Whey #Protein Benefits of Powders and Shakes

Postby Admin » 11 Mar 15 18:28

Whey Protein 101 Benefits of Powders and Shakes

Not all protein is created equal.

Some forms of protein, such as whey, are better than others.

Whey protein contains an incredible range of essential amino acids, which are absorbed quickly

Numerous studies show that it can help you increase strength, gain muscle and lose significant amounts of body fat

However… whey is more than just protein. There are tons of other nutrients in there, some with potent biological effects.

Whey protein has also been shown to have benefits for depression, blood pressure, blood sugar and even helping to treat symptoms of HIV and cancer

In fact, it is one of the best studied supplements in the world.

This is a detailed article about whey protein… what it is, how it works and how it can help you achieve your fitness and health goals.

What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a mixture of proteins isolated from whey. Whey is the liquid part of milk that separates during cheese production.

Milk actually contains two main types of protein… casein (80%) and whey (20%).

Whey is found in the watery portion of milk. When cheese is produced, the fatty parts of the milk coagulate and the whey is separated from it as a by-product

If you’ve ever opened a yogurt container to see liquid floating on top, this is whey. Cheese makers used to discard it before they discovered its commercial value

After being separated during cheese production, whey goes through a series of processing steps to become what people generally recognize as whey protein… a powder that is added to shakes, meal replacements and protein bars

This is what whey protein powder typically looks like:

Chocolate Whey Protein Powder

Whey protein doesn’t taste very good on its own, which is why it is usually flavoured. Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavored powders are popular.

It’s important that you read the ingredients list, because some of them can have unhealthy additives like refined sugar.

Taking whey protein is a convenient way to add 25-50 grams of protein on top of your daily intake. This can be important for bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts, as well as people who need to lose weight or are simply lacking protein in their diet.

Most flavored whey proteins are also pretty delicious and can be used to make healthy recipes (like smoothies) taste incredibly good.

Whey is generally well tolerated, although people with lactose intolerance need to be careful with it. There are also some people who are allergic to whey

Bottom Line: Whey protein is a mixture of proteins in whey, which forms as a by-product of cheese production. It is usually sold as a flavoured powder, which is added to shakes, meal replacements and protein bars.

Whey Protein Supplements Can Help Boost Your Protein and BCAA Intake
Athletic Young Woman With Protein Shake

Proteins are the main building blocks of the human body.

They’re used to make various important things, both large and small.

This includes tendons, organs and skin… as well as hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters and all sorts of tiny molecules.

Proteins are also the building blocks of the contractile elements in muscle.

Proteins are assembled from amino acids, smaller molecules that are linked together like beads on a string.

Some amino acids are produced by the body’s cells, while others must be gotten from foods. The ones that we must get from foods are termed “essential” amino acids.

Proteins that supply all the essential amino acids are the best… and whey protein is loaded with them.

It is particularly high in important Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) like Leucine, and also contains a large amount of Cysteine

Studies show that Leucine is the most anabolic (growth promoting) amino acid, and Cysteine can help boost levels of the cellular antioxidant Glutathione

Whey protein appears to be particularly effective at stimulating growth in humans. Human breast milk is actually 60% whey, compared to 20% in cow’s milk

Bottom Line: The proteins in whey are of a very high quality. They are loaded with essential amino acids, including Leucine and Cysteine.

Types of Whey Protein: Concentrate vs Isolate vs Hydrolysate
Protein Powder and Shaker

There are several popular types of whey protein available.

The main difference between them, is the way they have been processed.

Concentrate: About 70-80% protein. Contains some lactose (milk sugar) and fat, and has the best flavour.
Isolate: 90% protein, or higher. Contains less lactose and fat, and is missing a lot of the beneficial nutrients found in whey protein concentrate.
Hydrolysate: Also known as hydrolyzed whey, this type has been pre-digested so that it gets absorbed faster. It causes a 28-43% greater spike in insulin levels than isolate
Whey protein concentrate seems to be the overall best option… it is the cheapest and retains most of the beneficial nutrients found naturally in whey. Many people also prefer the taste, which is probably because of the small amounts of lactose and fat.

If you have problems tolerating concentrate, or you’re trying to emphasize protein while keeping carbs and fat low, then whey protein isolate (or even hydrolysate) may be a better option.

Keep in mind that despite concentrate being the most popular form, most of the studies used whey protein isolate.

Bottom Line: The main types of whey protein are concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. They can vary in protein content, taste, digestibility and price.

Effects of Whey Supplementation on Muscle Mass and Strength
The best known (and best studied) use of whey protein supplements, is for the purpose of increasing muscle mass and strength.

Whey protein is popular among athletes, bodybuilders, fitness models, as well as people looking to improve their performance in the gym.

Athletic Woman Holding a Container With Protein

The main effects of whey on muscle/strength are:

Building Blocks: It provides protein and amino acids, which serve as building blocks for increased muscle growth.
Hormones: It increases release of anabolic hormones that can stimulate muscle growth, such as Insulin
Leucine: It is high in the amino acid Leucine, which is known to stimulate muscle protein synthesis at the molecular and genetic level
Fast Absorption: Whey protein is absorbed and utilized very quickly compared to other types of protein

Whey protein has been shown to be particularly effective at increasing muscle growth when consumed right before, after or during a workout, but muscle protein synthesis is usually maximized in the time period after training .

However, a recent review of the evidence concluded that total daily protein intake is the most relevant factor in muscle growth. Whether protein is consumed around the workout or not doesn’t seem to matter much.

When compared to other types of protein, such as soy protein, whey protein has usually performed slightly better.

When compared to casein, the evidence is more mixed. Whey appears to be effective in the short-term, but casein stimulates muscle growth over a longer period, so the net effect appears to be similar

However… keep in mind that unless your diet is already lacking in protein, supplementing with whey protein is unlikely to have a huge effect on your results.

In a study of elderly individuals who were already eating adequate protein, there was no difference in muscle growth between whey and carbohydrate, during 12 weeks of resistance training

Therefore, the evidence of whey protein on muscle and strength is mixed, and the results may vary greatly between individuals.

If you’re already eating plenty of meat, fish, eggs and dairy (also high in quality protein), then the benefits of adding whey will probably be minimal.

Bottom Line: There is a lot of evidence that whey protein is effective at increasing muscle and strength gains, although some studies find no effect.

Whey Protein Improves Satiety and May Help Weight Loss
Brunette Holding a Protein Shake and Smiling

It is well known that protein can help with weight loss.

It is the most fulfilling macronutrient, by far

Protein can boost metabolism by 80 to 100 calories per day, and make people automatically eat up to 441 fewer calories per day.

In one study, eating protein at 25% of calories cut cravings by 60%, and reduced the desire for late-time snacking by half.

Taking whey protein is a great way to increase your protein intake, which should have major benefits for weight loss.

Studies have shown that replacing other sources of calories with whey protein, combined with weight lifting, can cause weight loss of about 8 pounds, while increasing lean muscle mass.

Therefore… if you’re trying to lose weight, then a whey protein supplement can help you both lose weight and hold on to your precious muscle.

Bottom Line: Protein has been shown to help weight loss by boosting metabolism (calories out) and reducing appetite (calories in). Whey protein can help increase fat loss, while preserving lean muscle mass.

Other Health Benefits of Whey Protein
Scoop of Protein Powder

Whey is more than just a high quality protein source, it also contains other beneficial nutrients.

This includes lactoferrin, beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin and immunoglobulins.

Beyond just muscle, strength and leanness, whey protein can provide numerous other health benefits.

This includes lowering blood pressure, blood sugar and reducing symptoms of stress and depression.

It has also been shown to help protect against cancer, reduce symptoms of hepatitis, increase bone mineral density, improve immune function in HIV patients and increase lifespan in mice.

The fact that whey protein is very high in the amino acid Cysteine seems to mediate many of the health benefits. Cysteine does this by raising levels of Glutathione, the main antioxidant substance in the body’s cells.

Bottom Line: Whey has many beneficial components besides just protein. It is high in the amino acid Cysteine, which raises levels of the antioxidant Glutathione and leads to all sorts of benefits.

Dosage and Side Effects
Young Woman With Stomach Ache

A commonly recommended dosage is 1-2 scoops (around 25-50 grams) per day, usually after workouts.

It is recommended that you follow the serving instructions on the packaging.

Keep in mind that if your protein intake is already high, adding whey protein on top of your current intake may be completely unnecessary.

Despite concerns about protein causing kidney damage and contributing to osteoporosis, this is not true.

In fact, protein has been shown to protect against osteoporosis, while having no impact on healthy kidneys.

However, people with current kidney or liver issues may want to avoid whey protein, or at least consult with a medical professional before taking it.

Eating too much whey protein can cause digestive issues such as nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, pain and cramping. Some people are also allergic to whey.

If you can’t tolerate regular whey protein concentrate, then isolate or hydrolysate may be more appropriate… or simply avoiding whey protein and eating other protein rich foods instead.

But generally speaking, whey protein has an excellent safety profile and most people can consume it without any problems whatsoever.

If you want to try whey protein yourself, then there is a very large selection on Amazon, with tens of thousands of customer reviews.

Take Home Message
At the end of the day, whey protein is an exceptionally healthy way to add more protein to your diet. It is a quality protein source that is absorbed and utilized efficiently by the human body.

This is particularly important for athletes, bodybuilders, or people who need to gain muscle mass and strength, while losing fat.

When it comes to muscle gain and fat loss, protein is the king of nutrients… and whey protein seems to be even better than other forms of quality protein.

Protein Intake – How Much Protein Should You Eat Per Day?

Protein is incredibly important.

If we don’t get enough from the diet, our health and body composition suffers.

However, there are vastly different opinions on how much protein we actually need.

Most official nutrition organizations recommend a fairly modest protein intake.

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound (1).

This amounts to:

56 grams per day for the average sedentary man.
46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.

Although this meager amount may be enough to prevent downright deficiency, studies show that it is far from sufficient to ensure optimal health and body composition.

It turns out that the “right” amount of protein for any one individual depends on many factors… including activity levels, age, muscle mass, physique goals and current state of health.

So… what amount of protein is optimal and how do lifestyle factors like weight loss, muscle building and activity levels factor in?

Let’s find out…

Protein – What is it and Why do we Care?
Meat

Proteins are the main building blocks of the body.

They’re used to make muscles, tendons, organs and skin.

Proteins are also used to make enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters and various tiny molecules that serve important functions.

Without protein, life as we know it would not be possible.

Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called amino acids, which are linked together like beads on a string. The linked amino acids form long protein chains, which are then folded into complex shapes.

Some of these amino acids can be produced by the body, while we must get others from the diet. The ones we can not produce and must get from our foods are called the “essential” amino acids.

Protein is not just about quantity. It’s also about quality.

Generally speaking, animal protein provides all the essential amino acids in the right ratio for us to make full use of them (only makes sense, since animal tissues are similar to our own tissues).

If you’re eating animal products (like meat, fish, eggs, or dairy) every day, then you’re probably already doing pretty well, protein-wise.

If you don’t eat animal foods, then it is a bit more challenging to get all the protein and essential amino acids that your body needs (good article on this here).

Most people don’t really need protein supplements, but they can be useful for athletes and bodybuilders.
Bottom Line: Protein is a structural molecule assembled out of amino acids, many of which the body can’t produce on its own. Animal foods are usually high in protein, with all the essential amino acids that we need.

Protein Can Help You Lose Weight (and Prevent You From Gaining it in The First Place)
Protein is incredibly important when it comes to losing weight.

Man at a Restaurant Eating Steak

As we know… in order to lose weight, we need to take in fewer calories than we burn.

Eating protein can help with that, by boosting your metabolic rate (calories out) and reducing your appetite (calories in). This is well supported by science.

Protein at around 25-30% of calories has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80 to 100 calories per day, compared to lower protein diets.

But probably the most important contribution of protein to weight loss, is its ability to reduce appetite and cause a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. Protein is much more satiating than both fat and carbs,

In a study in obese men, protein at 25% of calories increased feelings of fullness, reduced the desire for late-night snacking by half and reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60% (10).

In another study, women who increased protein intake to 30% of calories ended up eating 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding more protein to their diet.

But protein doesn’t just help you lose… it can also help prevent you from gaining weight in the first place.

In one study, just a modest increase in protein from 15% of calories to 18% of calories reduced the amount of fat people regained after weight loss by 50%.

A high protein intake also helps to build and preserve muscle mass (see below), which burns a small amount of calories around the clock.

By eating more protein, you will make it much easier to stick to whichever weight loss diet (be it high-carb, low-carb or something in between) you choose to follow.

According to these studies, a protein intake around 30% of calories may be optimal for weight loss. This amounts to 150 grams per day for someone on a 2000 calorie diet.

You can calculate it by multiplying your calorie intake by 0.075.

Bottom Line: A protein intake at around 30% of calories seems to be optimal for weight loss. It boosts the metabolic rate and causes a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake.

More Protein Can Help You Gain Muscle and Strength
Muscular Man Eating Meat, Smaller

Muscles are made largely of protein.

As with most tissues in the body, muscles are dynamic and are constantly being broken down and rebuilt.

To gain muscle, the body must be synthesizing more muscle protein than it is breaking down.

In other words, there needs to be a net positive protein balance (often called nitrogen balance, because protein is high in nitrogen) in the body.

For this reason, people who want a lot of muscle will need to eat a greater amount of protein (and lift heavy things, of course). It is well documented that a higher protein intake helps build muscle and strength.

Also, people who want to hold on to muscle that they’ve already built may need to increase their protein intake when losing body fat, because a high protein intake can help prevent the muscle loss that usually occurs when dieting.

When it comes to muscle mass, the studies are usually not looking at percentage of calories, but daily grams of protein per unit of body weight (kilograms or pounds).

A common recommendation for gaining muscle is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, or 2.2 grams of protein per kg.

Numerous studies have tried to determine the optimal amount of protein for muscle gain and many of them have reached different conclusions.

Some studies show that over 0.8 grams per pound has no benefit (16), while others show that intakes slightly higher than 1 gram of protein per pound is best.

Although it’s hard to give exact figures because of conflicting results in studies, 0.7-1 grams (give or take) per pound of body weight seems to be a reasonable estimate.

If you’re carrying a lot of body fat, then it is a good idea to use either your lean mass or your goal weight, instead of total body weight, because it’s mostly your lean mass that determines the amount of protein you need.

Bottom Line: It is important to eat enough protein if you want to gain and/or maintain muscle. Most studies suggest that 0.7 – 1 grams per pound of lean mass (1.5 – 2.2 grams per kg) is sufficient.

Other Circumstances That Can Increase Protein Needs
Young Man Eating Raw Meat

Disregarding muscle mass and physique goals, people who are physically active do need more protein than people who are sedentary.

If you have a physically demanding job, you walk a lot, run, swim or do any sort of exercise, then you need more protein. Endurance athletes also need quite a bit of protein, about 0.5 – 0.65 grams per pound, or 1.2 – 1.4 grams per kg.

Elderly people also need significantly more protein, up to 50% higher than the DRI, or about 0.45 to 0.6 grams per pound of bodyweight (20, 21).

This can help prevent osteoporosis and sarcopenia (reduction in muscle mass), both significant problems in the elderly.

People who are recovering from injuries may also need more protein.

Bottom Line: Protein requirements are significantly increased in people who are physically active, as well as in elderly individuals and people who are recovering from injuries.

Does Protein Have any Negative Health Effects?
Fish

Protein has been unfairly blamed for a number of health problems.

It has been said that a high protein diet can cause kidney damage and osteoporosis.

However, none of this is supported by science.

Although protein restriction is helpful for people with pre-existing kidney problems, protein has never been shown to cause kidney damage in healthy people.

In fact, a higher protein intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and help fight diabetes, which are two of the main risk factors for kidney disease.

If protein really does have some detrimental effect on kidney function (which has never been proven), it is outweighed by the positive effects on these risk factors.

Protein has also been blamed for osteoporosis, which is strange because the studies actually show that protein can help prevent osteoporosis.

Overall, there is no evidence that a reasonably high protein intake has any adverse effects in healthy people trying to stay healthy.

Bottom Line: Protein does not have any negative effects on kidney function in healthy people and studies show that it leads to improved bone health.

How to Get Enough Protein in Your Diet
Protein Rich Foods

The best sources of protein are meats, fish, eggs and dairy products. They have all the essential amino acids that your body needs.

There are also some plants that are fairly high in protein, like quinoa, legumes and nuts.

All of this being said, I don’t think there is any need for most people to actually track their protein intake.

If you’re just a healthy person trying to stay healthy, then simply eating quality protein with most of your meals (along with nutritious plant foods) should bring your intake into an optimal range.

What “Grams of Protein” Really Means
This is a very common misunderstanding…

When I say “grams of protein” – I mean grams of the macronutrient protein, not grams of a protein containing food like meat or eggs.

An 8 ounce serving of beef weighs 226 grams, but it only contains 61 grams of actual protein. A large egg weighs 46 grams, but it only contains 6 grams of protein.

What About The Average Person?
If you’re at a healthy weight, you don’t lift weights and you don’t exercise much, then aiming for 0.36 to 0.6 grams per pound (or 0.8 to 1.3 gram per kg) is a reasonable estimate.

This amounts to:

56-91 grams per day for the average male.
46-75 grams per day for the average female.
But given that there is no evidence of harm and significant evidence of benefit, I think it is better for most people to err on the side of more protein rather than less.
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