Whey protein is a protein supplement frequently used to build muscle and prevent muscle wasting while burning through stubborn belly fat. When combined with exercise, whey protein is an excellent tool to boost both muscle gain and weight loss. Read on to discover the health benefits and side effects of whey.
- What is Whey Protein?
- Health Benefits of Whey Protein
- Side Effects
- What Is Whey Protein?
- 9 Whey Protein Benefits
- How to Take Protein Supplements
- Whey Protein Benefits That Support Your Keto Goals
- Benefits of Whey Protein
- Benefits of Whey Protein Isolate
- Fuel Your Body
- Pre or Post Workout: When Should You Take Whey Protein?
- Types of Whey Protein
- When to Take Whey Protein
- Who Should Take Whey Protein
- Best Protein powder for Lean Muscle: Optimum Nutrition Gold Whey Protein Powder
- Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss: BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder
- Best Vegan Protein Powder: Vega Sport Protein Powder
- Best Protein Powder for Weight Gain: MusclePharm Combat Powder Advanced Time Release Protein
- Best Keto Protein Powder: Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder.
- When To Take Whey: Before or After A Workout?
- Take-Home Message
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is a mixture of proteins found in the commonly discarded liquid portion produced during the cheese manufacturing process. It is found in the milk of nearly all animals, including humans.
Whey protein is rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids needed for muscle growth. Along with many other minor proteins, ⍺-lactalbumin and β-lactalbumin are the two major proteins found in whey .
Casein is the most abundant protein in milk, while whey protein accounts for roughly 20%.
Mechanism of Effect
Whey protein is a high-quality protein supplement providing large amounts of rapidly and easily digestible amino acids. Whey protein promotes greater growth of muscle due to the availability of these amino acids, which are the muscle’s building blocks .
Muscle growth can only be achieved if the rate of muscle building is greater than the breakdown of muscle protein .
Whey protein contains a large supply of the amino acid cysteine, which is a precursor of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant made by the body .
Glutathione is responsible for, among other things, preventing the type of cellular damage which could otherwise progress to cancer .
Whey Protein Types
This isolated form of whey protein is the most concentrated form of whey protein (90 – 95%) while containing little lactose and fat. WPI is great for those with lactose intolerance but usually comes at a higher price .
Whey protein concentrate is popular among athletes due to its large range of protein content (25 – 89%), lots of fat, and biologically-active components .
Hydrolyzed whey protein is produced when hot acid and/or enzymes break down whey proteins into smaller more quickly and easily digestible protein. This “predigested” protein may enhance muscle protein synthesis .
Health Benefits of Whey Protein
Given that whey protein is a component of milk, it is considered safe to consume for most people (with exceptions for people with allergies or certain sensitivities). However, the FDA has not approved whey protein for any medical purpose or health claim, and it should never be used in place of something your doctor recommends or prescribes.
Possibly Effective For
1) Athletic Performance
In combination with strength training, whey protein increased strength and lean muscle mass in multiple clinical trials. In one clinical study, whey protein even increased running speed .
2) Body Composition
Strength and muscle mass decline with age .
During a caloric restriction diet, the body uses existing protein for fuel. Whey protein supplements give the body the amino acids needed to maintain muscle mass during this type of diet.
A 12-week study showed that 158 people on a 500-calorie reduced diet lost more body fat and preserved more lean muscle when taking a whey protein fraction high in leucine. Subjects lost 6.1% body fat, which reduces the risk of high body fat-related diseases .
In a study of 19 men and 21 women assigned to either a whey protein supplement, a soy-based supplement, or a carbohydrate supplement throughout a weight loss regimen. Those using whey protein supplementation preserved more lean muscle mass while losing weight .
The amino acid leucine is the driving factor for muscle growth in whey protein. Rats taking leucine supplements experience the same effect on muscle protein synthesis as whey protein .
Leucine makes up 12% of the amino acids in whey protein and functions by stimulating muscle growth in the body .
Exercises such as cardio, strength training, and quick high-intensity interval exercise significantly decrease leucine levels in the body (up to 30%). Consuming leucine in the form of whey protein before or during intensive exercise prevented the degradation of muscle proteins .
The amino acids in whey protein also increase lean muscle growth after exercise .
3) Skin Health
A meta-analysis found that infants fed partially hydrolyzed whey formula were about half as likely to develop atopic dermatitis than infants fed cow’s milk formula. However, they were both at a disadvantage compared to breastfeeding .
In 84 mild to moderate psoriasis patients, 5-10 g of a specific whey protein product per day improved Physician’s Global Assessment (PGA) scores over 56 days .
Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) contained in whey protein increases sebum production, which is linked to acne breakouts .
Whey protein spikes insulin causing an increase in skin cells, skin inflammation, and oil production resulting in increased acne formation .
Insufficient Evidence For
The following purported benefits are only supported by limited, low-quality clinical studies. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of whey protein for any of the below-listed uses. Whey protein is considered safe to consume for most people, but it should never be used in place of something your doctor recommends or prescribes.
High protein diets improve satiety after a meal by increasing amino acid concentrations in the blood .
Whey protein shows the strongest reduction in hunger when compared to other protein supplements such as casein and soy proteins, which is likely caused by the larger levels of leucine in whey protein .
Taking whey protein 90 minutes before a meal increases hormones responsible for satiety (CCK and GLP-1), even during a state of reduced caloric intake. The body will reach a satisfying state sooner and with less food .
Also, obese patients experienced a significant decrease in liver fat 4 weeks after adding whey protein to their diet .
5) Type 2 Diabetes
In type 2 diabetic subjects, whey protein taken during a meal increased the insulin response and significantly decreased blood glucose levels .
Those struggling with maintaining a low sugar level in the blood can consume whey protein before a high carbohydrate meal to reduce glucose levels after the meal .
6) Blood Pressure
Fermented milk supplemented with whey protein concentrate lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels in both mice and healthy men .
Whey protein contains a natural bioactive peptide called lactokine, which helps in the treatment of high blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health. Common high blood pressure pharmaceutical drugs contain a synthetic, but more powerful, replacement for lactokine .
Six weeks of whey protein supplementation can decrease blood pressure in overweight individuals .
Inflammation is the body’s natural reply to tissue damage and pathogens. The immune system clears out injured cells triggering tissue repair. The liver produces C-reactive protein (CRP) in response to inflammation .
A meta-analysis revealed that high doses of whey protein (around 45 g) may reduce CRP levels, but that lower doses do not appear to have an effect .
In a study of 31 elderly patients (65-90 years old) who had recently suffered a stroke, whey protein also reduced markers of inflammation .
IBD, like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, involves chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. Whey protein reduced gut inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining by increasing both antioxidant defenses and good bacteria in 30 patients with Crohn’s disease .
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) or “bad” cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke .
70 overweight patients taking high doses of whey protein supplements saw a significant decrease in bad cholesterol .
However, a meta-analysis only showed an overall reduction in blood triacylglycerol with no effect on LDL-cholesterol .
Animal Research (Lacking Evidence)
No clinical evidence supports the use of whey protein for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies listed below should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
9) Digestive Health
Whey protein is considered a prebiotic that helps good bacteria in the gut and, according to studies of human gut bacteria, may suppress the growth of bacteria associated with obesity .
Lactoferrin, a protein found in whey, plays an important role in the uptake of iron through the digestive system. Iron is important for carrying oxygen in red blood cells and preventing anemia .
While lactoferrin may have other health benefits such as its anti-cancer properties, it may be in too low of quantities in whey to exert these effects .
In rat models, glutathione deficiency is closely related to many types of cancers. Cancer cells with increased levels of glutathione resist cancer therapy, which tries to induce cancer cell death .
Whey protein increases glutathione synthesis in normal cells while decreasing glutathione levels in cancer cells. Using whey protein concentrate might become a promising strategy in tackling resistance to cancer therapies; however, this has yet to be investigated in humans .
For the time being, there is not nearly enough evidence to support using whey protein alongside conventional cancer therapies. If you are currently undergoing treatment, talk to your doctor before using whey protein.
1) Kidney Stones
Lots of protein in the diet puts a large amino acid load to the kidneys, increasing the risk of kidney stone formation .
Resistance training may counter damage to the kidneys caused by a high protein diet .
2) Kidney Damage
The acid-base balance in the body is disrupted due to the increased acidity from a high protein diet. Acidic blood damages the kidneys. Fruits and vegetables may prevent this side effect and should be incorporated into a high protein diet .
3) Digestive Discomfort
Whey protein does contain lactose (a sugar found in milk) and those with lactose intolerance may experience cramping and diarrhea .
Whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate contain small amounts of lactose .
Gout is a form of arthritis where a metabolic defect in uric acid causes episodes of acute pain, tenderness, and redness. There is no evidence that consuming whey protein can cause gout, but it can worsen this condition.
Whey protein does contain small amounts of purine, a protein responsible for making uric acid. Foods containing purine increase the risk of recurrent gout attacks .
Evidence suggests that anti-inflammatory properties and low levels of purine in whey protein prevent gout formation .
Dosage and Timing
The dosage of whey protein depends on the goal of the individual, their lifestyle, and the amount of protein already in their diet.
A highly active or athletic person wanting to lose belly fat and preserve lean muscle may include a large amount of protein in their diet (0.68 – 1 g/lb of bodyweight). Less active lifestyles will require much less protein (0.36 g/lb of bodyweight) .
Experts recommend protein intakes of 56 – 91 grams per day for men and 46 – 75 grams per day for women .
Taking whey protein supplementation consistently before a workout and/or after a workout has:
- Increased physical performance
- Decreased workout recovery time
- Increased muscle size
- Increased strength
Users of whey protein supplements report the following improvements in health:
- Feeling stronger
- Geater motivation for exercising
- Increased muscle gains
- Improved recovery time
- Reduced post-workout muscle soreness
Users also reported no side effects after using whey protein powder when mixed with water or milk.
Most people think of whey protein as something that bodybuilders take after a hard workout. But this milk by-product is much more than that — and there are many whey protein benefits that can help men and women of all ages, sizes, and activity levels.
Whey supplementation has been shown to improve athletic performance and can help you lose weight, slow age-related muscle decline, and even lower high blood pressure. Read on to learn about whey protein benefits and how you can use it in your healthy keto lifestyle.
What Is Whey Protein?
Most of the whey protein you’ll find available nowadays is a derivative from cow’s milk (although you can find some from goat’s milk).
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Dairy milk contains two primary proteins: casein (about 80%) and whey (about 20%).
Whey concentrate and whey protein isolate are extracted when you separate dairy solids (casein) from the liquid (whey). This liquid is then spray dried into a powder and filtered.
Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey protein concentrate (WPC) is less filtered than whey protein isolate and still contains some lactose (a fermentable sugar that has been known to cause digestive issues and bloating in some people). It also doesn’t contain as much protein as whey isolate.
Whey protein isolate (WPI) is the purest form of whey, containing over 90% protein and very little lactose, making it a good protein source choice for people with lactose intolerance.
Whey isolate — or any form of whey, for that matter — is not appropriate for those with a dairy allergy. That’s because whey contains alpha-lactalbumin and beta-lactoglobulin, which are normally beneficial compounds but also happen to be milk allergens.
Whey isolate can also be hydrolyzed, or split apart, to create whey protein hydrolysate, which has been shown to be absorbed easier.
When choosing your whey protein, pay attention to its origins to ensure you’re getting a high-quality protein product. If your whey comes from grass-fed cows, it not only has more bioactive compounds like lactoferrin and beta-lactoglobulin, but it’s also better for the environment.
Ranchers who raise grass-fed cows tend to use rotational grazing methods that spare the soil. Organic farmers also use fewer antibiotics for their livestock, helping to lessen the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
9 Whey Protein Benefits
Whey protein supplements have been around for a while and are quite popular in gyms and among those who focus on resistance exercise. But the health benefits of whey protein go much further than mere physical performance and muscle strength. Here are some science-backed facts.
#1: Can Improve Body Composition
Even though whey is well known around the bodybuilder community, this supplement can help preserve lean muscle mass and increase fat loss during periods of weight loss. It helps you build muscle without turning you bulky.
Researchers at Purdue compiled 13 studies on whey supplementation for women. Body mass index (BMI) was the primary endpoint.
When the data was calculated, they found that whey protein improved body composition across the board. This means that when women supplemented with whey, they had more lean body mass than the control groups. This effect was most significant in studies with a calorie-restriction component.
In another study, researchers put 34 women recovering from gastric bypass surgery on two diets — low-calorie with whey, and low-calorie without whey. All 34 women lost weight, but the group that supplemented with whey maintained their muscle mass.
Whey may not stimulate weight loss per se, but it can help boost your satiety while helping you maintain muscle even as you shed fat.
#2: May Help Weight Loss on Keto
You probably know that a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet can stimulate weight loss and comes packed with immense health benefits for your body and brain.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat diet where fat sources like MCT oil, nut butter, and olive oil are encouraged. But even though fat is the star of keto, protein also plays a major role.
Adequate protein intake is essential for maintaining lean mass on a ketogenic weight loss program.
In a 2016 study conducted to assess body composition changes, 25 healthy people were put on two different diets: a low-calorie diet and a keto diet with whey supplementation.
In the end, the group on keto showed better results in body composition than the low-calorie group. Although both groups lost weight, only the people on keto kept their lean mass.
#3: Can Help Balance Blood Sugar
In one trial, researchers gave either whey, casein, or glucose to obese people for 12 weeks. Results showed that the group taking the whey supplement had better insulin function.
In another study, people suffering from type 2 diabetes were given whey protein along with a high-carb breakfast. The results showed that those who consumed whey had improved insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar than the placebo group.
These studies concluded that whey protein can be of great help to those suffering from metabolic disorders.
#4: Muscle Growth and Recovery
When it comes to whey protein benefits for the body, muscle growth is probably the most well-known.
Whey protein is great for promoting muscle protein synthesis, due to its amino acid composition.
Amino acids are necessary to form every tissue in your body and are categorized as essential and non-essential. Essential aminos are provided through your diet, while non-essential aminos are technically synthesized in your body.
A protein with all nine essential amino acids — like whey protein — is called a complete protein.
Whey is rich in branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs or leucine, which play a vital role in muscle repair and growth, making whey ideal for exercise recovery
A group of researchers examined the short-term recovery effects of whey. They gave 12 young men either a whey protein supplement or a carb supplement before a weightlifting session.
They then measured muscle strength and recovery at 12 and 24 hours post-workout. The whey supplemented group recovered better, faster, and with stronger results than the control group.
#5: Might Reduce Age-Related Muscle Loss
As you grow older, your body naturally starts to deteriorate and lose muscle (also known as sarcopenia). Including whey protein in your diet can help you slow down this process and avoid the side effects that come with this condition.
Muscle loss, or sarcopenia, can cause problems like weakness, nerve damage, and may increase your risk of chronic disease.
Both protein and resistance training are crucial for maintaining lean mass into your later decades. If you lift three times a week but don’t eat enough protein, your muscles will pay the price.
Along these lines, researchers gave 70 older women either whey or placebo (before and after weight training) for 12 weeks. At the end of this randomized controlled trial, the women on whey had more lean mass — and more functional strength — than the control group.
#6: May Help Boost Immunity
One of the most overlooked whey protein benefits is its immunity supporting properties.
In addition to its essential amino acids, whey is brimming with bioactive, immune-boosting compounds, such as beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, lactoferrin, and immunoglobulins.
These agents have been studied for their antimicrobial and anticancer properties, which supports your immune system in fighting infection and destroying harmful antigens.
#7: Can Promote Antioxidant Support
Cysteine is technically a non-essential amino acid, which means you can synthesize it on your own. However, providing your body with an additional boost of cysteine can be a wise thing to do.
Every second of every day, your cells generate particles called reactive oxygen species (ROS). At low levels, ROS are actually beneficial — acting as signaling molecules for your immune system and cellular defense mechanisms.
At high levels, however, ROS can create oxidative damage throughout your body, which may lead to the development of conditions like autoimmunity, neurodegenerative disease, heart disease, and accelerated aging.
To keep ROS in check during times of stress or illness, your body has a protector called glutathione.
Glutathione is known as your master antioxidant. When oxidative stress rises, your body ramps up glutathione levels to clean up those pesky ROS. To produce these endogenous antioxidants, your body needs cysteine.
Supporting your body with cysteine-rich foods — such as whey protein — can help to keep your immune system healthy and running at its optimal level.
#8: May Support Liver Health
Your liver is one of the most active organs of your body and plays a multitude of important roles in various systems.
From secreting digestive bile and helping you break down dietary fat to clearing toxins from your blood, regulating your cholesterol levels, and producing clotting proteins, the liver is the ultimate multi-tasker.
Sadly, liver health seems to be on the downswing in the developed world — with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) now affecting 20-30% of the population.
Cysteine-rich foods like whey, may help your body replenish glutathione stores, which can decrease oxidative stress on your liver.
Researchers gave 20 grams of whey protein isolate per day to 38 patients with liver disease for 12 weeks. By the end of the trial, not only had glutathione production improved — but the health of the liver cells themselves (hepatocytes) had improved too.
In another study, 11 obese women with liver disease were given whey protein supplementation. All of the women experienced a decrease in liver size and triglycerides.
#9: Can Support Heart Health
There are many factors that can influence the risk of heart disease: weight, insulin resistance, lipids, endothelial health, inflammation — the list is long.
In addition to all the other whey protein benefits, a massive 2013 review found that whey supplementation also can improve blood pressure, arterial health, and blood lipids in people with metabolic syndrome.
In one trial, 42 mildly hypertensive folks got either whey, casein, or sugar supplements for eight weeks. Results showed that compared to casein and sugar, whey protein not only significantly improved blood pressure but also lowered triglycerides — another risk factor for heart disease.
How to Take Protein Supplements
If you’re considering adding this supplement to your keto diet to get all the whey protein benefits, learning about dosage is vital. Here are a few general guidelines.
Depending on your activity level, you’ll need more or less protein to support your daily needs.
- Very active: 150 grams protein for a 200-pound person (100 grams protein for a 140-pound person)
- Moderately active: 120 grams protein for a 200-pound person (80 grams protein for a 140-pound person)
- Sedentary: 90 grams protein for a 200-pound person (60 grams protein for a 140-pound person)
Pregnant women are also recommended to up their protein intake to maintain muscle mass and support their growing child — around 1.2 g/kg body weight initially, and 1.5 g/kg body weight in the third trimester.
Always check with your healthcare provider to learn if whey protein can be included in your diet and how to do it safely.
General Protein Safety
According to research, up to 2 g/kg bodyweight protein per day is safe — while 3.5 g/kg body weight is the tolerable upper limit.
People with a damaged liver or kidneys should also exercise caution at high protein intakes.
This guide is just a friendly resource and cannot substitute medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional if you’re not sure about including this supplement in your lifestyle.
Whey Protein Benefits That Support Your Keto Goals
Whey has an impressive spectrum of health benefits. If you’re following a keto diet for weight loss, physical and mental performance, or overall health, this supplement could be a great addition to your smoothies, breakfast pancakes, or keto treats.
With so much supporting evidence, whey protein is at least worth a try. If you’re still unconvinced about this supplement and its potential, check out the following articles:
- The Comprehensive Guide to Whey Protein
- Grass-Fed Whey Protein vs. Regular Whey
- Is Whey Protein Good for You?
So, you have started to set some fitness goals. You know that you want to get a leaner, more toned body and you have started to work out more regularly.
You also know that in order to maximize the effects of working out you need to provide your body with muscle-building nutrients to properly recover.
But, which protein is the best, and which is the most beneficial to your health and overall well-being? Lucky for you, I have done all the hard work and have your answer.
Whey protein, specifically whey protein isolate (like IdealLean Protein Powder for Women), will help you to achieve your fitness goals by helping with post-workout recovery, benefiting your body and health in a number of ways.
Let’s Start With the Basics
Before we dive into all of the benefits of whey (and by the way, there are A LOT) let’s first talk about what whey is. Whey protein is found in the process of separating components of milk.
Milk is made up of two proteins; casein and whey. We are able to separate the whey from the casein or it can be formed as a byproduct of cheesemaking.
From there, whey can then be processed to yield different forms of whey in the forms of concentrate, hydrolysate and isolate. While all forms have their benefits, isolate is the purest of the three and is the most complete.
Benefits of Whey Protein
Whey protein is one of the best-researched supplements on the market right now.
Through these studies, we are seeing more and more just how beneficial whey is, as it has a high nutritional value and the many health benefits that are associated with this protein as well.
1. Promote Muscle Growth
Okay, okay. This may scare some of you away. And you may be thinking to yourself, but I said I DON’T want to put on muscle mass. I hear you and I get it. Let me explain this to you in better detail.
Say you are putting your time in at the gym, but are not following up with protein. By skipping this crucial step you are breaking down your muscles and not repairing them. So basically all of that hard work you have been putting in isn’t leading to the results you may want to see.
By incorporating more protein into your diet you can build or maintain lean muscle and reduce fat tissue.
2. Weight Loss
A study conducted by the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition, published in the Journal of Nutrition, took 90 middle-aged overweight adults and split them into three different groups.
The first group incorporated whey protein drinks into their normal diets. The second group incorporated soy protein drinks into their diets and the third drank carbohydrate drinks.
Each group drank them twice a day; once with breakfast and once with their dinner. All drinks had the same amount of calories and had 52 grams of added protein and carbs per packet.
Over the course of six months, they found that the group who incorporated carbohydrate drinks into their diets gained a few pounds, while the ones who added soy protein stayed around the same weight and the group that incorporated whey into their diets lost pounds and inches off of their bodies.
Some factors that could contribute to this weight loss is that you are able to feel more full as protein is a more satisfying nutrient.
Consuming more protein can also help you to stay fuller longer and forego those extra calories you might have consumed otherwise.
And by adding a whey protein into your diet you can reduce fat tissue while building lean muscle to lose fat and become more toned. (see above).
3. Support Lower Blood Pressure
There are specific proteins in whey that contain peptides that are shown to exert positive effects on lowering blood pressure.
To further test this claim, Australian researchers conducted a study to see what would happen when additional whey protein was added to overweight men and women’s diets.
They were given 27g of whey protein twice a day for 12 weeks and found that there was a 4% reduction in systolic blood pressure and 3% reduction in diastolic blood pressure.
Benefits of Whey Protein Isolate
Now we will break this up into a smaller category. Like I said earlier, whey protein isolate is a form of whey. It is the cleanest, purest form of whey protein; as it is generally 90-95% protein. This leaves little room for anything else, so if you see 100% Whey Protein Isolate on the label you are putting a higher quality product into your body.
1. Essential Amino Acids
Whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey and is a complete protein. It contains all the essential amino acids that your body needs to repair muscle after a workout.
Because essential amino acids are not made by our bodies we must look to food and supplements to get these essential nutrients.
Failing to get these in our diets may result in muscle loss and problems with repair. To reduce tissue damage and increase performance, it is essential to get these essential amino acids into our diets.
2. Low in Fat & Carbs
You guys, this is huge! While so many products out there are loaded with extra fat and carbs, whey protein isolate on its own is low in both. This will provide your body with the protein you need without the extra fat and carbs that can slow you down.
3. Low Lactose Levels
Whey protein isolate has less than 1% lactose in it. Because this number is so small you can generally consume this even if you are lactose sensitive or intolerant. But like all other things, consult with your doctor before doing so.
4. Easily Digested
Whey protein isolate can be easily digested by your body so you can say hello to the lean, toned body of your dreams. This protein will be absorbed and processed quickly, especially when consumed as a liquid.
Fuel Your Body
Fueling your body and giving yourself the nutrients to maximize your health is just as important as the actual workout! It’s my goal to be healthy in all areas of my life. So in using a whey isolate in my diet, I’m able to really optimize my workout and get the health benefits as well!
Protein is the key to get your ideal lean body. Equally important to that is making sure you find the best protein to really optimize those results. After I work out I always reach for my IdealLean Protein for women for a delicious and nutritious fueled recovery.
No need to straight-up inhale meat at all times of the day to get in your daily dose of protein (picture Chad from the Bachelorette).
We have you covered with some ‘whey’ better-tasting alternatives (see what I did there?!?) that you can easily add to your water, milk, almond milk, or coconut milk.
IdealLean Women’s Protein contains 100% Whey Protein Isolate and is low in sugar, fat, and carbs. With only 90-100 calories and other nutrients essential to women’s bodies the benefits really are clear. Need any more convincing?! If you do, you really can’t go wrong with our sample packs. That way you can try out four different flavors of IdealLean Protein AND you can get an IdealFit Because protein is a girl’s best friend.
Pre or Post Workout: When Should You Take Whey Protein?
Protein consumption remains one of the most hotly debated topics in performance nutrition – there are “protein wars” afoot, with one camp pitting itself against another, each touting the pros and cons of food vs. supplementation, whey vs. soy, and the correct protein intake levels based on age, goal and sport.
It makes sense – athletes of all levels place a high value on developing lean muscle tissue, and protein consumption is what delivers the amino acids necessary for building and maintaining muscle.
The good news is the sheer popularity of whey protein means that it’s been studied, studied and studied some more, so there are fewer questions regarding when to take whey protein.
If you’ve made the decision to supplement, and you’re looking to add whey protein to your diet, here’s what you need to know.
Types of Whey Protein
Not all whey proteins are the same – in fact, you’re likely to be overwhelmed by all the options available if you take a jaunt down the aisle at your local nutrition store. Generally speaking, there are three common forms of whey protein.
Whey Protein Concentrate
This is the less processed, more “natural” form of whey protein. For clean-eating fans, less processing probably sounds like a good thing, but in this case, less processing actually means less pure.
Whey protein concentrate contains more fat and lactose, and less total protein – ranging anywhere from 70% to 85% of the product – than isolates.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate, on the other hand, goes through more processing to remove the extra lactose and fat, delivering a product that’s typically 90% protein or more. The isolate form of whey protein generally costs more than concentrate, and it’s also considered a “safer” supplement for those who are lactose intolerant.
Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
Hydrolyzed whey products are those that have gone through additional processing, essentially breaking down the protein into groups of amino acids that are theoretically faster to digest.
The problem is, research doesn’t necessarily indicate this is true, so spending more money on a hydrolyzed product when other options are as, or more, effective, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Functionally speaking, any whey product you choose should be more than capable of putting your body into a state of positive nitrogen balance – the most beneficial state for muscle recovery and hypertrophy – as long as you time your protein supplementation correctly.
When to Take Whey Protein
Whey protein is a highly bioavailable protein that boasts fast absorption rates. This makes it an ideal protein for post-workout recovery.
In fact, Brandon Mentone, a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Sports Nutritionist, puts it this way, “Whey has the highest bioavailability of all the protein analogues, which makes it the most potent and rapidly utilized agent post-workout.”
When you exercise, you’re placing a high level of stress on your body that actually causes damage to your muscles and tissue.
Building muscle doesn’t actually take place during your workout; rather, your workout is the tool you use to put your body in the necessary state for muscular hypertrophy during recovery.
Proper post-workout nutrition stimulates the repair of tissues in a way that leads to muscle growth.
Immediately following a workout, the blood flow to skeletal muscles is stimulated, and the act of working out “opens up” muscles to function a bit like a sponge – they’re primed and ready to absorb nutrients.
By consuming a fast-absorbing protein like whey protein immediately after your workout, you’re supplying your muscles with the amino acids they need to repair and grow, precisely when they benefit the most.
The sooner you can consume whey protein following your workout, the better. Generally speaking, you have up to a two-hour window (the “anabolic window”) post-workout to consume a protein-carbohydrate meal.
This is the two-hour period in which your muscles are primed and ready to accept nutrients, taking them from a muscle-wasting state of negative nitrogen balance to a muscle-building state of positive nitrogen balance.
But just because you have up to two hours, doesn’t mean you should wait to supplement. The longer you wait, the less “sponge-like” your muscles will be, and the less benefit you’ll derive from your whey protein supplementation efforts.
Who Should Take Whey Protein
Because whey protein is affordable, popular and highly bioavailable, It’s a great option for most active individuals looking for a way to easily increase protein consumption.
One of the biggest arguments against protein supplementation is that, in theory, it’s easy for people to consume enough protein in their diets to meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of .8 grams per kilogram body weight.
While technically this is true, the RDA is based on the protein needs of a sedentary individual, not the needs of anyone who is active, growing, trying to build muscle mass or who is recovering from an injury.
Most studies indicate that under circumstances such as these, protein intake ranging from 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram body weight is ideal. While it’s perfectly possible to consume this level of protein from food sources, it’s not always convenient.
Anyone who has ever tried to squeeze in a workout right before running to a meeting or whose training schedule butts up to their children’s bedtimes knows that it’s not always possible to sit down for a meal right after working out.
Because the timing of protein consumption post-workout is vitally important to muscle hypertrophy and recovery, it must be easy and convenient to consume.
Protein supplements – particularly whey protein powders that can be mixed with water, bars and pre-made shakes – are incredibly convenient, and a great option for anyone who’s “on the go” and unable to turn to whole food protein sources after workout.
It’s important to realize, though, that whey protein isn’t appropriate for everyone. As a product derived from milk, it’s not a good choice for vegans, and some whey protein concentrates may cause gastrointestinal distress to those who are lactose intolerant.
In these situations, other protein supplements, such as vegan-friendly, stomach-friendly hemp protein, may be a better option.
Best Protein powder for Lean Muscle: Optimum Nutrition Gold Whey Protein Powder
If you’re familiar with products in the sports nutrition world, you shouldn’t be surprised to see that Optimum nutrition product comes highly recommended as a post workout protein powder. They’ve been around for a very long time, and the company has managed to keep a good reputation all this while; which means, their product really works, and this particular one isn’t an exemption.
In comparison to other products on the list; it has the second highest protein yield per serving of 24g. Cholesterol and calcium are actively present in the powder. When it comes to muscle building and recovery, BCAA (branched chain amino acid) is very important. This product boast of 5.5g of BCAA, making it one of the highest proportion amidst in peers.
It also has about 4g of glutamine embedded in it, which helps in preventing muscle wasting and aiding muscle growth.
Aside from having great nutritional benefit, the taste is something to crave for. This product has a superb taste, which is very rare for protein powders that are usually tasteless. Users have great ideas for incorporating the powder into their recipe. The manufacturer also has a recommended recipe to make with the powder.
Taking the product has been shown to reduce muscle aches after the workout. Getting you fully prepared for another session.
If you want to double or triple up on your protein consumption, without having to gulp awful tasting shakes, then this is the right product to go for.
On the negative end, this product uses lots of artificial ingredients, making it unsuitable for those that prefer organic ingredients.
Best Protein Powder for Weight Loss: BSN SYNTHA-6 Protein Powder
BSN is another popular company in the supplement industry, they produce a wide range of protein products in various flavors, targeted towards the specific need of users. Their products are highly remarkable, and they’ve held their good reputation for years. It’s a company you can’t go wrong with.
The protein component of this powder is derived from various sources such as egg albumen, whey protein (isolate and concentrate), Casein as well as glutamine peptide.
In addition to the regular protein ingredient; it has 5g of dietary fiber in its formula. This is to ensure good bowel movement, reduce craving and toxins removal in the digestive tract. As loading up on protein might raise digestion issues; the addition of fiber is something I consider very smart by the manufacturer.
To enhance the taste of the product, various artificial and natural flavors are used. Often, it’s hard to make a good shake (mix) out of most protein powder; they either don’t mix well, or the texture is so coarse, making it difficult to drink sometimes, this product mix well with both water and milk, making it easy to take.
The low calorie is also something worthy of note. A good protein powder is the one with the low amount of carb, you want to get as much protein as possible without having to load up on carb excessively. This product fits the bill.
If you’re not much of an artificial flavor fan, then you would want to explore some other options because the product is heavily flavored; artificially.
Best Vegan Protein Powder: Vega Sport Protein Powder
Vegan-friendly protein powder is not as common as the ones made of inorganic ingredients. This is the first and only vegan certified protein powder on the list. The product is certified as a non-gmo product, and all its ingredients are plant-based.
Like the previously reviewed product, it also has a significant amount of fiber, roughly 3g, to aid digestion and bowel health. Providing 30g of plant-based protein per serving, it compares well with other products in the category, when you factor in the fact that the proteins are plant sourced.
It also contains probiotics, this is a step ahead of other products in the same category as the manufacturer has given more attention to overall health and not just muscle growth.
For improved muscle growth and recovery, it has about 6g of BCAA, which a vital for muscle growth. Other ingredients of note are turmeric extract, black pepper, and Xanthan gum. Although recommended as a post work out drink, many users also use it for meal replacement purpose.
The protein to carb ratio is also close to perfect, as you get only 6g of carb. The cholesterol component is zero! As compared to the optimum nutrition whey protein with the significant amount of cholesterol; this is better.
On the negative end, this product does not mix well as compared to the previously reviewed protein powders.
If you’re a vegan, and you need a good post workout protein powder, this is the best you will find on Amazon as far as protein yield is concerned.
Best Protein Powder for Weight Gain: MusclePharm Combat Powder Advanced Time Release Protein
MusclePharm is a popular company in the supplements market, they have years of experience in producing products that users not only find suitable but equally recommendable. Having years of market research experience goes a long way in designing the appropriate product.
The combat powder has a protein yield of 25g per serving, placing it amidst protein powders with maximum yield. The carb to protein ration is also perfect, at 5g of carb per serving. Although the fiber component is low, at 1g per serving, it is still a better option when compared to other protein powder with no dietary fiber component.
The protein component of the powder is sourced from egg albumin, whey protein (isolate, hydrolysate, and concentrate) and micellar casein.
The powder mixes very well with water or milk, and the taste is good as well. The time release is something unique to the product. It supplies the protein on a need basis rather than digesting it all at once.
This product comes highly recommended for post workout recovery, if you don’t have a huge budget and you want the best, it’s what you would go for on the list.
Best Keto Protein Powder: Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder.
Composed of 100% whey protein isolate, this is slightly different from other forms of product that has been reviewed on the list; in that, other products are made up of protein from varying sources. Although the significance of varying source of protein has not been scientifically proven to have any impact on the effectiveness of the supplements.
The ingredient is made purely of protein, giving 50g of protein per serving. This is the highest on the list; although the claim is highly questionable, as the product is bound to contain some other filler content.
See other low carb protein powders.
It boast of various minerals and vitamins that accumulate to 50% of the daily recommended value of the minerals and vitamins needed by the body.
It also does not contain gluten of any form of lactose. Has a significant amount of BCAA, 5.5g of BCAA in each scoop, and two scoops are recommended per serving; which means you get 11g of BCAA from each serving. It’s the highest amount of BCAA in all products recommended on this list. Although there is no way to verify the authenticity of this claim, aside from the words of the manufacturer. It also contains L-glutamine as well making it a good post workout protein powder for muscle recovery.
Protein powders are beneficial for muscle growth and maintenance. Taking them after the workout will go a long way in improving your recovery rate.
Don’t just buy any powder off the shelf, buy any of the products recommended as the best post workout protein powders because they’ve been tested by thousands of users, most of whom have good things to say about the products.
If you’ve been in the fitness world long enough you know that the most important component in your diet is the consumption of extra amounts of protein. Usually consisting of lean whole foods like chicken or fish, protein intake plays the most key role in preventing the breakdown of muscle tissues as well as the growth of new muscle tissues. Typically we reach for a scoop of whey protein post-workout because of its ease of use, but the following will lie out the other hidden benefits of whey protein.
Whey protein is one of the most nutritionally dense supplements on the planet. Packed with obviously tons of protein, whey also is chock full of amino acids such as leucine which plays the biggest role in keeping you anabolic and in the muscle-building state. There are 3 different types of whey and they are whey concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. They all differ from each other slightly depending mainly on the amount of processing done to the actual protein.
With whey concentrate, it’s usually the cheapest choice because the separation of fats and carbohydrates is more minimal than any other form. Whey isolate uses a lot more filtration to create a more protein-packed whey. Whey hydrolysate (WPH) uses a process called hydrolysis to break down further the whey protein particles to whey’s closest pure form. If you ever have “bubble guts” from drinking protein, go with the WPH because it basically pre-digests the protein for you through all of its filtration.
Whey protein is also the most readily available form of protein on the market at the moment and has science based facts that show that whey protein consumption will lead to greater muscle gains and fat loss. Some recent research even shows that whey is even good for reducing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. The most known benefit of whey protein is that it ultimately helps to rebuild muscle breakdown and build new muscle mass.
When you workout you are actually breaking down and creating little tears within your muscle fibers. The most readily available form of protein (whey) is what helps to fix these tears and promote the healing and growth of muscle fibers. Whey protein also contains various forms of amino acids, including leucine, which is the most abundant amino acid responsible for muscle building.
When To Take Whey: Before or After A Workout?
So what’s the best time to take whey protein? Before and after your workouts are the best times to incorporate this supplement into your diet. Research suggests taking in about 10-20 grams of whey about 15-20 minutes before your workout and about 20-40 grams within that brief 30-minute window after your workout.
Whey is also great to use immediately upon waking up in the morning; usually about 20-30 grams of it. Your body has basically been starved for the last 6-8 hours and something that is quickly digestible like whey is the perfect way to stop muscle breakdown and spring your body into new growth. Other times to use whey would be in between meals as a snack to help keep you anabolic before your next full meal.
As you can see, the importance of whey really dominates the supplement world and rightly so. If there was ever a supplement you “needed”, a form of whey protein would be it. With it being so variable to use throughout the day as well as all the incredible gym benefits as well as overall health benefits, this makes this protein a must-have in you cupboard.