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Protein is incredibly important. When it comes to muscle gain and fat loss, protein is the king of nutrients.

In this article, you will learn what it is, how it works, when to have, how it can help you build muscle mass and strength and how it can help you lose fat.

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 have ever opened a yogurt container to see liquid floating on top, this is whey. 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.

Types of Whey Protein: Concentrate vs Isolate vs Hydrolysate

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 flavor.

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.

How it helps you build muscle mass and strength

Whey protein has been shown to be particularly effective at increasing muscle growth when consumed right before, after or during a workout. The main effects of whey on muscle mass and 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.

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.

How it helps you lose weight

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

Dosage

It entirely depends on your body's protein needs. A commonly recommended dosage is 1-2 scoops (around 25-50 grams) per day.

Timings

Upon waking In the morning, pre-workout and post-workout.

Does it give you results?

Just by having supplements and not taking care of your diet and exercise will not help you reduce weight or improve your fitness level. Regular exercise, healthy well balanced diet, sleep and overall healthy lifestyle supported with supplements will show results.

How much protein do you need per day?

The average person needs 0.8 grams of protein a day per every kilogram of body weight. On the other hand, an athlete may need 1.2 grams or even up to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight a day.

Is it safe?

The safety of whey protein supplements depends largely on the dose. Excess protein of any kind will be stored as fat in the body, and can increase the risk of dehydration. Too much protein may also increase a person's risk for calcium loss and osteoporosis. Because whey is a dairy product, people with milk allergies should avoid whey protein. People who are lactose intolerant should also take caution. It is best to talk to your doctor about your athletic goals and personal needs before starting protein supplements.

Always remember, the supplements are NOT an option to food, they are "Add-ons". If your protein intake from natural food sources is already high, adding whey protein on top of your current intake may be completely unnecessary. If you are not currently getting enough protein from natural food sources like dairy, lentils, fish and meat, then you can have whey protein to fulfill your body's daily protein needs.

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Written by Sapna Vyas Patel , PhD in Nutrition Science and Dietetics
Sapna writes simple, easy to understand articles that are based on pure scientific evidence. She is one of the most popular fitness professionals in India and is followed on social media by fitness enthusiasts, nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, trainers, and professionals.

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