What is whey protein?

We talk about protein this and protein that, but there are actually different types of protein that do slightly different jobs in different ways. One type of protein that we’re particularly interested in is whey protein.

What is whey protein?

Whey is a mixture of proteins that are separated from milk during the production of cheese. It is considered a complete protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids.

Milk contains two types of protein – Casein (80%) and protein (20%). When cheese is made, the watery part of the milk is separated from the fatty part. Whey is found in the watery part. In the past, it was thrown away but now we know it’s full of good stuff that has all sorts of health benefits.

It’s not quite done though when it’s separated from the milk. It is then processed to turn it into a powder-like substance. This is then what’s used in whey protein supplements and products.

Benefits of whey protein

There has been an enormous amount of research done into the benefits of whey protein. Some of the evidence is inconclusive as to what is an actual benefit, but there is research to suggest the following are upsides of taking the protein…

Building muscle

Whey protein is widely used as a protein supplement by those looking to build muscle mass in addition to going to the gym or working out at home.

A study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that “whey protein supplementation during resistance training offers some benefit compared to resistance training alone” and “males who supplemented with whey protein had a greater relative gain in lean tissue mass.”

Weight loss

Protein can be beneficial for those trying to lose weight. It can make you feel fuller for longer, reducing the chances you’ll want to eat more, and can also reduce cravings. It also burns more calories to digest that other nutrients.

In this study, it was found that participants “lost significantly more body fat and showed a greater preservation of lean muscle compared to subjects consuming the control beverage.”

Lowering cholesterol

In one study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, whey supplements were given to 70 overweight men and women for 12 weeks. They found that there was a significant decrease in cholesterol levels at week 12 in the group taking whey compared to a group taking casein.

Lowering blood pressure

As well as cholesterol, whey has also been found to lower blood pressure in adults with hypertension according to this study. These participants were subsequently also found to be at a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

There is some evidence to suggest that whey protein can have some positive impact on other medical conditions and diseases such as cancer and asthma. However, there is simply not enough research to prove this. Always consult a doctor in relation to any medical conditions.

Potential side effects

For most people, taking a recommended amount of whey protein should produce little to no side effects. However, if taken in large doses you may experience nausea, headaches, fatigue, cramps, and reduced appetite. For those allergic to milk, they may also be allergic to whey.