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Advantages Disadvantages Whey Protein for Muscle Building

Whey protein (protein powder) is one of the best-selling nutritional supplements worldwide, and for good reason. Proteins are essential for our body.

Without protein, we wouldn't be able to build muscle or repair daily tissue damage.

Although bodybuilders and strength athletes especially love whey protein, almost everyone can benefit from the high-quality proteins of whey protein.

Numerous scientific studies have shown the health benefits of this white gold.

Advantages of whey protein

1: whey protein promotes muscle growth
2: whey protein can help with type 2 diabetes
3: whey protein reduces hunger pangs
4: whey protein retains muscle mass (when you don't train)
5: lose weight with whey protein

Disadvantages of whey protein

1: added sugars in whey protein
2: Artificial Sweeteners
3: soy protein powder has side effects
4: gluten
5: Preservatives

In this article I'll tell you everything about whey protein:

  • The different types of whey protein
  • Annoying side effects of whey protein shake
  • The main disadvantages of whey protein
  • The biggest disadvantage of whey protein
  • 3 good alternatives to whey protein

What is whey protein?

Whey protein (also called whey) is a natural component of milk. Before we were able to separate casein proteins and whey protein from milk, whey was a by-product of the production of cheese from milk.

Whey protein is made during the cheese production process, which is created when a special enzyme is combined with milk.

Advantages Disadvantages Whey Protein

The enzyme ensures that the liquid whey and the solid components of cheese are separated. The solids are used to make cheese, while the liquid whey is dried as a powder for various applications in food products.

Because most lactose is removed from milk in the form of casein, whey has a very low lactose content and contains a lot of protein.

Whey is considered a "complete protein" because it contains all nine essential amino acids. These are amino acids that cannot be produced by the human body and must be obtained from food.

Whey protein contains all the amino acids the body needs and is the best source of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), including Leucine, an amino acid known to play a key role in muscle synthesis.

Animal protein sources usually also contain complete proteins. Think of meat, fish, eggs, and poultry. The amount and type of each amino acid differ per protein source. Vegetable protein sources, for example, are often incomplete when it comes to essential amino acids. An exception to this is quinoa and hemp.

Whey protein good for muscle building

Protein bars and protein powder are selling like hotcakes. Why is that? Because they have all the essential amino acids we need to function properly.

You may not realize it, but in everyday life, our fabric has to do with wear and tear. Think of injuries, muscle wear, etc. Amino acids are indispensable in the repair and recovery of bones, cells, and muscle tissue.

To do this, your body needs a constant supply of high-quality proteins.

When I talk about high-quality protein, I don't mean the proteins found in bacon, burgers, and other processed meats that are loaded with saturated and trans fats.

Not only is this meatless healthy, but it also contains a few different essential amino acids. This also means that the quality of the protein is lower.

Lean meat proteins, such as chicken and turkey, are much healthier in that regard. So sources of high-quality protein are excellent for muscle building.

In terms of biological value, whey protein appears to be the highest in value (namely 104) over beef (80), fish (79), soy (74), and beans (49).

A high biological value means that it contains many essential amino acids. In addition, all branched-chain amino acids found in whey protein, such as isoleucine, leucine, valine, glycine, and arginine, help to promote the healing of skin, muscles, bones, and connective tissues.

Whey protein contains the highest concentration of proteins and BCAAs as a protein source. Just think about that when you drink a whey shake for the umpteenth time. ?

Different types of whey protein shake

There are three types of whey protein:

  • Whey protein concentrate
  • whey protein isolate
  • Whey protein hydrolysate

Each of the listed types of whey has a different processing time. This means that protein absorption can vary from slow to fast. After training, it is important that a rapid release of proteins takes place so that the muscles can recover (and grow) as quickly as possible.

Whey protein concentrate

Whey concentrate has the cheapest price tag. And that's for a reason. The amount of protein is a lot less. It can range from 29% to 89%. This whey source contains the most carbohydrates and fats in relation to the other two ( source ).

whey protein isolate

Whey isolate is the purest form available. It has a more intensive production process in which all fat and lactose have been removed. Whey isolate contains more than 90% of proteins and is, therefore, a bit more expensive than whey concentrate ( source ).

Do you want to lose weight and become drier? Then whey isolate is the best option. Whey isolate is also digested faster by the body than whey concentrate.

Which I use and recommend myself

The whey protein isolates that I myself use and recommend is this one from Royal Green. This whey product contains the highest percentage of quality protein, without added sugars, sweeteners, and flavors. The brand also has good coconut oil and other natural products.

Whey hydrolysate

Whey hydrolyzate is the most expensive type of whey protein. It is used as a medical protein supplement (eg in case of malnutrition) and infant formula. It is lactose-free, which makes it an excellent choice for strength athletes with lactose intolerance.

Benefits of whey protein

Now that you know the differences, it's time to list the various health benefits of whey protein.

Benefit #1: whey protein promotes muscle growth

As you probably already know, muscle mass decreases with age. This process is faster in people who do not do strength training or bodybuilding. A decrease in muscle mass is often accompanied by an increase in fat and the risk of chronic diseases.

Any form of resistance training (in combination with a healthy protein-rich diet) can slow down or even partially prevent this negative change in body composition ( source ).

High-quality protein sources are particularly effective, such as whey protein, which is rich in a branched-chain amino acid called Leucine.

The amino acid Leucine is the most anabolic (growth-promoting) of all amino acids ( source ). For this reason, whey protein is particularly effective when it comes to preventing muscle loss due to age.

For muscle building, it has been scientifically proven that whey protein is slightly better compared to other types of proteins, such as casein or soy ( sourcesource ).

Benefit #2: whey protein can help with type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels and decreased function of the hormone insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is supposed to stimulate the uptake of glucose into cells so that it remains within healthy limits.

Whey protein has also been shown to be effective at controlling blood sugar levels ( source ), especially when consumed before or while eating carbohydrates.

Benefit #3: whey protein reduces hunger pangs

There's nothing worse than hunger pangs and binge eating when you're cutting. By cutting, I mean lowering your fat percentage. This requires a restrictive diet. Are you always hungry? Then a whey protein shake can offer a solution. Proteins make you feel full for longer.

One study tested the appetite and hormonal responses of 28 obese men to whey protein. The researchers gave the men four different drinks with a varied composition of fructose and whey.

Four hours after drinking the drinks with 50 grams of whey protein, the men had a significantly reduced level of ghrelin ( source ). Ghrelin is a hormone responsible for inducing appetite and telling your brain when you are full.

The lower the levels of ghrelin in your body, the less you feel the need to snack.

Benefit #4: whey protein retains muscle mass (when you don't train)

When you finally start building some muscle mass, the last thing you want to do is lose muscle. Anyone who has worked hard to gain muscle mass knows that it is just as important to maintain it.

The hormone Leucine has an anabolic effect on muscle cells. This inhibits the breakdown of muscle mass at times when you are not training (think of days when you are sick or go on holiday). A whey protein shake can offer a solution.

If you're struggling to get enough protein, whey protein is one of the easiest ways to get protein and maintain your hard-earned muscle mass.

Benefit #5: lose weight with whey protein

Increased consumption of protein is a well-known strategy used by both bodybuilders and non-athletes for fat burning.

Losing weight with whey protein has a number of advantages:

  • Appetite suppression, leading to reduced calorie intake ( source )
  • Temporarily increasing the metabolism, so that you burn more calories ( source )
  • It prevents the loss of muscle mass during weight loss ( source )

In short, whey protein is your best friend for weight loss and helps you to maintain your built-up muscle mass.

  • Do you want to know how much protein you need as a bodybuilder? Then read this article

Disadvantages of whey protein

Unfortunately, there are also some whey protein side effects and drawbacks that you should be aware of.

Disadvantage #1: added sugars in whey protein

With the growing number of whey brands, finding the best whey quality is also becoming a challenge. Dozens of whey brands can be found on the internet and in fitness stores. Unfortunately, not all of them are equally healthy.

Many protein powders are full of added sugars. You see this especially with slimming shakes that are used as meal replacements.

You want to avoid added sugars in whey protein shakes as much as possible. They are bad for your health, make your blood sugar level rise rapidly, and are full of calories ( source ).

My rule is no more than five grams of added sugar per 100 grams of whey, and of course, less is even better.

Downside #2: Artificial Sweeteners

You see more and more that artificial sweeteners are used in whey shakes and nutritional supplements. Aspartame, acesulfame-L, and sucralose are three examples of artificial sweeteners that you sometimes find in protein powders and whey shakes.

This is done by manufacturers because they are cheap and low in calories (unlike sugar). But despite the widespread adoption of artificial sweeteners in the supplement industry, there is still a lot that is unclear about what artificial sweeteners do to your body.

Artificial sugars contain hardly any calories, let alone essential nutrients your body needs to function. This can keep you from feeling hungry. ( source ).

Disadvantage #3: soy protein powder has side effects

Nowadays, soy protein powders are also available as an alternative to whey protein. Soy protein powder is obtained from unfermented soybeans. This production process does not remove phytic acid.

Phytic acid can only be neutralized by cooking soybeans long and slowly over low heat. Phytic acid binds with zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron, and copper, leading to deficiency in these essential minerals.

Another disadvantage of soy protein powder is that it contains phytoestrogens and has an estrogenic effect. Phytoestrogens are plant estrogens that mimic the action of the female sex hormone estrogen.

Finally, soy proteins are not high-quality proteins in my opinion. They are insulated at high temperatures to make vegetable proteins. If muscle building is important to you, then you'd better err on the side of caution and avoid soy protein powder.

Disadvantage #4: gluten

There is only one ingredient that all whey shakes definitely share and that is whey protein. Dyes and additives vary greatly per whey product. Any whey shake that contains wheat, barley, or rye is not gluten-free. Especially people with a gluten allergy can get side effects from this.

  • Be wary of ingredients such as glutamine, which comes from wheat protein and edible starch, malt sugar (maltose), dextrin, and maltodextrin.

Disadvantage #5: Preservatives

Assuming you've bought quality whey protein, it should contain a minimum of additives. Unfortunately, many whey shakes are filled with dyes, preservatives, and additives. This is often done to extend the shelf life and preserve the structure.

Preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (E320) can disrupt hormones. Sodium nitrates are linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

These are just a few examples of whey protein side effects when you buy these types of products.

Of course, not all preservatives are equally harmful, but you want to drink as little of them as possible. Therefore, always pay attention to what is on the ingredient list and make sure you only get whey protein.

3 good alternatives to whey protein

Some people swear by whey protein. But there are also healthy whey alternatives for muscle building. Below you can read the best alternatives to whey protein.

Whey alternative #1: hemp protein powder

Did you know that hemp seed is one of the best sources of vegetable protein? If you are a vegetarian looking to increase your protein intake, hemp seed is an excellent natural and vegan source. Hemp protein powder provides about 12 grams of vegetable protein per shake (30 grams) ( source ).

Hemp protein powder and hemp oil are both made from the seeds of the hemp plant. The advantage of hemp protein powder is that it contains all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce itself.

Besides that, hemp protein powder also provides the essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in a healthy ratio of 3:1 and is full of fiber.

Hemp powder is also said to be an effective remedy for fatigue and has positive effects on the immune system ( source ). And these are just a few healthy examples of hemp protein powder.

Whey alternative #2: brown rice protein powder

If you want to avoid whey or are vegan, there's another reason to use a whey alternative like brown rice protein powder. Unfortunately, brown rice protein powder does not provide all nine essential amino acids that the body needs. That's why brown rice protein powders often also contain quinoa or chia proteins to make up for what brown rice lacks.

Therefore, always check the ingredient list of brown rice protein powder or whether quinoa or chia proteins are in it.

Whey alternative #3: goat milk protein

Most people with lactose intolerance can tolerate goat products, including goat milk protein. In addition, most goat milk protein powders do not contain any additives or additives.

Goat milk protein powder contains about 65% protein and the rest is fat and carbohydrates. The advantage of goat's milk being easily and faster digested than casein in cow's milk.

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