As the name implies, whey protein is the edible protein found in whey, the watery part of milk that becomes separated from the curds when making cheese. However, the scientific evidence regarding the efficacy of whey protein in muscle building is mixed.
Whey protein has often been touted as an essential supplement for athletes and bodybuilders. In fact, whey protein powder a go-to for those who want to increase their strength and improve their athletic performance. It has also been used as a common dietary supplement to help reverse unhealthy weight loss in individuals with HIV. However, individuals should review the health benefits before they rely on whey protein supplements.
Promotes Healthy Muscles
Whey protein is best known as a dietary supplement used by athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone who wants to build muscle strength. The majority of studies have indicated that whey protein can be effective in boosting athletic performance as long as it is used correctly. One misconception is the idea whey protein will automatically build muscle mass with no work. If individuals drink a protein shake and sit at a desk job without moving, they will not see much of a result. The protein has to work in conjunction with strength training.
In individuals who combine whey protein supplements and shakes with strength training, research shows that it can help increase muscle size, strength, athletic performance, and overall lean body mass. In adults who have not undergone athletic training, whey protein supplements improve recovery from exercise and running speed. This means that supplements may be good for those just starting to exercise. The research indicates whey protein is just as effective as proteins from beef, chicken, or soy.
Promotes Weight Loss
Whey protein can be used in some circumstances to promote weight loss, though the data regarding this tends to be mixed. Individuals need to understand how to use the supplement if they want it to affect their weight goals. Taking whey protein by itself will not be effective at making individuals lose weight. The substance does not affect metabolism or hunger levels. However, if individuals use the protein to improve their athletic performance, it may have the side effect of helping with weight loss. There is no guarantee that they will see the number on the scale go down, but as they build muscle, their body will burn fat. They will end up with a more sustainable muscle-to-fat ratio, which will help individuals feel more comfortable and strong.
May Lower Blood Pressure
A small amount of scientific research indicates that whey protein has the potential to lower blood pressure. However, more studies are necessary before any conclusive evidence can be considered. There are more studies currently being conducted on this very subject. If individuals take whey protein to lower blood pressure, it should always be in addition to their blood pressure medication and other regimens their doctor has prescribed. Individuals should tell a doctor if they are starting protein or herbal supplements to help manage a health condition.
A small study with preliminary evidence was published in 2016. In the study, forty-two volunteers who experienced a slight elevation in blood pressure were recruited. Each participant drank two protein shakes per day. For those who had fifty-six grams of whey protein per day, there were approximate drops of three points in the average systolic blood pressure readings and two points in the average diastolic blood pressure readings.
Boosts Exercise Recovery
One of the many athletic benefits of whey protein is that it boosts exercise recovery. After individuals do some exercises, their muscles need a short break in between. This is why many professionals recommend working up to exercises slowly so individuals do not cause damage to their muscles. They may also recommend alternating different muscle groups on different days, since repeatedly stressing the same muscles daily can lead to stress. But whey protein can help reduce the amount of time individuals need to spend recovering. Protein helps muscles fuel themselves and build new mass. Without protein, muscles have to deal with a larger amount of strain.
One of the benefits of whey protein is the body digests it faster than other proteins, which means that individuals may experience faster muscle recovery than with other proteins. Experts recommend consuming whey protein shakes or supplements within thirty minutes of exercising. This helps the body stimulate the synthesis of muscle proteins. Individuals will end up experiencing fewer injuries and an overall reduction in muscle soreness after a workout.
May Lower Blood Sugar
Whey protein may help control blood sugar, though it should not be used as a replacement for lifestyle changes and medications prescribed by a doctor. If individuals intend to use whey supplements in addition to their normal blood sugar regimen, they should let a doctor know. Some scientific studies indicate that whey helps keep blood sugar from spiking after individuals eat a high carbohydrate meal, especially if they have diabetes. Participants in the study had a high carbohydrate meal along with a combination of whey and water. Compared to individuals who consumed large amounts of carbohydrates without the whey supplements, their blood sugar did not experience the same dramatic spikes. Experts believe the reason for this is that whey can help stimulate the body's insulin production. However, more research is necessary to confirm it.
Everyone will deal with inflammation throughout their lifetime. The reason is that inflammation is one of the ways that an individual's body responds to injury, infection, or other damage. This is usually short-term inflammation, which is often beneficial for the body. Unfortunately, chronic inflammation is not. It is a significant risk factor for many health conditions. Individuals dealing with chronic inflammation often have poor lifestyle habits or underlying health issues. However, reports indicate that whey protein supplements can help reduce inflammation. Specifically, studies show that high doses of whey protein triggered a significant reduction in C-reactive protein. This is a major inflammation marker in the body.
Scientific data indicates that whey protein can improve malnutrition. Specifically, it can be used to reverse weight loss in patients who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV patients who experience muscle wasting are more likely to experience health complications. Whey protein helps restore muscle mass when combined with strength training, which can reverse problems caused by wasting. Whey protein can also benefit cancer patients dealing with malnutrition due to side effects of their condition and treatment, which often include a lack of appetite and nausea.
Benefits Asthma Patients
Evidence shows that whey protein can benefit children with asthma. A study published in the International Journal Of Food Science and Nutrition delved into this. The study examined eleven children with asthma. It found that supplementing them with ten grams of whey protein twice a day for one month gave them an improved immune response than those who did not receive whey protein. However, many experts say that significantly more research is necessary to determine the full extent of the possible benefits that whey protein has on asthma patients. This includes whether or not these benefits can extend to adults with this condition.
Boosts Wound Healing
For the most part, every individual will deal with wounds throughout their lifetime. They can be minor and major wounds. Regardless, the body needs to heal these wounds. In order to do so, the body requires a higher amount of amino acids and proteins. Without them, it will take the body longer to heal properly. Thankfully, individuals can consume whey protein to provide these nutrients and boost wound healing. In fact, whey protein boosts wound healing to such a degree that many doctors recommend supplements to surgery patients and burn victims to speed up the healing process. Whey protein powder can also assist individuals with chronic wounds.
Benefits Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Some information indicates that whey protein benefits inflammatory bowel disease. Of course. Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term and includes both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Both of these are characterized by chronic inflammation in the patient's digestive tract lining. Thus, one of the reasons that researchers believe whey protein could help is due to its anti-inflammatory effects. A study from 2017 provided evidence that the amino acids that helped reduce inflammation in ulcerative colitis patients also appear to improve their gut bacteria flora balance in their digestive tract. However, additional research is necessary to fully explore the benefits of whey protein regarding inflammatory bowel disease.