The Benefits and Risks of Whey Protein: A Comprehensive Guide

Learn about nutrition facts & benefits & risks associated with consuming Whey Protein Powder - an animal product derived from strained milk.

The Benefits and Risks of Whey Protein: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the most popular animal products for increasing protein intake is whey protein powder. Derived from the liquid by-product of strained milk, whey is a high-quality protein source containing all nine essential amino acids. Not surprisingly, since it is a dairy product, it also contains a small amount of calcium. Thankfully for people with lactose intolerance, whey is naturally very low in lactose.

Here's what you need to know about the nutrition, benefits, and uses of whey protein powder. The nutrition of whey protein powder may vary depending on the brand you buy. The USDA has provided the following nutritional information for one tablespoon (19.5 grams) of whey protein powder. Although whey protein powder is expected to be composed almost entirely of protein, it generally contains carbohydrates.

Each food manufacturer uses its own recipe, and some may include additional sweeteners or fillers that add carbohydrates. In cheese production, milk coagulates in the form of a solid curd, separating from liquid whey. Because whey protein powder is derived from this liquid, which has left solid fats, it generally contains very little fat. A single tablespoon provides 1 gram. Protein is, of course, the star of the macronutrient show in whey protein powder.

In one tablespoon (approximately one tablespoon), you can expect to ingest around 13 grams of high-quality animal protein. Unless fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, whey protein powder isn't usually an inexhaustible source of micronutrients. However, it contains a significant amount of calcium. One tablespoon provides 50 milligrams of calcium, approximately 5% of the recommended daily amount. Any type of protein helps build muscle after a workout, but some studies have suggested that whey protein could stimulate muscle growth even more effectively than other products, such as those derived from casein or soy. Whey contains the branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) leucine, which is the main BCAA responsible for muscle synthesis. A high-protein, low-carb diet is usually a solid weight-loss plan, but adding whey protein could achieve even better weight-loss results.

A large meta-analysis of 14 studies found that, as a supplement combined with resistance exercises or as part of a weight-loss diet, whey protein powder significantly improved parameters such as body weight and body fat. The effects of whey protein on blood pressure are not well established, but one study explored what happened when people with obesity supplemented their diet with whey protein. After 12 weeks, those who consumed whey protein had lower blood pressure and better vascular function. Dairy products are one of the eight major food allergens. Some people with a dairy allergy are allergic only to casein (milk solids), while others are specifically allergic only to whey. If you know you're allergic to whey, you'll need to avoid whey protein powder.

Or, if you're not sure about the specific characteristics of your dairy allergy, don't consume whey protein powder unless your doctor or allergist gives you the go-ahead. Eating whey protein if you're lactose intolerant is a slightly different story. Because whey is naturally low in lactose, some people with lactose intolerance find that they can digest it without problems. Of the three types of whey protein (whey concentrate, whey isolate and whey hydrolysate), isolate and hydrolyzed have the least amount of lactose, so you might prefer to start with these. While whey protein powder can be a convenient way to reach your daily protein goal, it's not without its drawbacks. First of all, there is excess protein.

Despite this macronutrient's excellent reputation, consuming too much of it can damage your kidneys, especially if you're already at risk of kidney disease. Stick to established serving sizes so as not to overdo it. It's also important to remember that whey protein powder is a dietary supplement and supplements aren't strictly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. It's up to each manufacturer to ensure the quality, purity and safety of their powder.

For this reason, it's difficult to be completely sure if a powder contains exactly what it says it contains. Whey protein powder recipes will vary: some with flavorings such as vanilla or chocolate, others made with organic dairy products or from grass-fed animals. You can choose the type that fits your budget, lifestyle, and taste preferences. You can add whey protein powder to the dough for pancakes, oatmeal, muffins, bars, balls, puddings and more.

For best results, follow a recipe that includes whey protein as an ingredient or feel free to experiment on your own. Whey protein has a reputation for helping bodybuilders increase their muscle mass but this popular supplement can do more than increase their muscle mass. In fact, whey protein can help you lose weight and optimize your overall health for example by reducing high cholesterol. Whey is the aqueous substance in milk that is separated from curd in the production of cheese and whey protein is the protein that this liquid contains.

Dry whey protein is also sometimes used as a binding ingredient in processed meats and other food.