If you are here wondering about whey protein’s benefits, we have got you covered! Proteins are rightly known as the building blocks of our body. They help build muscles and connective tissues in our bodies and aid in important metabolic pathways as well. Whey is an important dietary source of these essential proteins and amino acids (1). In this article, we will learn more about the benefits of whey protein and how you can include it in your diet every day. Scroll down!
In This Article
What Is Whey Protein?
Whey is the purest form of protein. It is obtained from cow’s milk. It is a by-product of milk, obtained during the processing of cheese. Whey is processed into more concentrated forms. Some of its different forms are whey protein, whey protein isolates, whey protein concentrate, whey protein hydrolysate and hydrolyzed protein. Protein powders are becoming extremely popular these days, owing to their health benefits. It contains a higher amount of protein than all the natural foods (1). Whey protein is highly recommended for women who need more protein in their diet.
Types Of Whey Protein
There are three main types of whey protein supplements: Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate and Whey Protein Hydrolysate.
- Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) is the cheapest of all three whey protein powders. It has the lowest amount of protein, around 58 to 89%. The rest is composed of fat, lactose and immune-enhancing peptides like alpha-lactalbumin and immunoglobulin. The percentage of WPC depends on how concentrated it is. Lower end concentrates have 50% protein, while higher end ones have up to 90% protein.
- Whey Protein Isolate contains 95% of the protein, with a minimum amount of lactose and fat.
- Whey Protein Hydrolysate has 99% of protein and is the most expensive of all the whey protein powders. It is considered the “pre-digested” form of whey protein, as it undergoes partial hydrolysis- a process necessary for the body to absorb protein. It is the most soluble form of protein and gets quickly digested in the body. This is considered the best whey protein supplement by many.
Whey Protein Benefits
Check out here some of the best benefits of whey protein for women:
1. Body Composition
Whey protein is very beneficial for women and may improve body composition without leading to ‘bulking’ (2). Moreover, whey protein is the most soluble and richest form of protein. It is much more nutritious than egg whites, soy and meat.
2. Amino Acids
Amino acids are the chemical units which are not produced naturally in our body. Whey protein is a good source of amino acids. They work together to repair our bones, muscles, organs and almost every part of the tissue in the human body. Specific amino acids are needed for specific purposes. Whey protein is high in Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s). They are useful for muscle repair and preservation. Leucine, another amino acid, stimulates protein synthesis and sends signals to the body to increase its storage of amino acid (3).
Whey protein contains glutathione. This is an antioxidant which scavenges free radicals and delays the signs of aging. Glutathione is made from three main amino acids; cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. Whey protein also slows down the degeneration of muscles and keeps them strong during old age (4), (5).
4. Weight Loss
Whey protein for weight loss? Yes, according to a study, women who consumed a specialized form of whey protein lost more body fat. They also showed a greater preservation of lean muscle than those who didn’t. Whey protein is low in carbohydrates and high in protein. This speeds up the metabolism to burn excess fat from the body. Researchers have concluded that whey protein can easily control appetite for up to two hours. It contains very little fat, low cholesterol and lactose. This makes it excellent for people on a low-carbohydrate diet (6), (7).
Cancer, mainly breast and cervical cancer, is the second leading cause of death in women. Whey concentrate and glutathione modulation is used in cancer treatment. Consumption of whey powder during chemotherapy can help inhibit the growth of cancer cells. It is also an excellent meal for cancer patients as it is easy to digest. It also gets easily absorbed in the body. It provides energy and increases immunity (8), (9).
6. Heart Health
Heart stroke causes paralysis, loss of speech and poor memory. It is also the third leading cause of death in women. Whey protein lowers the LDL cholesterol (which is a contributing factor to cardiovascular diseases such as strokes). It reduces blood pressure and also reduces the risk of heart diseases and stroke (10), (11).
One of the best whey protein benefits is boosting immunity. Whey protein improves immune response and helps fight infections in women. It boosts the immune system by increasing the production of glutathione. This is a powerful antioxidant which helps in detoxification. Women suffering from asthma should be supplemented with whey protein to improve their cytokine response (12), (13).
8. Strengthening Muscles
Whey protein is required for repairing and strengthening muscles. Workout and daily exercises deplete the energy levels in the body, leading to muscle deterioration. Whey protein comes from cow’s milk and is a great natural protein for building and repairing muscles (14).
9. Healthy Nails And Skin:
A woman’s body requires protein to generate healthy skin and nails. Whey protein may help the body to create hormones and vital enzymes to keep them running efficiently.
10. Gets Absorbed Quickly
Whey protein shakes are recommended more than any other form of whey protein. Protein shakes contain high amounts of nutrients in the form of soy, whey or casein. It gets easily digested in the body than the protein in foods. It also contains the highest Biological Value (BV) (15).
11. Blood Sugar Level
Whey protein gives the body a positive nitrogen balance. It also prevents fluctuations in the blood sugar levels which can lead to overeating. Whey protein has low levels of fats. This is very beneficial for managing glucose levels. It also prevents the onset of diabetes. This form of protein also improves insulin resistance in the body to keep its levels steady (16).
12. Well-toned Figure
Whey protein tones the muscles and accelerates metabolism. This gives you a healthy and toned figure.
13. Bone Health
More than 65% of the women suffer from osteoporosis, a condition which causes thinning and increased brittleness of bones. To build and maintain healthy bones, women need to consume calcium-rich healthy food. Whey protein improves absorption of calcium which prevents bone loss and keeps them strong (17).
Whey protein, when taken in moderate quantities, supports the functioning of the liver and when consumed in moderation, may have a protective effect on it (18). The liver carries about 500 functions in the body. This would be impossible without the presence of amino acids in it.
Whey protein is an excellent protein choice for women. This is especially true for those who have undergone surgeries. It assists in healing wounds and gets absorbed easily into the body (19).
Whey Protein For Healthy Hair And Skin
Here are the top benefits for your skin and hair.
16. Promotes Hair Growth:
The protein forms a very important constituent of hair, as the hair itself is made up of protein. A deficiency in protein can result in major hair loss problems. Whey protein is a convenient way to increase protein intake in your diet. Having high amounts of protein on a regular basis prevents hair loss and promotes hair growth. Taking whey shakes helps overcome hair problems like bald patches and receding hairlines (20).
17. Helps Strengthen Skin
Collagen is a structural tissue which provides elasticity to the skin. It comprises 30 percent of the body’s total protein and helps strengthen skin, blood vessels, bones and teeth. Consuming whey protein may improve collagen synthesis to keep your skin firm and healthy (21).
18. Promotes Healthy Scalp:
Regular consumption of whey nourishes and strengthens the hair to give you thick, healthy and shiny hair. The acidic properties of whey cure dandruff and scalp psoriasis. This helps to improve the health of the scalp. However, there is a lack of scientific studies and evidence in this regard.
19. Maintains Skin Elasticity:
Amino acids in whey protein help maintain the elasticity and firmness of the skin.
20. Acts As Conditioner:
You can also use whey powder in place of your shampoo. Just rub some powder thoroughly on the scalp. Wash it off with lukewarm water to get a clean and oil-free scalp. Alternatively, you can shampoo first and follow it with a whey rinse. Leave it for 10 minutes and then wash off. Whey conditioner will add great texture and body to the hair. It is very useful for fine and limp hair, as it does not weigh down the hair like other hair products.
21. Homemade Toner:
Whey can be used on the skin as a cleanser, toner and moisturizer. Several cosmetic companies incorporate this protein-rich supplement for its amazing skin benefits. Soak a cotton ball in whey. Apply it on the face using gentle strokes. This will work as an amazing homemade toner.
22. Fights Acne:
The anti-microbial properties of whey works amazingly on acne and pimples. It also helps lighten pigmentation and age spots.
23. Restore Skin’s pH Value:
Add 2 cups of whey in your bathtub and soak yourself in it for 20 minutes. The acidity in whey will restore the pH value of the skin to rejuvenate the skin cells.
24. Good For Eyes:
For tired or puffy eyes, wet a tea bag with cold whey and place it over on the eyes. Leave it for 20 minutes to get refreshed eyes.
Whey Protein Uses
Whey protein is available in various forms like whey protein bars, whey protein shakes and whey drinks. Whey itself does not have a very appealing taste. Hence it is mixed with other foods like fruits and nuts to make the taste more appealing. Check out whey protein uses here:
- A whey protein shake with raspberries and avocado is the perfect way to start your day. Make sure that the whey protein you get is from grass fed cows and not corn-fed cows. The latter can cause allergies.
- Add a teaspoon of whey powder to your cookies while baking. This will increase the protein levels in your body. You can also add chocolate whey to your coffee to make a delicious mocha.
- It takes a minute to prepare this protein rich drink. Mix one scoop of whey protein into 6 ounces or 200 ml of water. Leave aside the mixed protein for a few minutes. This will help the powder get completely dissolved. Drink this water.
- Whey protein is best consumed immediately after a tiring workout. This will provide your muscles and cells the proper nutrition they need to repair. You can add whey protein to your oats, cereals and pancakes for a protein rich breakfast.
- If you’re looking for a quick snack at work, prepare a whey protein shake with some nuts, fruits and ice cubes for a nutritious and delicious shake.
- Stir one scoop of protein powder to your yoghurt and top it with fruits, nuts and chocolates for a tasty treat. You can also mix whey powder with your favorite ice-cream.
- Use whey, instead of water, while cooking pasta or soups to give it a distinct taste. You can also use whey to make breads. This will give it a wonderful brown crust and aroma.
This was about whey protein benefits and uses, now let’s look into some of the side effects.
Whey Protein Side Effects
Like other supplements, whey protein has some health risks associated with it. Here are a few side effects of whey protein.
- Most of the side-effects associated with whey protein are related to digestive issues like gastritis, bloating, headaches, cramps, reduced appetite, nausea and fatigue.
- If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it is most likely to be either due to the lactose or artificial sweeteners present in whey protein.
- Excess consumption of protein can even exacerbate kidney problems.
- Too much of the protein can deplete a body’s store of calcium, leading to brittle bones and teeth.
- Also, high amounts of protein can cause a woman’s body to produce excess ammonia.
- Women should not consume more than two servings of protein shakes per day.
- Extreme high dosage can also overload the liver, causing serious health problems.
Infographic: How To Prepare Whey Protein Shake
Whey protein is one of the purest forms of protein that has several benefits for your health. It helps reduce the signs of aging, aids in weight loss, lowers cholesterol levels, and improves immunity. Check out the infographic below to learn how to prepare a whey protein shake to reap its maximum benefits.
Whey protein benefits are numerous. It can positively affect health, hair, and skin. It can improve hormone levels in women and also aid in muscle repair. It slows down the signs of aging and aids in weight loss. Whey protein also reduces cancer risk and boosts heart and bone health. It also improves immunity. It promotes hair growth, strengthens the skin, maintains skin elasticity, and promotes a healthy scalp. However, excess consumption may trigger a few undesirable effects like digestive issues, kidney problems, and brittle bones. Hence, moderate consumption is advised.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I drink whey protein without working out?
Yes, you can take whey protein without engaging in an intense workout. Ensure that you take it in moderation and as per your nutritional needs.
Does whey protein make your face fat?
Consuming whey protein in moderation along with physical exercise will not make your face fat.
How long does it take for whey protein to leave your system?
It may take between 2 to 4 hours for whey protein to be digested.
What happens when I stop taking whey protein?
When you stop taking whey protein and continue with physical exercise, you will start to lose weight.
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- Protein – Which is Best?
- Effect of whey protein supplementation on body composition changes in women: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Branched chain amino acids and their importance in nutrition
- The biological activity of undenatured dietary whey proteins: role of glutathione
- Glutathione and its antiaging and antimelanogenic effects
- Whey Protein Supplementation Enhances Body Fat and Weight Loss in Women Long After Bariatric Surgery: a Randomized Controlled Trial
- A whey-protein supplement increases fat loss and spares lean muscle in obese subjects: a randomized human clinical study
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- Whey protein supplementation and muscle mass: current perspectives
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- Wound healing: time to look for intelligent ‘natural’ immunological approaches?
- Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use
- Contraction mode and whey protein intake affect the synthesis rate of intramuscular connective tissue