Whey protein – An overview
Whey protein is the protein found in whey. It is the watery component of milk that separates from the curds during the cheese-making process. Whey protein is included in a variety of nutritious bars and smoothies.
Whey protein is used to improve an athlete’s performance, as a nutritional supplement, as an alternative to milk for persons who are lactose intolerant, to replace or supplement milk-based newborn/infant formulae and to reverse weight loss and increase glutathione (GSH) in HIV patients.
There are several advantages to consuming whey protein, and researchers are continually discovering new potential medicinal characteristics. Let us discuss what the advantages might be, as well as some of the side effects and potential hazards here.
What exactly is whey protein?
Whey protein is a group of eight-protein found in milk. These proteins are listed in order of abundance in milk, from most abundant to least abundant:
- Albumin from bovine serum
Enzymes are usually added to milk in the cheese-making process. The enzymes curdle the milk, separating the liquid whey from the solid curds of the milk. The curd, which contains the majority of the milk’s fat is the primary component of cheese.
After removing the firm curd, you will be left with fluid whey protein that contains different levels of lactose (milk sugar) and fat. Typically, processors pasteurise and dry the whey to eliminate bacteria, to get the whey protein powder.
Types of whey protein
Whey protein is classified into three types:
- Whey protein concentrate (WPC)
- Whey protein isolate (WPI)
- Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH).
Let us take a look at each of these,
- Whey protein concentrate (WPC) has a low fat and carbohydrate content. The proportion of protein in WPC is determined by its concentration. Lower-end concentrates typically include 30% protein, whereas higher-end concentrates can contain up to 90%.
- Whey protein isolate (WPIs) are processed further to eliminate all fat and lactose. WPI is typically composed of at least 90% protein.
- Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH) is the ‘predigested’ form of whey protein, as it has already undergone partial hydrolysis, which is a process required for the body to absorb protein. WPH gets easily digested than the other two types of whey protein. Because of its better digestibility and lower allergen potential, WPH is often utilised in medical protein supplements and infant formulae.
Benefits of whey protein
Whey protein may be beneficial in the following cases:
Build up of muscle mass: Whey protein aids in improving muscle development and strength by producing anabolic hormones like insulin, which is responsible for muscular growth.
The leucine in the drug boosts muscle protein synthesis in our bodies. It contains protein and amino acids, which promote muscular building. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) function to prevent muscle breakdown during exercise and are useful after exercise by stimulating muscle growth. Unlike other protein sources, whey protein promotes muscle building quickly. Whey protein has been demonstrated to be more effective than plant-based protein supplements in promoting healthy muscles.
Weight gain and nutritional boost: Whey protein can help those who need to gain weight. It is also beneficial if a person has a long-term sickness and requires additional nutrients. In case, if not getting enough protein from real foods, a whey protein supplement can help you. It is found to be useful for persons who have difficulty in chewing or swallowing problems, or who have a loss of appetite.
Protects Against Eczema and Allergic Conditions in Kids: Whey protein has wide usage in everyone, not just adults. Infants who are fed with the protein combination within their first 3-12 months have a less chance of having red, itchy skin and allergic responses. Once they grow, ingesting whey protein has little influence on his or her resistance to these illnesses.
Recovery from Exercise: Whey protein powder has been shown to boost athletic performance. It improves your running speed and helps you recover from exercises.
Lowers Cholesterol: Finally, research suggests that whey protein may aid in the reduction of elevated cholesterol levels, specifically bad LDL cholesterol. Because high cholesterol is linked to an increased risk of strokes and heart disease, decreasing your cholesterol levels to a safe range can provide significant health gains.
Helps Regulate Blood Pressure: Whey protein powder is useful in lowering blood pressure in Hypertension patients. Also, there is a lower risk of developing heart disease or stroke in such persons. This is because it acts as a barrier to the development of potentially deadly cardiac issues.
Helps You Feel Fuller, Eat Lesser: Satiety describes the sensation of being full after eating a meal. Some foods are more satiating than others, which is regulated in part by their macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate and fat) profile. Protein is always the most filling of the three macronutrients.
However, not all proteins have such levels of satiety effect. Whey protein appears to be more satiating than other protein sources such as casein and soy. It increases energy expenditure, thus balancing the number of calories consumed. Because of these qualities, it is very beneficial for individuals who need to eat fewer calories and lose weight.
Other benefits include,
Regulates Asthma: Whey protein regulates asthma and enhances immunological response in children. According to research published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, children with asthma who were supplemented with whey protein for one month had more immune response and a reduction in inflammation.
Weight loss in HIV patients: According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical and Investigative Medicine, whey protein may help minimise weight loss in HIV-positive individuals.
Risks of Whey protein
Although whey protein has several health advantages and improves your body’s general performance, taking large amounts of whey protein has potential risks. Let us learn about the risks of whey protein.
- Kidney Issues
High-protein diets, on the other hand, might cause increased internal pressure in the kidneys, which can cause harm in persons with renal disease. If you have a renal illness or impaired kidney function, check your doctor before adding whey protein to your diet.
- Increase in Blood Acidity
The intake of whey protein raises the pH level in our blood. This is quite difficult for our kidneys to process. Hence, our blood gets more acidic.
- Unwanted Weight Gain
Most of the whey protein powder products contain sugar, which increases your carbohydrate intake. Some of them may also include fat. So, instead of increasing your protein intake to burn more calories, you may end up consuming more than you need.
- Risks of Cardiovascular Disease Increases
Excessive intake of whey protein in heart patients may result in heart Arrhythmia, cardiac arrest and perhaps full loss of cardiac functioning.
Excessive whey protein consumption for days and days may result in a mineral imbalance in your bones. As a result, bone density may be depleted, leading to osteoporosis.
- Ketosis state
In the absence of appropriate body fat, a high-protein, low-carb diet relies on energy from protein burning. Ketosis is a condition where excessive levels of ketone bodies accumulates in the blood. This in turn causes immense strain on the liver‘s ability to operate and can induce liver damage over time.
- Wheezing and swelling of the face
Lactose intolerant people may have trouble breathing and experience allergic responses such as wheezing, lip/mouth/throat swelling and so on. If you find any of these symptoms developing, consult your doctor right once.
Whey protein is an excellent post-workout supplement. Excessive whey protein consumption might result in a variety of adverse effects. While consuming whey protein, one must remember to consume enough water. Whey protein can be regarded safe if ingested in the appropriate doses, at the appropriate intervals and frequency. Any supplementation to normal daily diet is only to be done after consulting with your family physician.