Whey Protein Benefits, Types, Dosage & Side Effects

Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash

Whey protein is a popular fitness and dietary supplement. It’s made from whey, which is the liquid that separates from milk during the cheese-making process. The whey is then filtered, refined and spray-dried into whey protein powder. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, trying to tone up, or just want to do something extra that will benefit your health, protein powder is likely one of those products that you’re considering. The truth is that it is extremely good for the body, especially when used with exercise and a balanced diet. After all, our bodies need protein.

Here Are The Benefits Of Whey Protein

1. Builds Lean Muscle

With regular resistance exercise, whey protein can help maximize muscle growth. Being one of the best sources of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), whey protein increases the body’s rate of making lean muscle. As a complete protein, it provides the essential amino acids necessary to maximize the benefits of your exercise program.

Whey protein is one of the leading sources of Leucine, a type of BCAA thought to stimulate muscle growth. Most amino acids are first broken down in the liver and later, to the muscle tissue. But in the case of BCAA, they bypass the liver and head straight directly to the muscle tissue. Scientists have revealed how Leucine acts as the amino acid signal to ‘switch on’ or kick off protein synthesis in the muscles.

As such, experts have recommended that people who do regular exercise follow a diet high in Leucine to help speed up rebuilding of muscles after a workout. One way to do this is by including whey protein in your diet. Studies show that taking whey protein in combination with exercise can enhance the rate of the body making lean muscle. Furthermore, protein intake with resistance exercise has been revealed to be more effective at increasing muscle building than the combination of carbohydrate and resistance exercise.

2. Whey Protein May Lower Blood Pressure

Abnormally high blood pressure (hypertension) is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. Numerous studies have linked the consumption of dairy products with reduced blood pressure. This effect has been attributed to a family of bioactive peptides in dairy, so-called “angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors” (ACE-inhibitors).

In whey proteins, the ACE-inhibitors are called lactokinins. Several animal studies have demonstrated their beneficial effects on blood pressure. A limited number of human studies have investigated the effect of whey proteins on blood pressure, and many experts consider the evidence to be inconclusive.

One study in overweight individuals showed that whey protein supplementation, 54 g/day for 12 weeks, lowered systolic blood pressure by 4%. Other milk proteins (casein) had similar effects. This is supported by another study that found significant effects when participants were given whey protein concentrate (22 g/day) for 6 weeks. However, blood pressure decreased only in those that had high or slightly elevated blood pressure to begin with. No significant effects on blood pressure were detected in a study that used much lower amounts of whey protein (less than 3.25 g/day) mixed in a milk drink.

3. Reduces Cravings

Whey protein seems to affect both ghrelin and leptin, two hormones that help regulate your appetite. Leptin primarily affects energy balance, which helps suppress food intake, while gherlin regulates hunger and plays a role in meal initiation. These hormones work together to tell your body when it needs to eat. Studies show that in obese patients, the circulating levels of leptin are typically increased, whereas ghrelin levels are decreased. Whey helps balance out leptin and gherlin secretion, thereby decreasing hunger cravings and helping you stop overeating.

A 2013 study published in the Mediterranean Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that whey protein can help reduce caloric intake as a result of various physiological mechanisms. The amino acid content in whey protein is the main factor that influences satiety, according to researchers. Plus, whey’s effect on satiety and food intake is mediated by the release of ghrelin and other satiety-inducing hormones. These hormones are released into the gastrointestinal system after protein consumption, which may account for food intake suppression when supplementing with whey protein.

4. Whey Protein Increases Antioxidant Defenses

Whey protein contains a large supply of the amino acid cysteine, which is known to be a precursor of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant made by the body. Glutathione is responsible for many health benefits, like restoring cellular damage and preventing diseases such as cancer.

5. Control Blood Sugar

We know that eating protein alongside foods that have sugar helps control the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream. Since whey is protein, it’s no wonder researchers believe that combining whey with sugary foods helps diabetics lower their blood sugar.

6. Improve Immunity

Want to improve your immune system? University of Alberta researchers found that male subjects involved in strenuous aerobic activity suffered from significantly reduced glutathione levels that could impact on such things as the nervous, gastrointestinal, and immune systems. However, they also discovered that by supplementing with whey protein, the subjects experienced a significantly lesser reduction in glutathione levels. If you like extended cardio sessions, but don’t want to risk a reduction of glutathione levels, combat those effects with whey.

7. Aging

Whey protein contains glutathione. This is an antioxidant which scavenges free radical 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.

Types of Whey Protein

There are three main types of whey protein. The key difference between them is how they are processed.

1. Whey protein concentrate: Contains roughly 70–80% protein. It’s the most common type of whey protein and has more lactose, fat and minerals from milk.

2. Whey protein isolate: Contains 90% protein or more. It’s more refined and has less lactose and fat, but it also contains fewer beneficial minerals.

3. Whey protein hydrolysate: This form is pre-digested, allowing your body to absorb it faster.

Side Effects, Dosage, and How to Use It

Whey protein is very easy to incorporate into the diet. It is sold as a powder that can be added to smoothies, yogurts, or simply mixed with water or milk. 25-50 grams per day (1-2 scoops) is a commonly recommended dosage, but make sure to follow the dosage instructions on the packaging. Keep in mind that taking too much protein is useless. The body can only utilize a limited amount of protein at a given time. Excessive consumption may also cause digestive problems, such as nausea, pain, bloating, cramping, flatulence, and diarrhea. However, moderate consumption of whey protein supplements is well tolerated by most people, with a few exceptions.

If you are lactose intolerant, whey protein hydrolysate or isolate may be more suitable than concentrate. If you have ever had liver or kidney problems, then consult with a doctor before taking a protein supplement. At the end of the day, whey protein is not just a convenient way to boost your protein intake, it may have some powerful health benefits as well.


Possible interactions include:

Albendazole (Albenza). Avoid using whey protein if you are taking this parasite-killing drug. The supplement might delay or hinder the drug’s effects.

Alendronate (Fosamax). Use of whey protein with this drug used to prevent or treat osteoporosis might decrease absorption of the drug.

Certain antibiotics. Use of whey protein with quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics might decrease your absorption of the drug.

Sources & References:

Healthy Food MasterBodybuilding & FitnessGeneral HealthEnergy,fitness,protein,weight loss,whey protein
Photo by Alexander Redl on Unsplash Whey protein is a popular fitness and dietary supplement. It’s made from whey, which is the liquid that separates from milk during the cheese-making process. The whey is then filtered, refined and spray-dried into whey protein powder. Whether you’re a bodybuilder, trying to tone up, or just...
Sharing is caring!