Whey protein is something that athletes and bodybuilders (in particular) have been using for decades to help with muscle growth and recovery. There is more and more evidence that adding whey protein to your diet can be of benefit to you, regardless of your athletic goals. I want to share some of the benefits of whey protein that I have been reading about lately.
Whey is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential and non-essential amino acids. To simply explain what amino acids are, think of them as building blocks of the different proteins in our bodies. There is much debate lately over the amount of protein that we need each day and regardless of how much a person thinks is the right amount, protein is necessary for life. It is important that we consume high-quality proteins each day in order to function optimally. As with most nutrients and micronutrients, athletes and those that work out regularly need a slightly higher amount of protein in their diets and whey protein powder is a great source.
A study conducted in the mid-1900’s found that whey protein has the highest amount of amino acids found in any plant or animal sources of protein. The study also found that the human body is able to absorb and assimilate a high amount of the protein found in whey.
Whey protein has been shown to help with building muscle. This is due to its ability to increase protein synthesis, thereby increasing muscle mass. Because it has a high content of the amino acid Glutamine, it is linked to improving and strengthening the immune system. Whey protein also helps to lower cortisol levels in the body, which is a hormone released when we experience stress and has a catabolic effect on our muscles.
Whey protein can also assist us in maintaining a healthy blood glucose level because it slows the absorption of glucose. This in turn helps to reduce the risk of Type-II Diabetes.
Here is some information on whey protein and aging: An interesting study that I read, published in the April 15th, 2012 edition of The American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, found that whey protein has been shown to increase the muscle mass in elderly men. A study published in the November 28th, 2012 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition concluded that older men need a higher level of protein in their bodies in order for protein synthesis to occur. This being the case, supplementing with a quality whey protein powder is important for older men to consider. Another study I read that was published in The Journal of Gerontology concluded that whey protein (specifically) increases muscle mass, muscular strength and improves the physical functioning of older adults. The amount of whey protein recommended for older adults in several articles I looked at was roughly 40 grams per day.
If bodybuilding is your thing, I would say aiming for 150g of protein total per day will help you meet you bodybuilding needs. As with anything nutritionally related, always consult with your trusted healthcare provider prior to adding any food or sports supplement to your diet.
In Wellness and Love,
Dr. Christopher Weaver DC, PAK is a Doctor of Chiropractic and Professional Applied Kinesiologist. He's published two books on health and Wellness.