Once I knew all the benefits of a high-protein diet, along with how much protein I should be eating ... I became very curious about protein powder supplements.
After some of my own trial and error ... I quickly learned that all protein powders are not created equal. That became even more clear to me after years of nutrition and supplement education.
I'm not usually one to claim a "best" when it comes to any supplements, because what's best for you may not be what's best for me.
But protein powders are a little different...
...and there's plenty of data to show that one type of protein does stand above the rest.
Of all the supplements on the market today ... there's very few with more positive benefits behind them than whey protein.
Once I breakdown some of the information and show you the benefits of using whey protein, you'll be able see why it's the best option for you when it comes to protein powders ... and seeing the best fitness results.
What is Whey Protein?
There's numerous studies showing that whey protein can help you increase strength, lean muscle mass ... and even help you lose weight. (1)
It contains all the essential amino acids you need to boost your fitness results ... and many other nutrients that have positive effects on your health and wellness. (2)
But what exactly is whey protein?
Let's take a look.
Whey protein is 100% natural and comes from milk.
More specifically, it's a byproduct that forms during the production of cheese. It's a liquid substance that separates when cheese is made.
You may notice the very same liquid substance at the top of yogurt when you open a new container ... that's whey!
Once the whey is separated during cheese production, it will go through a few more steps to be turned into a powder.
That powder is then added to shakes, bars, and other supplemental products.
What's cool about whey protein is that it's generally very well tolerated by most people ... even if you're lactose intolerant.
That's not always the case ... but something to keep in mind if you're worried about whey due to lactose intolerance issues.
Types of Whey Protein
Whey protein can be broken down into 3 different categories when it comes to supplementation:
Whey Protein Isolate - You could consider this the "purest" form of whey protein. It's 90% protein or higher. It's had every other ingredient removed from it ... including most lactose and fat sources. Because of it being very low in everything but the protein itself, it also tends to digest the fastest. This makes this type of protein shake ideal for post-workout recovery. It can get to your damaged muscles very quickly and start the recovery process.
Whey Protein Blend - Blended protein powders are going to be a mixture of multiple types of protein. You'll find whey isolate, whey concentrate, casein, and even egg white protein. These are typically meant to mimic the digestion of whole food sources ... and are used as protein meal replacements. They digest slowly and breakdown just as a whole food source would.
Whey Protein Concentrate - This protein will be about 70-80% protein ... and still includes some fat and lactose. It's usually the most affordable, easy to flavor ... and can be used in many different scenarios. I wouldn't say it's ideal for post workout or meal replacement, but can be used as either.
There's not necessarily one option that's better than the other ... that all comes down to your personal goals and what you're looking to use the protein for.
I like to think of them as different tools for different jobs.
Whey Protein and Amino Acids
Protein, more specifically the amino acids that make up protein, are the building blocks of life.
They are used to make and strengthen your muscles, tendons, joints, organs, and skin. They are also used to make important hormones and enzymes in your body.
Whey protein contains all 9 essential amino acids. This includes a very high amount of some of the most important amino acids ... like Branched Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs. (3)
These are particularly important if you're looking to burn fat and/or build muscle. These are the amino acids that help fuel those goals.
The amino acids in whey protein also help stimulate the healthy growth of cells in your body ... and are even used to create important antioxidants.
You can see a great example of this if you look at the health benefits of breast feeding.
Breast fed babies tend to have very healthy growth patterns and stronger immune systems ... much of this being due to 60% of breast milk being whey protein. (4)
Whey Protein and Weight Loss
Whey protein can actually help fuel weight loss in multiple ways.
One of which being that protein in general is the most filling macronutrient. If you center your meals around protein and/or supplement with a whey protein shake ... you'll notice a much more controlled appetite. (5)
There's even studies showing that just by consuming 25% of your daily calories in protein ... you can cut your sweet/salty cravings down by 60% and increase the amount of calories you burn naturally throughout the day. (6,7)
Replacing other calorie sources with a whey protein shake has been shown to contribute not only to significant fat loss ... but also increasing lean muscle mass at the same time. (7)
Meaning if you have the goal of both burning fat and building muscle ... you should most likely be supplementing with a whey protein shake.
Whey Protein and Muscle Building
Whey protein is most commonly associated with muscle building. It's been used by athletes, bodybuilders, fitness models ... and the average gym-goer for years.
It can help you build muscle in a variety of ways, including:
- Providing you with the amino acids you need to repair and rebuild muscle (8)
- Increasing certain muscle building hormones (9)
- Digesting much faster than other protein sources ... which can trigger the muscle building response very quickly (10)
These benefits are shown even more so when you consume a whey protein supplement directly after weight/resistance training. (11)
Other Benefits of Whey Protein
Whey protein supplements pack multiple other benefits aside from just weight loss and muscle building.
These benefits include:
- Lowering blood pressure and blood sugar
- Reducing stress in the body
- Increasing bone density and overall bone health
- Improving immune function
- Protecting against certain forms of cancer
...and providing you with the nutrients needed to produce very important antioxidants.
Whey Protein Myths and Concerns
Now, let's unpack some of the most common myths and concerns you'll hear when it comes to using a whey protein supplement.
Some say it makes you gain weight. Well ... considering it's one of the most proven and best ways to help you lose weight, that's false.
There's always been some weird misconceptions about kidney damage and whey protein ... which is also not true. There's no association whatsoever to whey protein and kidney damage. (12, 13)
You'll even hear some myths about whey protein weakening your bones ... the complete opposite of the truth. In fact, research shows that protein is essential for strong bones ... and that whey protein supplementation can be a big help when it comes to gaining those benefits. (14)
While we're talking about myths that are the complete opposite of the truth ... you can throw inflammation into that category as well. A more recent whey protein myth is that it causes bodily inflammation ... and studies have shown that is also not true. (15)
In fact ... research shows that using 20 grams or more of whey protein per day may actually reduce inflammation. (15)
It's very safe to say that you have absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to using a whey protein supplement.
The Bottom Line
Whey protein is one of the best and healthiest ways to add more protein into your diet. It's a high quality protein source that's used extremely well by your body.
This is even more true if you have goals of burning fat and/or building muscle.
There's many protein powder options on the market today ... but whey protein continues to be the most superior option when it comes to seeing the best health and fitness results.
If you're looking to supplement your diet with a whey protein and reap some of these amazing benefits ... we are more than happy to help. We have hundreds of high-quality options available to you.
You can stop by your nearest S2 location at anytime and we'll make sure you're taken care of.
*This article was written by Andrew Lynn, who has a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. He is also a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist.
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