A few decades back, supplements didn’t exist at all. Food was the source of all protein and people used to consume food to remain healthy. But in the current scenario, various lifestyle changes such as indulging in excessive gym workouts, having no time to eat due to work, deteriorating food quality, etc, have created a demand for supplements. Whey protein has emerged as the most vital supplement amongst all.
Approximately 80% of cow’s milk is casein, whereas 20 % accounts for whey. One cannot consume a very high amount of whey proteins through diet alone. Hence whey protein supplements help meet the daily protein requirement conveniently. It possesses several advantages, which are enumerated below.
Whey Protein Key Benefits
- Quick absorbing protein
- Good for lean muscles
- Aids athletes to improve their stamina and retain muscle mass
- Provides better satiety
- Indirectly, little intake of whey protein supports weight loss when accompanied by weight loss diet. It provides a feeling of fullness with a lesser amount of carbohydrates in the diet.
- On the other hand, it also assists in weight and muscle gain when accompanied by weight gain or high carbohydrate and fat diet.
But people are scared of consuming supplements like Whey Protein because of partial knowledge. People lack the complete knowledge in the supplement domain mainly due to the stigma around it, and due to the myths of Protein’s health-damaging side effects.
The numerous misconceptions and the facts associated with whey proteins are elaborated below.
Whey Proteins: Most Common Myths and their Legitimacy
MYTH 1: Whey Protein is a “steroid”; Whey Protein contains steroids.
REALITY: What is Whey Protein? Whey is a milk protein, which can be extracted from the milk through the process of making cheese.
The remaining liquid in the process of making cottage cheese, by curdling milk is known as whey water. The whey water, besides being the best source of whey protein is naturally packed with various nutrients.
This liquid is enriched with some more nutrients and enhanced further to make commercial whey protein formulas.
What is steroid: Steroid is a biological compound which on consumption causes amplification or abnormal growth of cells and tissues in the body. This is the reason, why some misleading trainers recommend steroids as they may lead to aberrant muscle growth.
Unnecessary intake of steroids may lead to fertility issues, weight gain, hypertension, and even cancer in some cases. Some hormones present in the human body are steroids too. But even these hormones need not be externally administered into the body without doctor’s prescription, as body manages them on their own.
There are lots of sagas about whey protein supplements being steroids. However, the fact is, whey protein is not a steroid rather some dodgy brands may carry steroids. One needs to be extremely prudent while choosing supplements. Remember,
- Pure whey protein supplements cannot be very low cost.
- Never opt for an obscure brand, as renowned brands come with Food safety marks like FSSAI etc. Example: Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein, Isopure Whey, etc.
- Always purchase supplements from a trusted source and check if it is completely sealed.
- No whey protein can lead to anomalous muscle growth. If you discover such a thing happening, check the supplement rather being happy.
- Even if you follow all the above-mentioned points, but on consumption you find the supplement to be unauthentic, go for a supplement lab test.
MYTH 2: Whey Protein leads to or imposes a risk to the kidney and liver.
REALITY: Imagine drinking whey water (water left out while making cottage cheese), will it adversely affect your kidneys or liver? No, it cannot.
Same is the case with the whey protein supplement, provided that it is authentic. No researches have yet found out any side effects of whey proteins to the liver, consumed within recommended allowance.
It is not the whey protein that causes harm to your kidneys; rather excessive protein intake (more than the individual requirement) for a long period may impose a risk to your kidneys. It causes the risk of renal calculi as well as renal diseases. Hence one should never indulge in excessive protein intake without expert advice.
MYTH 3: Whey Protein causes hair fall.
REALITY: Protein is very essential for hair growth and can never lead to hair fall. However, researches show that Creatine present in some whey proteins converts testosterone in males to dihydrotestosterone, which may stimulate hair fall or hair loss.
Also, people having hormonal issues might face hair fall on whey protein consumption, because of additional compounds present in the supplement.Therefore it is necessary that you use 100% Pure Whey and consult a dietician before you begin with your Whey routine especially in the case of people with hormonal imbalances, as they might aggravate the condition.
MYTH 4: Whey Concentrate is better than Isolates and Hydrolysates, as carbohydrates (removed from latter two) are anyways required after working out.
REALITY: It depends upon one’s target, whether to opt for concentrate, isolate or hydrolysate. It is essential to understand the difference between the three.
Whey protein concentrate is a supplement formed by the remaining byproduct of cottage cheese production, with their original nutrients intact. Anybody indulging into a workout can have whey concentrate after the workout.
Whereas whey protein isolate is the purest form of whey concentrate with almost carbohydrates and fats removed, enhancing the quality of protein.
Whey hydrolysates, on the other hand, are “pre-digested” whey concentrate or isolate proteins. This attribute makes them furthermore superior.
Whey protein isolates and hydrolysates are suitable for people trying to lose weight and gain muscles.
Removing carbohydrates and fats from protein doesn’t mean that carbohydrate is not required post workout; rather it improves the quality of protein promising better digestion. It adds to better functioning of protein on muscles when consumed in water followed by some carbohydrate food or supplement around 10- 15 minutes later.
MYTH 5: All proteins (Casein, Soy, Blend, etc) are the same as whey and serve the same function.
REALITY: There are 3 major sources of good quality protein foods, whey, soy, and casein. Other dietary protein sources include egg protein, meat protein, lentil protein, pea protein, etc.
How is Whey Protein different from other proteins?
- Whey is the most rapid absorbing protein, which helps in muscle “recovery” after strenuous activities or workout. Whereas soy and casein are slow-digesting proteins and hence promote “building” of muscles any time of the day.
- Whey encourages lean muscle mass growth.
- It is loaded with beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, and immunoglobins.
- Whey, soy, and casein possess all essential amino acids, but they are abundant in whey. However, casein is more easily digestible by the body due to its slow absorbing nature. Hence, casein is equally essential as whey protein in bodybuilding program.
MYTH 6: Whey proteins are inappropriate for Women
REALITY: Authentic whey protein supplements are similarly good for both men and women; all that differs is the quantity. According to ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), the requirement of protein for a reference sedentary male is 60 g whereas for a reference sedentary female is 55 g per day. This requirement goes up according to the increase in workout intensity of a person.
But protein demand in women is lower than in men. Often some trainers recommend the same amount of whey supplement to both, which is a blunder. Excessive protein intake may result in a bulky body for both men and women, but due to lower requirement, females are more prone to develop a bulky body at such high intakes.
Moreover, whey protein from good brands or herbal whey powder does not promote side effects like hormonal issues, which is a concern for most women.
MYTH 7: Whey Protein leads to boils, acidity, and poor digestion.
REALITY: It is not whey protein but unabsorbed whey protein in the body that causes such issues. Insufficient water intake may lead to undigested protein resulting in boils, acidity, etc. For proper digestion of whey protein shakes, one needs to have an adequate amount of water or fluids regularly.
Even such a high amount of protein through diet with a deficit of water may result in the same concerns. Therefore, the best way to have whey protein is in water, in quantity recommended by nutrition experts.
Whey Protein Health Concerns and Side Effects
- A person already suffering from liver or kidney disease should never take such supplements unless advised by the doctor, as the organs are not in the state to utilize so much protein. This does not mean that taking these supplements impairs your liver or kidney function, but taking these supplements in diseased conditions may harm.
- Purchasing huge protein packs may result in over intake of protein, for the purpose of finishing the supplement before expiry. Hence one should buy protein packs as per requirement.
The whole idea behind this article is that it is always good to know the negative aspects but misconceptions or incomplete knowledge can avert you from things which may be extremely beneficial. Supplements are good if the selection and usage are done appropriately.