I assume anyone reading my blog has some idea of what whey protein is. It is a byproduct of cheese production. It has a great amino acid profile, containing all 8 essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are vital because they cannot be synthesized by the body. They are only obtained in our diet. There are a few reasons a healthy individual may supplement with whey protein. They may be trying to get huge, get ripped, or use whey as a meal replacement (MRP).
Individuals who are trying to increase meal frequency may use whey protein to supplement their diet. Whey protein is mobile and can be consumed quickly. At a bare minimum you can mix the whey with water and down a shake. Of course this doesn’t supply your body with the macronutrients that are so important. Which is why mixing your whey with a green product and/or actual fruits and vegetables would be optimal.
Here is one of my favourite shakes:
Chocolate Whey Protein (or isolate, casein, mix) (1-2 scoops)
Handful of frozen blueberries
2-4 cubes of ice
1-2 cups of water
A scoop of Greens +
There are countless studies showing that an increase in protein consumption will lead to a greater feeling of satiety when compared to a lower protein intake. (Leidy et al, 2010) So if you are trying to lose fat, an increased protein intake is suggested. I personally think even if you are not trying to burn fat, you should be consuming around 1g/ lb bodyweight (BW), spread out over the day. So a 130 lb woman would be consuming 130 grams of protein. People generally do not consume enough protein and the above recommendation ensures an adequate intake.
Whey protein digests quickly, which is why it’s good to take based around exercise. Micellar casein, another type of protein powder, digests slower, making it a more superior protein to have in MRP’s. It will give you a continuous supply of amino acids. Micellar casein does tend to be pricier than whey, which is why it isn’t as popular.
How does whey protein benefit us if gaining lean mass is our goal? “Muscle fibers are approximately 20 percent protein and it is the protein that determines their physiologic and metabolic characteristics. By increasing, decreasing, or modifying the protein content, the functionality of the muscle can be changed. In actuality, the proteins that comprise the muscle fiber are constantly being synthesized and destroyed. This flux is called “protein turnover.” When synthesis equals degradation, the protein content doesn’t change. However when synthesis exceeds degradation protein content is increased and when degradation exceeds synthesis protein content is reduced.” (Ivy & Portman, 2004, p. 158) After we train, protein degradation exceeds synthesis so we have a negative protein balance. In order to have a positive protein balance, we must increase our protein uptake. Since whey protein digests quickly, it is the preferred protein to ingest after resistance training.
If we are constantly in a negative protein balance, muscle accumulation will not occur. If you are trying to gain lean mass or increase your metabolism, then losing muscle is a bad thing. A negative protein balance also suppresses immune function.
Eating protein increases the thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF is the increase in caloric expenditure after feeding. Westerterp et al discovered that protein has a TEF of 25-30% versus only a 10-15% TEF in carbohydrates. The differences in TEF are mainly due to the digestion process. What this means is that your caloric expenditure will increase at a greater rate after consuming a whey shake compared to let’s say a bagel. This essentially increases your metabolism, which should be a goal for people trying to lose fat.
In conclusion, protein has many positive benefits for our bodies. I haven’t gone into detail about all the benefits. However, I hope I have shown you how whey protein can help you reach your fitness goals. Whether you are trying to get huge or lean, protein needs to be a vital part of your diet. I would also like to add, that whey protein is a SUPPLEMENT. It should not take up your entire diet; it should merely supplement your current protein intake. So please, don’t forget to keep hitting eggs, fish, poultry and red meat.
Leidy HJ, Armstrong CL, Tang M, Mattes RD, Campbell WW. The influence of higher protein intake and greater eating frequency on appetite control in overweight and obese men. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Sep;18(9):1725-32. Epub 2010 Mar 25.
Ivy J., Portman R. Nutrient Timing. New Jersey. Basic Health Publication, Inc. 2004
The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Berardi J., Andrews R. Precision Nutrition, Inc. 2010
Westerterp KR, Wilson SAJ, Rolland V: Diet induced thermogenesis measured over 24 h in a respiration chamber: effect of diet composition. Int J Obes23 :287 •292,1999