Whey protein is often viewed as a bodybuilder’s food, but its benefits are not limited to just building muscle size and strength.
It is also used extensively as a therapeutic agent.
Whey protein is touted as a functional1<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15253675> food that has antioxidant, antihypertensive, anti-tumor, hypolipidemic, antiviral, antibacterial, and chelating properties.
Before I describe its awesome benefits, let’s first understand exactly what whey protein is.
What is Whey?
Milk is 80 percent casein and 20 percent whey.
Whey is the liquid that separates during cheese production.
The components of whey, called sub-factors, include beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, bovine serum albumin, lactoferrin, immunoglobulins, lac- toperoxidase enzymes, glycomacropeptides, lactose, and minerals. Whey has immune enhancing and health promoting properties.2<http://www.altmedrev.com/archive/publications/9/2/136.pdf>
4 Exceptional Whey Protein Benefits
(1) Whey promotes muscle strength and hypertrophy.
Whey protein has all essential amino acids and in higher concentrations than vegetable protein sources.
Whey has high concentrations of branch chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
BCAAs, particularly leucine, are important factors in tissue growth and repair.
Leucine3<https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10418071> has been identified as a key amino acid in protein metabolism during the translation-initiation pathway of protein synthesis, and it may play a pivotal role in the protein-sparing effect of amino acids.
Whey proteins are also rich in the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine and methionine. With a high concentration of these amino acids, immune function is enhanced through intracellular conversion to glutathione.
(2) Whey protein contains immunoglobulins (IgA).
When a child is born, colostrum is released from the human breast for the first few days.
Colostrum is a thick, semi-liquid that contains greater concentrations of immunoglobulins than the later breast milk.
IgA is secreted in breast milk and transferred to the digestive track of the newborn, providing better immunity than bottle-feeding.
Whey protein contains significant amount of immunoglobulins as well (10 to 15 percent of total whey proteins).
Other components found in whey that have significant immune enhancing and health-promoting properties are lactoferrin, beta-lactoglobulin, alpha-lactalbumin, and lactoperoxidase.
(3) Whey protein is linked with weight loss.
When I make a protein shake from whey concentrate, it’s even tastier than a milkshake.
It completely satisfies my cravings for sweets, which in turn helps me avoid eating refined sweet stuff.
This is hugely beneficial for me, as I feel I have a major sweet tooth.
In this way, drinking protein shakes can surely help anyone trying to lose weight.
Furthermore, whey protein helps to build more muscle, which in turn means a higher resting metabolism.
A gain of 10 pounds of lean muscle is estimated to burn around 70 to 100 extra calories per day, and all the calories burned will be from fat.
(4) Whey protein has the following clinical benefits.
Cancer: Whey protein concentrates have been extensively researched for their role in the prevention and treatment of cancer, and glutathione stimulation is thought to be the primary immune-modulating mechanism.
HIV: Glutathione deficiency is a common problem for individuals infected with HIV. In an effort to increase cysteine and ultimately glutathione, several studies have been conducted on the use of whey proteins in HIV-positive individuals.
Cardiovascular disease: Several studies have found milk intake and milk products lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension.
Blood pressure: One study demonstrated that supplementation with whey protein improves blood pressure and vascular function in overweight and obese individuals.
However please note that not all whey proteins are created equal.
For information on selecting the right brand of whey protein, read this article.
What do you think about the benefits of whey protein?
Have any questions?
Let me know in the comments below!