Everything you need to know about whey protein


There are whey protein supplements products in stores these days but you are not sure what proteins are? You have heard about them but don’t really know you really need them?

You want to build muscles but you are not sure if it is necessary to spend your money on whey protein powder? Here is what you need to consider.

What are proteins?

Proteins are large complex molecules composed of subunits called amino acid, required for building and maintaining numerous structures in our body, especially the muscles. To put it in simple words, they are the building blocks of muscles. Amino acids are further divided into essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are the ones that our body cannot synthesize; hence we depend solely on our diet to complete their requirement.

What is whey protein?

Whey is a byproduct of cheese making (the watery liquid left behind when the milk curdles). When water is removed from this byproduct, refined and processed, what’s left behind is a pure powder containing all the essential amino acids, lactose (a type of carbohydrate) and minerals.

There are three primary types of whey protein available:

Whey protein concentrate: This contains low levels of fats and carbohydrates (lactose).

Whey protein isolate: This is further processed whey (to remove all the fat and lactose).

Whey protein hydrolysate: This is a form of whey protein which has already undergone partial hydrolysis; a process necessary for the body to absorb protein.

Why use whey protein?

From what you read above, this makes it clear that whey protein is all natural and safe to use irrespective of how some people consider it to be an unnatural intervention for muscle building. In addition, it has virtually no side effects, when taken in the right amount.

If there is a lack of proteins in your diet, irrespective of all the hard work you do at gym, you won’t see any significant increase in muscle mass. Although expensive, these protein supplements provide you with the most pure and readily digestible form of protein you can lay your hands on.

Furthermore, most companies add additional nutrients in their mix such as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which are shown to increase muscle mass, creatine which supply energy to the muscles and calcium for stronger bones and muscle contractions.

And to top it all up, it’s available in multiple delicious flavors!

How to prepare your protein shake?

Add one scoop of whey to 200 – 250ml/6-8oz/one cup (or according to your taste, there is no hard and fast rule for this) of either water or milk (which one is better is a long argument). Stir it with a spoon or a fork or shake well in your shaker cup until dissolved and no more lumps are seen.

When to consume your protein shake?

According to a recent research, protein shakes when consumed within 30-45 minutes after a workout give the best results. This is the time when your body is craving for nutrition.

How much protein to consume?

This is where things get a little complicated. While most supplement companies claim to provide 30g of whey per serving (per scoop), this measurement usually also include carbohydrates, fats and the likes. So when you take one scoop, you are not exactly taking 30g of protein. To calculate the amount of protein per serving, look at the nutritional details on the container.

The quantity of protein to consume depends upon your body weight. A simple formula to work out the amount of protein you need to consume is 1g of protein per pound of body weight. So if you weigh 70kg (or 154lbs), you need to consume 154g of protein per day.

Now this doesn’t mean you need to consume 154g of whey per day. Your major source of protein intake is the food you eat. If you consume protein rich food throughout the day (such as red meat, chicken, fish, pulse etc), your additional protein requirement through whey protein supplement might be minimal. If you did not consume a meal with significant amount of protein, you need to increase your whey intake.

Why the amount of protein you consume is important, you ask?

For starters, our body cannot store protein; excess protein will be converted into glucose or fats. Too much of protein may lead to dehydration, damage your liver, result in diarrhea and formation of kidney stones.

As covered earlier, amino acids are building block of muscles and our body cannot synthesize essential amino acids, so too little of these is going to affect your muscle gains.

Generally, one scoop of whey protein per day is enough.

Which whey protein to buy?

At the store, you find yourself staring at a number of big budging jars and you don’t know which one is the best.

The pick is simple; make sure you get the most protein for your money. The brand of whey protein that gives you most grams of protein and minimum grams of carbohydrates and fats per scoop is the brand you should buy. You can check these amounts at the back of the container under nutritional details.

So go ahead and make your lifts count!

About the author: Shoaib Siddiq Patel is a second year MBBS student at Ziauddin University and his interests include photography, mixed martial arts, travelling and reading.