Let’s start with answering the question of what whey is. So when you process milk to make cheese; whey is the liquid that is left-over from curdling the milk, the curds go off to make cheese, and the whey liquid is used in many ways across different industries. When it comes to the fitness industry, whey can be used for things like boosting your protein intake, increasing muscle gain and potentially losing body fat.
You will see whey in powder form which you can add to shakes, baking, porridge, and just about anything else you want to try mixing it with. It doesn’t taste very nice on its own, so you will typically see it flavoured with things like vanilla, strawberry and salted caramel; this makes it much nicer to add to some recipes. It’s a great way to make treats that work for your nutritional intake as well; if you add it to a cookie recipe, that will boost your protein while giving you a little bit of something you might fancy.
When it comes to building muscle, protein is vitally important. To build muscle you need amino acids, the building blocks of life. Amino acids are found in all types of protein, but some more than others and whey protein is packed full of all nine essential amino acids needed for producing the contracting elements of your muscles.
There are three different types of whey that you will find available; concentrate, isolate and hydrolysate. These vary in their protein and nutritional levels. Concentrate has around 70-80% protein and contains some lactose. Isolate contains around 90% protein and has less lactose and fat content, but it also lacks some of the nutritional benefits of the concentrate. Then hydrolysate also contains around 90% protein but has been processed to make it more easily digestible and therefore is taken up quicker by the body; however, it has been shown to cause spikes in insulin levels. They all have their uses, but it is generally regarded that concentrate can be more beneficial overall.
It is widely appreciated that protein helps keep you fuller for longer and therefore, can prevent you from overeating or snacking and unnecessarily consuming calories. This is partly because protein can reduce the levels of ghrelin in your body, the hunger hormone, and can increase the levels of peptide YY which is the hormone that makes you feel full.
If you are not working out, but controlling your weight by calorie restricting, then you could be losing muscle mass rather than just fat, this isn’t good for your body. If you are working out but not consuming enough protein, then you aren’t providing the essentials needed to build or maintain your muscles, and therefore you might not see the progress you are expecting. By consuming whey protein powder along with a balanced diet, you could see more significant weight loss while maintaining and building new muscle.
Remember to use whey as a booster to your healthy dietary protein, not a substitute; otherwise, it just won’t have the desired effects. Finding the right whey protein for you will be trial and error, so give a few a go and see how you get on. If you find a good recipe, why not share it on our Facebook page for everyone to give it a go!