5 Health Benefits of Whey Protein
Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps build muscle, repair tissue, and support the immune system. People commonly consume whey protein powder as a quick dietary supplement to help meet their health goals. Whey protein has a high nutritional value and is one of the best dietary sources of quality protein. The body absorbs whey protein quickly and easily compared to other types of protein.
What is whey protein?
Milk contains two main types of protein: casein and whey. Whey is found in the liquid part of milk that separates during cheese production. If you’ve ever opened a yogurt container to see liquid floating on top — that’s whey.
Whey is typically sold as a flavored powder (however, you can also find it unflavored), which can be added to shakes, meal replacements, and protein bars.
Health benefits of whey protein powder
1. Aids in weight management
Increased consumption of protein is an effective way to lose weight. Whether in food or supplement form, satiety from protein can result in smaller portion sizes and less frequent snacking. Both of which can help maintain a healthy weight.
Whey protein is the most filling compared to other types of protein. A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism found participants given whey protein powder “lost significantly more body fat and showed a greater preservation of lean muscle compared to subjects consuming the control beverage.”
2. Promotes muscle growth and recovery
Muscle mass naturally declines with age leading to fat gain and increased risk of chronic disease. However, resistance training paired with high-protein foods or supplements has been shown to slow, prevent, and reverse adverse body composition changes.
Many athletes consume protein powder to improve muscle size and strength from training. A 2018 review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine supports the use of protein supplementation for this purpose. Research shows protein supplements significantly improve muscle size and strength in healthy adults who perform resistance training, such as lifting weights.
In addition to contributing to muscle growth, protein also can help repair damaged muscles and tissues. As a result, people often use protein powder to speed up recovery from muscle soreness after exercise.
3. Moderates blood sugar levels
Whey protein is effective at moderating blood sugar, especially when taken before or after high-carb meals. This may be particularly useful for Type 2 Diabetics with high blood sugar and impaired function of insulin.
4. Supports hair, skin, and nails
Protein plays a significant role in the maintenance of healthy hair, skin, and nails. Protein supplies the body with the amino acids it requires to make keratin – one of the structural proteins in our skin, hair, and nails. To boost keratin production, adequate protein is necessary to support this process. Protein is also one of the building blocks of skin tissue and adequate intake is essential for healthy skin.
5. Keeps bones strong
Most people associate calcium and Vitamin D with strong bones when it comes to bone health. This is true; however, protein also plays a role. When calcium and Vitamin D are limited, protein helps keep bones strong. Studies demonstrate that high-protein diets are associated with increased bone mineral density levels and reduced bone loss rates.
Ways to use protein powder
With a variety of protein powder flavors available (including unflavored), there’s no reason to solely drink protein smoothies. You can also:
- Add protein powder to oatmeal
- Make protein pancakes or waffles
- Look for protein cookie recipes
- Add unflavored protein powder to mashed potatoes
- Add protein powder to coffee (especially if you skip breakfast)
- Mix protein powder into yogurt
- Add unflavored protein powder to homemade soup, pasta sauce, etc.