11 Benefits Of Whey Protein For Recreational Exercisers

June 17, 2016

Muscle-man

Remember Miss Muffet eating her curds and whey? She was on to something! Curds are cheese, and whey is the runny liquid left behind.

In the modern day, the proteins are removed from the whey and processed into a powder form that dissolves in liquid, leaving behind the fat and other parts of the liquid whey.

In powder form, whey protein is very popular as a dietary supplement for bodybuilders. But whey protein has important potential health benefits for recreational exercisers and others outside the bodybuilding community as well.

1. Lose Fat Without Losing Muscle

In a Minnesota research study, a group of dieters cut their diets by 500 calories per day.

Half the group then added whey protein supplements to their diets, while the other half used a different type of supplement.

At the end of 12 weeks, the whey protein group had lost more body fat and retained more muscle mass than the other group.

Typical diets based on calorie restriction can starve your muscles, causing some of the weight loss to come from losing healthy muscle mass instead of unhealthy fat.

A whey protein supplement can help you lose weight in a healthier way.

2. Build Your Muscles

The classic use of whey protein for bodybuilders is to consume some shortly before and shortly after a workout.

Why? Because the protein is quickly digested and goes to work repairing and building up the muscles that are stressed and strained during the workout.

This works for everyday exercisers as well – you don’t have to be trying to achieve Schwarzenegger-like physique to benefit from a supplement that helps you build up your muscles faster.

3. Reduce Hunger

How does your body signal you that it is hungry? A hormone called ghrelin lets your brain know that it is time to fuel up.

In a research study in Australia, researchers gave overweight men one of four different types of drinks, then tested the ghrelin levels in their blood a short time later.

The men given the whey protein drink had the lowest levels of ghrelin in their blood.

So if you are going into a situation where lots of unhealthy snacks will be available, having a whey protein drink or snack beforehand can help you up your resistance to temptation!

4. Turn a Smoothie into a Meal

Smoothies, or shakes made from a combination of fruits, veggies and liquids like cow’s milk, soy milk or almond milk, continue to grow in popularity.

What’s not to like? They are super fast to make and can use an almost endless variety of ingredients.

The right combination of fruits and vegetables lets you sneak superfoods like kale and spinach into your diet if you don’t like eating them straight.

Adding a scoop of whey protein ups the nutritional value of a smoothie and makes it a full meal replacement, and the appetite-suppressing power of protein keeps you full longer.

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5. Boost Your Immune System

When you work out, your body rushes resources to protect and rebuild muscles, which can in turn depress the immune system.

This is especially true of someone doing extended cardio exercise such as running.

Whey protein is a fast source of amino acids for use in your muscles, freeing other body resources to maintaining your immune system.

While you still need to eat well, get enough sleep and wash your hands often, whey protein can help you stave off colds and infections.

6. Lower Cholesterol and Fight Insulin Resistance

Most recreational exercisers do so to help feel better, get stronger and lose weight.

Two big health problems associated with being overweight are increased cholesterol levels, which can lead to heart disease and increased insulin resistance, which can lead to development of Type 2 diabetes.

A 2010 British study found that subjects who are dieting who also took whey protein supplements lowered their cholesterol and insulin resistance faster than those who used other types of supplements or no supplements at all.

7. Help Fight Some Forms of Cancer

If you know from your family background that you are susceptible to certain forms of cancer, particularly colon and prostate cancers, whey protein supplements can be a good choice for another reason: some studies have shown that these supplement have helped suppress cancer in rats.

Whey protein is also a useful supplement for those undergoing cancer treatment, as its ability to protect muscle mass can counteract the tendency toward muscle wasting that often comes with chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

8. Add Protein to Vegetarian Diets

It can be hard to get enough complete proteins on a vegetarian diet. When you are exercising regularly, it can be even more difficult because your body needs more protein.

Whey protein is a complete protein and is a convenient way to add complete protein to a vegetarian diet, without worrying about matching up several types of food to “build” a complete protein.

Since whey protein is usually a by-product of cow’s milk, this is best for ovo-lacto vegetarians, not for vegetarians or vegans avoiding all animal products.

9. Cope With Stress

Whey protein supplements help you cope with stress in two ways.

First, stress stimulates release of ghrelin, the hormone that signals your body to eat.

This is one reason for the tendency to overeat when feeling stressed out.

Since whey protein suppresses production of ghrelin, you will be less drawn to overeating.

Second, stress tends to decrease serotonin in the brain, which can increase a tendency toward depression.

Whey protein appears to protect serotonin levels somewhat, which helps you stay on an even keel when going through stressful situations.

10. Get Protein Without Additional Fats and Carbs

The market is packed with various types of packaged smoothies and “health drinks”.

Many of these contain whey protein or other types of protein, but also are bulked out with sugars and fats.

Choose a supplement that is as close to pure protein as possible to get the best results.

Whey protein also helps smooth out the tendency to have spikes and lows in blood sugar that a high intake of carbs can cause, but a supplement with a lot of carbohydrates in it can counteract this healthy effect.

11. Whey Protein Supplements Protein in Quality Whole Foods

Whey protein is far from a perfect food! It is called a supplement for a reason – it is meant to be an addition to a healthy diet, not a replacement for it.

The absolute best sources of protein for your body are always whole foods such as high quality meats, fish and eggs.

However, sometimes you do not have access to these foods or time to prepare them.

Supplementing your diet with whey protein is often a better choice than a less healthy protein source like a fast food burger.

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