What Is Whey Protein? Benefits And Side Effects

Whey protein is basically a by-product of milk. It is a mixture of proteins (globular proteins) that are isolated from whey. Whey, in simple terms, is the watery substance of milk that separates from the curds during the process of coagulation when producing cheese.

Whey is processed by simply drying it, or by process of removing the lipids and other non-protein substances thus increasing the protein content in it and making it fit for human consumption.

This protein is then marketed and ingested as a dietary supplement with various health benefits acclaimed to it. However, it is widely used by bodybuilders to help boost their protein levels in their body systems to boost their muscle development.

Is Whey Protein good for you?

Whey protein has various uses in the market, most of them stem from the fact that it is a natural supplement (got from ordinary milk with fewer additives), and while others base their claim due to it containing high levels of protein. Listed below are the most common and basic uses of this protein supplement, they are;

1. Boosting athletic performance

It is a common understanding that in all athletes, their body metabolisms require some replenishment of proteins depending on the intensity of their workouts and training. Thus they take these supplements to aid in the repairs of tissues ruptured whilst training.

2. Build muscles

Many bodybuilders use this supplement coupled with others to aid in the rapid growth of muscles.

3. Milk substitute

It has been well noted that whey protein can be used as an alternative to milk for people suffering from lactose intolerance, and also can be used instead to supplement milk-based infant formulas.

4. Reverse Weight Loss

What is whey protein:Myths And Truths About Protein Shakes

This supplement is also used in the medical platform to reverse weight loss and increase  glutathione (GSH)  levels in people suffering from the HIV disease.

5. Other Medical Uses

It is also prescribed in some cases to people suffering from asthma, high cholesterol, late-stage cancer, to prevent allergies in infants, obesity, protein allergy, colon cancer among others.

Whey has been noted as an excellent source of  branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)  which assists in the stimulation of protein synthesis. It’s positive effects on reducing risks of getting diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and coronary diseases, and also it being utilized as a source of amino acids also add to its benefits.

What are the different types of Whey Protein?

There are four main types of Protein as supplements: Concentrated, Isolated, and Hydrolyzed.


The concentrate contains approximately 80% protein but still provides some lactose and fat. It is an economic serum with a good quality/price ratio, but it can pose problems for people with lactose intolerance.


The isolate has a protein content between 90-95%, so it is a higher source of protein than the concentrate. Besides, the isolate contains almost no lactose and assimilates better than concentrate. The counterpart is a higher price.


The hydrolysate is derived from concentrate or isolate and is subjected to an enzymatic treatment that allows to “pre-digest” the proteins. In other words, the hydrolyzate is absorbed faster. The drawback is the price and also the taste. Hydrolysates have a bitter taste that few people endure.


A distinctive feature of the casein protein is its insolubility at a low pH; such an environment would be the stomach acid. The mechanism of slow absorption of casein lies in its characteristic of “coagulating” when exposed to stomach acid; the resulting clot precipitates and therefore causes a slow and sustained increase of amino acids in the plasma.

It is for this reason that casein prevents  muscle catabolism . It should be noted that the anti-catabolic properties of casein are about 7-8 hours after ingestion since this is how long it lasts to be digested and absorbed.

How to use Whey Protein

As with all supplements, there are directions for proper use whereby if used properly you will attain your goals to the fullest. Whey protein doesn’t fall short, to get the best results.

This supplement is normally found in powder form, so it is taken in orally through liquids or meals. Many people neglect to read the instructions in the package and thus tend to emulate what others did not know that there is a measure as to how much is required in the body.

If you copied someone else’s dose, there may be various outcomes and most of which would not be favorable to you. The right dosage is usually 1.2 – 1.5 grams per kg if you were aiming to build your muscle mass.

This would translate to; an average man of 72kg would take an average of 86.4 – 108 grams of protein supplements a day before and after workouts. However, most bodybuilders take a higher amount though it raises the risks of overdosing.

If you are taking the protein supplements for medical or health reason, please ensure to contact your physician for directions of use or read the instructions carefully that accompanies the package to reduce the chances of getting the side-effects.

Whey Protein side effects

Though Whey protein is a natural supplement with no additives, if taken in large quantities it may cause some side effects to the body. Here is a brief list of some of the side effects that might arise from the excessive consumption of this supplement:

1. Lactose intolerance

Due to it being a by-product of milk, excessive use of this would cause lactose intolerance and thus you would be advised to take whey protein isolate because it contains less than 1% lactose.

2. Kidney complications

It is said that protein if taken in large amounts can be harmful to kidneys. This may come because of the high protein low carbs diet and would manifest in the form of kidney stones or failure.

According to Harvard Medical School, a high intake of animal protein can increase the levels of uric acid and reduce the levels of citrate in urine. Citrate helps in preventing kidney stones from forming in the kidney.

On the other hand the higher the levels of uric acid, the more chances you’ll have for developing kidney stones. But this would be only in the worst-case scenario where protein consumption surpassed other nutrients in the daily diet.

In 2000, in one of the first studies conducted on the effects of high protein intake, it was suggested that excess protein was harmful to the kidneys. This study examined bodybuilders and other well-trained athletes with high and medium protein consumption.

While those who followed a high-protein diet had higher plasma concentrations of uric acid and calcium, bodybuilders had a normal renal removal of creatinine and urea waste products. The research concluded that protein consumption below 2.8 g / kg did not affect kidney function in well-trained athletes.

The University of Connecticut conducted a study demonstrating that there is no relationship between a diet with high amounts of whey protein and kidney damage. The study showed that people taking high amounts of whey protein for both weight loss and gaining muscle mass have nothing to worry about.

There is currently no evidence that a diet high in whey protein causes kidney damage. A myriad of Studies supports that high-protein intake does not have adverse effects on kidney function except in cases of acute renal failure or people suffering from chronic kidney disease.

3.Digestive Problems

Other side effects due to elevated protein levels in the body comprise bloating, nausea, increased bowel movements, cramps among others. Most of the side effects are not the result of the reaction to the protein itself, but the low level of purity of the lactose used to manufacture it and the use of other low-quality ingredients to give the shakes a better taste and texture. Please ensure to read the instructions carefully or consult a physician so as to avoid complications.

Consuming whey protein is an excellent way to increase your protein levels. Not only will it help you increase muscle mass more quickly, but it will also improve many aspects of your overall health.

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