Whey protein is perhaps the most widely utilised supplement across the health and sports nutrition market. For many, there’s a distinct association with whey and bodybuilding; certainly, with the right training techniques and diet as a baseline, whey has the potential to improve your results tenfold. However, this isn’t the only reason that whey is the way forward (insert toothy grin, ha!).
According to studies, supplementing whey protein can make a difference to your health and well-being, as well as your athletic performance. Whey just might be gold dust; below are five reasons why!
1. Whey = weigh less!
Research suggests that whey may help to enhance fat loss. A twelve week study in the US asked participants to decrease their calorie intake by 500; in addition, some of the group were given a whey supplement/RTD, and others were given another type of drink (with no whey present) of an equal caloric value. With the former, an average reduction in body fat of 6.1% was observed, compared with the latter.
2. Increased muscle strength
Whey is probably most recognisable for its role in muscle development, but since this is highly relevant, we’ll give it a mention. To recap, whey has a high biological value (BV), and is rapidly absorbed, which is why fitness professionals sing its praises. This allows a stream of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to be ‘shuttled’ into muscle cells, supplying the raw materials required for growth and repair. Wear and tear on the muscle fibres is a normal part of intense exercise, but it’s the recovery period that makes a notable difference to your progress; whey helps to accelerate this, somewhat.
Increased muscle can have a positive effect on body fat, since muscle tissue is metabolically active (burns calories). Coupled with the first point, this dual mechanism may help you to stay in control of your body composition, long-term.
3. Curbing cravings
Drinking a whey-based beverage might help you to consume fewer calories, according to a study conducted in Australia. It seems that a 50g serving of whey is enough to curb cravings by reducing levels of ghrelin – a hormone which signals hunger in the brain. This effect is said to last for several hours, so instead of raiding the biscuit tin, opt to mix up a protein shake or grab a protein bar, which will undoubtedly provide more sustenance than a choccie digestive.
4. Supporting immune health
People who exercise regularly are likely to have low levels of glutathione – a compound that helps to maintain healthy immune, nervous and digestive systems. It has a powerful antioxidant effect, but certain conditions – stress, illness and high impact training – can compromise its presence in the body. Whilst moderate activity can help to boost levels, if you’re putting in several hours at the gym each week and pushing yourself, this is an area of your nutritional health that’s not to be overlooked.
Glutathione is comprised of three amino acids: cysteine, glycine and glutamine, which naturally occur in whey; thus, one of the best wheys (sorry!) to reduce depletion is to regularly consume such. Bio-active whey proteins are thought to support optimum glutathione synthesis, so look for un-denatured whey on the product’s label, and/or those brands which use micro-filtration techniques during processing.
5. Less stress
If you suffer with stress, one of the best ways that you can tackle this is through physical activity, since this causes the release of endorphins – the body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals. However, whey protein – usually taken in conjunction with exercise – has also been shown to help reduce stress levels.
Though it’s not entirely clear how this process works, it’s thought that tryptophan is the likely contender. Tryptophan (an amino acid) is the precursor to serotonin – a neurotransmitter in the body that influences things like sleep patterns, appetite and mood. Low levels have been shown to bear a direct correlation with depression, stress and other mental health issues. Therefore, increasing tryptophan could be an important factor in psychological wellness.
So, it looks like there are at least five reasons to shake it up. :)
Whey to go!