Whey protein gets a bad rap, and we’re not sure why. With YouTube sensations like Dom Mazzetti making their fortune promoting (albeit often with a very meta wink to the bodybuilding industry) supplements including protein powders, it seems odd that some people consider whey protein to be unhealthy. At times, it’s even been suggested that whey protein use may be a form of eating disorder. We decided to get some expert opinions on why, (hopefully) once and for all, whey isn’t inherently detrimental to one’s health and what the alternatives to whey are.
“Protein is what we need,” she says. “Whey protein won’t make you fat; it helps you complete your meal plan, and is also very helpful when you are on the go [a lot] like me.”
Gaspari goes on to explain the way in which our bodies need protein, saying that it’s “an important nutrient and a building block for healthy bodies… needed by mostly everybody, every day. Protein helps repair body cells, builds and repairs muscle and bones, is an excellent source of energy and controls many important processes in the body related to metabolism.”
“Adding whey protein to the diet,” Gaspari continues, “is a great way to jump-start a weight-loss program. Obesity is a growing health problem. Whey protein is a key ingredient in numerous weight-loss products. Studies have found that individuals who combine whey protein and exercise have more lean muscle tissue and lose more body fat. As they lose fat, their metabolic rate increases and they burn more calories each day. A diet rich in protein will help maintain a lean, youthful body and unlike some misconceived notions will not create muscle bulk.
Gaspari lists the benefits of using a protein (such as GoPro Whey Protein). She says whey is an excellent source of lean protein and that it not only helps to prevent bone loss, but that it also helps with weight management and satiety. It can assist in the healing of wounds as well as developing and maintaining lean muscle mass.
With all of this in mind, you can see that the benefits of incorporating whey protein far outweigh any misconstrued ideas about why it’s unhealthy for you. Sure, if you’re a fan of dairy alternatives, you can look for soy or another plant-based protein, but whey isn’t inherently bad. Plus, with a seemingly endless amount of flavors available, you can make protein work for you in more ways than one.
“These days, whey protein doesn’t take like dirty water, it tastes great,” says Gaspari. “It is one of the least expensive and most easily digested and convenient sources of protein on the go or at home.”
Getting back to those plant-based proteins, Brian Tanzer, MS, CNS, nutritionist of the Vitamin Shoppe, considers them comparable to dairy-based supplements.
“Plant proteins including pea, soy, hemp, and rice,” he says, “provide an excellent source of protein. Plant-based powders can provide our bodies with many of the same essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that you would find in animal-based proteins. This is a good choice for those seeking a vegetarian or non-milk based protein source. Plant proteins can be just as effective as animal-based proteins when it comes to attaining and maintaining muscle and supporting metabolism. You can easily add plant protein into your diet by including a serving in your favorite morning smoothie.”
With great-tasting protein flavors and a wide variety of brands, you have options. One of these choices (in the world of milk-based protein) is between whey and casein.
“Many protein powder supplements are now combining both whey and casein proteins to create an anabolic and catabolic balance for muscle repair and growth,” says Tanzer. “Combining these two different types of proteins can be beneficial when working towards reaching fitness goals. Whey protein works to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, whereas casein is more popularly known for inhibiting the breakdown of muscle. This relationship allows the body to benefit from the two different absorption and digestion rates. Taken alone, whey protein can be effective before and after a workout, or even first thing in the morning, as it provides a quick burst of protein. Casein protein, which is a popular choice before bed, is ideal for sustaining longer periods of anabolic, or muscle building, environments for muscle growth. Therefore, combining the benefits of both whey and casein protein can allow for sustained protein synthesis and the creation of an anti-catabolic environment for your muscles, lean body mass, and overall fitness goals.”