- Whey protein - the gold of every athlete?
- Concentrate, Isolate and Hyrolysate - the three main types of Whey Protein
- Why you should take Whey Protein
- Whey Protein and its side effects
- The truth about Whey Protein side effects
Whey Protein - the gold of every athlete
Pretty much every strength athlete uses it - Whey Protein. However, many people still do not know what exactly the whey protein actually is and how "the good gold", which obviously must offer a lot of benefits, is obtained. So that you are better informed and in addition know what possible side effects the consumption of protein powder could bring, we enlighten you:
Mammalian milk provides two different protein fractions: Casein and whey protein. Whey (whey protein) is separated from milk during the cheese-making process. It contains all amino acids and thus provides the ideal support for optimal muscle protein synthesis. Almost the entire protein can be utilized by the body, as the very good amino acid balance results in a very high biological value of 104 to 110.
The whey protein, which is separated from the casein, of course does not yet correspond to the powder form in which it ends up in the cans. For the production - especially with regard to the good nutritional values - various processing steps are necessary. Through filtrations, fat and carbohydrates are removed until the protein is created in the desired concentration. Whey protein can come in three main types: Concentrate, Isolate and Hydrolysate. The manufacturing process and also the degree of filtration provide information about the appropriate form of the finished whey.
Whether the different types of Whey protein can cause side effects, we explain to you in the following sections. One thing is the same for all of them: Whey is one of the best food sources for high-quality protein.
Concentrate, Isolate, and Hydrolysate - the three main types of Whey protein.
In order for us to go into more detail about the side effects of protein powder, you should first know the difference between the three main types of Whey. The main difference is in the way they are processed. You can also find more information about this in our blog post Whey Isolate vs Whey Protein.
There are these three main types:
- Whey Concentrate
- Whey Isolate
- Whey Hydrolysate
Whey Concentrate: Whey Concentrate, like our ESN Tasty Whey, is gently produced at low temperatures to preserve all the natural protein fractions and prevent the protein from denaturing. By means of various filtration processes, the concentrate achieves a protein content of 70-80%, with the proportion of carbohydrates still at 7-8% and the proportion of fat at 3-5%. The carbohydrates are in the form of milk sugar (lactose). Due to the good ratio of the three macronutrients, most athletes find Whey Concentrate the most delicious of the three main types.
WheyIsolate: The production of a Whey Isolate, like our ESN ISOCLEAR, takes significantly more time than the production of a normal concentrate. In addition, it requires a special microfiltration that filters out carbohydrates and fat so extensively that the final product has a protein content of 90-95%. The content of lactose (milk sugar) in this main type of Whey is thus vanishingly small. The downside is that many filtration passes also leave behind many beneficial nutrients that your body could absorb through a concentrate. One of the advantages, however, is that Whey Isolate contains hardly any lactose and is therefore also suitable for people with lactose intolerance.
WheyHydrolysate: With a hydrolysate, the manufacturing process goes even one step further. The proteins are already split into polypeptide chains and thus "predigested" so that the absorption by the body is greatly accelerated. However, due to the special manufacturing process of hydrolysis, further useful nutrients are lost, which are contained in the isolate and concentrate.
Tip: If you ever can not decide which type of Whey Protein you want to use, we can recommend our ESN Designer Whey. It offers you an effective combination of Whey concentrate and Whey isolate, which allows you to supply your body with 48% EAAs (essential amino acids) and 23% BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids).
Why you should take Whey Protein
You can imagine that Whey Protein is so popular for a reason. So that you can understand why and also benefit from the advantages, here are a few interesting facts:
High-quality protein sources such as Whey, which are rich in the branched-chain amino acid leucine (most growth-promoting amino acid[¹]), in combination with strength training, prevent age-related muscle loss and additionally support muscle growth.[²] Furthermore, Whey Protein releases anabolic hormones, which can additionally stimulate muscle growth.[³] Compared to many other types of protein, whey protein is absorbed and utilized by the body particularly quickly.[⁴] For this very reason, it has proven effective to schedule Whey protein intake before, during or after training - at these times, muscle protein synthesis is most active. However, a study around muscle building has shown that total daily protein intake is the most relevant factor for muscle growth.[⁵] So most importantly, make sure you meet your protein needs daily! Additionally, keep in mind that a caloric surplus is necessary to sustainably build muscle.
Apart from assisting in muscle protein synthesis, Whey Protein has other benefits that you should not underestimate. Numerous studies have shown that the consumption of dairy products - including whey protein - leads to a reduction in (slightly) elevated blood pressure.[⁶] [⁷] [⁸] [⁹] This positive effect is attributed to the bioactive peptides lactokinins (ACE inhibitors).[¹⁰] [¹¹] [¹²] Since protein is by far the most satiating macronutrient, it can help with weight loss - for example through protein shakes.[¹³] Proteins are also very important for our health. They can lower blood sugar levels and reduce symptoms of stress and depression.[¹⁴] [¹⁵] [¹⁶] [¹⁷]
There are a variety of studies outlining a wide range of benefits of Whey Protein.
Whey protein and its side effects
Surely you recognize the risk - with so many benefits offered by protein, and Whey Protein in particular, a person can quickly want too much of it and slip into an "overdose". But we'll take a closer look at whether such an overdose even exists, and what Whey Protein side effects result from it, below:
In general, it can be said that most of the side effects of Whey Protein - if they occur at all - are associated with digestive problems. If you experience bloating, stomach cramps, or diarrhea after drinking a protein shake[¹⁸] does not mean that you have taken too much protein. Most of these side effects are related to lactose intolerance. In order to digest the milk sugar (lactose) contained in whey protein, the enzyme lactase is required, which people with a lactose intolerance do not have.[¹⁹] Lactose intolerance is not to be underestimated - it affects up to 75% of people worldwide.[²⁰] If you also suffer from this intolerance, you can first try a Whey Isolate. As mentioned earlier, there is hardly any of the lactose left due to the filtrations in this main type. If you don't feel better with this either, try a plant-based alternative like soy or pea protein.
Constipation is uncommon as a side effect of Whey protein. But before you worry, and lactose intolerance is ruled out, eat more fruits and vegetables, as this will provide you with fiber, which can promote regular bowel movements.[²¹]
Whey protein side effects could also show up due to a cow's milk allergy . For most people, whey protein, which comes from cow's milk, is tolerable. Nevertheless, there are a few people who are allergic to cow's milk and therefore to Whey Protein. The allergy could then manifest itself in the form of a skin rash, throat and tongue swelling, or a runny or stuffy nose.[²²]
You may also have heard that consuming too much Whey protein can damage the kidneys. That a meal high in protein increases the pressure inside the kidneys.[²³] [²⁴], however, is not a cause for concern. This is a normal physical reaction.[²⁵] [²⁶] Studies show that too much protein does not harm people's healthy kidneys.[²⁷] [²⁸] However, care should be taken by those who already suffer from kidney disease, as a high-protein diet can further exacerbate the disease. In such a case, it is always advisable to first consult with the attending physician to find out the possibilities for protein intake in general.[²⁹] [³⁰]
It is also often said that Whey Protein side effects can occur in the liver .
However, according to current findings, protein powder does not have a negative effect on the liver in any way.[³¹] In fact, proteins are absolutely needed by it to convert fats into lipoproteins and to dispose of fats from the liver with them. Only in this way can it function optimally.[³²] But here too, healthy livers were examined in the studies. If you already have a known liver disease, be sure to talk to your doctor in advance about your options for taking proteins as a dietary supplement.
Contrary to popular belief, there is also no reason to be concerned about osteoporosis. Thirty-six studies were analyzed, and they found no evidence that consuming too much protein is detrimental to bone health. Rather, they concluded that protein in general is actually beneficial to people's bone health.[³³] This is also the reason why recommendations are made for older people to add more protein to the body if they already suffer from the disease.[³⁴] [³⁵]
The best idea is to feed your body only high-quality protein and pay attention to its reactions. The fact that there are no dangers in consuming according to the recommendations - as long as you are basically healthy - means that you can test different Wheys and find the one that works best for you over time. However, if you have persistent symptoms, it's best to go directly to your doctor for clarification.
The truth about whey protein side effects
Whey protein is one of the best supplements on the market, and a very safe product to boot, with no worrying side effects. If you are physically fit, there is no need to worry about any unwanted side effects of protein powder. If, on the other hand, you suffer from pre-existing kidney or liver diseases, for example, you should talk to your doctor in advance about the intake options. Whey protein simplifies the intake of protein to achieve your daily needs immensely and brings no side effects, but even health benefits for a large part of people.
Keep in mind that consuming only powder is not equivalent to a balanced diet. A healthy diet is essential for your health and should therefore not be neglected under any circumstances - ideally, use Whey Protein exclusively as a dietary supplement. Natural good sources of protein are for example lean meat, wild fish, eggs, legumes and nuts.
The recommended amount for taking Whey Protein is one to two scoops - that is, 25-50 grams. However, it is best to always follow the consumption recommendation on the packaging of your protein powder. In total, you should make sure that your daily protein intake is around 2 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you exceed this reference value by far every day over a longer period of time, you could - depending on your physique and your activity level - experience side effects in your digestive tract. The probability is very low, since top athletes can consume even 3.5 grams per kilogram of body weight without problems, but this way you are on the safe side and your needs are covered. Furthermore, you should also pay attention to your calorie balance and compare it with your personal goal. Just because proteins are basically healthy, they do not prevent you from gaining weight. Also, excess calories from proteins are put on by the body as fat.