Pros and cons of whey protein for health

Whey protein is a type of protein that is processed from cow’s milk. It is popularly used as a dietary supplement, especially by athletes, bodybuilders and those who want to lose weight. All dietary supplements come with certain pros and cons, and whey protein is no exception.

Two types of proteins, casein and whey protein are found in milk. Whey protein is composed of globular proteins which are isolated from whey, the liquid substance left behind during the production of cheese. Special filters are used to obtain the whey protein from the liquid.

It is then filtered even more to obtain pure concentrated whey protein which is dried and packaged as whey protein powder. This high quality whey protein contains all the essential amino acids and is thus beneficial to health in various ways. Here are some of the advantages of consuming whey protein;

Whey protein promotes protein synthesis which helps in quick recovery and also enables you to adapt to stress more effectively.
Regular consumption of whey protein can elevate cellular glutathione levels. Glutathione is a type of antioxidant which protects the body from the adverse effects of free radicals and toxins.

Some studies have opined that milk proteins such as whey protein may help to lower the risk of cancer.

Consistent intake of whey protein along with a good exercise program helps to build muscle mass considerably.

T-cell activity in the body may be improved because of whey protein. The protein also helps to reduce wasting of bodily tissues.

Whey protein helps to bring about weight loss. Protein helps to regulate blood glucose levels and thus reduces food cravings.

Intake of whey protein contributes to overall health. It lowers the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. It is also known to enhance cognitive function and memory. Since it is digested quickly and easily, it can be given to patients who cannot consume food due to appetite loss. It improves an individual’s functioning under stress and increases energy levels. Whey protein also helps to prevent cortisol buildup after a workout.

Protein is an important nutrient that everyone requires on a daily basis. Protein helps in cellular repair, muscle building, muscle repair and bone strength. It serves as a source of energy for bodily functions and aids in many processes related to metabolism. Protein requirements vary according to age, sex, overall health, weight and level of activity. Athletes, people on weight loss diets and bodybuilders require a greater amount of protein than others.


Although whey protein is a valuable source of protein, it can lead to some side effects if consumed in excess. Some of the cons of whey protein are as follows;


Some people are allergic or intolerant to lactose which is found in milk and dairy foods. This is known as lactose intolerance. When these people consume whey protein, they may develop an allergic reaction. However they can make use of whey protein isolates and hydrolysates which are two types of whey protein. These undergo processing in order to remove the lactose and fat and hence may not trigger an allergic reaction.

Kidney function may get affected when whey protein is consumed in large amounts.

Very high intake of whey protein may exert excessive strain on the liver, leading to liver damage.

Excessive consumption of whey protein may upset the levels of minerals in the bones and may result in loss of bone mineral density. This can contribute to osteoporosis.

High intake of whey protein in children can lead to headaches, nausea, appetite loss, fatigue, cramps and blood in the stools.

Consumption of whey protein by people who are protein intolerant may lead to buildup of mucus and symptoms of sinusitis.

Therefore one should avoid excessive intake of protein so that such side effects can be prevented. The recommended intake of protein is approximately 1gram of protein per pound of your body weight. Professional athletes may consume up to 25grams of whey protein daily. Bodybuilders who aim to build substantial amount of muscle may consume 150grams daily, provided they also exercise intensively. It is important to prevent overdosing on whey protein. The body is able to digest only a certain amount of protein at a time. If consumed in excess, it is removed from the body or stored as fat for energy purposes. However the kidney and liver can undergo a high level of strain while processing these large amounts of protein. Another point to take into consideration is allergies. If you suspect that you are intolerant to milk or dairy products, consult your doctor before consuming whey protein. If you are on whey protein supplements, make sure that you stay well hydrated by drinking at least eight glasses of water daily.

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