An Overview of Why You Should Include Whey Protein in Your Diet
No matter how often you exercise, if your rest and nutrition regime isn’t up to scratch you won’t be reaching the peak performance you desire. Whilst rest and exercise are equally important hallmarks of the successful athlete, nutrition is often the unsung hero. The desired levels of the three macronutrients of protein, carbohydrates and fats are highly dependent on the individual, their goals, and their lifestyle. Nevertheless, the importance of protein in all athletes’ diet is essential to ensure muscle growth, promote recovery, and enable the body to perform consistently at the highest level. An individuals’ main source of protein should come from whole foods such as meats, seafood, eggs, and beans. However, due to the active bodies’ high demand for protein, protein supplementation is a convenient and efficient way to supply your body with the protein it requires. There’s a lot of information about the protein supplement whey protein and why it’s the best supplement out there, although it’s understandably easy to get confused by the information overload. This article strives to help you acquire a comprehensive understanding of the benefits of whey protein and its nutritional potential in a simple, clear manner.
What is Whey Protein?
By now you might be thinking, what is whey protein? Whey protein is a by-product of cheese making that is extremely low in lactose and contains essential amino acids. The most common use of whey protein is supplementation with exercise to improve muscle protein synthesis and maximise the growth of lean tissue mass. There are three main types of whey protein; Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC), Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) and Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH). Whey Protein Concentrate usually comprises of 30%-90% protein concentration, with minimal levels of fat and carbs (lactose). Whey Protein Isolate is a further processed type of whey that sees all fat and lactose removed. WPI is comprised of at least 90% protein content. Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH) is a specific protein that doesn’t require as much digestion as WPC or WPI, and as such is frequently used within medical protein supplements or infant formulas. WPC and WPI are the two most common protein supplements for athletes.
What does whey protein do?
Whey protein has a variety of benefits that can help individuals fulfill their physical potential. Whey protein provides the body with protein and amino acids that serve as the building blocks for increased muscle mass. Whey protein increases the release of anabolic hormones that can stimulate muscle growth and prevent your body from losing muscle mass. Similarly, whey protein is high in the amino acid Leucine, which is known to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (and enable your body to absorb protein as efficiently as possible). Whey protein is also highly satiating (filling) meaning it can reduce hunger, diminishing the urge for an unhealthy afternoon snack! Whey protein’s high protein content means it’s very calorie efficient, helping you lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously when used in conjunction with a healthy diet. Finally, whey protein can help control the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream, enabling you to better control your blood sugar. Basically put, whey protein promotes muscle growth & recovery, enabling your body to maintain consistent performance levels.
When To Take Whey Protein?
The timing of whey protein is essential in harnessing the supplements full potential. Generally, the most important time to consume protein is immediately post-training (or straight after a game) as your muscles require nutrition for recovery and growth. If your body doesn’t receive its required protein, post-workout recovery can be negatively impacted and all your hard work may be for nothing! Whey protein supplementation can also be used to help you achieve your macronutrient goals when you’re short on time or unable to consume enough whole sources of protein. Similarly, whey protein can be used for weight loss. In the context of weight-loss, whey protein supplementation can be used as a meal or snack replacement or consumed before going out to eat in order to prevent overindulging. Ultimately, whey protein supplementation can be used at any time, however, the most effective supplementation period is 15-30 minutes following exercise when the body is craving protein to kick-start the recovery process.
The Importance of Whey Protein
Now you have an understanding of whey protein and its importance, it’s imperative to understand that not all whey protein is the same. The market is abundant in artificially sweetened, low quality and unclean whey protein supplements. To ensure you get the best protein available seek out transparent companies that include all the product ingredients on their labels. Ingredients such as saccharin, aspartame or acesulfame should be avoided. Australian company True Protein provides some of the cleanest protein on the market that is sweetened naturally with stevia. Similarly, they source their protein from New Zealand grass-fed cows. New Zealand is the most advanced dairy producer in the world with strict farming guidelines on grass feeding, ensuring the cows stay healthy and by extension ensuring their produce stays clean. Additionally, the New Zealand government mandates that all dairy products are to be free of chemical residue, growth hormones, and antibiotics - ensuring nothing unwanted makes its way into your whey. If you’re looking for high-quality protein, try True Protein’s Premium Whey Protein Isolate (NZ sourced) or their Whey Protein Concentrate (NZ sourced). Similarly, if you’re looking for clean non-protein supplements such as muscle building amino acids True Proteins BCAA’s, Glutamine and Leucine are all sourced from a Japanese manufacturer that is widely considered the world leader in the field of amino acids. If you’re training relentlessly but not feeling the benefits, make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. After all, you can train and rest all you want but if your nutrition isn’t great you’re never going to reach your full physical potential!