Explaining the “Whey” in Protein Powders

May 2, 2011

Must See Nutrition Videos

Athletes are constantly looking for ways to get the most out of their workouts and boost performance through supplementation. Recently, STACK cautioned young athletes against hopping onto the creatine bandwagon without consulting a nutritionist or doctor. But whey protein is a safe and effective form of supplementation that experts say will boost strength and help athletes bulk up for the regular season. “Whey” is a term many strength and performance athletes have heard in conjunction with protein, but aren’t sure what exactly it is and how it can enhance performance.

According to dairy expert Ashley Skabar, “Whey, a derivative of milk, is the liquid that is left behind after the first stages of the cheese-making process.” She notes that whey has a high protein content. Within whey is leucine, an amino acid essential for muscle growth. Because of whey’s muscle-building prowess, fitness companies have used it as an ingredient in many powders marketed to athletes. Studies show that consuming protein 30 to 60 minutes following a high intensity workout can enhance muscle growth.

Producers make two types of whey protein that are relevant to athletes: isolate and concentrate. Natural health researcher Patience Lister says, “The isolate is a higher-quality product that contains about 90 percent protein and almost no fat or lactose. Whey concentrates contain between 29 and 89 percent protein, and variable concentrations of fat and lactose.” Although more costly, it’s best for athletes to stick to a whey isolate product when selecting a protein powder. In this case, cost does indicate a better quality product.

Meeting your body’s daily protein demands can be difficult, especially if you’re looking to bulk up so you can power past opponents throughout the season. The amount of whey protein to include in your meal plan depends on your current diet, body type and fitness goals. Athletes in training should consume approximately 0.6 to 0.9 grams of protein per one pound of bodyweight. An athlete who weighs 200 pounds would consume between 120 and 180 grams of protein per day. But not all of that protein should come from whey isolate. After all, whey is a supplement. Your diet should already consist of protein-rich foods like beans, lean meats and dairy products other than whey. Use whey protein powder only to meet the protein need that the food in your diet isn't already providing.

A myth among some whey protein advocates is that the more you include in your diet, the better. Take only enough to meet your body’s daily protein need. Excess protein will be processed by your kidneys and turned into waste.

Individuals with preexisting kidney disease should follow strict guidelines about the amount of whey they consume. An excess amount can overload the kidneys, causing them to fail. It never hurts to consult a doctor or nutritionist before starting a supplementation program.

Whey protein isolate is a healthy supplement that athletes should consider along with other protein-rich foods. Available in many gyms and nutrition stores across the country, the powder form is easy to mix with water and/or milk. To enhance muscle growth, drink a whey protein shake within 30 to 60 minutes after a workout. One scoop contains about 23 grams of protein. Athletes with higher caloric needs can add their favorite fruits to the shake mix.

Source:  About.com; Livesetrong.com
Photo:  atlantasportsnutrition.com

Joe Baur
- Joe Baur is a certified personal trainer with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Miami University [Oxford, OH]. He became certified with the National...
Joe Baur
- Joe Baur is a certified personal trainer with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Miami University [Oxford, OH]. He became certified with the National...

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 152,830
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,325
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,268,862
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,536,765
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,144,153
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 896,437
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,240
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,332

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
4 Best Supplements for Football Players

4 Best Supplements for Football Players

The Powerful Health Benefits of Turmeric

The Powerful Health Benefits of Turmeric

7 Fiber Supplements: More Than Just For Weight Loss

7 Fiber Supplements: More Than Just For Weight Loss

The Best Time to Consume Creatine

The Best Time to Consume Creatine

Why Creatine Is the Best Sports Supplement

Why Creatine Is the Best Sports Supplement

The One Thing You Need to Do to Build Muscle

The One Thing You Need to Do to Build Muscle

2 Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

2 Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

DHEA Supplements: Should You Take Them?

DHEA Supplements: Should You Take Them?

7 Sketchy Marketing Phrases Used By Supplement Companies

7 Sketchy Marketing Phrases Used By Supplement Companies

Why You Need Vitamin D in Your Diet

Why You Need Vitamin D in Your Diet

Blueberry Supplements: Better Than Actual Blueberries?

Blueberry Supplements: Better Than Actual Blueberries?

Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?

Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?

7 Rules That Would End PED Use in Baseball Immediately

7 Rules That Would End PED Use in Baseball Immediately

What's Missing From the Female Athlete's Diet, Part 2: Iron

What's Missing From the Female Athlete's Diet, Part 2: Iron

Should You Be Taking BCAAs?

Should You Be Taking BCAAs?

Can Baking Soda Improve Your Training Gains?

Can Baking Soda Improve Your Training Gains?

Do You Need a Probiotic Supplement?

Do You Need a Probiotic Supplement?

This Just In: Boost Your Workout With Peppermint

This Just In: Boost Your Workout With Peppermint

What is Casein Protein?

What is Casein Protein?

The Truth About Muscle-Enhancing Supplements

The Truth About Muscle-Enhancing Supplements

HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

ZMA: Is This Mysterious Supplement Right for You?

ZMA: Is This Mysterious Supplement Right for You?

Soy vs. Whey Protein

Soy vs. Whey Protein

Demystifying Popular Smoothie Boosters

Demystifying Popular Smoothie Boosters

The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements

The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements

3 Supplements to Boost On-Ice Performance

3 Supplements to Boost On-Ice Performance

4 Creatine Myths Exposed

4 Creatine Myths Exposed

6 Supplements That Power Quality Workouts

6 Supplements That Power Quality Workouts

The Positive Side Effects of Creatine (Besides Building Muscle)

The Positive Side Effects of Creatine (Besides Building Muscle)

Should I Take Creatine?

Should I Take Creatine?

3 Reasons Why You Should Take a Fish Oil Supplement

3 Reasons Why You Should Take a Fish Oil Supplement

Iodine: An Overlooked Essential Mineral for Female Athletes

Iodine: An Overlooked Essential Mineral for Female Athletes

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

Ask the Experts: Is Caffeine Safe for Athletes?

Ask the Experts: Is Caffeine Safe for Athletes?

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

Fuel for Thought: Gels, Bloks and Beans

Fuel for Thought: Gels, Bloks and Beans

The 5 Essential Sports Supplements

The 5 Essential Sports Supplements

Workout Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?

Workout Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?

EXOS Launches New Line of Supplements

EXOS Launches New Line of Supplements

Why Basketball Players Should Ditch Energy Drinks

Why Basketball Players Should Ditch Energy Drinks

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement

Use Sodium Bicarbonate to Get More Out of Creatine

Use Sodium Bicarbonate to Get More Out of Creatine

L.A. Galaxy's Safe Supplementation for Soccer Players

L.A. Galaxy's Safe Supplementation for Soccer Players

4 Muscle-Building Supplements That Don't Work

4 Muscle-Building Supplements That Don't Work

Do Athletes Need Zinc Supplements?

Do Athletes Need Zinc Supplements?

YardBarker