What is it and where does it come from?
Out of the many protein sources out there, whey protein is the ultimate. It comes from milk. During the process of turning milk into cheese, whey protein is separated out. Protein can be found in a variety of foods--mainly meats, such as fish, beef, and chicken.
Dairy products as well as eggs, cottage cheese, soy and vegetable protein also contain good amounts of protein. Nevertheless, none of these sources compares in quality or ease of use like whey protein. Whey protein has the highest value in providing branched-chain amino acids, which result in building and retaining muscle tissue.
What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
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Whey protein (the highest quality and best form of protein) is incredible stuff. It provides the body with the necessary building blocks to produce amino acids that are used for building muscle tissue. Whoa! Nearly every bodybuilder knows the importance of protein supplementation. Studies have been conducted that compare whey protein to other sources. They have found that whey protein contains the perfect combination of overall amino acid makeup... and in just the right concentrations for optimal performance in the body. Both hormonal and cellular responses seem to be greatly enhanced with supplementation of whey protein, too! Not to mention the benefits whey protein has on the body's immune system according to documented scientific research. Whey protein also plays a role as an antioxidant and an immune system builder. Most importantly, consistent whey protein intake coupled with exercise will result in consistent muscle building.
Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Whey protein is very, very important for bodybuilders, dieters, and shoot, just about everybody! Since athletes and bodybuilders work out often, protein levels become depleted. By being a direct precursor to building muscle and essential amino acids, such as glutamine (a muscle enhancer, endurance builder, and muscle deterioration reducer), the content from high quality whey protein not only can, but will help one's muscles recover and grow faster by bring up the levels of protein. With dieting and those wishing to lose some extra fat, whey protein can be very useful because a good intake of protein balances blood sugar levels, while carbohydrates cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate. When the blood sugar levels stay balanced, one is not as prone to rampant eating and has more energy and greater fat loss. Whey protein allows a person to control his or her diet effectively. Most people who want to change their body for the better could benefit from whey protein supplementation; however, since protein is naturally found in many food items deficiency is usually not a problem.
How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
Training athletes often consume 25 grams of whey protein per day. Bodybuilders who want serious gains (and are burning serious calories), generally consume 150 grams per day. Extremely high doses of whey protein is not recommended, as this will cause the body's liver to be overloaded and you won't get the same benefits as with a consistent lower amount taken three to five times per day.
Consuming Protein Supplements Can Help Deter the Effects of Overtraining!
Protein intake of approx. 0.88 grams per pound of body weight resulted in increased prevention of overtraining. This study was conducted at Ball State University on 17 weight-trained men. They were put on a four week "overtraining" program were they did 8-12 rep maxes for three sets, eight exercises for the first two weeks, then five sets, five exercises for 3-5 rep maxes for the next two weeks. The men were chosen to receive either an amino acid supplement or a placebo for the duration of the four weeks (0.88 grams/lb body weight/day). Those that were given the amino acids had measureable positive changes in total testosterone, the ratio of testosterone to the protein that transports it, and hemoglobin compared to those given a placebo. This proves that adequate protein consumption is the key to making gains! Be sure to get enough (approx. 1gram per lb. of body weight).
* Ratings as of article's date of publication
Protein Taken With Carbs is Better than Protein Alone for Building Muscle!
This study, conducted at University of Texas Medical Branch, measured the amount of uptake of the amino acid L-phenylalanine into healthy leg muscle tissue in one of three protein shakes. The shakes were consumed one and two hours after intense leg training and provided about 6 grams of protein, 34 grams of carbs, or both per shake for a 150 bodybuilder. The L-phenylalanine uptake in the protein and carb shake was measured as being three times higher than the carb shake and roughly twice as great as the amino shake! So, there you have it! As you know, the postworkout shake is the most critical meal for your increased anabolism. Make sure you're getting some carbs in your postworkout shake for best results!
Don't let anyone ever tell you that protein isn't the most important nutrient to a bodybuilder. Carbs do the actual building, fats make hormones. But what do you suppose these things would do in the body without enough building blocks to make new tissue or maintain it? The standard recommendation for carbs for instance is 60 percent of your diet, but for those of us consuming 250 grams or more of protein, this is often impossible to accommodate and stay within our calorie limit. So 50 percent will do you just fine. It's important to maintain a positive nitrogen balance throughout the day, so it's essential to spread your protein intake over the entire day. The standard equation is easy: take your weight in pounds and multiply it with 1 or 1.5, so that's 200-300 grams of protein daily for a 200 pound bodybuilder. Now divide this by the number of meals you take in a day. If you eat 5 meals, that comes down to 40-60 grams of protein per meal. If you eat 8 meals that's 25-37 grams per meal.
Whey Protein Isolate (max BV of 157)
The highest yield of protein currently available, it's a derivative of milk protein. Its short chains and peptides make it available for absorption within ten minutes of ingestion sometimes. It's kind of a protein booster. If you asked which protein is best to invest in WPI would be it. No sane nutritionist would tell you otherwise. But caution is the key. Taking in more than 30 grams at once is not advisable because of its short-lived half-life. The best way to counter this effect a bit is to mix it in milk and not water. As I explained in my last article the casein in milk protein slows down the digestion of the whey protein, which may give it more time to absorb. It's a bit of a time-release mechanism. Whey is the best investment because of its capacity as a post-workout recovery supplement. That critical time after severe physical stress when the cells will act like a sponge and take in almost anything. The extreme hunger of the cells and the fast-acting properties of whey will make sure you use the best window for recovery to the fullest. If not, the body will hunt the stored reserves of nutrients and when on a diet for example that will cause them to rob other muscle-tissue of glutamine.
So whey is the best protein, especially on a diet. It also supplies the most aminos bodybuilders use. Whey protein is the only choice when on a diet. When on low-carb diets whey can function as an alternate source of energy, sparing hard-earned muscle protein and glutamine stores within the body.