Let’s talk about that one thing which is extremely popular and without which the average gym goer cannot survive. This is commonly used in the sport of Bodybuilding, yet most people don’t understand why it’s there and what is the function of the substance. The use of this substance is almost mechanical and considered a prerequisite. It is also extremely misleading the way it is propagated in the community.
Yes, ladies and gents, I am talking about the magical nectar consumed by almost every gym rat these days. Whey Protein
Irrespective of your gym age, the notion out there is, if you lift weights, you must supplement with some sort of protein. And when you start consuming whey protein, you can pack muscles like a Greek god and attract pretty faces like nobody’s business. Excellent analogy!!! Grossly incorrect!!!
Before I bust the common myths around Whey protein, let’s just quickly understand what it is and the different kinds.
First, what is whey protein?
Whey protein is produced through the making of cheese. During the industrial process, certain enzymes are added to milk causing it to separate. What comes out is curd and whey. The whey is then pasteurized, filtered, and dried into a powder to create whey protein. So, as established, it’s a dairy product. Which means, its food in supplement form.
There are three forms of whey protein: Whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and hydrolyzed whey protein
Whey protein concentrate- Contains between 30%-85% of whey protein and is the least processed out of all the three proteins. It also has a little bit of carbs and sugar in the form of lactose. Also, the most economical of all the three proteins.
Whey protein isolate is concentrate which goes through further processing in the manufacturing process. Which basically means, the carbs and fats are reduced to refine the quality and quantity of protein resulting in higher percentage of protein per serving. Also, whey isolate is absorbed more rapidly than concentrate. Since it goes through an extensive manufacturing cycle, the cost of the product increases as a result.
Hydrolyzed whey protein– further concentrated after breaking it down into protein fragments. This process makes the protein more efficient in terms of absorption and improves its amino acid profile resulting in enhanced muscle growth. This whole rigmarole makes it the most expensive of all the three.
Now, let’s bust the three most common myths on this one.
Whey protein is a steroid.
Don’t know the origin of this one, however, it’s a common notion outside the bodybuilding community.
It’s not a steroid ladies and gentlemen. It’s just a by-product of milk. As established earlier, its food in supplement form. Sorry to break your heart, but that’s the truth. A lot of people think that whey is steroid and its use beyond a certain quantity may lead to serious health fatalities! Well, so can potatoes!!! Eating large quantity of potatoes in one sitting will lead to issues beyond your control. You will be spending most part of your future making manure on a toilet seat. That’s about the only health problem you can get with over consumption of whey. Which basically means, excess of anything is harmful. So, in short, whey is not a steroid.
Why is it so popular? That ‘cause its magical when it comes to building muscle or losing weight.
As mentioned above, it is food in supplement form. It certainly is high in bio-availability as compared to other foods which is due to its nature. Bio- availability refers to the rate at which your body absorbs food. Whey protein is by far the fastest digesting protein,It is also packed with amino acids which is essential when it comes to building muscle and it also promotes fat oxidation. These are the predominant reasons why it is so popular. However, it does not guarantee increase in muscle size in any way. That totally depends on your daily calorie intake. If you’re meeting your macros and training with intensity, you don’t need supplements to build muscle.
You must drink a fast digesting protein immediately post workout.
The most propagated of all myths. I have seen people rushing to their lockers to consume their protein shake post workout. Some say, after your workout, you have a magical window lasting 15-30 mins to pack instant muscles and that is the time a fast digesting protein must be consumed. What’s even more appalling is that the marketing companies have been fueling this myth for the longest time ever. Let me explain how it works. Weight training leads to Muscle hypertrophy. Basically, the individual muscle cells increase in size after a workout. Our body remains in that state of hypertrophy for a good number of hours post workout. Now, muscle growth is further influenced by nutritional intake. Don’t get me wrong, you must eat a complete meal of protein, carbs and fats in the right proportion post a workout, however, there is no absolute necessity to consume a fast digesting protein shake immediately post workout. Its your choice and it totally depends on your goals. You must look at meeting your macros and plan your diet accordingly. We need to train hard, eat right and get lots of recovery, which will lead to muscle hypertrophy. I have touched this point in another article of mine “building a six pack VS building a quality physique”
Should you be taking whey protein?
Well, the short answer is, yes and no. it depends on your goals. As I said, it’s all about meeting your caloric requirement. If you must eat 200 gms of protein daily and the same is met by consuming animal and plant based protein, then, you don’t need whey protein. On the other hand, if you’re someone who is always on the go and has difficulty managing 5-6 full meals, then you could include a scoop or two a day to fulfill your requirement. This is just about the benefit of taking whey protein. It is food in supplement form. Which basically means, if you’re not able to meet your protein requirement from food, then, supplement it. If you go around asking gym trainers and most personal coaches about advice on protein supplementation, the answer you will get is, it is extremely essential to build muscle and you need to take this as a part of your diet. They will suggest other supplements like amino acids (BCAA), glutamine etc. According to them, all this will help you gain pounds and pounds of muscle and melt fat in the shortest span of time. A big bunch of BS and nothing else!
The best muscle building substance that you can consume ladies and gentlemen is FOOD! Yup! You read that right. It is the most anabolic of all substances. High intensity workout with the right quantity of rest and clean eating leads to a champion physique. I understand this is an ideal situation, however, that’s what we must aspire to achieve. Yes, supplements are helpful and can aid in this process, however, you must always choose whole foods over eating out of containers as much as possible. The reason for this is not ‘casue its harmful, it isn’t, it’s just that there are so many products available in the market you don’t know which one is the right one. If you can meet your daily caloric requirement with whole foods, why supplement at all.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who cannot seem to eat enough protein throughout the day, due to a busy work schedule, or if you’re on the go most of your time, you might want to consider a protein supplement. It will help to fulfill your protein requirement. Is it a magical drink? hell no! as mentioned above, it’s just food in supplement form.
Which is the best one out of all the three.
That totally depends on your goals. Whey concentrate has traces of carbs and fats in the form of sugar which may not be a big deal to most, however, if you’re on a cutting cycle and eliminating carbs from your diet, then you might want to go for an isolate. The choice will depend on your individual goals and the budget you have.
The next time you finish a workout, don’t be in a hurry to down that mixer. Take it easy and do it like a pro.
We lift; therefore we are!