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Whey Protein – Benefits, Nutrition Facts and Side Effects

Bodybuilders and weight trainers commonly use whey protein, to supplement their regular diets for the following two reasons

It promotes lean muscle mass growth

It helps with muscle protein synthesis

Unlike most other protein types, whey protein consists of a variety of essential amino acids which is absorbed by our body quickly. It is also low in lactose content and possesses numerous other health benefits. The powder could just be the supplement you need to meet your fitness goals.

Table of Contents

What is Whey Protein?

Milk contains two kinds of protein predominantly – casein and whey. A mixture of proteins become isolated from whey during cheese production from milk. This protein mixture is known as whey protein.

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Basically, the fatty substance in milk coagulates together during cheese production, and separates the whey, usually contained in the liquid portion of milk, as a by-product. For the longest time, cheesemakers would discard this whey, but not anymore. Now, whey protein is recognized for its nutritional value.

Whey protein powder usually contains added flavours, as it doesn’t taste very appetizing by itself. If you are considering buying whey protein powder though, make sure that it doesn’t have added sugar.

The protein content in it can easily supplement about 25-50 g of your protein intake. It’s an easy way for fitness enthusiasts, weight-loss hopefuls and other people, who lack adequate protein in their diet, to consume it. If you’ve happened to try flavoured whey protein, you wouldn’t want to miss out on this protein source. You can add it to your protein bars and shakes, or have it as a meal replacement.

Most people can consume whey protein without any problem. Some, however, like those with lactose intolerance or allergies may need to be careful.

Nutrition Facts of Whey Protein

One scoop (approx 32 g) of the average whey protein powder contains 113 calories, of which 4.5% is borrowed from the fat content.

Total fat content is 0.5 g, of which saturated fat is 0.3 g. Trans Fat is 0 g.

Polyunsaturated Fat and Monounsaturated Fat are 0.1 g each.

Cholesterol is 5.1 mg, that would make up for 2% of your daily requirement.

Sodium contained is 50 mg, which too, makes up for 2% of your daily nutritional value.

Potassium content is 160 mg, so you can expect 5% of your daily potassium requirement to be met from a scoop of whey protein.

The total carb content is 2 g, out of which, dietary fibre makes up 1%.

The protein content is 25 g. You will find 2% Iron and 12% Calcium in the measured amount of whey protein powder.

7 Proven Health Benefits of Whey Protein

Whey protein has several health benefits. We discuss a handful of these below.

It helps boost protein and BCAA intake by our body – Proteins are made up of amino acids. While a portion of our amino acid requirement is produced by the body itself, the rest has to be gathered from the food we eat.

The amino acids that our body derives from external food sources are called essential amino acids. Whey protein consists of nine essential amino acids. On top of that, they are rich in crucial branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) such as leucine.

Leucine is a growth-promoting amino acid. It also contains cysteine which encourages glutathione levels, which is a cellular antioxidant. Whey protein is most effective for inducing growth in our bodies. Human breast milk, fed to newborns, is 60% whey as compared to cow’s milk, which contains only 20% whey.

1. Increases Your Strength and Muscle Mass

Whey protein increases muscle mass and strength by releasing anabolic hormones such as insulin, which is responsible for our muscle growth.

The substance’s leucine content stimulates muscle protein synthesis in our body. It’s protein and amino acids spur on muscle growth. Whey protein, unlike other protein sources, generates muscle growth faster.

2. Protects Against Eczema and Allergic Conditions in Kids

Whey protein is beneficial, not just for adults. Infants, who are made to consume this protein mixture by mouth in the 3-12 month time period from their birth show lower risks of developing red, itchy skin and allergic reactions easily.

However, once the child has grown up beyond that age, consuming whey protein will have no effect on their resistance to these conditions.

3. Helps You Feel Fuller, Eat Lesser

Whey protein has an incredible effect on satiety. Protein ranks highest among every macronutrient when it comes to satiety. It increases energy expenditure, balancing the number of calories you consume.

Studies have found that, if you eat 1/4th of your daily requirement in proteins, you slash down your hunger cravings by 60%. If you combine whey protein intake with weight lifting, you can lose about 8 pounds of your weight, increasing lean muscle mass at the same time.

In addition to boosting your metabolism, it also shrinks your appetite and preserves lean muscle.

4. Aids in Recovery from Exercise

Consuming whey protein powder has been proven to improve your athletic abilities.

It increases your running speed and helps you recover better from your workouts.

5. Lowers Cholesterol

Whey protein can help lower your total and LDL cholesterol more effectively than casein protein.

6. Helps Regulate Blood Pressure

Whey protein powder, when consumed by individuals with hypertension, have proven to be effective in reducing blood pressure.

In the same manner, it also stands as a deterrent against the development of potentially fatal heart risks.

7. Other Health Benefits

Whey protein has other health benefits to boot as well. It contains anti-cancer properties, steps up immune function and may also protect against the symptoms of psoriasis.

Side Effects of Whey Protein

Whey protein intake is generally considered safe for most adults when consumed in a proper dosage. However, overconsumption of the mixture may cause several digestive complaints like bloating, hyperactive bowel movement and diarrhea.

You may also experience nausea, headaches, thirst, cramps, fatigue and a reduced appetite. You may end up with an acne problem if you are nor careful in regulating your whey protein intake long-term. 1-2 scoops of the powder should be safe for consumption by most people.

Adequate research has not been conducted into how it affects pregnant women. So, it’s best to avoid the intake of whey protein if you happen to be pregnant or nursing. Additionally, if you happen to suffer from dairy allergies, its consumption may not be right for you.

Apart from the above, here are some other whey protein side effects:

1. Kidney Problems

If you happen to suffer from kidney issues, don’t consume whey protein. It could worsen your renal problems. It can cause kidney stones too.

In order to neutralize this side effect, you are recommended to consume adequate dietary fibre and water, as part of your diet.

2. Unwanted Fat Gain

Many whey protein powder offerings have sugar added, which add to your carbohydrate consumption.

Some of them may also have fat added. So, instead of upping your protein intake to burn more calories, you may actually end up eating beyond your calorific requirement.

3. Gout

Research hasn’t found any direct link between the development of gout and whey protein consumption. However, it has been noticed that including whey protein in your diet when you happen to suffer from gout, worsens your condition further.

If you have a family history of gout, it’s best to consult a physician before starting on whey protein.

4. Increase Cardiovascular Risks

If you are a patient of heart disease, ensure that you always consume whey protein as per the specified dosage.

Exceeding this dosage could cause you heart arrhythmia, cardiac arrest and perhaps, even the complete loss of cardiac functions.

5. Osteoporosis

Sustained excessive whey protein intake could cause a mineral imbalance in your bones.

The imbalance could then deplete bone density, leading to osteoporosis.

6. Hike in Blood Acidity Level

Whey protein consumption increases the pH level in our blood. Our kidney finds it difficult to metabolize this excess protein.

As a result, our blood becomes more acidic.

7. Ketosis

A high-protein, low-carb diet uses energy from the burning protein in the lack of adequate body fat.

Ketosis is the condition when an abnormal amount of ketone bodies accumulate in the blood. Ketosis puts enormous pressure on the liver to function and can cause liver damage over time.

8. Wheezing and Swelling Up of Facial Parts

Individuals who are lactose intolerant may have difficulty breathing and develop allergic reactions such as wheezing, lip/mouth/throat swelling, and so on.

If you notice any of these symptoms forming, consult a physician at once.

9. Unbalanced Nutrition Consumption

When you consume natural protein, you may be doing so, along with other nutrients, but it is still more wholesome than protein supplements.

Whey protein powder is processed and disturbs the natural nutritional intake of our body.

Now, that we’re done discussing whey protein side-effects, let’s learn about the forms that they are available in.

Types of Whey Protein

The difference in the forms of whey protein basically stems from their manner of processing. They also determine their nutrition facts.

1. Hydrolysate Whey Protein

Hydrolysate or hydrolyzed whey is whey that has been pre-digested. It gets absorbed faster than the other forms. Hydrolyzed whey is responsible for a 28-43% more spike in insulin level than whey in the isolate form.

2. Isolate Whey Protein

Isolate whey protein contains 90% protein and sometimes, even higher. It contains less fat and lactose as well as lesser beneficial nutrients than is found in whey protein concentrate.

3. Concentrate Whey Protein

Whey protein in concentrate form contains around 70-80% protein. It also contains lactose and fat. Overall, it is the most delicious of all the whey protein variants.

If you do intend to start consuming whey protein, choose a concentrate as, not only is it cheaper – it also retains the most amount of naturally occurring nutrients in whey.

However, if you are strict about the carbs and fats you consume, the isolate or hydrolysate form may be a better option for you. Most of the research done on it has been carried out in isolate form.

The hydrolysate form offers the best digestibility, making it the whey protein source for the medically ill and infantile. They also have the least allergenic potential, making it safe for use.


Whey protein powders and supplements are a healthy and effective way in which you can contribute more protein content to your regular diet. It is a stellar source of protein which is seamlessly absorbed by our body.

Whey protein works best for weight trainers, athletes, people who lack enough natural proteins in their diet and others, who could do with more muscle mass and strength, and less body fat.

Protein is the most effective nutrient there is, to encourage muscle gain and fat loss. It is among the best sources of protein there is. So naturally, anybody looking to add more of the nutrient to their diet would do well, to buy themselves some whey protein powder. Concentrate is the most popular form of whey protein because of its agreeable taste. You could mix it in your food, beverage or have it as it is.

If your goal is to lose weight, starting a weight training regime alongside whey protein consumption is the route you should take. It will help boost your metabolism, preserve lean muscle mass and aid you in losing those extra pounds.

Whey protein powder can be used as a meal supplement, as it fills you up fast, and keeps you from experiencing hunger pangs. These hunger pangs are often the reason we end up overeating.

Whey Protein – Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q. Is whey protein safe?

A: If they are consumed in the right amounts, at the right intervals and frequencies, whey protein can be considered safe.

Q. Does whey protein cause hair loss?

A: No, hair loss is not one of the side effects of whey protein.

Q. When should one take whey protein?

A: Ideally, whey protein can be a very good post-workout food. About 15 minutes after your workout is complete, consuming some whey protein can help you recover faster from it. Whey protein also helps you improve your athletic abilities.

Q. What are the side effects of whey protein?

A: The consumption of whey protein in excess can lead to various side effects. Some of these side effects include too much load on the kidney and liver, resulting in these organs getting damaged. One must make sure to hydrate their body while having whey protein. Thus, make sure your whey protein consumption is accompanied by plenty of water.

Q. Can whey cause liver damage?

The consumption of whey protein can add too much load on the liver, eventually leading to liver damage. It is ideal to ensure that you drink a lot of water if you are consuming it.

Whey protein

Whey protein By Mayo Clinic Staff


Whey protein is one of the primary proteins found in dairy products. A byproduct of the cheese-making process, whey protein provides substantial amounts of the essential amino acids that are needed to carry out the functions that proteins perform in the body.

Whey protein — typically in the form of a powder — can be added to liquids or soft foods, such as applesauce, or blended with ice and fresh fruit to make a smoothie.

People commonly take whey protein to improve athletic performance and address nutritional deficiencies or problems.


Research on the use of whey protein for specific conditions and activities shows:

Exercise training. While some evidence suggests that taking whey protein as part of a strength training program increases muscle mass and strength, other studies show no benefits. Whey protein might help speed muscle recovery after intense exercise.

While some evidence suggests that taking whey protein as part of a strength training program increases muscle mass and strength, other studies show no benefits. Whey protein might help speed muscle recovery after intense exercise. Malnutrition. Whey protein might help with weight gain in people who have trouble gaining and keeping on weight, such as older adults or those with HIV/AIDS.

Whey protein might help with weight gain in people who have trouble gaining and keeping on weight, such as older adults or those with HIV/AIDS. Wound healing. Whey protein has been shown to benefit people recovering from burns and those with chronic wounds.

Whey protein has been shown to benefit people recovering from burns and those with chronic wounds. Allergies. Hydrolyzed formula contains protein that's been broken down into smaller sizes than are those in cow's milk and soy-based formulas. Research shows that infants given a hydrolyzed form of whey protein have a lower risk of developing atopic dermatitis (eczema) than do infants who consume standard formula. Giving an infant formula containing whey hydrolysate appears to reduce the risk of allergic reactions in infants at risk of developing an allergy.

Our take

Generally safe

Most people can get enough protein from a healthy, varied diet. However, if you're having trouble meeting your daily protein needs due to a medical condition, ask your doctor if whey protein might be helpful. Don't use whey protein if you have a dairy allergy.

Safety and side effects

When taken in appropriate amounts, whey protein appears to be safe. Some research suggests that whey protein might cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

However, there's limited data on the possible side effects of high protein intake from a combination of food and supplements.

Don't use whey protein if you have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy products.


Possible interactions include:

Albendazole (Albenza). Avoid using whey protein if you are taking this parasite-killing drug. The supplement might delay or hinder the drug's effects.

Avoid using whey protein if you are taking this parasite-killing drug. The supplement might delay or hinder the drug's effects. Alendronate (Fosamax). Use of whey protein with this drug used to prevent or treat osteoporosis might decrease absorption of the drug.

Use of whey protein with this drug used to prevent or treat osteoporosis might decrease absorption of the drug. Certain antibiotics. Use of whey protein with quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics might decrease your absorption of the drug.

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Whey Protein Powder Nutrition and Health Benefits

When you’d like to amp up the protein in your diet with a protein powder, you have your choice of numerous options, both animal- and plant-based. One of the most popular animal-based products is whey protein powder.

This particular powder offers some distinct advantages for health. Derived from the liquid by-product of strained milk, whey is a source of high-quality protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Not surprisingly—since it’s a dairy product—it also contains a small amount of calcium. And, fortunately for people with lactose intolerance, whey is naturally very low in lactose.

Here’s what you need to know about the nutrition, benefits, and uses of whey protein powder.

Whey Protein Powder Nutrition Facts

Whey protein powder’s nutrition may vary, depending on the brand you purchase. The following nutrition information, for one scoop (19.5 grams) of whey protein powder, has been provided by the USDA.

Calories : 75

: 75 Fat : 1g

: 1g Sodium : 75mg

: 75mg Carbohydrates : 3.5g

: 3.5g Fiber : 0g

: 0g Sugars : 1g

: 1g Protein: 13g


Although you might expect whey protein powder to be made up almost entirely of protein, it does usually contain carbohydrates. Each food manufacturer uses its own recipe, and some may include extra sweeteners or fillers that add carbs.


In cheese production, milk coagulates into solid curds, separating from liquid whey. Since whey protein powder is derived from this liquid—which has left solid fats behind—it usually contains very little fat. A single scoop provides 1 gram.


Protein is, of course, the star of the macronutrient show in whey protein powder. In one scoop (about one tablespoon), you can expect to take in around 13 grams of high-quality animal protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Unless it’s fortified with extra vitamins and minerals, whey protein powder isn’t usually a micronutrient powerhouse. However, it does contain a notable amount of calcium. One scoop supplies 50 milligrams of calcium, about 5% of the Recommended Daily Allowance.

Health Benefits

Promotes Muscle Growth

Any type of protein helps build muscle, but some studies have suggested that whey protein could boost muscle growth even more effectively than other products, such as those derived from casein or soy. Whey contains the branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) leucine, which is the primary BCAA responsible for muscle synthesis.

Contains All Essential Amino Acids

Of the 20 amino acids that make up all proteins, nine are considered "essential." This means that the body can't produce them on its own and must get them through food. As a dairy product, whey protein powder bears the protein badge of honor: It contains all nine essential acids. Getting enough of these on a regular basis helps build and repair tissue, create hormones, and maintain neurotransmitters.

May Promote Satiety and Weight Loss

A high-protein, low-carb diet is usually a solid plan for losing weight, but adding protein from whey could spell even better weight loss results. A large meta-analysis of 14 studies found that, as a supplement combined with resistance exercise or as part of a weight-loss diet, whey protein powder significantly improved parameters like body weight and body fat.

May Enhance Athletic Performance Recovery

For recovery, does it really matter what type of protein you eat post-workout? It might. One small 2017 study compared men who consumed whey protein versus a carbohydrate-based alternative after resistance exercise. Those who had the whey supplement had small-to-moderate improvements in muscle and energy recovery.

May Lower Blood Pressure

The effects of whey protein on blood pressure aren't well established, but one study explored what happened when people with obesity supplemented their diet with whey protein. After 12 weeks, those who included whey protein had lower blood pressure and better vascular function.


Dairy is one of the top eight food allergens. Some people with a dairy allergy are allergic only to casein (milk solids), while others are specifically allergic only to whey. If you know you’re allergic to whey, you’ll need to avoid whey protein powder. Or, if you’re unsure about the specifics of your dairy allergy, don’t consume whey protein powder unless given the all-clear from your doctor or allergist.

Eating whey protein if you have lactose intolerance is a slightly different story. Because whey is naturally low in lactose, some people with lactose intolerance find they’re able to digest it without a problem. Of the three types of whey protein (whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate), isolate and hydrolysate have the lowest amount of lactose, so you may prefer to start with these.

Adverse Effects

Although whey protein powder can be a convenient way to reach your daily protein target, it’s not without its drawbacks. First, there is such a thing as too much protein. Despite this macronutrient’s glowing reputation, consuming it in excess can damage your kidneys, especially if you’re already at risk of kidney disease. Stick to established serving sizes so you don’t overdo it.

It’s important to remember, too, that whey protein powder is a dietary supplement—and supplements are not rigorously regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s up to each manufacturer to vouch for their powder’s quality, purity, and safety. For this reason, it’s hard to be completely certain whether a powder contains exactly what it says it does.

Meanwhile, some powders might pack questionable ingredients or additives, so you might unintentionally end up consuming more calories and/or sugars than you’d like. Be sure to read labels diligently to get accurate nutrition information.


Whey protein powder recipes will vary—some with flavorings like vanilla or chocolate, others made with organic or grass-fed dairy. You can choose the type that suits your budget, lifestyle, and flavor preferences.

When it comes to the actual protein in a powder, you also have some options. Again, whey protein comes in three forms: whey protein concentrate, whey protein isolate, and whey protein hydrolysate. Concentrate contains the highest amount of lactose, and many people find its flavor the most pleasing. Isolate contains more protein and less lactose than concentrate. Hydrolysate is a protein that has already undergone hydrolysis, which is part of the digestion process. This is why you may hear it referred to as "predigested." Some people find this form easiest to digest.

Storage and Food Safety

Whey protein powder should be stored sealed in a cool, dry place. You can use printed expiration dates as a reference for its quality. (According to a 2016 study, samples of whey protein stored properly retained their quality for up to 18 months.)

And don’t forget to use your senses when assessing a powder’s edibility. Unappealing changes in color, smell, or texture are all indicators that a powder should be discarded.

How to Prepare

Using whey protein powder in recipes couldn’t be simpler! Prepare according to the container instructions, which can be as simple as mixing a scoop with water. Of course, there’s also the ever-popular option of tossing a scoop into a blender with liquid and a few other ingredients to make a smoothie, but the possibilities don’t stop there.

You can add whey protein powder to pancake batter, oatmeal, muffins, bars, balls, puddings, and more. For best results, follow a recipe that includes whey protein as an ingredient—or feel free to experiment on your own.

Eric Carter