Scoop of Whey Protein Next to a Dumbbell

Whey protein is a by-product of the cheese-making process and is the liquid that is taken out when milk has curdled and is being strained.  The protein is then extracted from this liquid and processed into powder form.

Whey protein has long been touted, especially by the body building community, as the end all of all protein sources available from meat to soy to vegetables.  Whey protein usually comes in the form of a powder that can be mixed into a shake or even used to bake with.  But whey protein isn’t necessarily good for everyone.  While whey has got many benefits, there are downsides to using it.  First, we’ll take a quick look at how whey protein stacks up against other protein sources.

Source (100g) Calories Protein (g)
Whey protein 400 77.00
Tofu 116 8.15
Beef Tenderloin 148 22.06
Chicken Breast 114 21.23

Clearly, whey protein is a great choice if a person has trouble eating enough other foods to get enough protein.  It is recommended that adults get at least 70g of protein each day.  One 100g serving of whey protein will provide all of the needed protein for a regular adult.  It is extremely easy for non-athletes to get the required amount of protein in any given day solely from meats and vegetables.  However, the moment a person is working out and doing things like body building or extreme sports, it can become fairly difficult to get enough protein in the daily diet.

The more the muscles are used, the more protein they need to repair, and in the case of body building, the more protein they need to bulk up.  For those people that are classified as athletic, according to the RDA values put forth by the USDA, they should eat 1.75g of protein per kg of body weight.  This means that a person weighing 200lbs (approximately 90.7kg) should eat 159g of protein per day.  Sedentary people should eat 0.08g of protein per kg of body weight.  The same 200lb person, if sedentary, should eat 72.56g of protein per day.

Clearly, that 77g of protein available in 100g of whey protein might be far too much protein for any given person, but definitely helpful when a person is athletic.  What is even better is for parents who are having issues getting the proper amount of protein into their kids.  It is recommended that kids get double the amount of protein than an adult due to all the growing that’s going on during the pre-teen and puberty years.  With busy lives, it can be difficult to maintain proper nutrition, but if it can be maintained via a quick protein shake, then whey can be an extremely useful tool.

Whey protein sounds great, but there are a couple of drawbacks that you may experience while consuming the protein daily. Some people may experience excess gas, abdominal discomfort, and bowel issues when ingesting whey protein and it is unclear if it is due to a lactose reaction or of something else.  If whey protein consumption is discontinued and the symptoms go away, it may be best to choose a different source of protein.

The other issue that could pose a problem when consuming whey protein is prolonged ketosis.  If the liver is processing too much protein for too long, it can become damaged.  In addition to this, the kidneys can also become damaged due to processing the excess protein of which the liver can’t handle.  If one is concerned about this issue, or if lactose intolerance is a problem, then whey protein might not be the best choice.  If neither of these is a concern and if a large amount of protein is required for minimal calories, then whey protein is definitely a good choice for a person’s daily protein source.

Last Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012