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Nutrition and Diet

Complete Beginner’s Guide to Whey Protein

Congratulations! You have decided to take the plunge and get fit. If you have just started on the path to building muscles, bulking up, or just lose weight and get in good physical shape, you would know, or have been informed of the Holy Grail to achieving your objectives:

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  1. Work out several times a week under a well-structured exercise routine.
  2. Regulate your food intake to ensure that you get all the necessary nutrients required to successfully stick to your plan.

One of the most important nutrients required for your fitness goal is protein, specifically for those of you who want to have a well-built body.

Why Do We Need Protein in Our Diet?

As someone who is completely new to the scene, being told that “protein is your best friend” when it comes to being fit can be a bit frustrating. Here are some of the reasons why this statement would be often repeated in the world of fitness training:

  • Protein is the only nutrient that aids in muscle building – and the more lean muscle you have, the better your metabolism.
  • It cannot be synthesized by our body, making it essential for us to consume it to meet our daily needs.
  • It promotes muscle healing and growth.
  • It helps curb food cravings by keeping you satiated for extended periods of time. This ensures that you don’t reach out for an unhealthy snack.
  • Protein stimulates better bone health, by increasing its density. This protects you against osteoporosis.
  • It helps in reducing body fat, thereby giving you a toned look.
  • Protein has immunity boosting properties, and helps in combating various diseases.
  • It aids in many aspects of bodily function. This is because the amino acids present in protein are needed by every cell in the body.
  • It helps you sleep better at night – this leads to better workouts, and thus improves your performance.

Related Article: Does Protein Burn Fat? Know the Truth

The amount of protein required varies person to person. For a typical person, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) is 0.8 grams per 1 kg of body weight, or 0.36 g per pound. These values are applicable for people with sedentary lifestyles, and may vary according to your needs. Athletes are generally recommended to eat far more protein than that consumed by ordinary individuals.

Needless to say, it is a little unlikely for a person to be able to get all his nutritional requirements through food alone. This is where protein supplements, in particular, whey protein comes into the picture. A small dose of whey protein powder, along with the right food and exercise, can go a long way in gaining that toned body you have dreamed about.

What is Whey Protein?

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Whey is the residual liquid part (obtained after the coagulation of milk) during the cheese manufacturing process. Once considered a waste by-product, it now has developed into a widely sought after commodity due to its nutritional value. It constitutes about 20% of milk.

Whey protein is a myriad of globular proteins that is separated and purified from whey after a sequence of techniques. Depending on the methods used, whey protein with different concentrations is derived.  It usually comes flavored, as it doesn’t taste as good on its own.

Whey protein is used in a number of items, ranging from sports supplements, confectionary items and medicinal applications. But its association with the health industry, as well as the recommendations of the scientific community makes it synonymous with fitness.

Nutrients in Whey Protein

One thing that might cross your mind would be this – “I’m new to all this. How is whey protein, which is basically ‘just protein’ going to help me”? Worry not, because whey protein doesn’t just have one type of nutrient in it. Here is a brief list of the components that are found in whey protein:

  1. Amino acids: This is required for muscle building. Whey protein has three of the most important amino acids required – Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
  2. It also has vitamins and minerals present in it.
  3. It is generally low in lactose (milk sugar) content and fat.

Related Article: Whey Protein Ingredients: Know What it Contains

Advantages of Whey Protein

  1. Whey gets broken down and absorbed by the digestive system at a much swifter rate, providing you with a faster recovery and rebuilding of muscle tissues.
  2. Whey is laden with all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
  3. On the whole, it effectively stimulates growth in humans.
  4. It also contains bioactive components (these are definite protein fragments that have a constructive impact on various bodily functions – be it cardiovascular, nervous, gastrointestinal and immune systems)
  5. Whey has a high amount of Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) which helps lessen fatigue and muscle ache, speeds up recovery, and increases muscle development.

Related Article: 10 Benefits about Whey Protein you didn’t know

Types of Whey Protein

Depending on the process used in the manufacturing of whey protein, there are several types:

  1. Whey Protein Concentrate: This is the most popular form of whey protein. It contains less fat, and has more amounts of lactose and bioactive components. It has protein content between 30 – 90%.
  2. Whey Protein Isolate: In this form, lactose and fat is removed, leaving the end result with protein concentration of over 90%. However, the manufacturing process also reduces bioactive compounds. People who are lactose intolerant would be able to safely ingest this product.
  3. Whey Protein Hydrolysate: Water is added to the process, which makes it easier to digest. Nevertheless, this variety is on the higher end of the price range.
  4. Whey Protein Native: It is prepared from skimmed milk, and is not a byproduct of cheese making. It is either sold in the form of concentrate or isolate.

Related Article: 3 Different Types of Whey Protein

How to Consume?

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Whey protein powder can be consumed with either water or milk, depending on your preference as well as your fitness goals.

If you want to gain weight, adding it to milk is the way to go. On the other hand, if you are on a weight loss journey, adding it to milk will only land you with additional calories and fat, which would be best avoided. Another factor that comes into play is your sensitivity to whey and milk mixture.

If neither suits your fancy, there are a wide range of recipes that incorporate whey protein as one of their ingredients. This comes in handy if you wish to use it as a meal replacement.

How Much to Consume?

Conventionally, one to two scoops (around 25g – 50g) per day is suggested. If your protein consumption is already high as it is, then you might have to take a lesser dosage. Follow the serving guidelines on the container.

When to Consume?

Since whey protein is a fast digested protein (as opposed to casein, which gets digested at a much slower rate), it is best consumed after a workout for it to effectively do its work. The duration that is normally suggested for consumption is within 30 minutes post workout.

Related Article: Ask the Expert: When is the Best Time to take Whey Protein

What Would Be The Best Whey Protein For A Beginner?

Again, that depends on your preference. Some manufacturers do add sugar to whey protein to improve its taste, but that defeats the purpose. Try searching for merchandise that is low in sugar and fat (preferably zero sugar), and that which would go well with your exercise and diet regime.

For beginners, MFF Whey Protein 70™ would get our green signal. This is a whey protein concentrate, which combines 70% pure protein and the rest is made up of of an assortment of minerals, carbohydrates and fats. It also has the added benefit of no added sugar, and the other nutrients that you will get on consuming this will also ease your body into more advanced workouts.

MFF Whey Protein 70™ can be consumed just after waking up, 30 to 45 minutes before you exercise, or to supplement your meals. However, it is highly suggested to have it within 30 minutes after a workout. One scoop (around 32 g) blended with 200 – 250 ml water or milk should do the trick. If you plan on getting your daily nutritional requirements through whey protein, around two to five portions will get the job done.

If getting leaner muscles is your ultimate aim, it would be apt to have whey protein with water. That would ensure that your intake doesn’t go beyond the calorie restrictions. On the contrary, if you are looking to gain weight, blend it with toned milk. This would add about 150 calories, and would give the shake a distinct richer flavor.

So there you have it. Whey protein is a cost effective way to ensure that you get your daily dose of protein, and it can be easily incorporated into your diet. It comes in handy for sportspersons, strength trainers and those who want to lose fat while gaining muscle.

However, remember that to get optimum results, ensure that you are sustaining a strict diet and exercise regime.

If you’ve got more info to add, queries, or have any experience with whey protein to share, please feel free to leave a comment below!

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Keyur Malani

The author Keyur Malani

Keyur Malani is a certified content writer who finds his true passion in fitness and bodybuilding. Apart from his contribution to Myfitfuel blog, he also guides people in their diet and training routines. When he's not writing articles and breaking Deadlift PRs, he's learning life lessons on brain pickings and cooking his post workout meals.
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